Recently I wrote a post comparing marriage to marathons.
After further analysis (which typically happens mere moments after a I click “publish” on a post) of that analogy, I realized that it wasn’t a very accurate comparison, mainly because in a marathon, there is one runner following one specific goal, yet in a marriage, there are two people whose pace, stride, and end goals can and, more often than not, do change through time.
Back in January, my husband told me that he “wanted to see what life was like not together.” In June, we were separated.
I was blindsided by his claim and not remotely ready for it, though I’m not sure anyone is ever ready for such news. The marathon I thought we were running together became something else entirely. Yes, we had hit that 23rd mile bonk, but it was also a fork in the road where the path we had been traveling on together for sixteen years was suddenly split into two.
The shock I felt upon learning that my marriage was at risk was reminiscent of how I felt thirteen years ago when an oncologist told me that my dad had a grapefruit sized tumor in his stomach and that he only had a few months to live.
Life as I knew it, in both situations, took on an almost comic book quality–surreal, strange, sardonic. Words like cancer, separation, death and divorce–how did they, in a split second, become a part of my lexicon? I fought them off like crazy, those ugly, malignant words. I refused to let them into my space, so instead, they hung above my head like a comic bubble, next to words like, Pow and Blam–like sucker punches to my gut.
The similarities between watching my dad die and watching my marriage fail are many:
The roller coaster of emotions.
Sadness, helplessness, loneliness, anger, fear, regret, doubt, devastation.
Will I have a dad tomorrow? In a week, a month, a year?
Will I have a husband tomorrow? In a week, a month, a year?
If not, how will I survive?
The dealing with friends and relatives not knowing what to do or say.
The choosing of chardonnay over clarity.
The random break-out-into-tears sessions that come out of nowhere.
The sudden emersion into a club I never signed up for and never imagined I’d ever join.
Many couples who battle marital issues survive the rough patches and many people who are diagnosed with cancer survive.
But, in both situations, many don’t.
Recently I read a post by a brilliant blogger, Heather of the Extraordinary Ordinary, who delicately described a variety of human struggles, including death and divorce, and wove them into one brilliant post about one basic necessity: oxygen. You know, that thing we all need to survive.
When things are going well, we might take our oxygen intake for granted. Yet when life sucker punches us, we might gasp for breath, and wonder when and from where the next breath will come.
Currently I don’t know the fate of my marriage, nor from where my next breath of oxygen will come, but, I have faith. As I do with most situations in life, I have faith that whatever happens, whatever marathon I am running, whatever comic strip I find myself in, I will make it through, one way or another, and I’ll be one bad ass super-heroine ’til the end.
If you are going through a divorce or even a rough patch in your marriage, please read this awesome post by my girl Heather Love of The Third Boob on 10 Tips for Surviving Divorce With Young Children.