About Me

 

 The greatest thing we can do is to show up for our lives and not be ashamed.

 -Anne Lamott

 

I'm a creature of the word, learning to tell my honest story.

I offer it here because telling stories is the road back home.

Motherhood is not a biological designation
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« Holding space | Main | We're not all well on the same day »
Tuesday
Mar012016

My first marriage is over

I've been terrified all day that I'm going to die.  

I make breakfast for Phoenix, my youngest, and I think, "this might be the last time he looks in his momma's eyes." I notice faint traces of marker on Kyrie's stomach as I help her get dressed and think, "I might never get the chance to see her grow up." 

I'm boarding a plane tonight to go visit my oldest friend in Chicago.

I'm not normally afraid of flying, so my fatalistic thoughts seem out of place, until I realize that six years ago I made this same trip, and something did die.  

My marriage as I knew it died while I drank wine and watched SNL videos on my best friend's couch.  

And as I discover a reason for what I'm feeling, I suddenly don't feel it that much anymore.  What was mounting all day into a panic attack, breathes out with my breath, and the thoughts click into place. I'm having a trauma response, one that is connected to a primal experience deeper than reason can reason out.  And that's ok.  It's ok to be reminded of what I've lost and lived through.

 

Recently, I watched Esther Perel's TED talk "Rethinking Infidelity...a talk for anyone who has ever loved," and found her thoughts on betrayal to be so refreshing.  She says an affair can be turned into a generative experience, that it's a jolt into a new life- a new disorder that can lead to a new order.

She asks this question: "Your first marriage is over. Would you like to create a second one together?"

It's a question Michael and I asked ourselves six years ago, in the wake of the explosion of everything we both thought could be trusted.  

But I forget sometimes that our first marriage died that day.

 

Esther says infidelity shatters the grand ambition of love.

It's a truth I've expressed in my darker hours when I've said, "I don't believe in love anymore."  But if I'm more careful with my words, what I actually don't believe in is the innocent, sometimes ignorant, epic movie version of what Love, capital L, is.

 

I don't believe Love is a thing that happens to you.  I think it's a daily choice, like Brene Brown says, to turn towards the other person instead of away.

I don't assume Love will sit there, without any caretaking, without any feeding, and just keep growing like some kind of super weed.  

It's always either turn towards or turn away. Love has no neutral ground.

 

I don't take love for granted anymore.  I don't assume it comes easily.  I don't assume it can't end.  

And, I don't expect my husband to be my everything.  I don't expect him to be transcendent and superhuman. I don't expect him to read my mind, or to fill all my cracks, or to satisfy my every desire.

I don't expect the world to work according to a mathematical equation where I receive in equivalency to what I give out, and if I am loved enough, I can be loving enough. 

Or, if I am loving enough, I can be loved enough.  

 

Love is a choice made regardless of circumstance or context or whether you think you deserve it or the other person earned it. It's not dualistic; it's transcendent.  

It expands. It does not limit.

But some of that expansion means the illusions fall away and the whole world gets bigger and more real, and you get more fragile, more aware.

I live with the awareness of my humanity, on the knife edge realization that any second I, or the people I love, could fail big time, could fall big time, could hurt or be hurt, big time.

I carry my fragility everywhere.  

The thin veil that hangs between safe and not safe was torn with Michael's infidelity, and rent in two with the fire, and if I had to choose, I'd choose the unveiled view still, even if it meant going through all of that again.

Because my fragility is my humanity, my offering of my whole self, without equivocation or expectation.

 

We are trundling down the runway when I read the phrase, "Vol de Nuit," in the Vogue article "Ring of Fire" by Silvana Paternostro. Vol de Nuit means "Night Flight." It's a phrase taken from the novel written by Antoine de Saint-Exupery, a story about the perils of the early days of aviation, when pilots flew the dark skies without instruments, taking off not knowing if the night would be filled with beautiful stars or terrifying tempests.

The author learned the phrase from a Guerlain perfume of the same name created in 1933 "to offer a tribute to women who like to take risks."  

I speak it out loud just as the plane goes airborne, "Vol de Nuit."  Night flight.

I am leaving behind my husband and four children, flying to Chicago for three and a half days.  I don't know what will happen while I am gone, I don't know what will happen while I am alone.  I don't know if there will be stars or tempests.

These are the what if's, that even when you entertain them, can never really prepare you for what happens, good or bad.  

 

Life is a night flight.

Sometimes you visit your best friend in another city and your husband kisses another woman.  Sometimes everything goes perfectly and you return home and your kids run to the door and throw themselves in your arms, and your husband kisses you on the mouth, and you sit down to dinner and hold hands while your youngest prays.

Love is risk in every moment. 

Nothing can prepare you for it, and nothing can change the truth of Love's nature. We never know what we are signing up for when we choose to love someone.  

We never know what it will cost, or what we will gain.  

 

I think truly giving your whole self to the endeavor of loving one person well for the rest of your life is the most countercultural, anti-status quo, ballsy, audacious, crazy town, warrior kind of thing you could possibly ever do.

And I want to be one of the ones who does it. Who loves hard, loves recklessly.  Who, when she is betrayed, or when she betrays, gets back up and keeps loving, eyes wide open, staring fear and retreat and cynicism and judgment and self-righteousness and shame in the face.

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