I was completely paralyzed on the right side of my body. I couldn’t speak. I had enough cognitive ability to understand what had happened to me but not enough ability to solve simple problems, recognize shapes or read a paragraph on the sports page. I didn’t realize it at the time, but on December 20, 2003, I had an irretrievable breakdown in my relationship with myself.
I had a major stroke as a result of a brain malformation. I was born with this problem which was compounded by the effects of high blood pressure. My brain couldn’t take it anymore. It bled. I passed out.
It was a messy divorce involving children, property and, of course, my wife. The divorce itself took about a year to actually be finalized. This is all part of the cruel agony of the system which seems bent on prolonging the ordeal simply for the sake of adding another layer of frustration.
As I lay on the hospital bed following surgery, I was told that any recovery was uncertain. I wasn’t expecting this. The reality of divorce doesn’t really set in just because of the breakdown of the relationship. The reality takes time. I was told that I would be in the hospital for weeks or months and that I should hope for the best. I sought a glimmer of hope. Was a reconciliation possible? No hope was given. Anything was possible, I was told, but I shouldn’t deceive myself–I had to face reality.
Of course my thoughts started with my wife. I had told friends I had married the most wonderful woman in the world and I meant it. Not a day passed without my realizing that I was the luckiest man on the face of the Earth. The possibility of losing her was unbearable, but why should she stick with a former bread winner turned invalid? She is beautiful, smart and loving. She deserved a better life than staying with me.
I thought next about my children–three wonderful, adorable boys. If my wife left me, would I ever see them again? Even if I got visitation, what kind of father would I be?
Obviously, I thought about my possessions. Not just material possessions but idealized ones such as my career, my hobbies and my standing in the community.
After all, divorce is really about possessions. Even spouses and children end up being regarded in this way. With an inability to move, think or speak, I realized that everything I thought I owned, every relationship that mattered, and everything I thought about myself was possibly no more.
People are very good at fighting over possessions. I waged a vigorous battle. It’s ironic, though, that in reality, we possess nothing. Every day we’re alive and everything we ever get to enjoy is a gift from God. We develop assumptions and expectations about these things on our own, coming to regard everything about ourselves as ours. My marriage, my children, my career, my physical strength, my hobbies, my bank account, my real estate WERE MINE!
I didn’t realize it but I joined the rebellion of the created. As a rebel, I lost sight of the fact that mine was not to possess but to enjoy. Of course I was fighting a losing battle, trying to co-opt the longings of my heart into my very own weapons.
I still feel the pain of separation at times. Little reminders of what used to be are all around me. A picture of my old muscles. A glance at an old bank statement. I see others clinging to what they think is “theirs” like small children clinging to their blankets. It’s too bad but the children seem to get hurt the most in a divorce.
I don’t plan to marry again. It’s not required. We were created to love, not to possess. Looking back, I have to admit that the divorce was a good thing. It transformed me into something stronger by making me weaker.