I recently received a sympathy card from a dear friend. It was a sympathy card for my loss. The loss of my marriage. It was probably one of the most touching cards that I have ever received but nonetheless, it was a sympathy card. At first, it struck me as odd but the more I think about it…it was completely appropriate.
Today I was jogging which I do about three days per week. I place my daughters in the jogging stroller clad in their little pajamas with breakfast in hand…and I run. I run away from the world and I think. I put my IPOD in and I explain to the girls that this is “mommy time”. I process my current reality: the divorce, the loss of my home and the loss of the life that I once knew. I think of happy things and I plan for my future. I make mental notes and I think of the things that I am grateful for. My jogs are my time to focus and prepare for whatever the day will throw my way.
Today was different. I normally run at the Cal Poly Campus which has been quite and serene all summer. Today was bustling with incoming freshman and their parents. I ran past moms who were walking and laughing with their daughters…we shared the smile that only mothers can share. I could almost see a tear forming with the smile as the mothers looked at my young daughters…and it was an unspoken message from them to me: time flies quickly…enjoy it.
I ran past parents who were walking their teenagers to their dorms and I sense of sadness washed over me. This time the tear was in my eye. There were actually many tears in my eyes as I ran. The reality of the impending divorce hit me like a ton of bricks. Am I robbing my daughters of this experience? The experience of walking hand in hand with two parents to their dorm rooms on the first day of college. I felt more grief as I ran past these glowing families than I did on the day I decided to leave. Reality set in. My family is broken. Today it hit me. I felt the weight of the world on my shoulders and I felt guilt like I have never felt before.
I continued running with more momentum and an urgency to be free of the college campus…and the happy families. I ran for about a mile and then slowed down to catch my breath. I remembered the sadness in my marriage for so many years and the sense of despair that I felt. I remembered the tension and the arguments. I remembered the loneliness. I remembered questioning myself daily for four years: how could I be married but completely alone in every sense of the word? I cried and I allowed myself to feel the loss. I allowed myself to grieve for my failed marriage but I also let go of the guilt in that moment.
I stopped running and I sat on a curb. Cars flew by us one after another and my daughter asked me why I was crying…I was crying because I knew that I made the right decision. I know that there will be times when I doubt myself and there will be happy families that cause my chest to tighten and tears to flow…but I know that I am on the right path. I feel sympathy for the loss of my marriage and the vows that I spoke almost 8 years ago. I feel sympathy for my daughters and the loss of their family. I feel sympathy but i know in my heart that I made the right decision…and that we will be ok.