We had small children. Three and six years old: button noses, tiny hands. When my husband and I separated, we needed to because that was the next and only step we knew how to take. We’d forgotten how to breathe our own breaths, and breathing each other’s breaths had taken both our souls.
The first nights away from each other after 11 years together were strange. We said, ‘How are we going to do this?’ Neither of us knew. We didn’t belong together, anymore, but we still loved each other…we didn’t know how to be apart. Not from each other, and certainly not from our children.
The children. I was ripped into a million flimsy shreds of soul tissue. I admit, a part of me was relieved at the thought of the new found freedom I’d have when the children stayed at their Dads house. I’d have time to find myself. Time to learn who I was as a human being— I’d never truly done that before. The rest of me grieved for the half of my children’s lives that I would miss.
No one ever talks about that part when discussing divorce. No one ever presents the true reality of what ‘splitting the children 50/50’ means. It means missing precious moments, it means not being there to hold their tiny heads when they vomit, it means not being able to comfort them the way a mother needs to at a primal level. I was learning this new, startling reality for myself. It tore me to pieces.
A friend had mentioned how I might like to keep an open mind (and heart, perhaps.) That maybe down the track we might rekindle what we had—she had travelled a similar path and found joy on the other side of separation. A second chance with her husband. A new love for each other beyond the grey. They’d even gone on to have another child after the devastation had faded; which was lovely for her, I thought, but not a likely scenario for us. Our broken parts had solidified. There was nothing of the old us remaining to encourage us to remember the beautiful pair we once made.
Months passed and though I thrived in my new world, finding and learning to nurture new and beautiful parts of myself, I was depressed. My soul howled when my daughter cried for her Dad. Three years old. (I still ache when she picks up the photograph of him that laid beside her bed while she was without the real thing.)
Although there was no shame for me around the idea of divorce, I was crippled when it came to my daughter. My little girl is highly sensitive. I am too, and no matter which way I spun it: we would both lose if this separation continued. I couldn’t see how future good times would outweigh the depths of that kind of despair; it was a joint pain, mine and hers. We all know what empathy feels like, but my empathy goes to the extreme. I embody the pain of others, as if that pain is my own. As spiritually strong as I had grown in my life, even I wasn’t sure I could handle such a heavy dose of pain, every few days.
Then COVID struck. I couldn’t believe the timing. As if a marriage falling apart wasn’t enough pain and confusion to navigate, now the world was falling apart. Supermarket shelves were bare and people in the streets walked around with frightened eyes, wondering things they’d never wondered about others, before.
I’ll never forget the eerie feeling in the supermarket; shelves of silver I’d never seen beneath the normal abundance of household items, not a toilet roll in sight. It was a feeling of doom, is the only way I can describe it. A feeling of charcoal and cold-grey stone. Who had I been sharing the world with all this time? I thought I had known. Now, I was frightened by the realisation that I had no idea.
Fragile me both thrived and fell, during COVID. I used my skills in writing to entertain and help others learn more about books and writing while in lockdown, and this brought my life colour, confidence and inspiration. I became a version of myself I’d only ever dreamed of. Intelligent.Wild. Sexy. Empowered. Free.
Still, I was depressed. Divorce, and what divorce would mean for our family’s future, weighed so heavily on my mind. I tried to frame each negative I found with a positive, and yet always I would find myself back in the same place. Not home. Home, for me, was where my babies were. Where my family was. My husband was a part of that family, and divorced or not, I would be damned if I would allow us to become emotionally separate. So we started spending time together as a family, and though it was odd and uncomfortable at times, it was home. Both of us knew that, both of us needed that.
I sit here, perhaps eighteen months later, twenty-four weeks pregnant with our third precious babe: my two little ones in the next room, my husband at work. I often think back to that conversation with my friend, the one who told me to keep an open mind. It’s hard not to giggle, thinking of the absolute unlikelihoods that have come to pass. A healing marriage. A new member of the family on the way. It’s broken, beautiful life: messy and glorious, and it’s mine. It’s ours.
Is my whole soul entirely happy? No.Will it ever be? Perhaps not. I am, and always have been, as deep as the ocean, as free as a bird, as soft as a petal. Very few people, places, things have ever truly fulfilled me.
But there is hope and there is home. There is a beautiful, supportive husband, who truly is a magnificent human being and father. I adore him. He adores me. We are good.
And, of course, there are my babies, still so small, still so in need of their Mum.
It has been fourteen days and the wind has brought me here.
What happened was quite accidental (but then, is anything ever accidental in the universe?) Rather than my plan expiring as I thought it was going to (for reasons long and complicated) it has rolled over for another year.
For a moment, when the ghastly realisation was made, I thought to approach wordpress and tell them, ‘Thank you, but I’m done, here.’
I never did do that. I never did pick up the phone.
I put this down to orders of the wind. The sway of the universe whispering me to stay just a little while longer. So, here I am, writing these words–half wondering why, half quite sure that there is nowhere else I’d rather be.
Why is it that there are so many segments of us, and why is it that not all segments of us want equally?
Some pieces of me want to be heard, to be known, to be understood and validated by like minded souls who feel a little like they’re swimming around in the ever spinning washing machine of life. Other parts of me want to hide. To never be seen. To only be known by the quiet that surrounds me, the quiet that I am.
I know I must write to experience myself truly.
I know I must create in order to find home.
What else do I know?
