Almost three years ago now, I began telling friends and family that I was getting a divorce (and furthermore that I had initiated it). There was a mixture of predictable ‘horror’ responses that fell into one of three categories: tragedy (‘oh what a terrible loss’), war (‘better prepare for a legal battle’), or judgment (‘you’re making a terrible mistake’). Yet one response stood out for its utter singularity and unique wisdom — a friend’s father embraced me with, “What wonderful news! Congratulations!!! How brave you are! Getting divorced was the best thing that ever happened to me.”
Wow. That was different. He understood. Of course divorce is a painful process that affects a vast web of family and friends but believe me, nobody initiates a divorce just for fun. It happens because one person has been deeply unhappy for awhile. It happens because people drift apart and some marriages run their course. Or at least that’s how it was for me.
So imagine the relief I felt on a cold spring afternoon at a school track meet when this dear man acknowledged my courage. Learning how to trust myself and follow my heart even in the face of extreme disapproval was one of my most difficult lessons.
Divorce can be the best thing – a ‘blessing’ after many years of a slowly dying marriage. Divorce can be an act of liberation after much heartfelt soul searching. The real tragedy is living a hollow life in which you are paralyzed by fear and complacency. For myself, once I finally realized that the pain of holding on was worse than the pain of letting go, I felt a full, deep peacefulness . . . a lightness of being. And that was indeed wonderful news.