I got off the plane and in the car with 6 other women, perfect strangers. I was in Nebraska, a state I’d never been before nor expected to ever go. I was there as the keynote speaker for the women’s retreat, Jumping Tandem. Given the nature of my previous three years, keynoting was also unexpected. Quite. My heart contained all the feels. Wait, let me clarify: my heart contained all the wrong feels…
…I am divorced, therefore horrible.
…I am dating someone new, very seriously, and I am So Incredibly Happy, therefore horrible.
…I am the only woman who’s ever been divorced & moved on quickly, therefore alone…and horrible to boot.
The 6 of us chatted for awhile and I calmed a bit. We stopped for lunch and I sat across a genuinely sweet woman. I asked why she and her husband waited so long in between her oldest teen and the youngest kiddos all under 5. “Oh,” she said with a lighthearted smile, “I switched husbands.” I squirmed a little, knowing I too, was in the process of switching husbands myself.
I wanted to stand and kiss her on the cheek for such a brave show of transparency without doing the thing a lot of women usually do. We start by berating ourselves and our horrible choices and the self-deprecation rolls down not like justice but like thick, dirty molasses to the point it’s generally uncomfortable. (Kind of like how I started this post).
I felt alone in so many ways, and then she casually flung open the door of everything that still felt terribly taboo in my soul: divorce, but mostly remarriage, i.e. switching husbands.
After I left my ex, I didn’t go to any divorce support groups. Dunno, maybe I should have. I didn’t connect with enough other women who at the time I felt understood my specific issues and the specific issues my ex and I faced. Without feeling anyone could relate (falsely) it was easy to believe no one else coped the way I did.
Surely, no other woman had left and moved on as quickly as I did, because look, I ain’t even finna hold y’all up, I shook the dust off and kept right on steppin’. I met my current husband 8 months after I left my ex and we got married 8 months after that. When I walked away from from my ex, I’d either left or been left by major chunks of three giant communities we’d been a part of: work, church, and mutual friends. I felt the compounding losses acutely. The pain wasn’t merely the dashed dreams of a failed 15 year marriage, (though that pain itself is nearly unbearable) but quite literally the loss of each giant community I’d once been a part of. I was a woman in heavy oppressive transition.
I pulled a blow torch out on my life. As my friend Jean says, “you burned that shit to the ground.” I did. I burned everything to the ground. Some of it dying, withered and desperate for the redemption of death, needed the heat of the torch. The rest of the slow burn was reactionary, fear-based and regretful. There were 5,000 angles and I couldn’t get a good grip on the torch. So I huffed and I puffed and burned it all down. Boom.
There were far too many complexities for anyone outside of my immediate inner circle to understand the what, why or how. Probably, and most notably, because I myself, didn’t even understand exactly what was going on for sometime. And still sometimes I think, what in the actual? People don’t have patience to watch you fumble with your lit torch. No one wants to be burned, I understand that.
This conference was the first time I stood in front of people to explain my part. Only my part. And only what I understood up to that point. I didn’t go into anything at all about why my 15 year marriage imploded except for the standard answer I’ve given anyone brave enough to directly ask: “We were emotionally abusive to one another in uniquely dysfunctional ways and there was not a single area of our life that had not became toxic. Not one. I was beyond tired. After several years of exasperated despair, I’d broke. There was a straw. And a camel’s back. And a broken, tired woman who snapped. And instead of just leaving, I went ahead and pulled out the blow torch, because after trying to leave peacefully for a couple of years, I suppose somewhere deep down I believed only torching it the ground would grant the freedom I desperately longed for. There were far too many years of poison to resurrect normalcy. (Not that I had an iota of patience for the attempt). For the poison I brought which added to our toxicity, I take 100% responsibility.” That’s what I would tell you if you asked me in person. That’s the simplified version.
But I wasn’t there to tell any of *that* story. I was there to tell what happened when I pulled the blow torch out. I wanted to say what I’d done and how I’d snapped and that while we were divorcing God’s grace was big, and wide and all encompassing and how it wrapped me up, held, comforted and kept me. That’s the story I was there to tell. I was there to to talk about my end of the poison.
But you can’t tell a story like that without the shame demons crawling all over your back. Even in a repentant state. It’s itchy and uncomfortable. The shame demons delight in making you feel alone. It’s probably orgasmic to them. Who on earth isn’t plagued by the shame demons, wrestled to the ground by guilt and ultimately TKO’ed by ensuing despair? No one honest.
When she told me she switched husbands I rattled off something I can’t remember, too happy to hear in this one instance I was not alone. In this one instance of my present day reality, I was not the only divorcee at the lunch table and I was not the only who’d ever get remarried.
At that moment, I wanted her to know she was not alone. She was not the only one who’d ever switched husbands or will ever switch husbands. But I said nothing of her incredibly meaningful and generous gesture of truth. I smiled. We chatted.
A couple months later, I was proposed to and then married. We are now expecting. I switched husbands in less than 2 calendar years. My time-frame was my time-frame, not an example. Not advice for other women in similar circumstances. It is nothing more than a nod and a revelation to what I’ve been through and still deal with.
I understood the nay-saying. The doubty-doubtersons. I gave time and space to each and every one who offered an honest opinion whether in person, via text, Vox or Messenger. I did what I could to extend explanation—as I understood it—at just about every point. I’ve never denied my brokenness, and I’ve never denied myself help nor hope for the 18 ongoing years that I’ve consciously wrestled with all manner of the demons.
