My first husband once described me as “tough as old boots.”
A fairly accurate, albeit raunchy description. On the one hand, who wants to be compared to a pair of filthy-old, stinky-dirty work boots, right? On the other, when you consider everything those poor soles have probably been through, and the fact that they’re still in one piece, holding it all together, it really isn’t so bad. I knew what he meant, and I liked the sentiment, although it sort of took on a different meaning after he’d beaten me to a bloody pulp, kicking me in the stomach with a pair of steel-toed boots—but that’s a whole other story.
Friends often comment on how strong and brave I am. I know what they mean, and I do appreciate it, but the truth is: I hardly ever feel strong or brave. Usually, I’m just wingin’ it, riding the winds of change on a hope and a prayer, faking it ‘til I make it, so to speak. I have become somewhat of an expert, because I’ve had to be. Honestly, I don’t know any other way to survive. So, if I am tough, brave, or strong, it’s only out of necessity, and I’m typically all of those things with a belly stuffed full of fear and doubt. My strong and brave don’t look anything like fearlessness.
I am, however, unbelievably resilient. I suppose that’s what my ex-husband and friends really mean to say. I stretch, and bend, but do not break. As the incredible songstress Sia sings, I have an Elastic Heart, and I will walk through fire to save my life. And that’s a good thing because, for as long as I can remember, there have been flames all around. Have you ever seen the Ten of Wands card in a tarot deck? Well, let’s just say that, she and I, we have plenty in common. It’s a heavy load to bear, but we do it, and we do so with as much grace as possible.
As my second marriage struggles to survive, I find my thoughts reaching back in time. Sometimes I start to panic. On my own, uneducated and unemployed, fighting for the right to bring my infant son back home to Canada, trapped in a foreign country with absolutely no financial—and very little emotional—support, my first divorce was one of the most gruelling experiences I’ve ever had to face in my life. Eleven years later, and the word “divorce” still makes my pulse race, my heart pound. Writing it down hurts.
But now is not then. I know it. And this is not that. Now is not the end of the world. Now is a time of transition, transformation, change. Now is a caesura, a slight breath pause in an unbroken line, a moment of stillness. Now, a hidden gift is unwrapped, a secret revealed, a wish granted. Now, the unfolding of wisdom, truth, and destiny. Now, the time to follow my heart, trust my gut, and feel my way into a future that already waits for me. Now, I count successes, not failures, and bow my head in gratitude, for survival, healing, and also, for rebirth. Now, we create the future.
Thank you, Universe. For all the nows. Amen.
(A special thanks to Geoffrey Bates for the original artwork!)