Ever since Rachel died, I’ve been thinking about writing. Which makes sense, since she was the person who moved me from writing about the mundanity of being a mom of little kids to a more thoughtful, purposeful kind of writing. She lifted up my words numerous times and was one of my biggest cheerleaders.
Dan shared a picture of her writing desk on her Facebook page. It has lots of notes about how she wrote, all of which are absolutely brilliant advice for anyone who wants to follow in her path. But the one that struck me says, “Write for the kindred spirits, not the critics.”
I would have said this is how I write. And on many topics, it is how I write. I have deeply unapologetic thoughts about how the Church treats LGBTQIA people. I will loudly proclaim my disgust for the marriage of Evangelicals and Republicans. I will ask women to bring their whole selves to whatever they do. I will talk about the truth of grieving a parent and a child.
But to start talking about my first marriage and how I came to be divorced and remarried? I hedge and apologize and dance around my actual thoughts. Every once in a while there will be some truth that slips out, but I haven’t been able to muster the strength to just say, “Hey. I was unhappy so I left.”
(And then I deleted a bunch of hedging around that. BUT I SAID WHAT I SAID.)
I know a blog series is so 2012, but I’m going back to my roots, and this is what I know. I’m going to post about what I was taught about marriage and the expectations that exist in the Church about marriage and how many of them failed me and maybe a few other people. I’m calling it The Old Ball and Chain (thanks to Rich for the title and for never, ever calling me that, even as a joke).
But before I do that, I really do need to make a couple of disclaimers. If I’m going to challenge a lot of marriage orthodoxy, I feel like I need to be really clear about the things that I am not saying when I get into that.
1. Lying is bad. I’m going to talk about what I don’t regret, but I regret lying. And not just for the 3 weeks between when I started the affair and when I told my ex. I regret the many tiny lies that led me to the place where that could occur. Lying will kill a marriage. It might not cause a divorce, but it will kill a marriage regardless of the legal state of things.
2. Divorce hurts. I think even in the worst circumstances, ending a marriage will have some element of pain associated with it. It doesn’t mean it’s not the right choice, but it will have consequences, and some of that is pain. I will never treat divorce as a flippant decision.
3. No relationship is happy all the time. This feels like an obvious statement, but based on what I want to write, I’m going to say it anyway. I am a huge proponent of having a happy marriage. I’m not talking about “joy,” though I think that’s good, too. I just believe that happiness is way underrated in the Christian community. So I’m going to say happy and mean it in a shallow, feels-good-to-be-around-this-person way. But I also think there’s way more to marriage than JUST happiness, and shocker, I recognize that happiness ebbs and flows.
4. My experience is mine. In my decade+ of blogging, I have tried to steer pretty clear of absolutes. I have lots of Very Strong Opinions, but very little certainty. In this series, I expect that will continue to be the case. Lots of big thoughts, no certainty. What I do know is that when we share our stories, we help other people make sense of their own experiences. So I’m sharing my stories, my experiences. Where yours line up, great. Where they don’t, also great. Nothing is meant to be prescriptive, only anecdotal.
I’ve missed authentic Alise. I hope to find her somewhere again. And I hope you’ll join me in that search.