by Michelle Zudeck with Elyse Rafferty Mitchell
Seasonal change is a natural time for reflection. Our surroundings are quietly coming alive, changing daily. Making small shifts, invisible to the naked eye, but cumulatively, adding up to wondrous beauty. Whether in the spring blooms, the falling leaves, or the dormancy of winter. The seasons just know what to do. Day after day, year after year, over and over. Blooming, thriving, falling and quietly “being” before another cycle begins and the glory of new life continues.
Spring is my favorite season, but also an anniversary of sorts. My divorce was final late May 2012, and this Spring will mark 3 years since that date. 3 years. 3 years?! How could that be? Looking back on the last three years since is similar to how I look back on how fast my kids have grown. Slightly dumbfounded. Sheer amazement and disbelief. I see them every day, so how could it have been that these babies have turned into young boys and little men right before my eyes? How could 3 years have passed so quickly?
When you think about it, the amount of growth and change that a newborn baby experiences in the first year of life is unbelievable. And then how exponentially a baby grows from its first, sweet breath into a tricycle-riding, button-pushing crazy-face within its first 3 years of life. You don’t necessarily see the growth day to day, but when you look back at a month or a season or a year, you can distinctly see the skill and developments that have bloomed. From baby steps, to the teetering spills, to the desire to keep pulling yourself up (only to fall down again), the same is true for life after divorce.
I still can’t believe it’s been 3 years. I sat in a parent meeting with my ex-husband last week and I was quietly, internally patting both of us on the back for how far we have come in the last 3 years. Good for us. It’s a tough journey (that doesn’t end with the finalization of marriage), but one that we’ve survived and will continue to grow into. The ups and downs and twists and turns of those years would have been a lot more difficult to get through had it not been for the support, guidance and anonymous love I received from the community at Life Thru Divorce. Divorce is not something you plan for or expect in life, but my ability to summons internal strength over and over again – before, during and after – was in large part because of the community I found here. I didn’t know anyone who had been through a divorce when I was going through it, or at least not someone I knew well enough to lean on. And what I found through my vulnerability and tears was the individual and combined strength of strangers who somehow pulled together creating this safety net of open arms that I knew would catch me when I fell (which I certainly did. Over and over.) Their words, their advice, their encouragement gave me the confidence to keep going. To pull myself back up.
As I learn to navigate life after divorce, I know I can still rely on that community at Life Thru Divorce. I have my own inner compass, my heart and the people who have marched that trail before me. Together, they will act as guides along this next chapter of my journey. On the new roads and uncharted territory that awaits me.
So it’s my sincere hope to offer new hope to those who are beginning their journey or those who are in the midst of their journey through divorce. To be able to give back, if even a portion, of what had been so graciously given to me: the knowledge that you will get through this, you are not alone, and to offer the sense of open arms to catch you if – and when – you stumble. None of us is as good as all of us.
As seasonal change is upon us and my pending anniversary approaches, I have one insight to share: What is dormant will bloom again. You will learn to crawl before you walk, and walk before you run. One foot in front of the other. You will learn to speak. To use your words one at a time. The growth comes day after day. Season after season. You might not think you know what to do, but it’s within you. You know. You might not see it at first. But one spring morning, you will look in the mirror and see an amazing person who has bloomed out of dormancy. And it will be as glorious as the smell of spring flowers wafting in the fresh, crisp air.
Life goes on. Over and over.