It is incredible to me the outpouring of love I have received from my "Dear Stranger" post. Thank you all! Because of this, I thought I would let you all into my muddled mind by explaining my inspiration for "Unraveled."
At nearly every difficult point in my life I have turned to writing. When a wave of depression hit in high school, that I still can't quite explain, I wrote songs; I wrote poems; I wrote love letters. My first semester of college, when I was inexplicably homesick, I dove head first into my English literature classes - obsessed with learning to analyze stories and write the perfect essay. When I moved 800 miles away from home to a new city with new people, I threw myself into a blog about surviving professional school as a spouse. Then, when my husband came out, I was at my lowest point. I couldn't bring myself to do anything productive, let alone write creatively. Have you ever seen those animations, where the frame freezes and then a hammer shatters the scene into a million tiny little pieces? That is what my world was doing around me, but unlike the animation, it couldn’t be put back together again; at least not into the same picture.
Now, this isn't meant to be a sob story. I don't regret falling in love. But when I felt so broken, that was all I could see. There came a point, shortly after I moved home to Michigan, that I decided it was time to figure out who I was... and who I was outside of my relationship. And that was something I had to do completely alone. While the help of an amazing therapist, generous friends, and outrageously supportive family certainly did their part in my healing process...I was the only one who could decide to be happy. I needed to learn to love myself, whoever that was going to be, before I could think about falling in love again.
Then Lent came along...yes, I'm serious. Lent got me back into writing. I made a Lenten resolution of reading or writing everyday for enjoyment. I do a lot of those things for work, but I had gotten away from my passion behind it. So on the Thursday after Ash Wednesday....(yes, I started a day late) I started writing. I wrote about whatever was on my mind. It wasn't always about my love story, but it certainly lead the charge on common themes. That is when I started to remember how therapeutic writing is for me. It transports me into a world where I can share my feelings with powerful imagery, extensive imagination, and the ability to end my story however I may choose.
So that is how I landed here. At "Unraveled." A place for me to spread my mended wings. A place for me to start showing the world how I've raveled myself back up again. A place to be me.
It took me nearly a year to write this. An open letter to the woman on the plane who felt compelled to comfort my mother...
We had planned the visit months earlier. My mom was coming down from out of state to visit my husband and me. We hadn’t been able to make it home for Christmas that year and so we planned a long weekend so we could spend some time with her.
One week, almost exactly, before my mom was scheduled to come down to see us…my husband came out to me and we separated. He was gay. We were in this weird limbo of still living together, still loving one another, but unable to be together in the way we had always hoped. Then, to throw a wrench in it all, my mom was on her way! My husband and I went back and forth on whether to tell her what was going on or sort out our feelings and put on a brave (fake) front while she was there. I told my mother what happened the exact same day my husband told me. I am her only daughter and I have never been good at hiding my feelings from my mom. Ultimately, I just couldn’t convince her I was okay.
Now, dear stranger, you don’t know my mother…but she is one of the most empathetic persons I know. She hurts when those she loves hurts. In some ways, she was more confused than I was about the situation. How did he not know? Doesn’t he love you? How could he be so selfish? Is he coping well? What does this mean for his parents? What are you going to do? The hard part was…I didn’t have answers to any of those questions and neither did he.
And then you came along. You could tell my mother was upset; that she was struggling; that she was embarking on a difficult journey. You asked if you could help. Oh silly stranger! You had no idea what was about to be unleashed onto you. But you handled it with such grace and poise. You listened, you comforted, and you aided. You said words to my mother that still ring true and help her every day: “Maybe your daughter was meant to be in his life. Maybe she gave him the courage to be who God had always intended him to be.”
Funny thing is- it was like you were reading my mind. This was truly one of the first coherent thoughts I had after the fog of grief had lifted a bit. I was liberal, open-minded, outrageous, courageous, and contagious. I have, and always will be, a force to be reckoned with. And that rubbed off on my husband…and each and every day I thank God for teaching me to be that person; for allowing me to love my husband so fiercely that he could finally love himself.
So kind stranger, thank you. Thank you for lending an ear; thank you for opening your heart to a mother in need; thank you for giving a gift that can never be repaid; thank you for loving, listening, and learning. Your presence that day is cherished more than you know.
An ex-wife, a fierce advocate, and a loving daughter