When you marry it gives you wings. You suddenly see yourself soaring otherwise insurmountable obstacles because you have your secret weapon, LOVE. You’re a teenager again with the familiar feeling of being invincible…bullet proof. He is the one you always dreamed of and you’re the only light he ever saw.
Then it happens. 5 years, 7 years, 10 years, or 15 years later you realize you’re not bullet proof. That your narrative is not unique, you’re not in a fairytale and he’s not your prince. The moment you smell the smoke you try to pass it off as a dream. This isn’t really happening; it’s just nightmare. This can’t happen to us. We’re the golden couple, remember? We are the couple others strive to be; the vision of “perfection”.
The night my marriage went up in flames was surreal. The pain was so strong it left a foul taste in my mouth and hole in my soul. I thought we were different. We were going to beat the odds. I meant it when I said till death do us part…didn’t you?
I knew that the conversation we were having was unlike any other, and that life as I knew it was evaporating. In that moment I could hear my heart shatter and in an instant my life incinerated. It is impossible to escape from this experience without getting burned; especially since the embers had smoldered for years. As the blaze spread, it no longer mattered who lit the fuse.
All the oxygen was sucked from the room and suddenly it was hard to breathe. I wanted to run from the inferno to catch my breath but I couldn’t because I knew it would only fan the flames. So, I did what I had been taught to do when catching fire in a burning room; stop, drop, and roll.
I stopped. Life stopped. Depression seeped in and everything just stood still. Food lost its taste, work lost its value, and I attempt to replenish my bleeding heart with wine. I knew I was at a cross roads and I was frozen like a deer in the headlights. I became engulfed in self doubt. Reliving every second of the moment my life erupted into a blaze of glory. I started to mistrust the path I had chosen. Am I strong for making him leave or am I weak for not trying to salvage the wreck? Petrified by fear and besieged by grief, the fire started to consume me.
I dropped. The weight of the situation was more than I could bear. He was gone. The marriage was over. I was alone with an infant. I couldn’t give a fuck about anything. I was tired. I had nothing more to give. The millions of vital decisions became trivial background noise. I stopped going to work, focused on caring for my baby, and dropped to 85 pounds. I had officially hit bottom. I no longer wanted him but I desperately wanted my future back. Everything I expected to give my daughter was now on the market, boxed in a truck, or torched by infidelity. This is the moment that I understood that my ex wasn’t the source of my pain, my expectations were. I realized I was the only one who could extinguish the fire.
I rolled. I began my rallying the troops! The love and encouragement from close friends and family facilitated my first roll. My second roll was saying my peace to my soon-to-be-ex-husband for some closure. My third roll came in the form of forgiveness; freeing myself from doubt and guilt. By my fourth roll, going back to work, I no longer felt the smoldering flames. I had escaped the towering inferno of divorce with only singed wings. I could still fly and I knew it. Every once in awhile a hot spot would flare up but now I had the courage, strength, and skill to extinguish it before I became consumed. I was no longer just a woman; I was a Phoenix. I was a majestic bird that had been set aflame only to be reborn and take flight again.