When the unexpected changes your path | Sheila's Story

Sheila had been married for 37 years when her husband decided to end their marriage. For the first time since she was a teenager, she was "just Sheila" and began to learn that while she once thought of herself as half of a pair, she was actually part of a much bigger whole.

I didn't expect expect this. I had loved and lived with this man for 37 years...thought I knew him thru and thru, and then he told me that there was someone else in his life who mattered more than me. That really damaged how I viewed my own intelligence and ability to perceive the world. It made me doubt myself and everyone I knew. It almost made me a cynic--something that is totally alien to my normal nature. I thought I had a soul mate. My life was happy--and even my ex-husband would say that all but the last two years of our marriage were happy. The divorce recovery groups say that the most basic feeling is one of grief, but how can you quantify grief? What I've struggled with the most is not having a day-to-day partner, a day-to-day sharer, a day-to-day somebody who's on your side. I suddenly felt half, not whole.

The experience showed me how much I needed friends (after all, for 37 years, he had been my best and mostly, only friend!) It made me rely more on God and to see His face in the face of my friends. It made me realize that I need girlfriends....those people who will root for you and tell you the truth at the same time. I've never paid much attention to girlfriends, but this experience has taught me that they are sometimes the face of God that you need and they are singularly loyal. I still thank God for my girlfriends, whom I think were heaven sent!

I am currently caring for three of my grandchildren. My daughter recently divorced and has a very demanding job. My days are spent focused on them...teaching them boundaries and inspiring them to live a life of faith. Would I have chosen this course? Absolutely not. Do I resent what I'm doing? Absolutely not.

I think we have this idea that we can choose our communities, but often it is God who connects us--if we are open to it. I spent most of my life connected to my husband, but when he chose to break that connection, my ability to live in communion wasn't shattered. It simply strengthened in many other avenues...my relationship with God, with my daughter, my grandchildren, my girlfriends... My life is rich with connection--even if I still mourn the one that used to be the most important to me.

© Cathy Hutchison 2012

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