After Divorce, Remember to Recycle
I drove up to a home today, I’m a Realtor.
The home’s new owners were not there. The home had a vacant look to it.
In the driveway was a large garbage can. It had no lid. There was a broom handle sticking out and a framed, hand-drawn portrait of the profiles of the couple who had sold the home was plain to see from street as I parked.
I paused in my car and looked at the picture. It wasn’t a great work of art, it seemed by the hairstyles to be an older drawing. But regardless of when it was drawn or by whom, it broke my heart and made me pause in the car and think about the significance of what I was looking at before opening the car door to get out.
I considered taking it with me and throwing it out in a less conspicuous place. I considered turning it over so the neighbors didn’t see it. And then I considered leaving it exactly as it was.
You see, “exactly as it was”, it had power and a story to tell.
Divorce is so very hard, regardless of how it comes about, who files, what each person says. It’s a wound that changes people forever. My goal is to teach women how to heal that wound with strength and humor and stability and grace and a willingness to let go of all that she thought would be.
That picture in the garbage had a profound impact on me. I wonder what pictures of me have found their way into the trash at the side of my ex’s driveway?
This thought makes me suddenly cry. (And now I have to stop typing and I cover my face with my hands and I hear my own voice, deeply crying. I sniffle. I unwrap the two napkins from the cup of coffee next to me and blow my nose in them.)
“Where the hell did that come from?” I ask myself.
The entire episode lasts maybe 30 seconds but was so intense. Big fat, ugly hot tears nearly 4 years after moving out and still, I cry. It was NOT supposed to be this way. That’s a phrase I heard a lot in my own mind those early months. All these years later it’s much less frequent but still there.
I still believe in marriage, I am still so excited for people when they get engaged. But for me, I continue to work really hard to not feel that I was discarded, unneeded, unwanted, having out-lasted my usefulness or novelty so that I wouldn’t start each day with the image of myself in a garbage can at the end of the driveway.
Getting divorced does more than up-end your life it changes your outlook, changes your expected life-ending and more importantly, in my opinion, it forces you to be alone. And there, right there, that is one of the greatest and most difficult gifts of divorce.
Regardless of how you got to this new place, the universe gives you this time to be with YOU, the person who needs you more than anyone else is yourself. This is the hardest part, but if you can embrace it and begin to find the value in yourself the healing begins and, I believe, a magic is unleashed.
And, as I write this, I realize, it was never a picture of me in the garbage can I should have been envisioning but of us. Just like I saw today. A couple. Two people got into this and two people got out of it. Two people will choose to make the best of a new start, if they are open to the possibilities that divorce offers for self-awareness, personal growth and true joy.
I’m home now, writing this, the wind is blowing outside and it’s supposed to be a stormy day. The framed picture I left in the garbage can will likely get soaked and destroyed but I can’t help but think now, in hindsight, I wish there had been a recycle bin for me to move that picture to. Because that is where those two people belong; headed for a total transformation, a fresh start, where they will use all they have learned from their previous lifetime and make something new, never before imagined and wildly fulfilling.