Another Amazing Divorce Essay, Not Mine

Today, I’m struggling through my first cold in over a year. It’s actually somewhat of a relief. I questioned whether my immune system was in overdrive this past year, never letting me get the colds that passed through the other family members in my household. I am the only one with this cold today; I am the beginning (and hopefully the end) point.

Instead of working on my book or tinkering away at essays today, I spent most of the day holed up in bed, with a box of tissue and a glass of water, trying to keep my nasty germs confined. I read and slept; read and slept; read and slept. Then I went to do the school pickup route and after-school activity runs. Now, I’m back in bed.

I’ve been seeing lots of blue jays lately. The other day, I read this phenomenal essay by Kerry Neville. This essay is about blue jays and divorce and the need for hope in our lives. Sometimes, divorce is necessary; sometimes it is the kindest thing we can do for our children and other family members. Don’t stay in the box if the box is killing you.

A photo of me taken the summer I turned 30; Getting a nose ring did not free me from my box.

The Decision to Divorce

Because there has been so much controversy (Yes, controversy!) over Elizabeth Gilbert’s recent decision to divorce post Eat Pray Love (I haven’t really read about the controversy–it would annoy me too much), I feel compelled to say a bit about the decision to divorce. Here goes:

  1. We all have a different level of discomfort when it comes to what we will or won’t tolerate in a living situation; everyone has a different breaking point.
  2. Your decision to stay in a marriage or partnership is yours alone; no one else gets to live your life (no one else has to walk in your shoes each day).
  3. Even if you have kids, the default assumption should not be that the kids would—in every situation—be better served by you staying in a bad marriage and, for this purpose, I’ll loosely define “bad” as anywhere on the spectrum between dissatisfying to abusive.

When you hear of a family member or friend’s decision to divorce, please know, it has undoubtedly been a long, hard process just to get to the point of decision. These individuals do not need your criticism or your heartfelt pleas to try longer (or, perhaps, try some great new counseling method or recommend a book like The Five Love Languages), what they need is your support and encouragement during the difficult days ahead. Maybe even, when they’re ready, congratulate them on their ability to take steps to make their life better, even if things have to get much harder first; let them know you think they are courageous warriors.