A Catholic Monthly Magazine

Dance me to the end of love

By Liz Pearce

by Liz Pearce

Getting a divorce in New Zealand is straight forward. No blame. Two years separated. Relationship counselling. File an application for Dissolution of Marriage, with a fee of $170.00. Wait one month. All done. An end. A beginning. Division of relationship property is a separate matter. This must involve lawyers, and relies on co-operation and honesty. Parenting Orders (custody) are yet another issue. Lawyers for each parent. Lawyer for child. Appearance at Family Court.

“Do you know the most surprising thing about divorce? It doesn’t actually kill you. Like a bullet to the heart or a head-on car wreck. It should.

When someone you’ve promised to cherish till death you part says, “I never loved you’, it should kill you instantly.

You shouldn’t have to wake up day after day after that, trying to understand how in the world you didn’t know.” (Frances in ‘Under the Tuscan Sun’)

Like Frances, I am divorced. Unexpectedly. Still unfamiliar. I wake up each morning, and before I open my eyes, I think, “I am alive.” Then for a fleeting moment,

I am sad. I have to participate in a life that is mine but not of my choosing. Almost as quickly, I summon the will to engage in this new life; set aside the ‘What ifs’; and list all my blessings.

I agree with Victoria Alexander when she suggests “ I realise… that after the steamroller has passed over … and I reinflate again, needing to deal with decisions that have to be made and the changes, that I have a choice after all. About how I will let things affect me.”

And so I make choices.

I realise that I do not have control over many events in my life. What I can do is choose how I will respond to each of these events. I choose to set aside anger, resentment, greed, frustration, and the need for retribution or vengeance. Instead, I try to pray for all those involved to be filled with every grace and blessing.

I choose to look as objectively as possible at the events and people around me; to evaluate what is really important or of value. I try to let go of that which is not life-giving. I try to let go of all that is out of my control. I am also looking closely at my expectations of institutions, people and myself. “What I want, I don’t always get,” says A. Campbell SJ, “I may have to settle for God’s anger, grief and pain.” Sage advice.

I choose to seek out safe, welcoming non-judgemental communities. I have a strong sense of alienation, much of it coming from within. I have years of inculturation and indoctrination to process and work through until I arrive at a new place of belonging. As a Catholic divorcee, I see myself as a fringe dweller, a displaced person. This is an issue that needs resolution.

I choose to welcome grief, distress and depression as companions for this journey. They are not permanent house-guests but I like to dialogue with them; listen to them, and honour their part in my transition to ‘single woman’.

I choose to embrace the challenges of a new life. Victoria Alexander says, “Change takes time and is not always easy.” Sometimes I resent them but I do recognise that there is something positive in most changes.

“I choose to see the God-spark in each person I encounter.” Anne Frank said, “Despite everything, I believe people are good at heart.” I agree but again, it is not always easy.  Along with this, I try to allow others to see and acknowledge the God-spark in me. Even harder.

I choose to nurse to health the victims of this divorce: trust, self-respect, financial independence, friendships, communication, honesty, creativity, confidence and hope.

I choose to adopt ‘alone’ and ‘lonely’ as revitalising aspects of my new single life. As Tanya Davis says, “... lonely is a freedom that breathes easy and weightless, and lonely is healing if you make it.” I now have time, and space, and freedom to explore who I am and who I am becoming.

All the while, my relationship with God is changing. It is quieter, more aware, more mindful, more grateful. It is not the wild passion of the new bride and bridegroom, but the constant, embracing, nurturing presence of LOVE.

I have danced to the end of a love
but now I dance with Love.

‘Dance me to the End of Love’ is the title of a poem by Leonard Cohen.


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