Ten years ago, we headed to our favorite local photo studio. Each August, our anniversary present is a photo setting. We take a group shot of the kids, single photos if there is a significant event such as Sarah's 10th birthday and a pose of just the two of us. In 1999, the photographer suggested that we sit on the floor with our backs touching. I jokingly said, "Oh, you mean the divorce pose." I'd seen it used in magazines many times. He looked at me with quizzical eyes, so I elaborated by using my finger to make a jagged line in the air as though I was cutting the photo in two. He laughed.
But in reality, divorce is no laughing matter. Over the years the statistics have hovered around giving a couple a 50/50 chance of making it past the first few years. Add a child with a disability to the mix and that number escalates upwards of 65%. John and I recently celebrated 23 years of marriage. By now, one could assume we have it figured out. And on most days we probably do. Yet every now and then something hits us like a tsunami wave blast. The most recent, just yesterday.
A relative was not happy about a certain blogpost I had written. So she called John at his office and started a mild tantrum. When that didn't work she threw in a few tears, some greater drama, followed by, "call her(Joyce) and tell her to take the post down...if she loves you... she will do it." John's reply, "And if she doesn't, what am I suppose to do, divorce her." John wasn't budging.
So she next called me and followed the same pattern (I didn't know at this time she had already called John). I wasn't wavering at the threats or the tears or the escalating loudness of the voice. I was starting to question her mental stability, even feel sorry for her, but then she hit me with her fourth manipulative tactic, "If you love (John) you will take this post down." I was stunned. Whoa, now she was treading on sacred ground... my marriage.
After I hung up with that call, I dialed John at the office to tell him what had just happened. He told me he had already talked with the same person. This made me angry. He then went on to relay what had been said. When he got to the word divorce, I said, "Exactly, yes, that is exactly what I want. A divorce. I am so sick of this drama. I want out. O-U-T. out.
With that, I hung up the phone. I sat back in the chair and stared out the window for the better part of an hour. I was temporarily paralyzed as I tried to mentally process what had just occured. Then I took the blogpost down along with several others. For a few brief moments, I thought about going upstairs, packing a suitcase, jumping in my car and taking off, just me and Sarah.
And then I did what I always do when times get rough, I went over and stared at the picture of our family. OUR Family of FIVE...
Although we have had many pictures taken since, I keep this one framed on our fireplace mantle. 1999 was the year Sarah turned 10. It was the year we celebrated ONE DECADE of LIFE. It was also the year the medical professionals thought we were losing her...twice. It was the year that she missed nearly 100 days of school, spending many of them in the hospital. It was one of the years that could have destroyed a marriage, yet instead we WORKED to make it stronger. How? With honest, truthful, and tender communication.
As I stood there looking at the photo of my precious family, I started to question. "How could I have allowed that one call to throw me so off balance that I am willing to throw in the towel?" I pondered for a moment and then went upstairs to take a shower...