My Former Life: Divorce

I’m divorced. Whew! Glad I got that off my chest. It feels good to say, you know. Without shame, pain or regret. Don’t get me wrong, what happened to me is like any other deep wound. It hurts when you scratch it no matter how mended it is. Divorce is ugly. Messy. Painful. Hard to heal from. Deeply rooted in your soul as something you failed at… 

But I’m so thankful that it’s not where I had to linger forever. Friend, I hope you know you don’t have to live there either. Although that pain was the most intense trauma of my life thus far, I know that’s not where my identity lies. I can fully remember the day I named my pain, named my part in that pain even though it felt ridiculous at the time, and let myself heal

Recap:

I got married for the first time almost 11 years ago. We were among the first of our friends to get married right out of college. We were YOUNG. We were CLUELESS. We were two people trying to make it on a road we had never been on…in a world that had a hard time honoring marriage. Through an unfortunate series of events, the marriage ended about 16 months later. 

For so long I let myself hide behind the shame of a failed marriage. I would either not want to share my divorce story for fear of abandonment, or overshare too much because I didn’t want anyone to think I was hiding something. I felt embarrassed because I was a God-follower. A lot of negative self-talk trash was going on in my head. I knew people talked about me, were disappointed in me for not making it work, were reluctant to get involved, or got involved just to get the gossip. The guilt I felt for an unsuccessful marriage was, at times, too intense to talk about. 

I had never felt more alone in my entire life. Ever. I was in complete bondage to the pain. I felt denied of a true love experience. I felt like it defined me, I felt hopeless, and I was certain I would never ever find someone to love me again with all the scars I had raging inside me. 

Lessons Learned:

Now, I want to make something clear–I am not always in support of divorce. I think there is something miraculously divine and powerful when two people can work through the pain and choose to continue life together. However, I do believe it’s a very real thing that unfortunately happens to people. And who are we in society if we don’t offer an encouraging ear or an arm of support for these people who are experiencing such a thing? 

Do you know someone going through a divorce? They probably don’t need you to fix it. They probably need you to walk beside them. Through it. Offering love, not words. Chances are they are experiencing a pain so deeply rooted in anger, anxiety, sadness, depression, and hopelessness that they don’t even know how to respond to your words anyway. 

Isn’t it a beautiful thing, though? How something so tragic, full of so much despair and meant to haunt me forever, could also be a redemptive passageway to helping others to understand their own journey of divorce? I used to cringe at the word. Now I jump at the chance to talk to anyone who needs a listening ear. 

Every story is different. For some, the healing comes through the unraveling of layers from therapy. For others, the healing starts on its own while the marriage is still “intact” but one or both parties know the marriage is over long before it actually ends.

Whatever your story — share it with someone. Use an outlet. There is always support somewhere. Learn from it. And be thankful you don’t have to live in that moment forever. That dark cloud does not get to take stock in your life forever. It does, however, get to shape you, leave a mark on you, and allow you to have more grace, along with a more discerning heart, mind, body and spirit. 

Find a church. Find a friend. Find a therapist. Find a book. Trust me — you’ll be glad you did.

Am I proud of my divorce? Absolutely not. It was like a death–I had to truly mourn the loss of that person through the healing process. Along with the mourning, came forgiveness. With forgiveness came freedom. With freedom came open doors. A blank slate. A new beginning. 

It seems like such a long time ago. A dream that never really happened. I will never speak ill towards my ex husband because I believe we have forgiven each other. Without forgiveness, neither of us could possibly close the chapter and move on. I often wonder what would happen if we ran into each other today. I can honestly say I’ve learned so much about myself in the past 10 years that I think it would be great to meet his wife and children and introduce him to my crew. Is that crazy?

Probably

But that’s what healing does. I never thought I’d be in a place like this. I am so glad to serve a God who doesn’t operate on karma, but grace instead. He is not a God who sits on a throne and chooses to give me what He thinks I deserve. Instead, He is a God of love whose heart breaks when things of this world go wildly wrong. He is a God who rejoices in our joy. He is a God who says to forgive “seventy times seven.” 

He. Is. God. 

And I am not. 

And even though my marriage had to end to figure all of that out, I am {now} thankful for the journey. Because I get to help people with my story. And I get to live the life I never knew I always wanted. Abundantly, I might add. 

Now: 

Fast forward to almost five years ago. I married someone who chose to love me despite my past failed marriage. The love I thought I’d never find came in like a blazing wild fire and he chose me to do life with. If anyone reading this knows him, you know exactly what I mean. He is everything I am not, and I think that is why we work. He knew it all, yet still saw to the deepest part of my heart and told me he’d love me anyway. He put complete trust in me…as his wife… and that is a feeling I will hang on to. Forever. I remember the day we got married. It was a perfect day in Jamaica. While that wasn’t the first time I’d said those vows to someone, they had more meaning…

Fast forward to today. We have established a beautiful family of three kids. We have  the most amazing, ornery yet loving three year old son and TWIN girls who are one! I could have never asked or imagined that a life this abundant could come out of the dust from what was left of me from my divorce. But it did. And it’s a beautiful thing. 

The life we are building together is one I am forever trying to capture in pictures and videos.

But why? 

Well, first of all… because I’m sort of obsessed with my children. #OBNOXIOUSIKNOW

Because it’s not promised, yet somehow we are experiencing it. It’s not perfect, but I now know how to welcome the imperfections. And because I am still walking this journey of life and my story…it still has pages to write. 

Are you going through or have gone through a divorce? I’d love to offer an ear of support in your journey. And I’d love for you to know that, no matter what, you’re never alone. 

 

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2 Responses to My Former Life: Divorce

  1. Dottie West April 15, 2018 at 9:40 pm #

    Beautiful Kelly! Love you.

    Dottie

    • Kelly Burnison
      Kelly Burnison April 23, 2018 at 3:50 pm #

      Thanks so much Dottie! Love you back!

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