It began quietly . . . a terrible, violent wail of despair trapped deep inside of me that I could never quite silence. I couldn’t identify the source; I couldn’t even get it out all of the way. I ran . . . miles and miles and miles until I would collapse, sobbing . . . and yet the wail remained. It was always there, in the corners of my mind, in the depths of my chest, waiting underneath every thought and breath . . . until one day something happened which dragged it right out into the glaring light.
It doesn’t matter what happened. Everyone asks, and almost no one gets an answer. The answer is raw and painful and terrible. I should never have to share it. What matters is that the wail came out. It came out and I stared at it in shock. For 90 minutes I scrutinized it. I turned it over, I asked it questions, and I screamed at it.
Afterward I walked around in shock for two or three days, not believing or understanding what had happened. I cleaned my house, I fed my children, I helped them with their prayers and braided my daughter’s hair. I slept with my children at night, and I had thoughts that were empty and numb, but at the same time they were an enormous black scribble.
The thought came to me suddenly, with such force that it took all of my breath. I realized that I could now be justified in seeking a divorce. In that moment it felt as if a great load lifted off of my shoulders. I felt light, almost giddy, as if I could float straight up into the clouds without this terrible weight on me anymore. Confused, I searched . . . and the wail was gone. GONE!
How can it happen that quickly? How could I have decided in that moment? In reality I had been lost and hurt and ashamed for years. I had been alone for years, starving for something I couldn’t see clearly enough to identify. I lied to myself, echoing thoughts others had shared with me: I was strong; I didn’t need what others needed. This was okay for me.
It was not okay.
That wail came out and showed me that I did have needs, and my pride and folly had deprived me of fulfillment of those needs for more years than I could admit.
I hid my realization for months. I’m not someone that benefits from vocalizing my problems. I just like to turn it over in my mind until I figure it out.
My husband and I separated quietly, but news of it spread through our ward and social circle, almost explosively. It is surreal to walk familiar halls suddenly made foreign by the stares and the silence . . . each encounter a painful reminder that there is no going back. This is real. This is my life now.
I don’t know what I need. I don’t know who I need. I don’t know what to say any more than they do. I understand that it’s shocking, and to some might subconsciously feel like a threat. I felt that way, when my friends and acquaintances began to divorce.
It’s easy to feel like I don’t belong anymore. It’s easy to choose to be somewhere else, to be alone, to be silent and to wholly retreat within myself. I choose not to feel or do these things. I don’t know what to say; I don’t know what to do . . . but I will keep on with the only life I know, though everything seems to be spinning and utterly unfamiliar. The newness is terrifying, but kind of exciting, too.
I persist. I persevere. This is only a moment. A terrible, awkward moment that has bloomed into months of terrible, awkward moments . . . but this is not the end. This is the beginning.