Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Benefits of Being Broken

This Sunday will be May 1st. If my life is a journey (and of course it is -- every life is), then the landscape on the map has changed dramatically on that date. Twice.

On May 1st, 1997, I was 21. Legally, an adult. However, right up until then? Emotionally, mentally, not so much an adult. In college, working, doing my thing. Dipping a toe into the pool of grown-up-ness, but not really swimming in it. Fate apparently got tired of watching me dilly-dally there and decided to give me a hearty shove with the death of my grandfather. To say that it was unexpected would be a gross understatement. However, then as always, I had a choice: Swim or drown.

I chose to swim.  I will say this though: the world looked different to me after that, because I was different. I hadn't known before that I could wake up one day as one person, and go to bed a completely different one. One who was a little bit broken. Not a lot broken, but a little. A cracked teacup, carefully mended and turned to the side on the shelf so that the glued together seams don't show.

I knew the date was marked in my emotional calendar. So when I had to go to court on May 1st, 2007 -- 10 years later, to the day -- to finalize my divorce, I was a little bitter with fate.

Because -- well, to be honest, I thought, "DUDE. There are 364 other days in the freaking year. WHAT. THE. HELL."

 This time, I literally started the day one way -- as a wife -- and ended it in another -- as, well, not a wife. And a lot broken. Off the shelf, in little pieces on the floor, no longer recognizable as the vessel it once was. Not able to be put back together as it used to be.

The thing about being broken, though, is this: it forces reformation. Debris on the floor is something that must be dealt with. So do you sweep it aside and toss the whole lot? If you do, what are you left with? Do you take some of the pieces and form them into something new? If that's what you've chosen, what will it look like? Where will it go? What will you learn and what will you leave -- those are the questions you get to ask. That is the benefit to being broken, because a night -- or many nights -- spent slogging through the pain and the grief and fear -- well, all nights end in the same way, don't they?

They end in a new day.

So this year, on May 1st, I will raise a glass to the girl I was in 1997 and the woman I have allowed myself to be since 2007 -- I like who she is, I understand where she's been, and I have no fear about where she might go next.


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