This past weekend I had the opportunity to attend a conference for divorced Catholics. This was one of the first events I had attended where I was actually in the “next stage” of the healing process. I remember people telling me, “It gets easier” and nodding in disbelief. How will this get easier? And there I was, telling other women, that very same advice (with my own little add-on). “It gets easier! But I know what you’re going through right now is straight hell.” The first parts of separation/divorce are nothing short of devastation and that is fact. As much as I wanted to show them that life goes on in a rich new light, it doesn’t change what they are currently experiencing. What we all experienced. Deep pain, not feeling like it will ever get better, and times where you can’t even remember what happiness felt like. Even though my progress doesn’t make the early stages any easier, it does illustrate hope. Hope is best found by immersing yourself in a community created by people who have gone through a similar trauma.
Some days, I had people checking in on me by the hour. Whether it be a text message or a prayer or a phone call. We must rely on those who want to show us support. Let someone watch your kids. Go get a massage. Take some time alone to cry. Dealing with the pain and heartbreak in the day-to-day is rough. It is meant to be done carefully, moment by moment. Celebrate the small victories of handling days well. Did you keep your child alive? Eat something? Laugh at happy hour with some ladyfriends? Perfect! Those are all huge accomplishments when you’re processing the loss of your former life. I was reminded of this quote that a dear friend had sent me mid-divorce:
“The women whom I love and admire for their strength and grace did not get that way because shit worked out. They got that way because shit went wrong, and they handled it. They handled it in a thousand different ways on a thousand different days, but they handled it. Those women are my superheroes.” – Elizabeth Gilbert
My prayer for all of you who are handling the shit that didn’t work out is that you’d find the strength to get through each individual moment. My prayer is that you’d handle the grief in a healthy and hopeful way. That you wouldn’t rush the process. And before you know it, you’ll be on the other end of the “it gets easier” conversation.
Image by Elissa Anne Photography