Walking my familiar path up the mountain through the woods, memories come creeping down from the tree trunks. Last winter I almost divorced. For the second time.
The first time was 24 years ago. Suddenly I am 13 years old again and watch my parents divorce. I watch them shaking their heads when they look at each other. Who are you? Who have you become? Breaking up our precious, bonkers, sweet family. Breaking my heart. Shaking their heads. Is this really happening?
And now it is me, now it is my reality. Now it is me shaking my head. Who are you? Who have you become? Now it is my family, my children, my marriage and I cannot protect them. Is this really happening?
In life we keep going back to the places where it hurts us the most. We do it in memories, in thoughts, in dreams and in emotions. And if nothing changes, we do it in real life. Unresolved pain becomes our reality. So here I am, I am 13 and 37 years old at the same time. I am my mother, an adolescent and myself at this moment, all of them at the same time. I cry like my mother cried when her marriage fell apart. Is this really happening? I cry alone in the stable like I did when my father packed his bags. Now I cry alone in the woods.
I am 13 years old again, feeling unwanted and abandoned. You want to become your own? You want to start living a full life? Want to know about the truth? Here it is! Is this also part of the game? Does this mean giving up my family? My marriage? All I ever wanted was my own safe, fun, loving, crazy family. Was I here for the wrong reasons? Did I gave up too much for it? What can be wrong with love? What did I do wrong? What was there I missed? I didn’t get? I am in a thousand pieces asking myself a thousand question with no answers, paralyzed by fear.
I try to tell myself it is not my fault. But it feels like my fault. It all feels like my fault. I did my best and I failed. You do your best and life shows you the flip side. I am in despair. I am 13 years old again and I don’t know who to trust and who to talk to. I turn to myself in the woods. There it is very silent. When all is in crisis the heart becomes very still.
You could say that a crisis in a relationship is not existential, it is not the end of the world, it happens to all of us. I tell you it can be the end of the world. It is breaking down walls and taking me straight back into my biggest fear, into carefully hidden pain, my waterloo. My heart is broken and I can’t go any further before I give up the idea that I have to save this family in order to save myself, that anything has to be a certain way for me to be ok. I am crying alone on my knees in the woods. What am I going to do?
I thought I would die right there and then. But I didn’t. I was breathing the whole time. Everything ended but not in the way I think it would. The light did go out, just to go back on again in another room. Even stronger and brighter.
What happened to us? We are still together. Surprisingly. Suddenly it feels clean. The fear is gone, the pain is slowly leaving, in those dark spots there is room for love now. It is not easy, but it is happening. It is a new land. No need to pretend or protect anything anymore. This soft core where you keep your pain and secrets and vulnerability well hidden has been trashed. I am open for all to see. Discovering new land.
The sun is coming up. Who are we? Who have we become? A couple. Just like all couples. For better or worse, like we promised. But now we know the worse. Learning that love will save the day. That after despair there will be another smile, another kiss. No matter what. Learning that I will be ok. I am Sarah and I will be ok. No matter what.