You could call the period following a divorce an “emotional winter”. I think it’s appropriate for several reasons: the cold, the darkness, the difficulty in venturing outside. You might even say it’s hard to recognize those who were once familiar because they wear many layers and masks.
Winter is a difficult season for many, and this past weekend Winter Storm Jonas made sure I wouldn’t forget that. But Jonas brought more than strong winds and impassable roads. The storm (like a separation) brought gifts as well…
First (for many of us), there was the non-option of staying inside. The heavy snow fell for more than 24 hours, and there was nothing to do but get comfortable and stay cozy. For some, this meant curling up with a good book. For others, it was a chance to hang out with family members. Metaphorically, “go inside” refers to spending time in quiet meditation- a chance to breathe through each moment as it arises. During stormy times, you need to lay low and protect yourself.
There is a unique kind of peace and beauty. This kind of thing simply doesn’t happen during other seasons.
Then came the hard work. As I type these words, many are still digging to escape their homes and small towns. A variety of tools can be used to get through the work: anything from shovels to giant snow blowers. Some need to seek professional assistance. As the tasks continue, communication becomes important: Where are the accidents? The blocked roads? Are your loved ones OK? And what’s the best source of information? The separation process comes with its own set of hard work, hurdles and communication challenges. Through them, we learn and grow. We get stronger. We get better.
Reminder: It might be hard, but you’re not alone. If you look around during and after a winter storm, you’ll see lots of people in the same boat, sharing the same struggles and often helping each other through. The same goes for a divorce (although you might have to look a little harder).
And finally, there is triumph. During and after the snowfall, I spent about 8 hours wielding my trusty shovel. When my sidewalk was passable and my car was uncovered, I was free to move on from the experience.
Winter storms and divorce can both be brutal. They cause us to snuggle and snarl. They’re major events that leave lasting memories. But they always end, and when they do we’re free to clean up and move forward with our lives.