I do not recommend switching husbands, please hear me loud and clear. This is my story. I own this narrative and do not present it as blueprint. Life happens, and after mistakes we try to make the best of life’s absolute f-ckery of which divorce sits easily in a top-ten list. We try to carve out hope for ourselves just as surely as I believe most of us are doing the best we can with what we have.
I am grateful that oftentimes there is beauty after the ashes. Life with my new husband reminds me daily of this reality.
With him, I feel our humanity deeply and beautifully entangled always beckoning towards hope. I do not hesitate to follow its lead.
[Image via: Grace Sandra]
- I Switched Husbands - February 14, 2019
- The Gift and Curse of Silence - December 12, 2018
- I have fear. I have faith. - September 19, 2018
31 thoughts on “I Switched Husbands”
Thank you for telling your story, Grace. For owning who you are, and the choices you’ve made, and the hell that you’ve been through, and saying it out loud. This careful good girl is learning freedom from realizing that God does not ask us to live our lives on a careful tightrope of -nevermessingup- and -notbeinghuman- and -plasticpastperfect-. Sometimes, the only way out of a cage is with a blowtorch, screaming. I’m just sorry that the cage was there for you and your ex-husband. Praying that the beauty you have now grows in richness and healing for everyone in your life. And for you.
thank you so much, Heather. I really appreciate those prayers.
Oh Grace. I got to the conference late that evening, just as your talk ended. I know a smidgen of your story from following you online but what I saw was real and so sweet. I still can’t imagine hearing you say a cuss word. That’s how sweet you are. You are a mighty warrior Grace! Watching your story of redemption unfold is a blessing. Keep on keeping on!
lol that’s so funny, Lisha! (about the swearing thing)! Im REALLY working on it. ha! But thank you for always believing and supporting me & I truly hope I can do the same for you. thank you so much for your love & friendship. xoxo
Blessings and peace. After seeing my parents’ divorce up close, I’ve learned that there is no place for someone to stand in judgment over anyone’s separation. I’ll just never do that because there is such a greater need for healing and restoration.
Very helpful perspective, Ed. I’ve learned not to judge either…. folks are really hurting. Really needing guidance & support.
You know I adore you, woman. I adore you and I see so much beauty in Grace. In the way God is merciful to you and kind. In the way brokenness opens up all the scorched lands and blowtorchy chaos and even then, God still moves. Only that kind of love razes shame to the ground. I saw it then at Jumping Tandem and I know it now, seeing how God loves you helps me know even more that God’s love is there for me too. Nothing but love for you.
And I adore you too! it is so true, God still moves, no matter what. Still loves. Still forgives. It’s amazing.
Wishing you all the happiness and healing in the world, Grace. As always, I’m so grateful that you never hide your truths and encourage us to live honestly as well. Love you.
Bethany! Thank you! Love you just as much!
Thank you for writing this, Grace. I love love love your work. My husband was married before we were together, and we both received a LOT of suspicion and criticism for how quickly our romance began. I wouldn’t recommend it, but I’m not ashamed of it. I’m really proud of how we learned to walk with kindness and integrity through those complicated circumstances. Thank you for sharing this piece of your story with us. Your happiness makes me happy. 🙂
thanks for your support & friendship, sis. I do think everyone’s situation is so wildly different & complex. We all know what conventional wisdom says, but it just doesn’t give enough room for all the varied nuances. Anyway, thanks so much…it feels nice to be happy. Gotta say. =)
God did I ever need to read this. Thank you, Grace. <3
much love sis.
Oh my, thank you! (And now I am going to read this all again and maybe again after that…)
Thank you. To say I relate to “taking a blow torch to life and burning that sh!# to the ground would be an understatement. I very much appreciate you for sharing your part of the story. I’m in the standing and surveying the burnt,crispy remnants of the life I knew stage and wondering how the he!! did I get here?! Thanks for your bravery.
Keep pressing on…there’s hope in the aftermath!
“People don’t have patience to watch you fumble with your lit torch. No one wants to be burned, I understand that.” Yes. This. There is love and a desire to understand, but their patience has a time limit if they can’t grasp it, or have no reference for your experience, and fear is a powerful motivation. Thank you for being you and writing this piece. I love you!
Love you too, Jen. sososoosoosoooo much. xoxo
Thank you for sharing your truth, for pushing past all the doubts, guilt, shame and lying voices we all hear in our heads. Thank you for showing us a beautiful picture of grace.
There is always beauty out of the ashes, no matter how we’re burned. Sounds like you kept running back to Jesus at every turn. What a powerful testimony.
what a beautiful truth.
Wow, I’d forgotten how well you write Grace. You’re very invitational, descriptive/poetic and visceral. Love it! I’ve loved your blog for ages. Since like 4 years ago. Grace and peace to you sis.
thank you so much.
Isn’t it great the way God put someone in your path who understood just when you needed it! There is so much grace, but we tend to listen to and dwell on the lies that tell us we’re too messed up, too far gone, too bad. We have all been shown love and grace by our Savior and I pray that we will show grace to others and ourselves rather than judgment. Thank you for sharing your story and making room for the stories of others. Blessings to you!
Thanks for your encouragement and blessings to you as well!
I am so, so glad you’re a part of the Mudroom family now. Your voice and your personhood and your story is an integral part.
thank so very much. I’m happy to be here!
Wowzers! I’m going through ALOT of what you wrote about right now…Thanks for sharing your story, it really helped me put my thoughts on paper. You’ve helped me be a little more braver and transparent about my “divorce”, oftentimes feeling like I’m the only one that would understand. Blessings to you!