There are two types of women in the films – there are the leading ladies and best friends. You, I can tell, are a leading lady. But for some reason, you’re behaving like the best friend.
(Author Abbott, ‘The Holiday’)
It seems I’ve spent my life as the supporting actress. I should be acting like the lead lady in my own life story, yes? What kind of woman is that?
The first Easter Sunday after my divorce was final, a sheriff and constable came to “assess a situation and talk” with the father of my children as he sat in my driveway in his van waiting for unwilling children to leave with him for the holiday. He had already set one to tears, so two others had made up their minds not to leave with him. I can’t remember if it was he who called the police because I refused to force the children to go with him, or if it was I who called because he refused to leave my driveway without them.
One of the armed officers talked with him first, then the other took over when the first gave up the attempt to reason. After talking with my former spouse, there was head shaking, deep sighs, and knowing looks exchanged between the two men as they looked in my direction. Out loud, one of them wondered “how anyone could live with…”
Then I heard it in my head that statement I’ve heard people say over and over: “what kind of a woman puts up with that for twenty-five years.”
Hmm, what kind of a woman…
The years leading up to my divorce were witness to my (former) spouse’s arrest for domestic assault, the sale of the house I designed and had built, and moving five of my children and myself seven times in three months. We found, bought, and made livable an old house previously inhabited by hoarders and drug addicts, and survived together the first volatile year of an OCD diagnosis in one of the teens.
Two and a half years after my separation, my civil marriage ended in the judge’s chambers.
And it was “supposed” to be done.
I kept moving forward until I couldn’t move anymore.
But then new grief set in. It seems that all the healing and all the peace that I had begun to process at the beginning of the separation from him flooded over me like a tidal wave. I thought the divorce would propel me into the next role of my life, but I was caught up in the momentum of ‘moving on’ and lost track of each moment I was living. I totaled my Suburban and within three weeks I totaled the Suburban that was loaned to me while I awaited settlement from the insurance company from the first accident. The second accident left me with a rib broken in two pieces. I kept moving forward until I couldn’t move anymore. I made more trips to the emergency room in two years as a single mother for stitches, snake bites, x-rays and unexplained pains than I had during my entire marriage. All of these things fueled the feelings of having failed when I decided to leave.
Further, I found that divorce did not end the memories, it did not end the flashbacks, and it did not stop the voices in my head calling me names and telling me that I am not “good enough” for the starring role in his story.
But what it did do was end my role in his story. It took some time for me to realize it, but when I signed that decree, I was signing on for a new role. At times it seems I’m living more of a docu-drama than the Hallmark movie for which I had hoped. But what is important is that I now know that I am the leading lady in the story of my life, and I am definitely good enough for the part.