I love drawing ruins. It’s one of my favorite things to capture when I travel and I have been wanting to sketch a particular photo that I took in the coastal town of Whitby for quite some time. Every time I blog, which is not all that regularly these days, I comment on the passage of time and how fast the months seem to fly by. I will refrain from waxing
If you have read many of my posts, you know that my creative process tends to start with painting a picture and that visual often sparks what I want to write about. I am an ardent fan of metaphors, precisely because I am so visual. I love when the strokes of my brush become a colorful map for me to chase down my thoughts.
I recently started dating someone new and I’ve been processing a lot of thoughts and reactions that I have when that happens. Dating post-divorce has been a very interesting road for me, and anyone who has embarked on this journey after a marriage has ended will agree that there are moments of excitement, fear, joy, anxiety … basically ALL the feelings. Add in the fact that my marriage ended with betrayal and you start on the journey not just with significant baggage, but with those bags filled with rocks. See, I’m already doing it. Metaphors. But I digress. This post isn’t about a backpacking metaphor, this is about ruins; broken down windows, crumbling archways, missing pillars.
Inviting someone into your life, post-divorce is like opening the gates to the ruins of your relationship psyche for an extended tour. “Welcome… Oh, yes, over there… that’s where my self-confidence once was. Over there, where that walkway was crushed… that’s my body image. It’s being reconstructed, but the pieces are hard to excavate. Oh and those giant walls over there, where the door is covered with rubble…that’s where I keep my ability to trust.” You get the idea.
Healing wounds left behind in the wake of betrayal is hard work. It takes a combination of things like intentionality, forgiveness, self-love, and a herculean amount of grace. You can do some of the work before you enter into a new relationship, but most of it takes place once you’ve decided to open that gate. I think this is why I so seldom have. I prefer sitting on a distant hill, where I am impervious and in control. I like being perceived as having my life together and being viewed as a strong woman who has made it through the deep valleys of divorce and come out the other side, healthy and victorious. To allow someone in is to revisit old scars. To be exposed and vulnerable. Sometimes being alone seems preferable.
Most of us know Brené Brown is the diva of vulnerability. She says “vulnerability is not about fear and grief and disappointment. It is the birthplace of everything we’re hungry for. “ She goes on to say “vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity. It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability, and authenticity. If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper and more meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path.”
Inviting someone into the places that have been broken and damaged is not safe. But if it truly is the birthplace of all the things we long for, then perhaps the risk is worth it. Perhaps the fear is something we can walk through, however slowly, however softly.
I remember standing in the early morning sunshine that day in Whitby and marveling at the light and the shadows and the stark beauty of those crumbling stones. It was incredibly quiet and I was alone. I tried to imagine the Abbey, whole and complete, and I really couldn’t. It had become a place of memories and history and ancient stories, but strangely, there was still life and energy there. It had become a different thing altogether, the earth growing up and around it, the vast sea visible through what had been lost. It felt like a new thing. There was, inexplicably, a feeling of joy those rose up in me underneath the bright blue of that December sky.