Seven years ago I sat uncomfortably at the Passover seder table. I had just undergone another round of IVF, I was experiencing side affects from the drugs, and I was terrified that it would fail again. Since my husband was the only person present who knew of my recent ordeal, I was doing my best to focus on the meal and to keep my emotions hidden. Slightly less than two weeks later I would learn not only was I pregnant, but that I was carrying multiples. It had finally worked.
Had it not been for the blog that I kept during my struggle to get pregnant years ago, these details would have been long forgotten. Clicking through the posts recently, I was able to re-live the nightly injections, regular morning drives to the fertility clinic, and the crushing disappointments. Though the words on the screen were mine, I felt oddly detached as I read them, almost as if another woman was sharing her story. I realized that not only had I survived that period of my life, but through the passage of time, I have escaped the pain.
While reading the old blog I also realized that I had a supportive group of women and men who cheered me along throughout our quest to start a family. On days when the news was particularly difficult, or I found myself having dark thoughts as the result of another drug concoction, these individuals who I only knew through my online presence carried me forward. I was never alone, and I am grateful to them.
Divorce, on the other hand, has been a lonely journey. I have been unable to find a supportive community similar to the one I found through my fertility blog despite reaching out to synagogues, on Facebook, and through other channels. (Though I have to admit that if I actually found others, I am doubtful I would be able to squeeze anything into an already hectic life with work and kids.) Few of my friends are divorced, and my peers either do not want to talk about it or simply do not know what to say in response to my situation which clearly makes them uncomfortable. Perhaps divorce is something one must endure alone.
So like that seder dinner many years ago, I wear a mask. I smile at strangers, make small talk at work, and only allow myself to fall apart in the rare moments I am early to afternoon pick-up.
Passover, one year ago, I was in divorce court. And as the holiday approaches again, I am frustrated to see how little progress has been made since our marriage officially ended. Our divorce did not bring the freedom I had anticipated. Yet every morning before work, as I sit alone sipping my first cup of coffee, I tell myself that today is full of potential, anything can happen. I have three little people depending upon me, after all.
Optimism is my only option.
Someday soon I hope I will revisit my writings from this episode of my life, exhale deeply, and say that while I remember these difficult days, I no longer am that person. I have escaped the pain.