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Divorce Is a Death

Divorce is a hard path, a long, circuitous journey that is not something you can control.  You open the door and walk through it, thinking you will go to destination ‘x’ only to find out that it was just an illusion, that destination ‘x’ is only visible from inside the marriage and that once you leave, you not only cannot find it, but you start to realize, it probably never existed at all....

Divorce is a tearing apart of togetherness.  It is a rendering [sic] of all things built to keep you comfortable and safe.  It is the destruction of together-dreams, forever-dreams, family-dreams, love-dreams.  You cannot leave a marriage without doing violence to all those things, no matter how amicable the divorce. 

Even the word ‘divorce.’  It’s a cleaver.  A great big bloody butcher knife that slices through even the most connected hearts.  There is no way around that.  It’s why all the mythology of divorce is what it is.  Because there is truth in those myths. When you walk out the door, which may well be the  bravest moment of your life, you are suddenly at sea, not on a path.  The earth ceases to be solid beneath your feet and you are drowning in quicksand.  You thought you would fly but you sink and the only way you will survive is if you intuit that you must be still until the universe begins to solidify around you once again.  Only then can you begin to move. I care too much not to warn you.  You cannot see what lies beyond the frame around the door that is the exit.  It is not possible.  It is a death.  And just like life’s death, you are not permitted to see beyond the threshold.  But I have been here for the past year and I can tell you it looks nothing like it does from  inside the threshold.  It is a foreign, inhospitable, dangerous journey.  One that holds infinite, endless gifts for the ones who are brave enough to continue on, and will eat alive those who misstep, or throw them instantly back in through a different door with a different partner. 

The goal of divorce should not be to be with someone else.  There is no one else.  Not yet.  Because in order for there to be anyone else, first you have to recreate yourself.  And that, as you know, is a task only for the very bravest of heart. 

- Eileen Ansel Wolpe, in the "On Faith" column written her ex-husband, Rabbi David Wolpe, in the Washington Post
"Divorce is a Death," 6/1/11