I remember when I was little I had this big Hello Kitty bank. It used to be the star in my musicals that I put on along with my Precious Moments and my other glass figurines (I was an only child, ok?). During the imaginary finale of “Down By the Creek Bank” (a musical my Christian youth group had put on), I reached over to turn down the volume on my tape player and knocked Hello Kitty off of my dresser and onto my floor, shattering her into a million pieces.
I fixed her as best I could, but she never really fully recovered. She had gaping holes and her little red bow was chipped off. I didn’t get rid of her, but because she was fixed hastily by a 9ish year old, she fell apart every time I bumped her. Her days of being a leading lady were over.
And that’s the thing about when things break like that…you can put them back together, but they’ll never really be the same.
The same can be said for my marriage. It fell apart into a million pieces.
That’s the story you may already know.
That’s the story my husband wrote. That’s the story that spent weeks on the NYT bestseller list. That’s the story we talked about on tv and on the radio and in magazines. That’s the story we told as we toured the country, speaking with other people whose marriages had fallen apart like ours.
We worked on things like improving our communication skills and listening to each other. We came up with “best practices” on how to improve our marriage. And we got it back to a much better place.
We were inspiring others. We were a success story in a world where there were VERY few success stories.
The problem was, our new life didn’t look like that old happy time anymore. We, too, had gaping holes. We were extremely fragile. And every time a problem bumped up against us, we were unsteady.
Because we were now sort of a neurologically mixed marriage success story, we knew we couldn’t leave it as is. We weren’t interested in giving false hope.
We got back to work to find the answer to this question: Do we still fit together?
We had to address it.
And we did. Head on.
Part two of our story:
We watched our marriage fall to a million pieces around us. Again.
But it was different this time. Because this time, we chose to shatter the pieces on the ground. We took a hammer to it. We broke down our fragile marriage because it was never going to last, all pieced together with holes and chips.
This time, instead of trying to make our broken pieces fit together, we left the marriage part completely out of it and we decided that it might be more important to see what we looked like when we built ourselves back up individually.
What does Dave look like whole again? Not as a part of Dave and Kristen? What does he do? What does he love? What do I look like whole again? What does my life look like?
And will this marriage, as we know it, fit into our new wholeness?
The answer we’ve gotten to? Yes and no.
What we found on the other side of this is that our marriage is nothing like it was before. It couldn’t be…we had completely dissolved and then transformed into something totally different. We released our old marriage and welcomed this new, really cool thing.
It’s like married, but not.
What we found on the other side is that, when we both unraveled our expectations of what we thought the other should be and got back to being able to be OURSELVES (ahhhhh…freedom!), we truly and thoroughly enjoy being together.
This looks eerily similar to us being a marriage success story again, doesn’t it?
Not. so. fast.
It’s not a success story just because we are staying married.
It’s a success story because we are both dedicated to making ourselves happy.
It’s a success story because we are determined to live a full life that feels TRUE and REAL and RIGHT. To both of us.
If we had come to the conclusion that the life that felt true and real and right to both of us did not include remaining married, we would’ve separated. And that would’ve been a success story.
And I know there are plenty of you who will disagree. Vows and God and all that…and that’s fine.
But I don’t believe we are meant to walk around in lives that we’ve grown out of. I don’t believe we’re meant to live lives with gaping holes.
I believe we’re all meant to be front and center and full. Just ask Hello Kitty.
p.s. Want to put your own pieces back together? ReWire, is now open for enrollment. These are the EXACT things that I did when I started finding myself again. The exciting part? It’s now a DIY program!! Start when you’re ready! Take as long as you’d like. Do it however works best for you. Sign up here.