Burning and Rebuilding

It was this time last year that Little Miss C became consumed by the fear that our house was going to burn down. We held fire drills. We discussed fire safety. We practiced stop, drop and roll. But none of this seemed to calm her. After a particularly intense display of worry, I asked her what she was most afraid of. She said, "I'm scared that I won't be strong enough to carry everyone out."


It was July, and J and I were walking the tree-lined streets of Salt Lake City. The next day, we'd drive another 8 hours to my parent's house, where the kids and I would stay.

I didn't know when or if I'd be coming back.

J was angry and hurt. For several months, our marriage had been in crisis. It felt like life had turned upside down. He wanted to know why I wouldn't stay and fight-- how I could just run away. I remembered Little Miss C's words and an overwhelming sense of peace came over me.

"It's as if we're standing in a burning building," I said. "I've sounded the alarm. I've pushed and pleaded with you to run to safety with me. But you won't budge and I'm not strong enough to carry you out. I can't save you. I can't force you to save yourself. And more importantly, it's not my job. If I stay any longer, I do more harm to myself than I do good for you."

"So you'll just leave me to die?" he asked, incredulous. "You're saying you would choose your own life over our life together?"

"No. I'm saying that as much as I want to save our marriage, I have to let it go. I need to take care of myself and have faith that there is someone stronger, someone more capable, and someone who's job it is to help you find your safety. Because I can't do that, and if I try, we both go down in flames. I'm not the Savior."


J and I have been separated now for over 6 months. It's been difficult and painful in ways that only growth and healing can be. But I find myself wanting to talk about it now because the fact that there has been healing is nothing short of miraculous to me. By placing everything I held most dear--{my marriage, my life as I knew it, and my desperate desire to make sure it all turned out the way I wanted it to}-- at the feet of the Savior, I've come to know and love Him in a way that is soul-deep and undeniable.

Thankfully, J and I stand outside of the smoking ruins of our old marriage, wrapped head to toe in metaphorical gauze; shaken, cautious, but still hand in hand. It could have ended differently. It still could. We have an awfully long way to go. But we're tentatively making plans, taking one day at a time and learning to be together without burning the house down again. It's frightening and tender and better than I could have imagined.

That's what I want to share. That no matter how things have turned out or could yet turn out, I know it will be alright. I can have peace no matter what.

And so can you.


Allison said...

You always seem to speak so poignantly in just a few words. I've been thinking about you and dreading a divorce post. That makes me sound creepy, doesn't it?

Anywho, I hope you find peace and happiness whether that's in your rebuilt marriage or in some newfound independence. Be thankful you had the strength to fight for something

Miggy said...

Since you talked pretty openly about certain things--like your marriage being in crisis--I too have wondered about your lil' family and your marriage. I've always thought you a very brave writer, to put everything out there so honestly. It helps a lot more people than you probably know. I also think what you said was beautiful and poignant...and something we'll probably all need to come to learn for ourselves before our time is through. That deep connection with the Savior. Wish we could go out for dessert sometime.... I think we could talk for hours. (I think I just one up-ed Allison on the creep-o-meter).

Hugs and best wishes.

Apis Melliflora said...

Those who know you personally are the best commenters here.

My prayers for you and your family and all those struggling in their married relationships.

MelancholySmile said...

Thank you for thinking of me. It's actually quite comforting to know that people are rooting for us, even without a 'perfect marriage' facade. I've never been good at facades. :)

MelancholySmile said...

I'm right with you on the talking-over-dessert idea. Next time I'm in Texas....

But honestly, to have YOU call me a brave writer when you are so open and vulnerable about your own life's journey is quite the compliment.

MelancholySmile said...

While that may be true, I am constantly stunned by the kindness and support of supposed strangers. I count you all as true friends. :)

merelyLooking said...

For those of you who don't know, I am MelancholySmile's (proud) mother. She and J know how much we love them, pray for them, and pull for them. How gratified and overcome we are to see them battle for their family and happiness, and how touched we are to see them emerging on joyous ground.

I want to say something to anyone reading who may be struggling, too. When we are in the midst of raising our families, it can all seem so mundane, so common. We are lulled into believing there are so many more glamorous things we could be doing. We are often tricked into believing that we are less than, that there are people out there who are managing to have it all, making our "puny" accomplishment of just getting thru the day with our kids whole and loved, our marriage intact, seem so trivial. That's all such a mirage. The most amazing work you can accomplish is within the walls of your own home. It is no small feat to give love, to grow human beings, to learn how to go thru life with another person as flawed, complicated, and untested as you. If you can face that task in your life with bravery, faith and acceptance, it will take you places more astounding than any exotic journey ever could. You are in the midst of rough diamonds; cherish and protect that treasure with all you are. Trust me when I tell you that some day you will stand in a very rewarding place, marvelling at all you've been "given".

LisAway said...

How does one respond to such a post? I am very sorry for where you have been and grateful for where you are and for your faith and strength. I am really feeling this for you, MS.

Your mother's words are also beautiful. I hope you continue to build on the ashes and I pray for the best for your precious family.

I don't use the term "precious" lightly, either. It's a word I don't care for because of how it is over and misused. But I mean it in its rightest sense here.

Lindsay said...

Years ago you gave me running music to inspire me in my new endeavor and I've been reading every post since, very infrequently commenting. I wanted you to know this, because if I can read and follow and support you and pray for you from behind the scenes, there are many, many others doing the same thing.

You're teaching us all great lessons (and so is your mother - brought tears to my eyes) and I'm so grateful you're being open with your story. So often, "Mommy Blogs" leave us feeling inadequate and unsure why so many have seemingly perfect lives. Your realism makes you someone to root for, and that's exactly what I'll be doing.

All my best.

Kristina said...

Oh, dang, just discovered my comment never posted.
I said that I'm glad things are improving, and wish all the best for you. I've wondered time and again how y'all are doing, and while hanging out with hAha in December, was tempted to ask how you are, but knew it's none of my business so kept silent.
Marriage is worth it! It's worth the tears and effort, because the smiles and joy are far, far higher than they are low.
Thank God for Jesus Christ, literally. Lincoln is weaned and I'm back on my meds, but it's been hard. But I've grown closer to Him than ever before. I also know that without Him, I wouldn't have gotten through these newborn months of sleeplessness and anxiety.
Thank you for a beautiful post (as always).

MelancholySmile said...

Oh, mom. That was beautiful. Love you.

Nicole said...

Thank you and your mom for making this mundane day that has stretched for the last 8 years seem very much more worth it, it is hard when you're in the day to day trenches to realize what you've got. I really needed that boost today! You guys are doing it!

Aimee said...

I'm wayyyyy behind in reading blogs.

You are so brave to share this and be vulnerable in this way. And I love that you are living from a place of authenticity and sharing it with us.

I suspected something was up when your Instagram showed you at your parents for so long.

I hope that through your perseverance you both come out stronger and more in love. I know how hard the road of divorce is and I know how hard the road of recovery and rebuilding trust can be too.

I wish there was a pill to make it all better.

But alas, there is no pill. Just a lot of hard conversations and patience.

Love from Seattle to both you and J.

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