I know I’ll always be asking questions that make me feel a little lonely.
I know I’ll always think I know the answers until I, once and for all, understand that there is no one answer. Only the next question, the next step, the next choice.
Due to expire in a couple of days, due to expire. And I’m not going to renew it.
I’m attached to this, my sweet little bloggy home. Truly, I am.
I’m attached to all of you, whose faces I see, whose hearts I feel I know, somehow.
But I think this time, it really is time.
Time to reinvent myself, maybe.
Time to be brave and…do something else (you all know I’ve been wobbling about for quite sometime.)
I’ve got my new creativity website which may need some attention at some point. (The link for that one is brookecutlercreative.com. Please head over and subscribe if you’re not already, I’d hate to entirely lose you all. xx)
And, of course I’m intending to continue my novel, and to keep writing at medium and see where that road drifts to.
But I think I’ll let my plan expire, here, and…just see what happens.
I can’t pay for two websites: that’s one thing I do know, and that leads me to thinking this may just be the perfect time to let the wind blow. And sit here. And let it all be.
I’m so very unsure.
But I can be brave enough to let the wind take me.
I can be brave enough to allow uncertain life to meet me here.
Perhaps I am here to write. But at the core of that, at the core of my words, at the core of my message…I’m here to love. I always have been, and it’s more clear to me now that I’m allowing my love to be seen.
I can’t help but feel great waves of empathy, particularly for those who are struggling in life. Those who are scared. Those who are being unfairly treated, by those who don’t even recognise the wrongs they perpetuate (as a result of their own messy humanity.)
It’s all a bit of a mess.
It’s all a bit of a mess.
So maybe I shouldn’t waffle at you about love.
Maybe I should be writing something of substance: something about the politics of what’s going on with the floods in eastern Australia, maybe, and how they’d want me to say it’s got nothing to do with the way we treat the planet (when, actually, I believe that Mother Nature was the very first woman who learned to powerfully speak her truth.)
But I’m not going to talk about natural disasters, or about who believes what.
I’m going to talk about love, and how I feel it, and how I feel for everything and everyone, and wish that more humans did.
Because underneath every natural disaster, lives love. The rescuer rowing a family to safety while their own home—a home they have loved and cared for with everything they have—drowns behind them.
That’s not politics.
It’s not who made the wrong choice about dam management and should be fired because of it.
It’s not who is right and who is wrong about the effects of climate change on a struggling earth.
It’s funny. To think of the damage caused by cultural norms and stereotypes.
Of course, there are the absolutely beautiful cultural narratives out there. Those that cherish and honour human life by holding it, by respecting it so beautifully that even the hardest of hearts must surely be touched by the story of it all.
I heard a story as beautiful, just the other day. My counsellor told it to me: how, in her culture, when a woman becomes pregnant, she becomes the queen. The whole tribe lavish her with love, care, and most importantly, perhaps…food.
This discussion came about after a lovely tender moment where she looked over at me, my bulging belly sweetly growing a perfect little gift, and offered to bake me something lovely to celebrate the occasion (that’s right, surprise, I’m fourteen weeks pregnant. And how lovely it is, to me. How lovely it is. xx)
But, I digress. Because although there are some absolutely beautiful cultural stories passed on by certain cultures in the world, other cultures do not even realise their own toxicity. (And when I say toxicity, what I mean is…truly, their cultural ideas are heartbreaking and damaging to individuals who do not fit into the selected story being told.)
There are some absolutely wonderful things to be said about the culture I was born into. But one arm of the narrative, an arm that destroyed any hope of me developing healthy self-esteem in my early years, was the idea that vulnerability and softness were somehow character flaws. I was mostly soft.
As it turns out, this soft part of me, this sensitivity, is my super power; a power that helps me soothe, and bring safety to those who need it. A power that helps me tap into the world of everything and nothing, and pull down the words and creativity needed for my writing to touch people in the way that it seems to.
But my culture called me ‘soft’. It told me to ‘harden up’, and it assumed that If I didn’t…then surely I must be broken, at worst. Naive at best. Never have I been these labels.
And if you are a deep and tender heart resonating with these words…never have you been these labels, either.
Always we’ve been perfect.
Just the way we are.
Think of the trillions of flowers, plants and trees out there. Some are soft. Some are hard, shrubs built to last in the wind and rain and hail. None of them judge each other for being ‘wrong’ in anyway. They simply exist.
I lay in bed last night, at 4am, thinking of the tortured artist, thing.
We feel so deeply, us creative folk, and therefore, we capture the world in its fullest expression.
Which is beautiful. Really, ice-shatteringly beautiful.
But we are often not understood, at best. And at worst…we are grossly misunderstood, usually by the logically minded folk of the world, who do not (perhaps cannot) see the world the way we do.
Sometimes we are judged as weak, overly sensitive; irresponsible, messy. A lonely human, this does make, at times.
A lonely human this does make, at times.
I remember sitting at my piano as a nineteen year old, feeling the world in all its depth; the beauty of the autumn leaves outside the window, a huge comfort as I sat and wondered about my place in the world.
These creative eyes.
They make everything a little more beautiful. A little more horrible. A little more alive.
I’m grateful, for them, I am.
I’d imagine all the tortured artists out there were grateful, even the ones who battled to a sometimes tragic end.
Misunderstood, they were, and a little bit lonely, maybe.
A little bit scared of the depths that dragged them beneath the surface, on occasion, maybe.