I sat on my porch of the house we purchased together two years prior, sobbing like I had never sobbed before.
My heart was broken into a million tiny shards of rough-edged emotional glass as I struggled to dial my mother’s phone number. Everyone knew—friends and co-workers, the new boyfriend and my soon-to-be ex-husband’s military pals—but I had no strength left to share our decision with my parents.
Growing up in a somewhat strict Christian household, reveling in their 30 years of marriage together, I was unsure how to move forward with most difficult words I would ever speak. “We are getting a divorce.” Through my weeping sighs, I heard a muffled voice say the four words that would drench my soul in comfort for the days to come.
“Nothing missing, nothing broken,” she said, with a level of confidence I had never felt so strongly in my quarter of a lifetime.
Part of a scripture, those words were not only not what I expected from her but also misunderstood in that crushing moment. I felt like the worst kind of failure—having moved to the East Coast with my high school sweetheart who I decided to spend the “rest of my life” with at the ignorant age of 19, I had done every thing else right. My career had taken off, thanks in part to knowing the right people at the right time. I was about to complete my Bachelor’s degree, even after dropping out of the state school I chose after only two semesters four years prior. I had a home that I owned, my dream car, an income unspeakable to those in my sleepy Midwestern hometown, and an amazing foundation of friends in one of the busiest and snottiest regions of the country.
I was now, however, desperately alone and suddenly none of it mattered.
My then husband had moved out months before the long distance therapy session with my mother, and although she knew, I was unaware that our situation had reached back to Indiana. I was making a feeble attempt to safeguard those closest to me from my perceived dismal fall from perfection. I was ashamed and sad, insanely lonely and now, tattered merchandise.
Love was lost, as was my desire to search for it, and I had no idea how to come clean about what happened and the lack of effort I put in to keeping my husband, my husband.
She let me cry, for what seemed like hours. I had no idea what words were supposed to come, but nothing but snot-filled exhales could be heard on the other end after sharing the news. Her response was so calm and so sweet, supportive but not pushy. She did not ask, as others had, what went wrong or why the decision had come. I had an idea that she would criticize me for not giving it more time, for not putting in the work we both knew a marriage needed, to not communicating prior to our demise what was happening.
She simply spoke those four words, and patiently waited for me to breathe. I hung up the phone after quite some time, feeling less than whole but more willing to get there.
Those words are permanently inked on my right wrist, now. After a tumultuous, and uncomfortably quick marathon of “relationships” after the divorce was final, I had come to the realization that no truer words had ever been spoken. I dove into creating situations that made me feel less hurt, giving in to co-dependency on a regular basis, and pushing myself deeper into a depression that would take hitting rock bottom on the relationship boat to rise above. After tearing apart partners in an effort to rebuild myself, I realized I needed to live my mother’s words in a way that meant giving up the woe is me mentality—I gave off the vibe that I was damaged goods, without knowing it and without ever stopping to correct it. I decided, two years later, to push through my sad state of being and become someone who was worthy of love and affection and communication and respect.
Within us, nothing is missing, and nothing is broken. Our souls are as they are for a reason—to be able to reach our full potential, we must understand that those around us need not change us because there is a change necessary. Love is not for us; it is for those we love.
The idea that we are inherently faulty breeds a kind of self doubt that will break us down beyond repair at some point or another. We are not. Our quirks, our whit, our passion, our depression make up the core of who we are, and to take away from that by speaking self hatred and doubt does nothing more than dig that hole deeper.
There is no greater knowledge than truly believing that we are fine, as we are, and letting those around us breathe that in.
My viewpoint in the relationship realm changed dramatically once I started to read those words each and every morning. I have moments of doubt, still, but starting from a place of love for myself has created a space where others can love me, as I am.
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Assistant Editor: Melissa Horton/Editor: Bryonie Wise
Photo: Flickr Creative Commons