A Good Divorce
Today I have a guest author, a wonderful woman I am pleased to call a friend. Barbara Gibson is a writer, poet counselor, spiritual director, wise woman, teacher, partner, mother and political activist.
Barbara was one of the judges for the writing contest about marriage.
After a great discussion on the subject, Barbara concluded that there were lots of good divorces too and that her situation would fall into that description. I asked her if she would share her story of when a marriage relationship is over and two people have changed, moving in new directions.
I am pleased to introduce you to Barbara.
Divorce can be an ugly nightmare, or a liberating choice. Much depends on whether you are the leaver or the left, although sometimes things turn out better than expected for the person who did not choose divorce.
It is easy to list the bad things that can happen in and after a divorce: a sense of betrayal, economic hardship, fear of the future, loneliness and the sometimes frantic search for another relationship or marriage.
Still, divorce can be transformative. In my case, the decision to divorce was difficult. My husband and I had been best friends, lovers, intellectual companions, and enthusiastic parents of our two daughters for almost twenty years. We came to a point where our lives were veering off in opposite directions. I was caught up in youth culture and feminism. I had new friends: gay people, hippies, musicians. I wanted to experiment.
He was trying to stay enthusiastic about his teaching, his political activism, and his writing, and not always succeeding.
Somehow our life together just wasn’t working any more.
After the split, we worked hard at maintaining the best of what we had. Now, almost 40 years later, we are still friends, though we rarely see each other since he lives in Japan. I’m still interested in what he’s reading, what movies he likes, what he thinks of Barack Obama.
We sometimes meet at our daughter’s home in Los Angeles, or at her summer home in Michigan. Our conversations are still fun. We share memories of our lives together. We remember the times in Detroit when we were political radicals. We published a chapbook of our poems together. We understand each other in ways that no one else can.
I still find him hilariously funny. He’s one of the smartest, deepest, most well-read people I’ve ever met. We had the same mentors and heroes: Paul Goodman and Kenneth Rexroth. We’re proud of the two daughters, now successful women, we raised.
My husband married a Japanese woman many years ago. She is intelligent, educated, fluent in English, a poet. Together they bore and raised a son, who is now a young adult. He is brilliant, charming, and an accomplished musician.
One summer night, this young man played the cello for us as we sat in the cottage where my husband and I first met. The gorgeous music swirled around us. I had tears of joy in my eyes at the end.
What a gift to all of us! My daughters have an adored brother now.
I am grateful that in the wake of a difficult and sometimes painful divorce, new life emerged. I too am now married, to a woman who is the perfect companion for me. I have done good work since the divorce: teaching, counseling, writing, finding spiritual meaning in all of it.
These things happened, not in spite of the divorce, but in a sense because of it. We opened a door and found new freedom on the other side. For both of us.
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