Prisons and Prisms
Copyrighted by Lorna Tedder. Originally published in Third Degree Curves.
Some people change your life in extreme and wonderful ways, and they never know it. Sometimes they’re in your life only for a short while, sometimes only a moment, and sometimes they’re there unexpectedly and gone just as unexpectedly. And they never know. They’re gone from our lives before they ever know what they started in motion.
On Monday night, near midnight, Shannon and I sat on the floor in the kitchen and rubbed Grendel’s tummy and talked quietly about the future and where we’re heading. She spoke of how important it is to her to earn her own money for a car, to do the research, to make a grown-up decision that she believes is best for her. She talked about knowing now what it is that she wants to do with her life and how exciting that is.
I talked about my after-hours meetings this week and the help I’m getting in implementing my plans. I talked about what it is that I want to do with the rest of my life and how exciting that feels—and how nervous I am about whether I can pull off this transition that’s coming. It occurred to me then how damaged I must have been by the time I divorced because I really had absolutely no belief in myself anymore at that point and how hard it is for me to accept that I’d so completely lost who I was, just to satisfy someone else, whether that was my parents, my husband, my colleagues, my friends, or just society in general. I was a rebel who’d allowed myself to be tamed and caged, and the best I could do was rage inside.
“I’m glad,” Shannon said, “that it happened.” She went on to explain that she was glad not for the pain but that with the divorce, I’d begun the process of reclaiming myself and that I’m now on such a different path than I ever would have been if I’d stayed put.
She pointed out that this wonderful transition that I’m working toward would never have happened if I hadn’t broken free, and if a particular person after my divorce had not introduced me to so many possibilities. One person was a catalyst—unknowingly—to introducing me to new ways of thinking, to new groups of people who could teach me things I never knew existed, to new people that they knew who could show me paths I didn’t know were there.
Shannon remembers a time when I waffled on the divorce proceedings because my ex put on his party manners and things got better for a few weeks before going south for good. I was terribly torn at the time because I was hopeful that we could work things out. If nothing else, it was probably my kids telling me to stay firm in what I wanted and not to give in, or else I don’t think I could have done it. Had they not been so clear in seeing how unhappy I was with their father and with having made myself over for him, I would have talked myself into staying with him…again. I’m embarrassed now to realize how damaged I was then that a 14-year-old and an 11-year-old would be so resolute and I as the grown-up was such a puddle of emotion and devastation that I
could barely function.
“Aren’t you glad now,” Shannon asked, “that you did go ahead with the divorce? Even with how painful it was?” She points out that, to her, I’m a new person now, mostly positive, very open, going after things I never felt I could before. A whole new life.
She notes, too, that the catalyst for so much change in my life in the past two years was someone I never would have gotten to know if I’d been married. And that the most influential new people in my life over the past couple of years would not have been welcome in our house if I’d stayed married. That all that good stuff that’s come into my life would not have been there had I not gone through the pain. It’s almost as if everything came down to a pinpoint of one person and then angled back out broadly with new light and bright colors of possibility. Like a prism from the Dark Side of the Moon’s cover. All light focusing down to one person who introduced me to new things and to new people who introduced me to new things to take me to this new future, all without ever knowing what they’d done for me.
It’s ironic that this catalyst who started the chain reaction of good things to come, this person, is no longer in my life. It’s ironic, too, that many of the people who came into my life in the past couple of years as teachers—usually without knowing they were teaching me things—have gone their way as well.
And none of them know the impact they had.