On this day…
On this day 7 years ago, I was damaged. Encased in my sickness I fell head over heels in love with my ex-husband. Drifting between two worlds, neither of which were mine, I clung to his hoping I’d fit somehow. I didn’t. But I stayed anyway.
On this day 6 years ago, I was still in love. Lost. Hurting. Lonely. Desperate. But in love. Once again drifting because I refused to plant roots in soil I couldn’t touch, I abandoned myself and continued following him into hell. With every step I convinced myself that the incandescent flames I plowed toward would warm me and somehow its scorching beauty wouldn’t burn me to ash.
On this day 5 years ago, I stood in a bathroom alone. I placed my hand on my very pregnant belly which housed our two babies, I smiled through puffy eyes and a broken heart, and I snapped a picture. I posted it on Facebook and said, “Happy St. Patrick’s Day from the 3 of us.” I didn’t know where my husband was. I was engulfed by the flames and despite my stoic outsides, I was smoldering ash.
On this day 4 years ago, I found out I was pregnant with my youngest son. Hope was my anchor. I clung to it with borrowed strength. The weight of that anchor was more than our rope’s capacity and above what I could see, the rope was fraying. Nonetheless, there was faith laced optimism and it carried us through.
On this day 3 years ago, the last thread of that ragged rope unraveled. I once again stood alone. The shattering of my life happened in slow motion and with each jagged edge that pierced the earth below me; I felt another piece of myself change. I sat in the midst of that hell and clung to the only serenity I could find-the eyes of my children and the strength of my faith. It was too loud to hear everything. It was too painful to feel anything. I simply existed inside of it all. My fingers were gripped tightly around the ash of my life and as hard as I tried, I knew I’d never be able to turn that dirty dust back into anything I could hold.
On this day 2 years ago, I stood next to my lawyer, across from my ex-husband, in front of a judge as we hashed out the end of our years together. I spent the day prior playing with my sons outside. We rolled down the hills and I used their laughter to cover my fear. I carried their giggles in my pocket the following day and once again forced myself to stand as my knees continuously tried to buckle beneath me. I watched this scene of my life as a third party player and in the face of my worst nightmare, surrounded by the ruins of my own life, cinders of hope began to replace the ash of despair that covered my hands.
Grace carried me through the next year as I vacillated between gratitude and grief, struggling to stand on unsteady ground.
On this day 1 year ago, I could breathe for the first time in 6 years. I had real breath. Breath that filled my whole chest and generated life in my bones. I had memories of hell and scars as evidence of its existence, but I had freedom. In the face of all we lost, I could see the beauty in what we’d found. Strength I didn’t know I had. Forgiveness I didn’t believe was possible. Appreciation I didn’t think could be real. I had walked out of hell and washed away the last of its remains. The restoration wasn’t seamless but I had learned how to let go and there was a blazing beauty in that.
On this day now, I am astonished at what can happen when we walk despite weak knees, believe despite shattered hope, forgive despite unforgivable actions, and love against all odds. The fire that engulfed me 7 years ago has changed from the fervor of hell to the vigor of life. Those ashes I covered myself in have been washed away. The fear that once consumed my every breath has been replaced with faith. The collateral damage from years of unhealthy love and misguided efforts has been transformed into collateral beauty filled with gifts I never imagined.
On this day today I am grateful. I am whole. I have learned how to hold space for the past as it paved the way for the future. I accept that nothing is without flaw and some seasons will be more difficult than others; but I understand that as we refuse to give up and we hold onto hope, new life is found. I respect the wreckage and cling to the healing.
On this day I am equal parts past and future. Messy and beautiful. Broken and mended. Ruined and redeemed.
On this day, everything has changed; yet I am more me than I have ever been.
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