The Unexpected Beauty of Divorce
This is my dog, Sheriff, who I haven’t seen in over four years. Why am I introducing you to Sheriff and what the heck does he have to do with the unexpected beauty of divorce? Well, it’s a little complicated…
In late 2014, my then-husband Drew* and I separated and divorced. It was horrible.
Part of what made it so horrible was all the overly simplistic and self-righteous shit people say about marriage and divorce (without thinking about the implications of their words)…
“Nobody wants to fight for their marriage anymore.” Translation: people who get divorced are lazy or weak.
“People have forgotten that love is a choice, not a feeling.” Translation: people who get divorced are selfish and too preoccupied with being "happy" in their relationship.
“It’s just so sad that no one takes their marriage vows seriously anymore.” Translation: people who get divorced are cavalier and untrustworthy.
At the time, boy oh boy, this kind of stuff really made me want to eat a grenade sandwich.
To be completely honest, the year and a half leading up to my divorce felt a lot like dragging myself, broken and bleeding and full of grief and self-doubt, through the bleakest and most desolate valley I have ever encountered.
It was like I had an ice cold hand clenching ever tighter around my heart. I was scared to death that my heart would be crushed under the pressure of that hand’s grip and that eventually I would really and truly break. And when the time came, my heart WAS crushed and I DID break, but the world didn’t end.
The painful months between filing and having our divorce finalized were full of total shit and piles of diamonds. I felt elated, relieved, discouraged, confident, liberated, disgusted, afraid, thankful, angry, lonely, hopeful, and overcome with a sadness so heavy that I thought I would suffocate under its weight.
But what I didn’t realize was that I was tilling the soil of my life so that all of the beautiful things I’d been wanting to plant could finally grow.
Here are some of those beautiful things…
(1) More days than not, I am deeply grateful to God/Spirit/the Universe for sending my ex-husband to me to teach me some really important lessons that I desperately needed to learn. Every part of me wishes that I could have learned them in some other way — a gentler and less heart-shattering way — but I am starting to understand that perhaps there was no other way but this way, no other path but this path.
(2) I get to do work that I love and that lights me up inside — teaching yoga and working one-on-one with therapeutic bodywork clients. I get to walk alongside people experiencing the exact same joyful, terrifying, transformative journey that I’m on. And it is just the absolute BEST.
(3) The man that I’m married to now is, without a doubt, the great love of my life. He sees and receives me. He supports and believes in me. He loves me fiercely. He loves me in the way that I have, if I’m honest, always wanted to be loved but never thought possible until now.
So, back to the dog…
A couple of weeks ago, Drew texted me to ask if I could take our dog back.
Drew and I never fought over who would get Sheriff when the dust of our divorce finally settled. It felt like from the very beginning, we had an unspoken and complete understanding that Sheriff would go with Drew. Simply put, I had no desire to try to take Sheriff from him — it made me happy to think that Drew would still have someone to come home to at the end of the day. And I also knew that he would be able to give Sheriff a better life than I could on my own (a house with a big backyard, supplements for his bum knees, stability).
And I’ve never regretted not fighting over Sheriff. But I still love him a whole heck of a lot and miss him terribly sometimes.
So when Drew texted me to tell me that his 2-week-old baby is allergic to dogs and Sheriff needed a new home and asked if I could take him, I felt my heart swell in my chest. Partly because I’m so happy that I get to spend the next few years with the gentlest, smartest, most loyal doggo on the planet. But also partly because a man who I used to love (and who really, really hated me for a little while) is happy now too — he’s remarried and has two beautiful kids — and because he trusted me enough to reach out when life threw him a curve ball.
Divorce is hard. And it’s ugly. But it can be beautiful too.
Namaste, Drew. I see your light and wish you nothing but love, love, and more love.
*name has been changed.