Sunday, August 14, 2016

Move on, Warrior

"You can leave this house, leave this town
All that's left to chart is nothing less than your own heart."

Well, that didn't take long.

In the two weeks since I received, read and blogged about Glennon Doyle Melton's memoir Love Warrior, the story of the breakdown and rebuilding of her marriage, she announced on her blog, Momastery, that she and Craig are separating.

The official book release date isn't until Sept. 6.

Here are some of her words couching the reasons for the split.
You can be shattered and then you can put yourself back together piece by piece.

But what can happen over time is this: You wake up one day and realize that you have put yourself back together completely differently. That you are whole, finally, and strong – but you are now a different shape, a different size. ... And no matter how hard you try, you simply cannot fit into your old life anymore. ...

And suddenly you know that. And you have become a woman who doesn’t ignore her knowing. Who doesn’t pretend she doesn’t know. ... You did promise – back when you were putting yourself back together – that you’d never betray you again.
Of course that leaves us wondering, what really went down. I suspect we may never know, or at least not for a long time. Even if there is more to the story than just deciding you don't fit in the life and love you fought for so hard and wrote about so eloquently, there are children involved, three children who can read and who may come in contact with people who read and who might be damaged by knowing any more than some perfect fiction right now.

It's not wholly shocking either. Marriage is hard. Even great marriages are hard. Marriage when one of you is a sort of celebrity, a writer living out loud, so to speak, sharing all the blemishes, hurdles and shortcomings, would not make it anything but harder.

In my post about the story, here is what I said.
Fairy tale endings are wonderful, but there is only one real ending in life and many more pages to fill and potential books to write before the final curtain falls. All we can do is hope that, for Glennon and Craig, the happily will be ever after.
Color me cynical but, much as I love happy endings, I instinctively wasn't giving them very long odds.

Jennifer Ball, who I referenced in my post had this to say.
Wow! I never thought she'd be joining our ranks.
But it was one of her commenters who made me laugh when she said this.
Listen, with nothing but respect for Glennon, she's amazing, her reasons for divorce are none of my business, but she's like the third personal development professional this year that's separated from their spouse because there was just too much light and love.
When my first marriage ended, although there was no infidelity, feelings ran high and I'd have to say our divorce was acrimonious. I used to say that if I could have had an amicable divorce, if I could have stayed friends with my ex-husband, I'd probably still be married to him.

Not that that would have been a good thing.

The biggest favor my ex did for me, was to not show up at my door with roses and remorse and promises to change. Because I'd have cratered. And it would only have postponed the inevitable.

Change is very hard, even when someone wants to change.

Getting unmarried is hard too. When you have children, your heart will ache as you witness their sorrow. Even though you are doing it for them as much as for you. Because you don't want them to grow up thinking the way their dad speaks to you is OK. You don't want them to grow up to marry men like him because they think that lack of respect, communication and affection is acceptable or normal.

If you are the one intitiating the demise of the marriage, you may feel acute guilt and remorse, despite knowing that what you are doing is right and necessary. Your soon to be ex-partner may make this easier or harder. Mine chose to make it harder. He may not have loved me but he did love some of the perks of being married to me and he did not like being thrown off the gravy train. Even if things had not been so one-sided, he still would have been bitter about having his choice co-opted. His pride was hurt.

He could not accept that I was doing this for him, as much as for me and the kids. He deserved to have someone to love him. That would never be me. Too much spilled milk under too many burned bridges, too many doors slammed, too many profane words spoken that could never be unsaid.

He could not see it then. All he could see was that I was destroying the family. I'm not sure he sees it even now, going on 20 years later. Not even after he met and married someone so much more like him. He held tight to his bitterness even as he watched me suffer through the pain of a failed new relationship and struggle to thrive on my own.

Oh yes, dissolving a marriage is hard. It is not any kind of easy way out, at least not for me. There are doubts and second guesses and grief, even is the grief is not for the man but for the loss of the American family dream.

For the rest of your lives you will be sharing your children with your former spouse on holidays. You may remarry and be very, very happy, but your kids will never be shared kids, your new husband's kids will never be your kids, your kids will never be his.

So, marriage is hard, divorce is hard. Decisions about marriage and divorce are hard.

I shoulder my share of blame for the demise of my marriage. I make plenty of mistakes. I could have been more supportive, less critical, more accepting, less resentful. I could have made my marital relationship a priority, instead of choosing to put my children first because I was so frustrated by having to work so hard leaving so little quality time, at the end of the day, to divide.

But the biggest mistake I made was marrying a starving artist and then becoming angry that he wasn't a successful businessman and a good provider. And that was a mistake that could not be fixed, not once I had chosen to fly the red flags rather than to run from them.

Given the givens, all we can do is ask ourselves if we have done our best. And since nobody ever really does their best, we can ask ourselves if we have made a reasonable effort to do the right things. And then we have to choose what we believe is the lesser evil.

Staying unhappily married does no one any favors. Getting happily unmarried may be the better alternative, but it's never an easy one when kids are in the frame.

However Glennon or anyone else wants to couch it, ending a marriage means a trip through the muddle. And sometimes that's the only way.

You can leave this house, leave this town
Leave it all to me, or you'll never leave the ground

Look at that tiny screen's too small for you
I think you should learn to dream, just like the dreamers do

Am I the habit you're too tired to break?
I want you to love me with every step you take

What can you do with a day?
What will you wake up and see?
The farther you get, the closer to me

You can leave this house, leave this town
All that's left to chart is nothing less than your own heart.

What can you do with a day? (Your day?)
What will you wake up and see?
The farther you get, the closer to me

Down the river, down the road,
Little Rock, Tokyo,
Dusty trail, Flagstaff,
in a faded photograph
Thunderstorm, Golden Sands
Cape of Horn, Pakistan
Surinam, Highway One
Chinatown, smoking gun
Golden Gate, Baltic Sea
Painted Desert, Laramie
Taj Mahal, Cameroon
Back in time, to the moon
Frozen lake, cypress trees
Florida's missing keys
El Dorado, Spain or bust
Eiffel Tower, Paris, just
Find your way in.

(John T. Williams, William Brown, Julius Green, Robert Philips)

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