Berklee was “introduced” to me by a mutual friend through Instagram. She has her own blog where she shares her experience with divorce but offered to write a post for mine too. (Her blog is definitely worth checking out! Even though I haven’t been divorced, I could totally relate to some of the thoughts and feelings she experienced from my experience of being an ERM.) This girl has a heart of gold, read on to see for yourself.
Berklee is a BYU graduate and currently teaches high school history and geography. She loves to travel, having lived in both Italy and Germany, and has visited 23 countries. She is applying to grad schools in the UK to further her education in history and she hopes to be a professor someday.
I have found, after trying to explain my story hundreds of times, that tragedies are often best explained and remembered in moments. Take, for example, a moment from last September. I was sitting in the Celestial room of the Provo temple, overwhelmed and frustrated beyond belief. I had been coming to the temple every few days for over a month now, and I still wasn’t receiving an answer. I needed to know if I should leave my husband. I felt like I was supposed to, all the facts told me I should, all the people that showed up in my life at the time steered me toward divorce; yet, I wanted a direct answer from God. The day before, my (now ex) husband’s excommunication had become official, and our sealing was broken. I felt so alone, not only on Earth but also realizing that I wasn’t sealed to anyone anymore. Sitting in the Celestial room I felt hot tears silently roll down my cheeks. Then a stranger from across the room walked up to my chair. I was embarrassed about crying in front of this beautiful lady. I gave her a shy smile and looked back down. Then she wrapped her arms around me and held me. At that moment, I felt so much love. She helped give me something that Heavenly Father could not at the time, and she is an angel for being His arms on the Earth. This same pattern surrounded my divorce. Every time I felt so alone, that I could not go on, Heavenly Father sent me someone to take care of me. He ensured that I was never really alone. Because of the principle of agency, Heavenly Father could not save me from the consequences of my husband’s actions. But He always made sure that I was taken care of in the wake of those consequences.
The events leading up to my divorce are dark and complicated. The quick version is that my husband had an addiction to pornography (which he lied about) that led to many other infidelities (which he also lied about), and he wasn’t fixing anything. This sounds quick and dry. While I was still married and debating if my marriage was salvageable, so many people told me, “well obviously you should leave him! He was unfaithful, why would you stay?” And yes, on paper, all signs pointed to me getting the heck out of that marriage. But it is so much more complicated. For starters, I loved him. To be fair, I loved a version of him that was not reality, but there were still very real parts of my ex-husband that I loved dearly. Then there was the fact that we were married in the temple. This was supposed to be an eternal marriage. How could I break that? I felt so guilty for choosing to break apart something I had covenanted to keep. Especially when the society around me was constantly talking about marriage as the pinnacle of human existence. Marriage is the happy ending of a million movies, the most trending search on Pinterest, and the exalting ordinance in the LDS church. It is what every little girl dreams of until her day finally comes, and her happily-ever-after is made a reality. And I had to choose to walk away from it. That decision is so soul-breaking. I grieve for anyone who has to make the decision to get divorced. The only way that I was strong enough to walk away from my marriage was through the guidance of Heavenly Father. I prayed to Him asking what to do at least 100 times a day. Just like the moment when I was I the celestial room, I was constantly looking for Him to come and tell me, “get divorced!” in a super-clear, ultra-powerful way. That never happened. What did happen is that each week as I went to the temple, God gave me enough answers to get me through another week. It took months for me to get to the point that I was ready to walk away. God knew that it would take me time, and He gave me answers line-upon-line to get me to where I needed to be.
Once I made the decision, life did not get easier. I once heard divorce described as getting in a car accident every day for two years. I think that is a pretty accurate description. Emotionally, I was a mess. I was lonely, confused, sad, angry, and I had totally lost my identity. Physically I was also a mess. I didn’t eat and I couldn’t sleep, which only made my emotional state worse. Then there is the financial and legal side of divorce, both of which brought out a terrible, frightened, and ugly side of both my ex-husband and me. And to top it all off, this was all happening the month I was starting my new job as a high school teacher. I was completely overwhelmed. I had to take leave and go to the bathroom while teaching to avoid breaking down in front of my students.
However, just like that moment in the temple, God made sure that I was always supported. He had to let me fall, but He gave me the softest pillow to land on. I had women come into my life that had very similar experiences and now were OK; that gave me such hope! There are so many people who are affected by divorce, even in Mormon Utah culture. The problem is that we don’t talk about divorce, so when people experience it they feel very alone. I want to be a voice of hope, that there is life after divorce! For those of you who have experienced divorce, I know it can be hard to share. But the more we share, the less taboo it becomes and the less alone those who have to go through this trial in the future will feel. Your examples can give others hope. For those of you who have not experienced divorce, know that every divorce is different. Try not to judge those going through a divorce, because you never know what has happened. If a loved one of yours is going through a divorce, be there as a friend. Ask how they are doing, reach out and show that you love them no matter what they choose. For me, the people who helped the most were those who would reach out and let me talk about what I was going through, and who loved me. I didn’t need advice or someone to offer solutions. I just needed to feel like I was loved and not alone. You can do that for others!
This week marks one year since I started the process of getting divorced. It has been a rocky year, but I have found so much peace and joy. The two things that have helped the most have been time and support (from God and from those around me). I have found myself again, I have made many friendships that I would not have made otherwise, and I know that I am where I am supposed to be. It seemed impossible for a while, but I really do love my life. I hope that anyone out there struggling through similar experiences can know that there is hope for you too and that Heavenly Father knows and loves you perfectly. You are never alone!