Pathways Carved By Sorrow: Working Through Divorce Grief
I say without shame that over the past two years since divorcing, I’ve felt lows unlike anything I’ve ever felt before. It wasn’t just because of experiencing infidelity, though that full-body shock and heartbreak was excruciating. There were also many other kinds of ‘lows’: feelings of emptiness….restlessness… loneliness. And of course the big one: FEAR.
Time and time and time again, I asked myself: “Why is all this happening to me?” And some calm voice in my head would always respond, “So that you can learn and grow, Delaine. Just trust that there is a bigger reason for all this; this is not your final destination.” Most times, I could accept that answer, albeit resignedly. But sometimes I couldn’t. And I’d beg, scream, even bargain with the universe to “Chuck me a bone, damnit!” I just wanted to FEEL my smile again…
As time moved forward, so too, came the gentle reprieves: a few weeks would go by, maybe even a month, where I’d feel really good. But inevitably, that would change: I’d suddenly feel awful again, sometimes in response to an external event, sometimes for no apparent reason at all. I’d examine my pain for a solution, listen to what it was trying to tell me. And if no response came, I was even harder on myself and more depressed; a terrible downward spiral. How many shades of unhappiness are there? I wondered sadly. I’d almost yearn for my old married life, if not for the ’predictability’ of it. ‘
I’m almost three years into my divorce now. And though I wish I could sit here and say that my emotional ’downs’ have ceased, I admit that I do still go there periodically…though mercifully, not as frequently or for as long. It’s not because my outer world is now all in order; it really isn’t. It’s more that the Woman I’ve grown into chooses to distance herself from all the troubles and unknowns she’s facing…
It’s not that I’m denying or avoiding my problems. Nor am I running away from my feelings. It’s more like I’ve accepted that my worries and ugly feelings are there, but I don’t let them control my brain like I once did. It’s like… I’m not terrified of the many shades of sorrow anymore; they can’t shock me or enchain me because I’m already well-acquainted with them. (Does that make sense to anyone but me?)
I dare even say that the depths of my sorrow have opened me, made me more appreciative of, joy – in whatever forms it takes. The joy of small things, simple things, can dance around inside me in ways they never did before. I FEEL more expansively. It’s as if the paths sorrow carved in my body and soul have created a new space for feelings of happiness to explore and abound. It’s as if I’ve finally realized that the sorrow I experienced was not meant to be my enemy, but my teacher…and my friend.
A close friend of mine who recently lost his young wife to cancer sent me this quote from artist and poet, Kahlil Gibran: “The deeper sorrow carves into your being the more joy you can contain.” And I can’t help but smile. Cause even though the ‘carving process’ sucked, the truth and promise of this quotation resonate within me… And it fills me not just with hope, but with the expectation that when I do fall in love again, I will do so with MORE of me, and that the joy I’ll experience will surpass anything I’ve felt before.