I wonder about this turmoil, this upheaval that has become my new normal. This period of growth that is so painful it makes me want to step outside of my body, no longer wishing to be an active participant in my life. I am leaden. Progress barely registers and what makes it worse is I am so impatient to get on with it, get past it. Life won’t let me though. Not until I lean in to all that has happened. I feel like a foreigner in my own life. Right now, I prefer to passively watch from the sidelines in a macabre awe at how bad it all got in such a short amount of time. Awe at how much one can take and endure before merciful steadiness shines through the dark and twisty tunnel.
This fear, this insecurity have taken up residence in my body, each with their own heartbeat and rhythm, independent of one another. They come in waves and shudder throughout my frame with no discernable pattern. I don’t want them and I wish for them to leave like an unwanted visitor, simply gone.
I know it could be so much worse. I know that. This offers me no comfort as this is a true monster that exists no matter how much I try to deny it or fervently will it away. This chaos must be faced and dealt with if I am to move on with my life in any meaningful way.
If I end up divorced, that label will be slapped on me along with childless and alone as the top three ways to describe me. That is how I will be viewed, a rapid snapshot that allows no room for nuance, layers or the complications of simply being a human being. Maybe I will be called “incredibly brave” or viewed with pity from the side from those who are safely enmeshed in their comfortable lives of coupledom and suburbia. All this messiness will be kept at an arm’s length away like a proper leper.
I want none of that and will not accept it. I am simply a woman going through something. Something I couldn’t have predicted or prepared for. I just want to be seen that way—as someone going through something. A temporary state that will heal over.
Because this is about the most important person in my life. The one I truly love with all my might, the one who matters the most. Me. I am a woman going through something. Call it a metamorphosis, the most wicked of growing pains or simply hell. I don’t care. I am a woman going through something.
Right now, the light is too bright—it hurts my eyes. My legs are stumbling to find steady ground after being rocked to my core. I have been tested to the limits. Yet, I am still here. I remain. I don’t look my best. I am weary, drained. Emptied and flooded of emotions at the same time.
My heart has been cracked wide open and I now walk around with a broken heart. My self-possession is long gone. I cry in grocery store aisles and it happens anytime, anywhere. I once witnessed a newly engaged couple in a restaurant. They were starting off with a clean slate, unsullied, full of hope and possibility for their lives and for each other. I prayed the stab of infidelity would never strike through the heart of their marriage and I cried.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, I am in disbelief at couples who have been married for decades, year after year of intertwining and togetherness. I now view it as nothing short of a miracle. I cannot and will not think about the future and I don’t want to. I feel like a prizefighter begging the referee to call it, to ring the damn bell already.
I now carry the burden of this psychic wound, the one that will never heal quite right. Sure, the edges will seam together as time is wont to do, however, it will be jagged, scarred. Perhaps there will be just enough space to let the light shine through whatever crazy mosaic is created from all of this.
For I am a woman going through something. I am fragmented, labile, up and down. There is no flow, no evenness to my state. I feel like I am standing in a minefield and I cannot let my guard down, for the next bomb to go off may be even more devastating. One step in the wrong direction would undo all, if any healing.
How will I handle my days? How will I keep going?
I will stay grateful in every way I can conceive. Grateful for my body. Grateful for my strong legs that carry me through and allow me to walk away from that which hurts me. Grateful for my back that supports me, keeps me standing tall in the eye of the storm, keeping me upright when I would rather lay in the fetal position and weep. Grateful for my hands and arms because I can hold on just a little bit longer, bare knuckling it through another day. And for when reprieve comes and I can finally let go. Grateful for my stomach, for its innate wisdom. For consistently sending signals out that something wasn’t right, wasn’t pure and that I must trust my intuition. Grateful for my beating heart which floods my body with vital force, pounding in my chest so that I may feel everything. All the pleasures, all the pain, all the necessary, complex emotions that life throws at you to keep you guessing, to keep you learning, to keep you so very human. Reminding you that you are alive, even if you would rather disappear into the ether.
