Sometimes when things are falling apart, they may actually be falling into place.
Yesterday, I saw five different faces of women going through different phases of divorce. In each of them, I saw something different reflected back to me. They are listed here in the order in which I faced them yesterday.
First-up is a woman in her early 80’s whose face shows me that one can survive, even thrive, after the end of her marriage. Although she and I have worked closely together for several months, it was just yesterday that she revealed to me her story of marriage and divorce. Her story reveals that things can get better. She is my face of thriving after divorce.
Second up is a woman who just this week filed for divorce. She has not yet told her husband. Although she is calm in her decision, in her face and her story I see the fear of the unknown: “How can I afford this? How is he going to behave towards me? Where am I going to live? How am I going to do this? Where am I going to get the support I need to move forward?” For me, hers is the face of change and fear covered by a thin veneer of strength and fortitude.
The third woman is just now starting to see the cracks in the vessel of her marriage. She is feeling burnt out. Yet she is spending so much of her energy into “keeping it all together” that she is not putting any energy into herself nor into changing her situation. Her hands shake nervously as she thinks about all of the things she has to do. She has two young children and to her right now leaving her husband is not even a thought that has crossed her conscious mind. If she has thought about leaving, it has been met with much resistance and denial. She is the face of the status quo for me. This is a face that I knew all too well just over a year ago.
The fourth woman is closer to my age and has been divorced for a few years now. She is starting to date and to realize that there is life after divorce. Her life story is similar to mine in many ways. In fact, some of the things she told me were things that I was able to predict based on my own experiences. Together, we shared the bittersweet stories of our marriages, the fears we have faced and the freedoms we have experienced. She shows me that this too shall pass. Hers is the face of perseverance for me.
The final woman’s insecurities have surfaced after meeting and talking with four other women, in the same day, about their marriages and divorces. The final woman’s face is the one I see when I look in the mirror. The smile that usually lights her face can no longer hide her pain. In her eyes I see fear, insecurities and her vulnerabilities.
This woman is afraid to let go of the “Norman Rockwell” images of a whole happy family living under one roof. Her move is less than two weeks away, yet she sits frozen in fear, guilt and shame. She fears the perceived “damage” it will do to her children. Perhaps this is why she moves in fits and starts.
Yet among all of this, there is a familiar sparkle in her eye. It is here that she holds the vision of the many freedoms that lie before her. There is strength in her frame. There is power in her stride. Even though inside she feels broken, deep down she knows that she is whole. It is now that she begins the process of rebirth. She is shedding her skin so that she can begin again. Hers is the face of trepidation with the determination to move forward; to blaze a new trail.