Sunday, November 26, 2017

This Too Is Gonna Pass

"If you can keep it together, just keep it together, you're fine, 
because one way or another, for better or for worse, this too is gonna pass."
-Quiet Company "On Ex-Husbands & Wives"

I love holidays, all holidays. Despite how commercialized they've all become, they all give me a thrill, and I love celebrating them. All year long - Valentine's Day, Easter, Independence Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hogmanay (New Year's Eve) - I look forward to participating in whatever traditional, cheesy festivities accompany each upcoming holiday.

This year, however, has been a year full of really hard holidays, for it was the first year of celebrating each holiday without a husband. 

I haven't talked much about my divorce here. For nearly the entirety of this blog's existence, it was Scott-and-Lori. Scott and I started dating only months after I started blogging in 2003, and he's been a main character ever since. Moving it away from was a weird transition, and I haven't really known where to go with it since. (Thus the "in flux" bit.) A lot has happened in our lives this year that didn't feel appropriate to share publicly, and especially not here, where our relationship has been hosted for its entire existence.

But it's been almost a year (in fact, it's been pretty much exactly a year since the break-up started, though it wasn't made public until a few months later) and at some point me and my blog have to move on.

Last year, Scott and I celebrated Christmas and New Year together, but by the end of January, Scott had moved out, and come February I was faced with my first annual holiday without him. 

This was my first Valentine's Day as a single woman in thirteen years. I tried to act grossed out by all the pink and red hearts and balloons and flowers splattered across every shopping center like a murdered cupid, but deep down it was a deeply painful season. Scott, knowing how much I love holidays, especially Valentine's, brought me flowers that afternoon, despite the rawness and ugliness of everything going on at the time. It was a gesture that foreshadowed the sensitivity and graciousness with which we would strive to handle this whole separation and divorce thing in the months (and presumably years) to come. 

We decided around Memorial Day that until further notice, we would just celebrate holidays together as a family, and that's how we've done it since. Fourth of July, Labor Day, Halloween, and most recently Thanksgiving have all been shared with the kids and with each other. It's been the single most important thing for us that the kids feel secure and safe, and while there's always the risk of the kids harboring hope that we'll get back together, we feel keeping a close co-parenting, family-of-a-different-kind relationship has got to be better for them than separating our entire lives and never crossing paths with each other. We're still a family and always will be one. Just a different kind of family.

But of all the holidays we've survived this year, Christmas is without a doubt going to be the hardest. It's a time of year oozing with memories, mostly wonderful but now bittersweet at best. As has always been the tradition, I put up our Christmas tree yesterday, the day after Thanksgiving, and not surprisingly, it produced a lot of emotions.

We don't have a "pretty" Christmas tree. We don't have matching baubles or sprigs of holly or fancy bows. We have a vast array of mismatched ornaments that each carry with them some kind of sentimental value. We have ornaments from our very first Christmas together, multiple "baby's first" ornaments, ornaments that were gifts from various loved ones, Lolly's birthday ornaments (with a birthday a week before Christmas, it became a tradition early on to give out ornaments as party favors every year) and the annual selections for each member of the family that we choose every year based on what the kids (and sometimes the grown-ups) are interested in. There are memories attached to just about every single thing we hang on the tree.

I knew decorating the tree this year was going to be difficult, so I braced myself for an onslaught of emotions when I opened the red plastic Christmas decorations tub. Even still, there was no way to be totally prepared for the intensity of feels that came with handling each ornament and recalling the associated memories. Perhaps the saddest one was the ornament labeled "McFarlanes 2016" - a gingerbread family with all of our names etched on them.

I remember receiving that gift last year (from my mother, I believe) and feeling a rush of regret - no one really knew what we were going through yet, and as I looked at this ornament, I recalled thinking how sad it was that quite possibly by next year we wouldn't be that family anymore. And sure enough, we aren't.

It's hard to explain the feelings that all of this year's holidays have brought, especially this season. How do I adequately explain all the mixed emotions that I've felt, especially when I barely understand them myself? 

It would be natural for one to assume that I wish my marriage hadn't fallen apart, but the truth is I don't feel our decision to end our marriage was wrong. I don't think Scott thinks so either. We don't long to be back together, but there is still this feeling of ... regret? failure? a dream lost? grief? 

We never intended our marriage to end this way. We thought we'd be together forever. We believed in marriage, we believed in everlasting love. To not achieve that goal feels like a massive failure. Furthermore, we have a family that we never intended to split up. Breaking up our family is the biggest failure I can conceive of committing. I look back on everything we did wrong and wonder if we could've done something sooner to salvage the relationship. But the reality is, people change. Neither of us are the same people we were when we said I Do. We did a good job of trying to grow together and change together, but in the end it wasn't enough. Calling it quits when we did meant we could go on as co-parents and friends, but it still feels like we failed. Honestly, it mostly feels like *I* failed. For the truth of the matter is, it was me that messed everything up and brought the marriage to its end. 

Yet for all the regrets and mistakes, I still believe we've made the right choice. I try not to speak for Scott anymore, but I think it's safe to say we're both happier now, even though there's still a lot of sadness too. Divorce causes a slough of emotions, both sad and happy. It would be an incomplete picture to only paint one part of that. So yes, this year has been a hard one for me. But the year has also been a good one. A really good one in many ways, while also being extremely painful in others. Blue skies and gray skies. How do you explain those mixed emotions and mixed experiences coherently? I'm still not sure I understand it myself.

Writing about it has been rather off-limits, even though the limits are mostly self-imposed. It's still raw sometimes, and I haven't felt comfortable publicly sharing things so deeply personal. Yet I love blogging, and while I've written many things for my own eyes only, not blogging about about the things that are most real in my life has felt like cutting off an appendage. So this coming year, while I will still probably keep many things to myself, I've decided it's time to allow myself to blog about my life again. It'll be difficult to sort through what is shareable and what is not, but at some point I've got to be able to move on and write again.

In the meantime, I've got one last holiday season to get through as a first time single woman and mother. With it will come tears and regrets just like with the other holidays, but this particular time of year will be harder than all the rest. What's comforting though is I'm not going through it alone. Scott and I may not be a couple anymore, but we are still a family, and we've committed to continue doing this life thing as friends. With the support of our families and friends, we will do just fine, even when life is at its hardest. 

1 comment:

  1. Lori, I must be living in a cave; I had no idea you and your family were going through this. <3

    Sending you all of life's love.


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