I must stay fluid and soft so I can ride the waves. I must go with the plan, the plan that was never mine to make all along. To trust the innate wisdom of the guide, the universe, whatever or whoever is steering this ship. I must walk on the path that was specifically created just for me and trust that everything is happening for me, for my best interests. I must believe this with every fiber of my being. That my inner strength will sustain me through this tempest. The illusion we carry of safety and security has been shattered and I must cede control to the unknown.
I must laugh and find the humor in situations. To get back to myself, to find my sparkle and let my eyes once again be full of merriment and mirth. To feel the release, the exhale of breath and the brilliance of joy that comes from the deepest of laughs. That feeling has a color—it is the brightest shade of yellow. To remember not to take everything so seriously, so drastically. To remember I won’t die from this emotional pain and it will turn and I will bask in the yellow for a time.
I will let the wounds heal. I will not pick at their frayed, delicate edges, letting the scars form and serve as a reminder of my resilience. I will let time purge this demon out of my body. I will go to the beach, church, the base of a mountain—somewhere infinitely bigger than me. To ground me, drive home the lesson of the impermanence of life and to show me I am just one star in the firmament, so many shined before and so many will shine long after I have burned out.
To remember that love is the answer. To let it seep through in whatever shape or form it decides to show up in my life. To be awake for it and feel it gently move through my body, as a balm to comfort and soothe. To take care not to lose this precious gift because I was trapped in a fog of despair, emotional deregulation and chaos.
I must thank the demons from a difficult childhood. For it created a strong sense of self, empathy and wisdom. For not having an easy path which has allowed me to carry on many times when I could easily break, becoming tattered and torn. For allowing me to keep moving, to show up for myself even when I want to take the easy way out and buckle under the pressure of grief and devastation.
To be grateful for the vision and clarity that now guides me. It forces me see that he is just a man, not elevated on another level. He was my equal in our union. Another deeply flawed human who has made mistakes and will feel this loss in his own way and in his own time. I want this to just be an uncharacteristically bad choice, born out of trauma, poor coping skills and feeling trapped in an endless cycle of hurt. A footnote, not the whole story of our life together. I am banking on the 19 years of being with this man to believe this will be a revival, a splendid renewal, not a fatality. I don’t even want our history to be scrubbed clean but properly distressed where it will seamlessly fall into our grand design as a couple, a testament to what love allows us to endure if we bleed for it. If we lose this, it will be because our time together was meant to come to an end, not because of a third party interloper. I want my marriage to work but I don’t need it to. I need me and this crucial vision to remind myself that I am the one, the one who will get me through everything. It was never his job to do this, only and always mine. I may just thrive in whatever new iteration of me shines through from now on. Becoming a woman of fortitude who is pliable, proud and so very righteously feminine. A woman who knows her worth without needing anyone to validate her—ever.
I will work hard. Hours devoted to helping people, sick people. People who are also going through something. Not because I am saintly. I don’t even come close to scratching that surface. But to remind myself there is goodness in others, that many have it so much worse, to bear witness to the deep, abiding love that exists through the many textures of relationships. That love is not just in one form. Sometimes it shows up mysteriously in the nick of time and tenderly shudders in waves throughout the body, providing a protective cocoon, a barrier when a crash is inevitable. To not be careless with kindness when it is bestowed on me. To appreciate a smile from a stranger or a sincere thank you from some who looks directly in my eyes. To not miss the good stuff that is circling me because I am floundering on stage in my small theatre of pain.
And to be patient. To await the day a new chapter will start. I will be healed. To allow my true self to emerge again after years of being dormant. Waiting for me to come back, like a long lost friend. No questions, no explanation. “There she is” as I am enveloped in a warm hug full of exquisite tenderness. And I will appreciate my breath and my pulse as they suffuse my body each and every second. Taking turns, telling me to “keep going, keep going.” To etch into my soul that life is intractable, finite. To treat each day as a gift for one day it will be my last one and I will be a woman who got through something.
Rachel McNamara is a Registered Nurse and Certified Health Coach with a passion for all things related to wellness, health and fitness. She just purchased her first essential oil diffuser and is beyond excited. She is also obsessed with (in no particular order) skincare, Bravo TV, red wine and podcasts. Find her on Instagram and rmmhealth.net.
Image courtesy of Anthony Tran.