A wet meadow becomes a forest unless browsers and beavers knock it back. A ground fire releases the sticky cones of pitch pines and so brings new life. An uneven aged forest is a mosaic from sapling to canopy in response to disturbance. It is not the same place after flood or fire but another expression of itself, a variation on a larger theme.
This Friday, at the same time as the royal nuptials, my divorce will be final. This disturbance in our lives is creating opportunities for new growth even in loss and dislocation. It has been a long and difficult transition which until last month had us still living under the same roof, but to our mutual credit we have managed to come to our separation agreement through mediation and hard work rather than fighting it out in court to the detriment of all.
My former partner has moved to an apartment a few streets away in an adjacent neighborhood of our small town, close enough for convenience but removed enough for privacy. The children are in the same school, and can walk from either house.
For me, the process of unravelling my marriage has brought into clear relief where one of us depended on the other and now must manage things alone. That includes taking ownership of and demystifying my finances, which has been something of a liberation. I am making different choices about where and how to save and spend and the bills are still getting paid. I have been very fortunate in debt reduction and consolidation and am blessed by the love and support of many.
Caring for the children as a single father for me is less a question of learning new parenting skills than of managing more transitions. With joint custody and alternate weeks in the other parent's home comes the challenge of ensuring there are enough changes of clothes, of the right sort, in each residence, and remembering where the flute and library books were left. More than that, it requires a tired parent to remain curious and engaged on the weeks when the children are home, and learn to use the weeks when they are not for personal needs and chores without guilt.
Caring for oneself after two decades as a couple is another fascinating change. I am reclaiming a life of my own after years of defining myself by my responsibilities. I have established new routines, am shopping for food differently and cooking differently. I've lost weight and am starting to regain sleep. I have followed up on old interests and new pursuits. I am sometimes lonely but not alone in spirit. Those I love and who love me are a constant source of joy and support regardless of physical proximity.
My sister the wise woman told me when I confronted the clear signs that my marriage was ending to expect joy, even where it would seem to be absent. And beyond expectations, I have found joy along the way. Some of it is the quiet easing of a tense and troubled heart. Some is the rediscovery of old strengths and delights. And some of it is comes from the recognition that I am worthy of love, and still have the capacity and desire to risk new love.
I have a different image of myself at the midpoint of my life than the one that had been previously presented. The creases around the eyes and the gray at the muzzle give character to a face that still has dimples, a voice still prone to merriment. This is the time for letting some things go and taking ownership of others. It is when I am soft but less vulnerable, clear eyed and yet full hearted. I am sad but not bitter, hopeful but pragmatic, and ready to learn from what life offers, now that the whirlwind is winding down and rain falls gently on good soil.