SHARED BY KIMBERLY MITCHELL
Purple. I felt purple. It was beyond the darkness of the blues you get when you’re going through hard times. It bruised my heart like a beyond-the-blues beating. Hadn’t life already doled out my fair share of troubles and murky shadows laced with leprous legions of brokenness?
I guess not. Life wasn't finished with me yet.
I was standing in the plain, brown dining room with my young daughters because it was time for homework and studying. The homemade chili was bubbling in the slow-cooker as I hovered over their shoulders, stroking their curly, black hair and checking over simple math problems. I was unaware of my own severe problem looming in the backdrop of my life—until that night.
"Hello," he said from the living room.
He was taking a call on his cell phone, which was nothing new to me. His friends always called in the evening. Though looking back now, they were always calling—any time of day. But I trusted him like I trusted the sun to rise each morning. My love for him was more than the love I felt for myself.
I peeked my head into the hall to see his handsome face. I did that all the time; I just wanted to see him.
“Mom!” called one of my daughters.
“Here I come,” I replied.
The End of a Marriage
It was right there in that tiny place of the hall where I saw it. His entire face shifted into the shadow of a statue. I didn’t recognize his posture. I didn’t recognize his voice suddenly muffled into the phone. Right there was when I realized he was talking to someone—someone who was not supposed to be on the phone within the walls of our home. I saw it clearly. I made a beeline into the living room to stand next to him where he sat on the couch.
“No, I’m in the house with the wifey for the rest of the night,” he continued saying nonchalantly.
I slowly crossed my arms, the way suspicious wives do when they are reading the faces of lying husbands. He hung up the phone.
"Who was that?” I asked.
"The phone. The one on the phone."
"That was Joe. He was talking about going out bowling or something. I told him I was staying home."
He was lying. He was lying right to my face with the kids sitting at the table in the next room doing math problems. The more he talked, the more he lied. I could see it on his face. The lies were dripping from his beautiful lips. Lips I wanted to grab and kiss to make sure he still wanted me. As I looked at those lips I wanted to hug him into loving me harder than he ever had before this phone call. But he didn’t. I could sense in his energy that he was looking around me for the nearest exit.
"You’ve never called me that: 'wifey.' Where did that come from? That’s strange."
I was so calm that he began to panic. Without responding, he excused himself from the cozy living room and stepped outside to have a smoke. My gut told me to act. My heart said to let him lie to me, so we could continue our fairy tale. But again, my gut told me to move. Move now!
So I reached for my phone and called Joe’s wife.
Several minutes went by before my husband came back in the house. I had put the kids to bed. I wanted to be alone with him because I knew things were about to seriously change.
"Please, get your things and leave this home. You are cheating. It’s over."
My words were even and slow. My breathing was surprisingly normal.
"I called his wife. They’ve been watching movies all night together. I don’t care what comes out of your mouth next. Just leave and don’t you dare wake up the kids when you go. They deserve one last night of safe sleep."
With that, he somberly went to our bedroom and packed a small duffel bag. I remember thinking he wasn’t taking enough. I knew he wasn’t coming back. He must have thought he’d return in a few days.
There are some who say I was brave. There are some who say it was the right thing to do. There are even some who told me I should have kept my mouth shut to hold onto my marriage and avoid the agony of divorce. I say I was a coward, but I did it anyway. I say it was the only thing to do, so my children would not witness their mother being hurt that way.
I went through the agony of divorce, the stifling pain of breaking up a family, and I came out on the other side. It wasn’t a cakewalk, but it wasn’t something I would wish on an enemy either.
I was purple. I was beyond the blues of brutal beatings. Notice the verb "was." That part has passed. My heart has healed. My hope has been restored, and my life went on to bigger and better things. And while I want to say all this with full and complete confidence, I can’t, because it’s not altogether true.
There are days when the questions swirl around my mind like the winds of a tornado begging for the answers to the "what ifs" and the "whys." So I recover. And I keep recovering. Every. Single. Day.
That’s how I know you, too, will be just fine. Life hurts like a broken leg sometimes, but we keep going forward whether by the help of a crutch, a wheelchair, or a cane. Keep pressing forward until you are able to run with the rest of them. As long as you are moving, you will be okay. After all, no one is able to successfully take out a moving target.
