Guest Post By Erin
From what I remember, (it has been almost 8 years since I pushed another life out of my body) birth is painful, messy, exhausting, and frightening. I can understand why Nicodemus might have been a little incredulous when he was questioning the need to be reborn, i.e. “You want me to do what???” However, there are times in life when a rebirth is absolutely necessary. Not because we weren’t right when we started, but because we have strayed from the person we were meant to be when we began.
Over the course of our marriage, my husband had taught me that I wasn’t enough. I couldn’t do much to please him, no matter how I tried. I logically knew that all the things wrong with our relationship weren’t my fault in total, but in order to maintain peace, I did the apologizing, I accommodated to his needs and wants, I did my best to change my very essence in order to please him through fourteen years of marriage. I was committed to my covenants and would have given up more if I could to protect my children from the spectre of divorce.
In September of 2012, my husband told me he couldn’t “do this” anymore and walked out the door leaving behind a well prepared letter of how visitation and child support and division of property and debts would proceed. I was dumbfounded, to say the least. A week before we had been making detailed lists of all the things we should plan to buy for birthdays and Christmases to prepare for a family goal of section hiking the Appalachian Trail over the next 7 years. His leaving came out of nowhere. Thankfully, the Spirit whispered, “Let him go, he knows what he is leaving and he is still making this choice. You will be okay.”
This wasn’t the rebirth, this was the conception what would be the birth of my new life.
Over the next few weeks and months, there wasn’t a moment when I wasn’t in constant communication with my Heavenly Father. I needed direction for everything and He taught me how and why I needed to take certain steps, who I needed to turn to and how to handle the four kids and their varied reactions to the situation. Like a babe in the womb, protected from the outside world, I received the nourishment I needed from friends and family. Almost nothing was done that somebody else didn’t do for me. Even Christmas was handled by others, mostly anonymously, from the tree to the presents. I felt greatly blessed and humbled. The divorce was finalized amicably with just a few moments of discomfort when the terms of spousal support were negotiated. I was free from my marriage, but I hadn’t yet gone through the rebirthing process. I thought I had. I thought I was ready for the next step, but I hadn’t even seen the light of day yet to know who I was and what I wanted.
Over the next few months I could feel my old self stretching and reaching to get out of the skin I had developed as “his wife”. I thought that I had made it through the marriage and divorce fairly unscathed, but I hadn’t hit rock bottom yet. The Lord had been very protective of me until a few weeks after my birthday. My oldest son was preparing to be ordained a teacher. His Grandpa and uncle were flying out to perform the ordinance. Out of nowhere, my ex begins texting me, accusing me of things, but not coming right out and saying what he was accusing me of. It was an awful couple of days as I read these nasty texts and wondering what exactly he was talking about. It suddenly dawned on me that this form of manipulation and control was how he had always kept me subservient to his will and temper. It was a moment of clarity I will never forget. I mourned for the loving and hopeful 24 year old girl who had accepted this man and begged for her forgiveness for not standing up for her and allowing her sweet nature to be changed by him. I also celebrated the fact that I was no longer living under that oppressive influence. I was now ready to become the person I had always been meant to be. Commence the birthing process!
I began setting goals, first giving away clothes that didn’t make me feel like the person I wanted to be. I exchanged blacks and greys for light and bright colors. I made goals, big and small- going back to school, running another half marathon, giving compliments when I admired something about someone, all in an effort to find my future in myself. Not everything was rosy or perfect. My ex had moved out of state and married the young woman he had been living with, my oldest daughter wanted to live with them instead of me. I spent the summer while the kids were all at their dad’s waiting for things to fall in place so that I could start school and feeling frustrated by my poverty and lack of a partner to assist with some big decisions concerning the house. This was all still the contractions, though. Transition was just on the horizon.
By the end of the summer, I faced some emotional traumas. My daughter left to live with her dad. Then, I started school, but my enthusiasm for it was tempered by an inexplicable anxiety. I soon realized that I was coming up on the anniversary of my ex leaving. I woke up the morning of that terrible anniversary and realized that I needed to own this day. I needed to mourn, to celebrate, to cry, to sing, to laugh and embrace all that I had been through the last year and let it go. I did just that. My apologies to my facebook friends. I felt like Rapunzel in the scene in Tangled right after she leaves her tower. At the end of the day I was emotionally spent. I had learned something about myself, though. I was not ready to get married again, but I wanted to be. My kids wanted me to be. This is how my transition began. You know, the part where you start saying, “I can’t do this anymore.”? Yep, that’s where I was.
I prayed desperately to be healed so that I could be whole when I meet someone that I could be married to. I felt prompted to set a date-the anniversary of my divorce. This was the date when I wanted to be ready for whatever or whoever was next. I decided that for the next three months I would date, but I would make it clear that I was not ready for anything more than casual relationships. That relieved a lot of the pressure that I had been feeling. I also decided that I would ask the Lord to tell me what I could DO. This prompted one of the most painful learning experiences of my life. The first night I said this prayer, the thought immediately entered that I needed to write a letter to my ex-husband’s new wife and welcome her to the family. This was beyond my ability. I lacked the forgiveness and love to write such a letter and not have it come out snarky.
Once again I was praying-for assistance to do this hard thing. The letter got written, though not without the enabling power of the Atonement and sent. The next few weeks proved that the letter was written for other very important purposes besides my own healing. How differently my ex and I were able to communicate about the kids now. He also revealed to me his own feelings that he was going through when he left and I came to the realization that my fears about being married again were all based on his issues, not mine. What a blessing! I also went through the temple and looked into the celestial room for the first time in a year. I was suddenly longing to be there.
Recently I celebrated one year of singlehood. It was a much quieter celebration than the previous one. I marked it only with a prayer of gratitude and was given the feeling that I was indeed ready to move forward with that aspect of my life. A quiet birth, but I could feel the love and approval from my Heavenly Parents as I once felt those same things from my earthly parents. I am reborn but with newfound understanding and confidence. I am bright, talented, naturally happy and optimistic.
I am enough.