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.

The Long-Awaited Honest-to-God Secret to Being Happy

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 per- son 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.