Grieving and Healing
How does one become a moving target? I wish it were an easy feat, but it’s not. I am human, a woman who was deeply covered in love that left me feeling breathless whenever I even whispered his name.
The first thing I had to do was inevitable—I grieved. Although, I tried pretending I was fine with my choice because I had six little eyeballs looking at me every day, and of course they needed my shoulder more than ever. But I eventually found myself moping along like a mudslide slipping its way down a wet hill. In spite of my strength, all of the counseling, and all the self-help books, I found myself crying, which actually unearthed some of the pain, releasing it from my body.
Give yourself that time. Go to the car and cry. Sit in the backyard and cry. Take a walk and cry. I learned not to explain my tears. I learned not to feel guilty or ashamed of my tears. I learned to let people hold me, support me, and give me encouraging words.
First of all, I implore you to be absolutely sure the marriage is over. For two years, I wrestled with the idea of ending this relationship. I understood everything was going to change absolutely and forever. I did everything possible to fix the broken bond that encapsulated my home, swaddled my babies, and made me feel safe and loved. Divorce should never be used as a threat in an argument or as a way to control your spouse. You’ll only drive him or her away because you are really planting seeds of fear and the pain of rejection. You can imagine my heartache when my family was ripped apart by this ugliness.
Immediately after I filed the papers, I felt the world tilt. Divorce was never meant to be an option for me. I happily entered into marriage thinking it wouldn’t be like the marriages of others who went through divorce. But in the end, I was proven wrong, and I now understand that anyone is vulnerable to this ever-looming threat. I wish I knew how to better protect my marriage; I wish my mate had wanted the same. I was in a relationship where love and disrespect were woven together like a tattered blanket that couldn’t keep me warm on a cool night. No matter who files the papers, the pain is still there.
Next, I would advise anyone going through this transition to find a way to tell everyone at one time, except for the children, who should be told privately. Admitting my marriage was over was an absolute nightmare. It was like getting divorced over and over again because each time I ran into someone who would ask about my family, I had to tell the truth. The knife would turn inside my heart a little more each time. Every visit to church, there it was. Every visit to the grocery store, there it was. Every visit to an event involving friends, there it was again.
In retrospect, I wish I mailed out divorce announcements in the same way I sent out save-the-date wedding invites. Life would have been easier for me.
Equally important to surviving and thriving through and beyond divorce would be a system of support. Surround yourself with people who can build you a proverbial fire on cold nights. Say "yes" to everything you are invited to attend—and then show up! Seriously, get out and show up. Do not resign yourself to staying in bed to watch TV and read books like I did. I turned down so many invitations that could have eased my grief and curtailed the depression that eventually overtook me. I urge you to go out. Go out. Go out! I don’t care if you simply go to the park with the kids or just to read on a bench. You have to get out of the house, and no, the workplace does not count. That’s work.
After you have sufficiently grieved, received counsel, and established new routines for your life, you will find time to recreate yourself. For me, this was the most frightening and equally exciting time of my life. I could cook the foods I wanted. I could clean or not clean. I could buy what I wanted. At last, I discovered who I was again. I learned I was not the same woman from before marriage and family; I had to find my way back to my new self.
Once this phase passed, I went back to a set of routines for the sake of my family. Of course, I went back to cleaning the house and being organized. What was the difference this time? I did it because it was what I wanted to do, and not to please someone else. I rediscovered a couple hobbies I used to love as a young girl, and I found out I still love them. I returned to school to improve my career. The sour taste of life was becoming as sweet as a Sunday slice of cake again.
Were there still some up and down times? Yes. But the difference was I knew it would soon pass like the hours in the day. I learned to move and to keep moving. Sadness had no room for rent in my heart anymore.
So go on with your life. No matter how much it hurts to go on, I am a witness to the fact you can and will thrive once you navigate through the wilderness you find yourself in right now. Keep talking to people who have reinvented their lives and can help you reinvent yours.
Trust me. It does get better.
Editor's Note: The author of this story, Kimberly Mitchell, has published a book called Life Under Blankets, a story of anxiety and depression. View the trailer for a preview of her story. The book is now available for purchase from Amazon.