Difficult days and long years have filled my life lately. The idea of being tested by an above power does not even begin to sum up the challenges that have been placed in my path. Financial struggles amongst international adoptions, freak wasp attacks that send four year olds to the hospital via ambulance, random trees falling on and totaling both family cars. Suicidal ideation, depression, anxiety attacks, PTSD, ADHD, forced hospitalizations, insurance denials for triple surgeries that had been pre-approved, all of this and more occurred over the past few years within my family.
But we are fighters. We are stubborn and strong and got through it. We may had been limping, medicated, and on crutches but we did it.
Then, that long dark middle that we were entrenched in turned into a high, step mountain that, with little light provided by the night, commanded collapse.
There are the trying time- the times that you end the day with a good cry and a bottle of wine with, and then there are the times that are the longest and darkest. The times that break you. I finally broke. My marriage broke. My family broke. The culmination of life had become too much to take and I fell apart no longer able to hold myself or anyone else together. For when your fulcrum is a childhood laced with abuse and neglect the pivoting ceases as more and more is piled high upon it, and then collapse begins.
Slow at first.
Like a low burn that can last for months or years until the fuse reaches its end. Then, one day the explosion occurs. Our explosion happened just a few months ago. My husband and I separated and swore to divorce each other. Not because we did not love each other, but because we just could not see life from each others perspectives any longer. We were tired, lonely, and just needed space to rest.
We had hit our bottom.
I left town with the kids for a few days and immersed them in the charm of a mountain town. We spent lazy days swimming in pools and nights cuddled together on a bed, holding each other as we fell to sleep watching bad tv shows.
My bottom was a sad, lonely place but, in the midst of it all, when I was lying in bed awake in the middle of the night wondering how we ever got here, there was still a light as faint and dim as it was.
That light contained hope.
Hope that this was not the end of our marriage, that we could struggle and fight and even leave each other only to later return home and again find each other. But, if it was the end, that there was something beyond.
This hope was witnessed in the fact that even though we were officially separated we kept in contact every hour of the day. It was shown in the dozens of emails, text messages, and phone calls that we received from friends and family just checking in on us. It was shown through the time that people gave to comfort each of us in the specific ways that we needed it the most, through the leniency of my professor as I explained my situation, and it was shown though the random kindness of strangers who held me up as I cried in public for maybe the second time in my life.
It was shown by the affection the hotel staff gave to my children, and how they provided them with desserts, on the house, every night of our stay.
I had been surrounded by hope and love the entire time yet somehow I had managed to miss it. I was so focused on what was going wrong in my life that I was missing everything that mattered. Everything that made life worth the struggle.
After a few days away, the kids and I made our drive back home and back to real life. Since our separation and my realization, my husband and I have spoken more honestly with each other than we have in years. We continue to want to give our marriage the effort it deserves.
We are dating again.
We are taking it slow.
We are being intentional about spending time with and getting to know each other. Life had become so overwhelming with its monotony and distractions that we had forgotten to love one another in the ways that we needed.
We are creating a new chapter, not a new beginning. We can not erase the past and the numerous ways we have unintentionally hurt each other but we can acknowledge them, apologize, and learn from them. We can constantly improve because there is always hope. No need for a New Year to make or renew promises.
Do it today.
Do it now.
Make sure the people in your life know their importance. Whether it be your spouse who you have come to take for granted, the friend who is always there even when they are not thanked, the observer who witnesses only a hour or two of your life but provides more comfort then you could have imagined through his broken english, the kids who run up to you and hug no matter how you look or act, and the family who supports you through it all.
Love them well and let everything else fall to the side. For it can wait and they cannot.
There is hope in all things. In endings. In beginnings. Even in the long, dark middle.