It was September 16, 2008, at what I thought was a birthday celebration for a friend who was having a rough time. She was separated from her husband for several years, didn't know where he was living, was raising three children on her own, and waiting for child support for quite some time that had grown to a total of close to $40,000. It made me wonder if perhaps he was living somewhere in squalor, trying to find a job, eating Ritz crackers for dinner, missing his kids and wishing his life had turned out different.
Well, we weren't there to celebrate her birthday at all. As I walked in with a birthday cake for her and presents, the mood was really somber. I remember thinking, "who died"? The only way I can describe the next two hours is that I was attending my first intervention, and the only reason why I didn't know about it beforehand.......was because it was for me!
My three best friends approached this intervention delicately at first. It started off with asking me the same questions we had been discussing for on and off for the better half of almost a year and a half. Questions about how I was doing and whether I was still thinking about splitting up with my husband. If I thought my mother's death two years previous had changed anything for me about my marriage and my life. I remember thinking that I had shared so many of my inner most thoughts with these three women for such a long time. After all, I had known each of them since grammar school! Didn't they know the answers to those questions already?
Of course, I was both "leaning in" and "out" of my marriage, I hadn't been happy in a long time. From always feeling like we were just really bad friends, to wondering if he ever even found me attractive, to fighting all the time about ridiculous matters so much so that my parents had labeled us "The Bickersons" and even bought a sign saying so at Christmas that I proudly displayed above the door to the entrance way into our living room. I think it was supposed to be a joke, and of course we all laughed. Me included. I had gotten so good at laughing at myself. Mostly, so I wouldn't cry but more so because I actually did find the whole thing comical in a sense. Two people who came together, mainly I realize now to have a family, should have been closer. We had all the same morals and values and raised two great children. We did family great. But deep down what I knew to be true was, we did marriage poorly. We weren't a couple, we were good parents, single people living together sharing children, having our own thoughts, dreams and feelings about life, but more importantly about each other and how coupling worked. That didn't make for a good marriage, but was it a reason to divorce? ......Most times, I thought "no". Because no matter how many times I tried to rationalize it in my head, it didn't seem like a good enough reason to leave.
Since my mom had passed, I had done a lot of soul searching. She had expressed a life of regret, and I remember thinking, I don't want to be told one day that I have cancer and only three months to live and on top of being scared as hell, I surely didn't want to regret not living my life. Which is what she did. Every day. Talk about regret! Listening to her was like hearing her explain Hell on earth.
In the months that followed her death, the grief was too great to think of my life, but once I did, there was no turning back. For two years, I tried incessantly, consistently and continually to get my spouse to realize this, but for some reason, everything always ended up as my fault. I guess this is the part that I found amusing, even then. It's hard to continually take the blame for everything, when you aren't sure what you did wrong and when you ask you get no reply. How can you fix something you want to change when you the person you wronged won't talk to you. And then you just surrender, but when you apologize it isn't accepted. This can go on for years in some marriages. It seems so unnecessary, but once that snowball starts heading down that hill, it is like trying to push a boulder back up a steep mountain, day after day, year after year.
So at my first intervention, I learned that everyone seems so concerned and usually more concerned with you than you are. This was the case with me. However, after a while, I started to listen and all I heard was, "This is serious, you had better listen. Three of your closest friends are talking here!" And then I heard the final question that I will never forget:
"What are you waiting for? JUMP! We will catch you!".
Jump where? That is what I thought then. This is what I know now.
When you are contemplating divorce, it isn't an easy decision. You lean into the marriage, you lean out of the marriage. This decision isn't easy for either spouse, whether you are "the villain or the victim", "the initiator or the receiver", "the trigger puller or the blindsided one". But making the final decision is just like jumping off a cliff. You are teetering there for a while, for some people even decades, and then one day you just decide....
It's like free falling, you aren't sure where you are going to land, but you know it's better than standing on that cliff. And so you jump, and you hope the landing is soft, you hope that when your spouse is forced to jump too, or maybe I should say watch you jump, they will find a soft landing eventually too. Because let's face it, divorce stinks! For everyone. But maybe sometimes it is necessary. It's necessary because maybe you both need find your new cliff. Only from up high this time, hopefully the view is beautiful and the only looking down you do is to get on the ground, on your knees, and thank God for the chance to jump into a new life you may not have wanted or expected, but one that is waiting there for you just the same. And in that space, hopefully you can find your happiness.
So....jump and if you need someone to catch you, give us a call. We'd like to help.
Your Fellow Jumpers,
Michele Coppola Wilson
Life Change & Transitions LLC
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"Celebrate YOUR life everyday! Take the leap. Face your fears head on. If you got a second chance at a new journey on this earth ...TAKE A RISK AND GRAB IT! It's YOUR happiness. You will survive. I DID!" - Ray DeSibio