Wednesday, April 4, 2012

What If's

There were many moments in my divorce that were pivotal, and at times, symbolic. One of the moments I found most poignant was during my ex's trip to return my belongings during the late summer just weeks after our divorce was final. Interestingly enough, this was the first time we had seen each other in person since he had said he wanted a divorce (after he'd met someone else). We had talked about where things were, and if we wanted to get back together. I had never, ever given up wanting to re-unite. Our feelings for each other had not changed at all, even despite our circumstances (he got another woman pregnant). He ended up coming to the realization that neither of us could endure the painful steps to get back together, especially having to reconcile with the people he had hurt along the way. His answer made me realize that I couldn't, either. We cried on the deck of his parent's house. We had spent time together with our sons as if no time or hurt had passed between us, but that wasn't enough to overcome the growing number of challenges that we would have had to face. I then loaded the kids and drove away, thinking that would be the last time I'd see him for a long while.

Strangely, fate would have us see each other one last time. The next day I saw his now familiar black Dodge pickup truck with the blue infantry cord hanging from the rearview mirror (that I had placed on his shoulder when he graduated from basic training) pull up to the stop sign near my parent's house at the exact same time as I did. Funny enough, I was on my way to photograph a friend's wedding. I learned later that he was on his way to golf with his dad. We both immediately noticed each other and stared wide-eyed as if we were looking at a car accident. As was his habit, he didn't have a turn signal on. I turned right, and he turned left. Our lives would take decidedly different paths, regardless of how we felt, and that was ok. It was everything I could do to maintain my composure through the ceremony, but I did, and it was a beautiful one.

It was one of those moments that felt like it was straight out of a movie script, but it was painfully real.

Today, that intersection is now a roundabout. I couldn't have invented a more perfect scenario on my own.

I've run over and over the entire thing, from when we met until when we parted thousands of times. I try to find answers to so many questions that, although have been "answered", still do not make concrete sense in my mind. Did he love me? Did I love him? Did I do something to deserve how he treated me? What if he hadn't gone into the Army? What if I had pressed him more to go to counseling after the war? Did I marry him just to get out of Idaho and away from hurtful people in my life? What if I'd joined in the drinking and seen past his fears and helped him find healing? What if we hadn't gone to the flight program? Were we married too young?  What if I had finished my degree first? What if I had not gotten sick after my first pregnancy? The list goes on and on.

The funny thing about roundabouts is that you could choose to go around and around, never stopping, never going anywhere. Or, you could choose to glide out of it as easily as you steered into it.

Lately, I've been choosing the latter. The first couple of years of the heartbreak left me going around in circles and spinning my wheels, but lately I've been rejoicing in how far I've come, and how blessed I am. I do not have the same emotional baggage that others in this situation have the burden of carrying. I know that I handled the situation the very best I could, and I wouldn't change a single thing. I have the joy of knowing I am raising my children in a safe, loving environment free from fighting and sleepless nights worrying about where my husband is. I'm free to return to school and finish what I started. I'm free to raise my sons where we grew up and with the comfort of a home that God has provided for us in the most beautiful place I can imagine. I have the blessing of being friends with my former-in-laws and having them be an active part of my children's lives on even a daily basis (even bringing us soup when we are sick!). I have the most wonderful church community, friends and family that a woman could ever ask for. I'm even free to fall in love again - the real kind. I know what that feels like, and I know I'll find it again. My eyes and heart are open.

By focusing on my desired destination, I'm more apt to get there.


  1. I love you, Erin! Thank you so much for yet another beautifully honest post. I, too, am trying to forget about the "what ifs" and focus on the "I cans" - it's tough...

  2. It is VERY tough, Ginny - even still! I will continue to pray for you and your journey through all of this. It is one of those things that doesn't just "go away" when you have kids, but it does get very gradually easier to adjust the sails of the heart when painful thoughts come up.

  3. YOu bring me inspiration and hope--thank you for your ability to be transparent ---

  4. Really beautifully written.

    Nikki - get your blog designed and support global education