Divorces are a series of painfully unending endings. Relationships, experiences, dreams and plans come to conclusions in different ways that are hard to stomach. Not only does your marriage end, but you find other tiny endings along the way. Little ‘in’ jokes can’t be shared anymore and you find yourself putting certain objects away because they’re too tricky to contemplate outside of your relationship. There are places you don’t want to go and people it’s too hard to see.
But, of course, there must be a flip side to this too. For all the endings, there must somewhere be a beginning.
I had dreamt I would give up teaching, because I would be a mum, and who knew where I’d go after that? Move to the coast? Write my one book? In a way it didn’t matter – we were together. And then, all of a sudden, we weren’t. Dreams died and hopes were put on hold.
But gradually and slowly, life began to be full of possibility. It wasn’t the same possibility as before, that proverbial door was closed, but a whole corridor of new ones opened up. I remember realising that one day I might go on another first date. I might have another first kiss! It was a slightly surreal moment; this was not an experience I ever expected to live through again when I married, believing – in the words of Simon and Garfunkel – that when I fell in love with him it would be forever.
For me, the door of possibility opened when I realised that marriage aside, I still wanted to leave classroom teaching. Whereas before the location of my job was somewhat tied to his job, our shared home and joint commitments, now I could go quite literally anywhere. There was only me to decide; liberating and terrifying in varying measures.
My favourite story of the world of possibility is from my dear friend and fellow journey-traveller Ellie. Slightly ahead of me on the inverse bell-curve of divorce, I have valued her support and friendship hugely as we’ve mostly laughed and occasionally cried. Her passion for other countries, for Christian mission and new experiences comes through when you meet her. When I met her, her dream of them going to teach in a third world country was a dream that was now not going to be fulfilled. But where the marriage ended, the possibilities opened up and she grasped them – later this month she returns from two and half years teaching and later running a school and charity in Zambia – to hear more about her adventures click here! Perhaps I should have taken the possibility to travel to her too, having taken steps to combat my fear of flying – not something I would have done before either.
Her story gives me courage, because it shows that possibilities don’t end when your marriage does, and dreams don’t die in divorce. They may take a turn and be realised in a world of different ways, but the possibilities abound afresh.
And in the words of a lady I quote with regularity, Julie Andrews, “when God closes a door, somewhere he opens a window”. The possibilities are terrifying and liberating – but there. We just need the courage to take the handle and turn to open the door.