“It isn’t what happens to us that causes us to suffer; it’s what we say to ourselves about what happens.” - Pema Chodron
When I don’t understand – I write. When I am angry – I write. When I’m sad – I’ve been known to write a lot. I kept an ongoing Word document during my dad’s illness, and I’d add to it whenever I needed a place to go. By the time he died, I had 53 single-spaced pages. And when my marriage came apart nearly four years ago, I kept a blog, wrote in my journal, and emailed with good friends. Word after word grappled with my sense of loss, shame, guilt, anger, and grief, as well as my relief and the project of self-discovery/self-recovery that the divorce spurred.
“Why do you write?” people sometimes ask; it is a curious habit – a nervous tic or a magical power, see it how you may. The urge to make sense of things is the biggest reason, but as I’ve said here before, I write increasingly with a hope that I can reach and help other people. I don’t have a knack for fiction (in fact, it’s rare that I even find fiction these days that really moves me), but I am compelled by my life and those around me; there are daily truths to be observed and savored. Every day includes tiny miracles of patience, moments of connection and grace. And the writing helps me to see them, reminds me to take notice.
It’s in this vein that I’m offering up a project to the world that I’ve been working on with three friends. Hopeful Divorce is a daily dose of loving kindness peppered with a little moxie and a lot of friendship in the form of a yearlong email subscription intended to support moms going through divorce. Sage Cohen, a Portland-based poet, and I are the primary writers and guides, while Jen Lemen and Ria Unson are the visionaries behind Hopeful World - a new online community for growth and exploration. The four of us have been talking for months, sharing stories about our own marriages, our narratives around love, and the expectations we had – many false. Looking at each of our own divorces, we’ve uncovered what feel like common elements in this ride that swings from one pole to another.
It is scary as hell, but it is also a chance to to begin again. And really, that’s all any of us can do – begin again.
Each of us believe that in most cases divorce has the possibility to be a transforming experience. It is a life event that demands that you reconsider your values, your connection to friends and family, your faith, your relationship as a parent, your expectations of a life partner, your sensual well being, and your economic well being. It is scary as hell, but it is also a chance to to begin again. And really, that’s all any of us can do – begin again.
I see Hopeful Divorce as being for people in several phases – in the midst of divorce (or the end of a long partnership), considering divorce, or grieving and making sense of a divorce that’s already occurred. Divorce is still too often viewed as a taboo in our society instead of being accepted as the difficult but life-altering journey that so many of us go through. It’s a journey that deserves the support of a thoughtful, compassionate community. I hope you’ll share Hopeful Divorce with anyone you know who may be in need of such company.