This past week, I shared the news of my marriage ending. This has been the hardest decision of my life, something I was nervous to talk about publicly, but how people responded more than surprised me.
To listen in on this post, click here:
I’ve seen others process pain publicly while it's still fresh, and I knew that wasn't the path for me. People can react in all kinds of ways that do not necessarily make difficult decisions any easier. We've been going through this for almost a year now, so when I chose to talk about the divorce on social media, it came more from a place of scars than wounds.
Here’s what I wrote:
“Our family is not ending, it’s changing,” I said to my kids in the hardest conversation I have ever had with them. Ashley and I are getting a divorce, and I feel conflicted in sharing this with you.
I don’t believe I owe the world my vulnerability; but the work of a writer, for me, has always been about being fully awake and engaged in life, even the difficult parts. This is one of those. When we share hard things, something inside of us seems to soften, and this, I think, is good.
I am grateful for Ashley and sad this chapter of our story is ending. We will, of course, continue to partner in raising our children, and I request the typical respect and privacy people ask for during such times. I promise you no one has been more unkind to me throughout this process than I have been to myself.
Yes, this is a death of sorts, and the grief at times has been overwhelming; but it also has been a season of personal transformation. In the disappearance of the old, I have seen the emergence of something new. And as the clouds begin to part, I am unsure of what that new thing will be or how it will unfold, but I can tell you this: It will be beautiful.
Thank you for the encouragement, support, and love for our family. The other day, my daughter Amelia drew a picture of all four of us (plus our dog Lyric), and I love what it represents. We are all standing together—in this, together. Something, I maintain, is not breaking; it’s changing—as is always the case with life. We humans do not break; we change, we grow, we become. And if we’re lucky, we bend towards the light.
At least, I hope we do.
When I posted this announcement, I was scared, worried about people judging me for ruining the lives of my children. But this thing called the Internet can sometimes surprise us.
After hitting publish, I took a deep breath and began checking comments, bracing myself for the worst. What came next was completely unexpected. No hate. No vitriol. No passive-aggressive “concerns” for me. Nothing but love. Encouragement. Support.
Hundreds of comments and messages came flooding in from acquaintances, old friends, and even strangers–all saying they were for me, praying for my family, hoping for the best for all of us. One reader sent this:
To tell or not tell is a hard decision for so many reasons. In your work, as someone whose own personal ‘story’ is such a part of the work, you would almost be remiss if you excluded a chapter or two. We all know what it’s like to read a book and get to a line or comment that seems to have come out of nowhere, and we scramble back through the pages we read, thinking, “Did I miss something?”
Some chapters are just better than others.
Your audience would have noticed your changes (and may have gotten an inkling already) in your current and future work. By opening up like you did, you have allowed your ‘flow’ to be continuous and prevented the backtracking. It would be hard for you to continue to move forward if you regularly felt you had to explain to and answer questions from those who felt they ‘missed something’.
Change is change, and only ‘good’ or ‘bad’ according to how we look at it. When we feel like we’ve ‘caused’ change, we have to label it or feel the need to justify it, forgetting that change is happening all the time and we just don’t acknowledge it.
Children raised in love will know it, even through change. Our kids model our behavior more than they hear our words; if they see that we have the self-love needed to make even hard changes, they will, too.
I’m sorry you are going through a tough time.
And on and on it went, one loving message after another. It was all so much to take in, too much to consume, that I had to go for a walk.
On my walk, I thought this must be what happens, or at least what can happen, when you share the parts of yourself you are most afraid to reveal. People can show up and surprise you; they can love you not in spite of those things, but because of them.
This, I think, is what we mean when we use that wonderful but oft-misunderstood word “grace.” When we allow ourselves to be vulnerable, we are, of course, opening ourselves up to be wounded. But we are also allowing ourselves the opportunity to be made whole. Only in the tenderness of potential pain can we experience deep love.
Until we do this work of showing up completely as ourselves, with all the parts we are afraid to bring, we can never truly be known in the ways we want. And only when we risk rejection can we experience unconditional acceptance. That's what happened for me, and it blew me away. You blew me away. I've been writing on this blog for nearly a decade now, and I never expected this. When I shared a hard part of my story, one I was inclined to hide due to fear or shame, you met me with kindness. And this stirred my spirit, kindling that creative fire within, encouraging me to keep going at a time when it was hard to find a reason to do so.
When the world seems to be burning down around us, while the very fabric of our society is being ravaged by a global pandemic and political and social turmoil, I see another story being told. There is still hope for humanity. Still room for kindness. Still a chance to love and be loved, to share our stories, and be seen for what we are.
I don't know what else to say. There’s no wise lesson here, no clever tie-in. I am just grateful and wanted to share this message with you as an encouragement as to why we share our stories: not just to heal others but to be healed ourselves.