Day 752

I never really knew my grandmother. My mother’s mother. She died when I was a baby. Cancer. My father’s father passed away when I was a senior in high school. Complications due to cancer. Cancer’s an asshole. My mother’s father left us when I was 27. He had a stroke. He held on longer than expected. He was stubborn that way. My father’s mother is 90 (don’t anyone dare tell her I put that information out into internet land…she will kill me). She doesn’t look a day over 60. I have good genes. All four of my grandparents lived through the Great Depression. Both of my grandfathers fought in World War Two. They raised children in the 50s and 60s. They lost parents, children, and each other. They struggled financially. They sacrificed for their family. They loved each other. These four people came together and made my mother and my father, who somehow found each other in this crazy world, and then they made me. I am a part of their legacy.  

I am often asked why I got divorced. Small talk, really. I encounter a number of new people in my career and inevitably the topic comes up. I don’t know how to gracefully reply. The fact is, there isn’t just one reason…there are a thousand reasons. Maybe more. You can’t boil down divorce to one act. One problem. One unfixable dilemma. The answer “adultery” seems to satisfy most people, which means I can quickly and safely change the subject. No one is gonna question adultery. No one wants to get lost down that awkward rabbit hole. But the honest to goodness truth is that I didn’t choose to divorce my husband merely because he cheated on me. In fact, I’m just as stubborn as my grandfather. I would have stayed forever just to make a point. To prove to the world that I could make my sad, pathetic little marriage work. To avoid failure. I’m not a moron. I realize he would have continued cheating. Nothing would have changed. I would have had to become one of those women who pretend not to notice. I would have had to find other reasons to feel joy in my life. I think I could have done that. Well, I think the old me could have done that. 

I know I’m skipping ahead in the story, but I think this is important. It’s important because my family is growing. My sister is about to have a daughter. She already has a son and I swear to God, he is the absolute best human that has ever been created. The continuation of my grandparent’s legacy and my parent’s legacy weighs heavy on my heart. The fact is, the main reason I got divorced was because too many people have worked too hard for me ever lay down and allow myself to be treated like someone’s trash. George Walker didn’t raise four daughters to have one of his granddaughters ignore her worth. Noda Mason Walker didn’t wait tables and scrimp and save so I would forget that I didn’t need a man’s money to survive. Martha Brock Hill didn’t help grow a theatre so that two generations later I would neglect my passion. Les Hill didn’t voice every opinion he had (like it or not) so that I would lose my voice. And most importantly, my parents didn’t raise a weak woman. They didn’t raise any weak women.  

That’s the real reason I got divorced. My life is built on the backs of all the sacrifices others have made before me. So that I could have this blessed life. So that I could grow up secure in my faith. So that I could grow up feeling loved. My divorce didn’t dishonor my family, but living a life where I would have been made to feel less than…that would have been the worst disgrace I could imagine. My legacy may not be like my sister’s. I may not have the opportunity to have children. That may not be God’s plan for me. When I think about my niece, who hasn’t even graced us with her presence yet, I worry about the road blocks she’ll encounter though life. I already pray for her safety and her happiness. My prayer is that every time she experiences hardships, she will be able to call upon the strength of those who came before her. That in some way she can learn from my mistakes. That she stands firm in her faith. My prayer is that when she gets dragged down; she is able to pull herself up, look around and exclaim “Hell no. I was made for more than this.” And maybe that can be my legacy. 

3 John 1:4 “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.” 

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My Second Divorceiversary

I hate the word “divorce.” As a divorced woman, I shy away from using it as much as possible. When I first became divorced, it was ridiculously difficult to even utter the word. I didn’t want that label attached to me. I didn’t want that term to help define who I was as a human, as a woman. It felt like a terrible secret, a scarlet “A”, the mark of Cain. Dirt that I couldn’t wash away. Just stick a sign on me that says “bad at marriage” and shove me out into the world. To me, that was the basic gist of what being divorced meant. Two years ago today, I joined the huge club belonging to divorced people. A club where I never wanted a membership. Who does? The upside of my two year long enrollment is that I have a little perspective and a whole lot of thoughts on the subject. And let’s be honest, we all know by now that I treat my opinions as facts. You’re welcome, cyber space.

Divorce isn’t funny. Society would tell us differently, but there is absolutely nothing funny about divorce. Yet, you can buy all sorts of t-shirts and mugs and novelty items that claim the contrary. There are an uncanny number of memes and hashtags and quotes trying to sell us on the fact that divorce is freakin’ hilarious and putting down your ex-husband or ex-wife is a perfectly natural response to your current situation. Y’all, can we please rise above that? Sure, there are times when I’ve had a glass of wine with Cheyenne and thanked God that my children will never have his nose, but that is a private conversation with the woman who watched me go through hell and crawl my way back. The truth is, divorce is pain. Divorce is tragic. Divorce is uncomfortable…and maybe that’s why we make jokes. Making light of a situation where two people are breaking a covenant they made between themselves and God isn’t appropriate. It isn’t comical. It isn’t meant to be used as entertainment. It’s sad. 

Being divorced means I’ve been married. It means I had the courage to devote myself to another human. All of myself. It means I’m capable of a love that is only meant for your spouse. And if I’ve done it once, then I can do it again. Getting married, taking on a lifelong teammate, choosing to put another’s needs above your own…that’s brave. That’s beautiful. That is an act that every divorced person has owned. I know plenty of wonderful people who wouldn’t even have the guts to try. We tried. It didn’t work out, but we tried. For all of you who tried, who were able to stick to your vows, who loved when it was hard to love…pat yourself on the back. You’re bold. You’re daring. You’re strong. 

The biggest fact I’ve learned in the past two years, and stay with me here because this is important: Nobody cares. You feel humiliated. You feel failure. You feel guilt. These are feelings you have put upon yourself. And yes, these are feelings that I put on myself. But, in reality, nobody else shamed me. My family stood by me every step of the way. My friends are the most supportive humans on the planet. It’s been a nonissue in my career. My church family prayed for me. Honestly, once it was all said and done, everyone was glad to see him gone. I realize not everyone has had the “easy road” that I had (although I’ve certainly had some shade thrown my way), but it’s important to take stock and own your feelings. Who is making you feel this way? Most likely, it’s you. And that’s fair. But if you’re the one hating on yourself, it’s gonna be a helluva lot harder to heal. 

I let myself believe for a long time that I had failed God. I’d made a covenant with him and I’d broken it. I couldn’t save the marriage. I gave up. The important thing to remember is that it was a covenant between three, not two. Him, me, and God. Two of us stood. Two of us tried. Two of us put in the work. And when the moment came, God released me from my marriage. And I’m a better person for it. I still hate the word “divorce”, and I can’t laugh during a stupid sitcom when they make “divorce jokes”..but every day the feeling of shame lessens. Every day I am reminded that even though someone left my life, God has allowed so much pure and selfless love to enter my life. And, because of my divorce, I have the ability to love them back. 

Deuteronomy 1: 11 “May the Lord, the God of your ancestors, increase you a thousand times and bless you as he has promised.”