“marriage is for how long you can hack it. but divorce? just gets stronger like a piece of oak.” – Louis CK
While I tried for weeks to compose something coherent on the thought-swirls in my mind, I really couldn’t refine the random slur to follow. It is perhaps painfully raw…
My friend watched my last webisode and sent me a text:
You said ‘failed marriage.’ Just because it didn’t work out doesn’t mean you failed. You’re not a failure by any means.
Wait, I’m not a failure?
So then I began to think, why am I carrying so much guilt around being divorced? Is it because I was a preacher’s wife? Is it because I look at other married couples and think, if they can do it, why couldn’t we? Is it because I was raised that divorce is for horrible sinful quitting heathens? Is it because I feel like I screwed something up by being unlovable? Undesirable? Un-wifey? Or is it because I feel so good being divorced?
Probably a little of all of it. A big burrito of guilt. Guilt Burrito.
I was raised Catholic. Then I went to a Lutheran school (which was awful for other reasons…we’ll put that story in the parking lot for now…). Then I went to a Christian School and barely survived that one.
One of my first conversations in 6th grade at said school went something like this:
Them: You should date Rocky.
Me: But I don’t wanna date Rocky.
Them: You should tho.
Them: Because you both have brown skin! ((cuutee!!))
The next conversation went like this:
Them: But…are you…SAVED?
Me: From what?
And yet, somehow, my faith in God is what has always kept me together. Rather than blaming God for making idiots, and rebuking God, I clung to God, certain that God is way more loving and forgiving than these strange humans I share space with. I refuse to believe that God made us in God’s own image and gave us the gift of free will, beautiful earthly bodies, gleaming, heavenly souls, a plentiful land to thrive on, and then we go and make rules to abstain from all of it, reside in guilt, blame others that aren’t as miserable as we are, and then ask God to reward us for being cranks. I don’t believe in that God.
((bear with me — I also don’t believe God should be limited by gender-specific pronouns))
So if we eliminate all that good ‘ol Christian/Catholic guilt, who said marriage MUST be forever? Was it God? Or was it people?
Me thinks to meself, good Christian woman that I am, I’ll consult the Bible.
I mean, honestly, the Bible paints a very lovely picture of very lovely marriages when they are very lovely and holy and pure and pleasing in God’s sight. But what human is holy and pure? Right.
If you really want to read everything the Bible says about marriage, go for it here. Truth be told, some of it is really discouraging as a human being — no, as a woman being. The woman is forced into adultery if her husband divorces her. Oh and how about this one from Proverbs:
It is better to live in a corner of the housetop than in a house shared with a quarrelsome wife.
Dude. Really, Bible? Really? Are you serious? What if the man is the whiner? Then do I get a pass?
Over and over and over again, it is the woman that is shamed and humiliated and sinful if a marriage ends. Doesn’t really seem fair, does it?
((flashbacks to Christian Feminism with Dr. Lynn Japinga at Hope College))
So I closed my Bible. It’s not God’s fault the Bible didn’t comfort me.
And then I prayed. I talked to God. We had us a lil one-on-one. And what God placed on my heart was a sense of peace.
Octavia, its OK. Believe it or not, you’re doing everything right. OK, maybe not right right… just not-wrong.
I’m not certain these were God’s exact words. But I know that a gnawing anxiety over my divorce left. My soul was well.
I was watching some late show one night a few years back, just when I started to doubt the foreverness of my marriage. Olivia Wilde was on. She said nearly the exact same thing that night that I pulled from another interview posted online:
“In Olivia Land, relationships can legally only last seven years, without an option to renew. That way it never goes stale,” she explained.
I was like hahaa that’s dumb.
But she was already where I am now. She had recently ended a marriage that began in one place and ended up in another that was just a stone’s throw from Misery, USA.
If marriages had time limits, would we be more hopeful? More patient with each other? Would we enjoy each other more? Would we start looking at our spouses less like cinder blocks pulling us daily one inch closer to the cemetery plot and see them more like mystical fleeting blessings that we must cherish and hold on to for the short time we’re together?
I had to add the next part purely for comic relief…insert laughter below.
As for me? Well, truth be told, I am enjoying my divorce. Yeah, I said it.
While all the life logistics of starting over are excruciating, I’m a stronger individual. I’m a stronger woman. Emotionally, spiritually, mentally and honestly, physically, too. I’m gradually pulling my confidence and self-worth back from wherever I stashed it, and forming it into a pool of bright light that guides me through the darkest of days. I’m letting go of whatever it is I spent a decade convincing myself I should be, and started embracing who I’m really meant to be. I’m a better mother. I’m a better friend. I’m a better daughter.
Well, my friend from above concluded her text saying:
…you both learned what you needed to and therefore it was a success.
Moral of the story: yes, I’m divorced. And my marriage, while not forever, was indeed a success.