Hi friends –
Three months, one full seasonal cycle ago, my marriage ended.
Sometimes this is what three months feels like.
And sometimes, apparently, that is what twenty-one years looks like.
Linear time is a funny thing – as we all have learned in profound ways in these last two and quarter years.
Linear time gives us a shape, illusionary though it often is. This sense of where we came from and where we are likely going, feeling life’s predictable rhythms and cycles can calm our system, offering a clearer container from which to move and feel where we are.
For most of my adult life thus far, the container of my marriage was a deeply settling place from which I moved and experienced life. It was never a high conflict relationship, or one filled with a blanket of tension for me. Rather, it was a place where I felt deeply and profoundly resourced by comfort, security, daily laughter, regular tears, sweet companionship, shared stories and language that only we know how to speak and understand.
There were also, not surprisingly, some core challenges that we could not seem to navigate well enough, no matter how many ways we tried to. At the convergence of these stuck points, our roads diverged.
Letting things die has never been in my wheelhouse. Especially in fields with so much abundant thriving life afoot. But like a fallen tree that had, just moments before, been fully alive, rich and vibrant life sometimes suddenly dies and needs space to decay and reshape into new forms.
Jeremy and I have committed to doing all we can to decompose as we composed, with magic and kindness and care for ourselves, one another and communities we’ve co-created. The idea of “all or nothing” is an illusion. The typical divorce narrative of choosing sides and falling into a contentious, spiteful battle of perspectives belongs to an antiquated way of moving in the world. It holds the same frequency that is responsible for so much of the suffering we are swimming in collectively at this moment.
We are discovering a version of reality available where we can be both truthful, boundaried and hurt, without being defensive, divided or spiteful. Deep love, friendship and support remains a possibility, even in the dissolution of our loving home as we knew it.
I am beyond grateful that I had a husband, and now a “Wasband,” who shares these values with me and joins me in doing our imperfect best to navigate this dismantling with love.
**(Our process was greatly supported by both our therapist, our communities and families and the book “Conscious Uncoupling” by Katherine Woodward. I highly recommend whether you are considering leaving a relationship, just leaving a relationship or are still processing a relationship that ended many moons ago. It’s countercultural and a powerful tonic whether both or just one of the couples in the uncoupling process desires to focus on post traumatic growth and forward movement, rather than staying stuck in bitterness and resentment.)
I’ve tried to write this letter many times, but the words could not keep up with my waves. My life now is demanding present time verbs, not fixed nouns. In a very novel way, my current creative process is not focused on one relationship with another person, a project, a passion or a place. I feel necessarily unfocused on anything other than reshaping myself and noticing what parts of me arise in relation to my current external realities. A walk through the dark parts of my own soul – slowly learning night vision while clearing out all the places that contorted and shaped around someone else’s rhythms or any outward expectations.
For nearly half my life now, I have held a sense of identity as a “we.”
“Vanessa & Jeremy” became a familiar proper noun in the circles we danced in.
For the very first time in my life, in a very literal and powerfully metaphoric way, I am not sharing a home space with any other human. I am not
“Vanessa and _____”
I am simply Vanessa.
And in this space I am reclaiming old broken off branches of myself and discovering new sprouts, rising up from this rich compost of all the shit that went down.
Without a partner to shape my life around, I have room to explore myself – to stretch without the edges of anyone else’s container confining me. In this space I’m feeling the novelty of my own pure self… my decorating style, my circadian rhythms, the shape of my days, my bisexuality, curisoity around untraditional relationship structures and ways of relating as a grown ass woman who knows, and doesn’t apologize for, what I desire.
On our wedding day, Jeremy turned to those gathered and said
“We are all getting a little married here today.”
Indeed we were – and in these last few months, there has been an unmarrying of us all too.
As a family unit, we had no children, and yet there is clear abundant offspring from our union and decades together. We gestated, birthed and nurtured sacred spaces in the form of homes, events, parties, performances and retreats. These spaces became places to rest, expand, heal and create – not just for the two of us – but for entire communities that we nurtured and grew together, including many of you reading this now.
I trust new forms of these communities will continue to grow and evolve in the unknowable shapes that the future promises.
There are many more words that have and will give shape to this process and I suspect I will continue to share them with you as they emerge. But for now, on this Independence Day weekend where I bow to both my independence and profound interdependence, I want to say thank you to Jeremy for twenty one magical years of dancing together – and to you all for all the ways you’ve held us and continue to hold us both as we move along on our own paths.
I stand in awe of the painfully beautiful mysterious cycles, of death and rebirth, and look forward with hopeful curiosity to see all that emerges next.