About 10 years ago, I had just filed for divorce. My marriage of 14.8 years was over, as I’d had enough. I had also finally found the courage to be brave enough to say that I had had enough. And let me tell you, that takes some courage! Finally shedding that bad marriage skin, I was bravely treading waters in which I’d never stuck my toe, and in which none of my immediate family had, either. I felt like I was somewhat on my own, alone in the fight to regain my freedom, my life, and my sanity to a certain degree. I had been pushed down, under the water, metaphorically of course, and I was gasping for air. It was sink or swim. I chose to swim.
I decided to take the chance and swim back to shore. On the shore I felt like many people were ready to greet me, embrace me, and help me heal. I saw the bright lights of fun, twirling around like a Ferris wheel, beckoning me to kick off the dead weight that was holding me down, to swim faster, and to be ready for the next step. I saw my friends, people who knew enough about the story, holding towels, ready to dry me off when I reached the shore. I saw fish beneath me, their angry teeth biting at my toes, begging me to stay and swim under with them more and more. I saw a happy whale and a sweet porpoise, the latter chattering for me to follow him to the shore, the former’s woeful eyes looking deep in to my soul, telling me that what I was doing was the right thing.
I swam for months. Against the tides, with the tides. A few eel stopped by, and there were jellyfish who stung my back and legs. I knew this journey would not be easy, but all those on the shore and my ocean friends were helping me get there. Finally, as I reached the shore, fireworks started going off, welcoming my arrival with joy and great eagerness. I swam the last few yards, full of renewed hope, knowing that I could make the last part of my journey, reach the shore, and start my new life. It was amazing, and it was an amazing time in my life. Not that I would wish anyone to have to go through the pain, misery, heartache, and other hideous emotions I went through, but once you come out on the other side, you are, in my opinion, a better person for it all.
When I was nearing the end of my journey to freedom, a friend who had recently completed her own journey suggested that I consider counseling, as it had helped her get through some pretty tough times. Her own divorce was much worse than mine, in some respects, as it wasn’t something she wanted or desired for herself. Now, looking back 10 years, both she and I are remarried to wonderful men who are the other halves we were looking for all along. I’m happy for us both.
I never did go to counseling, although over the years I considered it many times. When dealing with children after divorce, things can get tough. Finally, recently, I figured out why. I needed to help others. I needed to be a part of something much larger than myself.
I was given the opportunity in September of 2014 to do just that. I had gone to law school thinking I would be a transactional attorney, pushing contracts and real estate deals back and forth amongst the different players. This job was not that; it involved real people with real problems. Was I up to the challenge? Indeed, I was. And, more recently, during a conversation with my work group, I understood why.
This job allows me to help heal others, but, it also helped to heal myself.
Perhaps it is listening to others go through what I went through, remembering that I was somewhat alone and in uncharted waters for my own journey. Perhaps it is hearing stories, sometimes, that are far worse than my could ever have been. Perhaps it is seeing the outcome, when you know that you have helped heal a wife who has been damaged by her husband’s drinking or laziness, or you see the face of a man who gets to have unsupervised visitation with his kids when there is zero reason for it to be otherwise. Perhaps it is knowing that I am a small part of something much greater than myself. Perhaps it is just the mere fact that I can say that I’ve been there done that, and I know how they feel. I’ve been thanked, hugged, and felt better about both my own situation and my job than I ever have. Ever. And, for me, that’s a pretty long time.
This job, like my divorce saga, was a swim into unchartered waters. The journey continues and will for a long time. This time, though, I’m the one on the shore, beckoning others toward the sand, throwing life jackets from the boat on the waves, holding out my hand to help them out of the water. Sometimes, healing someone else heals yourself. I did, and it has been a beautiful existence.