My divorce was final five years ago this past summer. As I recently prepared for mediation with my ex-husband, my feelings, my stress dreams, my anxiety, the ever-present pit in my stomach told me another tale. You’d think I was still mid-divorce if my body were telling the story. I felt as if all my progress and growth were imagined. I felt like the same scared little girl I was in my marriage, in my separation, through my divorce.
You might feel like this too. You might be looking at your healing and thinking one step forward, a thousand steps back. And girl, I get it. To my core, I get it.
My biggest life regret is not marrying my first husband. I wouldn’t have my children if I hadn’t married him.
And my biggest life regret is not even being divorced by my first husband. That pain and that journey changed me and shaped me and birthed a ministry that fills my life with purpose.
My biggest life regret is that I have no relationship with my ex-husband at all. At this point in my healing, I have chosen to no longer talk with him on the phone or be in the same room with him.
This isn’t actually all that odd as both of my children are over 18, and we have practically no reason to talk with or see each other.
But there will come a day. There will be weddings. There will be grandchildren. And we will need to both be grown-ups and be in the same room together. Not just standing it, but being mature enough to not ruin our children’s life celebrations with our pettiness and anger and fear.
You have to know that I hate this about myself. I would give anything to be at a point of amicability. But we are not. I, to put a finer point to it, am not.
I feel like I have learned nothing, gained no ground. How can I be so deeply immature? How can I still be filled with such anxiety? Be so emotionally afraid? Be spurred on to wanting to write angry email retorts?
I know these things to be true, despite how I feel…
I know that feelings are not always indicators of reality.
And I know that Jesus and I have done too much work to allow myself to think that no change has taken root in me.
And I know that God released me from my captivity and has healed my brokenness.
And I know that I am not the same Beth from five years ago. (Or even one year ago. Or even last month.)
And I know that Christ lives in me.
And I know that I am fiercely loved by my husband, my children, my friends.
I know these things and more. I know that my choosing to not speak directly to him isn’t a sign of my weakness or immaturity; it’s because I can tell that our dynamic has not changed and that our interactions are toxic. So, I am choosing to believe, for now, that it’s actually a sign of wholeness and strength that I am choosing to protect myself in this way.
However, I circle back to this: how can one man have this kind of affect on me, let alone all these years later?
My answer: Because we were one, for almost nineteen years. And that is no small thing.
My coping mechanism: Begging Jesus, yet again, to sever every single emotional, mental, relational, physical and spiritual tie between us. And waiting.
If this post resonated with you, my collection of essays, Living through Divorce, will provide you with practical suggestions to move forward.