Taking life's plot twists as they come
February 2, 2016
By Nathalie Hardy | Yamhill Valley News-Register
I thought bringing a puppy into our family was going to be our major life change this year. However it seems our little Scout was merely a harbinger of an abundance of adventures — and, er, “growth opportunities” — for our family this year.
Soon, observant readers of the paper will notice my name in the list of marriage dissolutions granted by a county judge. Dissolution, of course, is the legal term for divorce.
I’m a word nerd though, so I’d like you to consider another definition of “dissolution.” Look at what it means in, say, a chemistry lab: “the process of dissolving a solid substance into a solvent to make a solution.”
Let me draw your attention to that last word: a solution. A solution to a problem that can’t be summarized neatly in this column, or ever.
It will take the rare or brand new reader of this column to be truly shocked by this news. Sad, sure, but even for me to express surprise would be disingenuous.
“You’re not going to write about this, are you?” I was asked, repeatedly, when the news started making its way beyond our white picket fence. My response was unequivocal. Yes, I am.
Once we figured out we were really heading down this new road, and told the boys what we had decided, we stopped whispering about it. The message to them was intentional and clear: no secrets, no shame, no blame.
I know, I know. All marriages go through rough patches. I am familiar with this concept.
I also know when a rough patch is more like nine of the 17 years you’ve been together, and you both believe you’ve tried all the things there are to try, it’s OK to look at alternative solutions — like, say, dissolution.
I know it won’t be OK with a lot of people. And those people are welcome to live their lives as they choose. But being as how this is my one life, I’ll choose how I respond to this crossroads.
So here’s the deal I want to make with all the people everywhere: I won’t “glorify” divorce if you won’t “demonize” it.
Yep, it can be hard for kids. And parents. And everyone else in the family. But you know what else is hard? Lots of other things.
We can do hard things; it’s about how we do them. Sure, chance can knock any one of us down anytime, but choice is what we do with what happens.
I’ve often said that what we think about something is far more important than the thing itself. So I’m not going to be apologetic about this plot twist in my life’s story.
That’s partly because I’ve already cried all the tears I think I can cry about this. And it’s partly because I know I can look my kids in the eye and say, “I truly believe this is the best decision for every single one of us.”
Of the marriages that end, some flame out in a spectacular, fiery crash no one saw coming. Others follow the path of a slow-growing cancer, where the chemo kind of works for a while, but produces toxic side effects and eventually quits working altogether.
You simply run out of treatment options. You let go of your attachment to what you wish was there for you and simply allow what needs to happen next happen.
The latter describes mine.
There were a lot of good memories, even during chemo. But we’ve been trying to keep this marriage alive so long, it’s time to call it.
We both know that. It’s time to let it go and move forward with our lives with as much peace and grace as possible.
This one, short life is all we get. I can’t promise we won’t have regrets.
And as natural as it is for people to want to know what happened, exactly, I can’t tell you.
That’s because parts of this story aren’t mine to tell and partly because it’s not one specific thing anyway. It never is.
Of all the things we don’t agree on, we’ve reached a common place for what amicable means to us. Talking smack about each other around the kids, or in a public forum, isn’t part of that plan.
So while I’m not setting any of his stuff on fire, and my tires are intact, we have created some safe places to tell our truths, privately. It is our intention to allow the boys to have their own range of feelings and thoughts.
I don’t know how else to do it. I’m not going to tell them this is a good thing or a bad thing. They will experience it for what it is, just the next thing we go through, as a family, because at the end of the day, what that means to us won’t ever change.
So I’m not going to try making anyone else comfortable with this news. And I’m not going to meet anyone’s pity with a flood of tears.
I appreciate the hugs, the kind words, the holding of all four of us in love as we move through this transition. But I’m not going to apologize. I’m simply going to embrace what was, accept what is and stay open to what could be.
I could make a case that learning to find joy in the now and not yet is a core purpose of our place on this planet. But that’s another column.
This is true for me now and all of us forever.
We don’t get to know how our story ends. We just don’t. The best we can do, I think, is own our stories and intentionally frame them before they define and thereby own us.
My favorite author, Anne Lamott, says: “You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.”
But you know, that’s a slippery slope, because I’m no saint myself. I own my share of what led us to now. All four of us have our own version of this story, and they are all true.
So yeah, I’m going to write about this. A lot.
I’m committed to telling my part, my truth, my story. And I’m committed to honoring the notion that threads of mine are tightly woven with those of another, who makes a different choice in what and how to share.
Now we begin the unraveling.
Hardy writes in the margins of her life with two young boys who understand deadlines come before dusting.
Nathalie Hardy's books, “Raising the Hardy Boys: They Said There Would Be Bon-Bons” and "Merry is Optional" are available at local bookstores and on Amazon. To contact her, visit www.nathaliesnotes.com.