The Life of Bon: March 2019

Thursday, March 21, 2019


How do you process a divorce, a family disrupted, years of struggle that finally culminate in an abrupt ending?  How do you accept that your children won't live with both their parents, that the man you have children with is now a stranger, that you are on your own on your own on your own?

Jump to an early summer morning in a therapist's office.  Can we make this marriage work?  The therapist has kind eyes.  She wants us to succeed.  She gives us so many suggestions, so many tools to save this sinking ship.  Option after option.  He dismisses them.  Says instead "I just want a fresh start."

Jump to my first date post divorce.  I meet a cute, outdoorsy guy at Aubergine in the middle of the day for lunch.  He is built, he is short, he is shy.  He wears a bold, green shirt.  I scan the restaurant over and over.  Will someone see me?  Will someone know?  He talks on about Canadian politics. My subconscious tells me I'm not supposed to be here.  This is wrong.  I'm married.  I have a family.  I already did this dating thing.  Oh wait.

Jump to New Year's Eve.  My kids are not with me.  I am alone.  One hundred percent alone on a holiday that represents new beginnings, fresh starts, family and friends and so much hope.  A year ago we bought $70 worth of sea food on this holiday and said that would be our new New Year's tradition.  There is no lobster tonight.  I write in my journal.  I read my scriptures.  I search for peace.  I cry and I cry and I cry.  Is this what healing looks like?

How do broken hearts get strong?

Jump to a day in early September.  Fall promises she's coming, but the temperatures continue to rage.  I take my perfect, beautiful children to my brother's apartment complex to swim.  The sun begins to set, and we load up in my worn, ten year old Toyota Corolla.  The most faithful car, always dependable, never disappoints.  The kids' bodies are cold from swimming and I buckle them up in the warm backseat, chlorined swim towels and wrinkled toes.  It is past bedtime and they are tired.  My phone buzzes.  A notification shows me an email from my lawyer brother who handled all the legal matters for me.   I read it at the traffic light.    "Bonnie, Not sure if this is good news or not, but the Judge signed the Decree of Divorce today.  Here is a copy.  Let us know if there is anything we can do for you.  Love You" Tears come immediately to my eyes. I am divorced I am divorced I am divorced.   I look in the rearview mirror at my sleepy kids, blissfully aware only of their satisfied late summer day.  I am divorced I am divorced I am divorced.

Jump to a taxi ride in Peru.  Esteban, the kindest tour guide has been taking me and Mandy around to see all the sacred sites.  This land, these mountains, this rain, these people are spiritual.  A deep spirituality that encompasses everything they do.  A spirituality so profound that I can only understand the tip of it.  Esteban tells me in Spanish I need to return to Peru with my spouse and children.  I tell him I have no spouse; I got divorced this year.  He says "I'm sorry.  I will pray to the mountains for you."   "Thank you" I say.

Jump to a game night at my mom's house.  All my siblings are there with their kids and their spouses.  Not me.  I only get my kids for half my life now.  I have no spouse.  I feel alone in a crowd.  How can it be that I am completely surrounded by my family but I'm not with my family?  A petty disagreement with my mom opens floodgates that I didn't know were waiting to emerge.  I am embarrassed by these sudden big tears, hope nobody will notice them.  I sneak out unannounced and cry myself all the way home.

Jump to a Halloween trunk or treat for my church.  In the parking lot with my two children, cat whiskers painted on my face.  I see an acquaintance I haven't seen in months.  "Where's your hubby?!" she asks cheerily  "We got divorced."  I blurt it out. I do not mean to say it so abrupt- it jumps out of my mouth of its own volition.  "Oh my gosh I'm so sorry I had no idea."  She says.  She is embarrassed and red, shuffling uncomfortably.  I walk away.  I can't be responsible for her discomfort.

How do broken hearts go on?

Jump to the Saturday after Thanksgiving.  I am working on orders.  Jewelry.  The thing that keeps me going going going, forces me to get up, sell earrings to provide for my children, to keep my life going on.  When I don't think I can possibly do today, orders are waiting for me, 3-5 days promised shipping time.  He calls.  "Will we ever be together again?  I want to fight now.  Is there hope for our family to be reunited?"  Silence on my end. The thought makes me feel panicked, unsafe, on the edge of a cliff.  I whisper back, "I'm sorry, no.  I could never trust you with my heart again."  This is too painful.

Jump to a conversation with June in the car.  "What am I doing tomorrow, mommy?"  "You're going to daddy's house" I say.  Feeling the injustice of it, I try to smooth it over, "You are so lucky you get two houses.  Some kids only have one house but you get two houses."  She bursts out unannounced in tears, "But I don't want two houses!  I just want one house!  One house with mommy and daddy and all my family in one place.  Why don't I get one house?"   I can't respond.  I just drive.

Jump to the days immediately following when he left.  I sleep at the foot of my king sized bed under the ceiling fan.  Those summer days are stifling hot; it is the only way to get cool.  I listen to a Deiter F. Uchtodrf talk on hope every night to fall asleep.  His German accent lulls me to sleep, promises me my future is not my past.   "No matter how bleak the chapter of our lives may look today, because of the life and sacrifice of Jesus Christ, we may hope and be assured that the ending of the book of our lives will exceed our grandest expectations." He tells me.  I do my best to believe him.

Jump to training for a half marathon.  Sarah convinces me to do it with her.  We train so hard and I learn how strong my body is.  My leg muscles get lean, my endurance builds, I can run and not be weary.  My body shows my spirit, "Look.  We are strong.  We can do this.  We will survive this.  If this body can survive miles and miles of running your spirit can survive this heartbreak."  Sarah and I run the half marathon on a beautiful 65 degree day in October.  All the way down the canyon, mile after mile, I ask her to tell me the details of the courtship with her now husband.  Will I have this again?  I wonder.  I cross the finish line in a flurry of adrenaline.  Sarah's husband and kids and parents are there to greet her, congratulate her, tell her how proud they are of her.  No one is there for me.  I just ran 13.1 miles and no one to share the feat with me.  Instead I stretch under a tree and eat the pizza and drink the chocolate milk they give me.

Jump to last week.  Swimming in Rincon, Puerto Rico.  Dallin is tired of the sun and stays back at the hotel.  I drive by myself to a quaint beach.  Ask a stranger to put sunblock on my back.  It's 85 degrees.  I swim in the ocean.  The waves feel kind and gentle to me.  I float and float on my back.  I feel the waves, the sun, my body in the water.  I feel peace, I feel joy, I feel warmth.  This moment means everything to me.  I am healing.

How do broken hearts get strong?

Jump to a group text to my seven siblings and their spouses two weeks after he moved out.  It's time to tell them.  I can't process this all alone.  "He is gone and we are seriously considering divorce" I say.  My brother calls immediately.  "We'll come to pick you up" he says  "Let's go up the canyon" he says  "Let's eat dinner in the mountains and get you some room to breathe" he says.  He picks me up in his truck, loads the kids' carseats in the back, buckles them in. I don't remember what I'm doing.  One foot in front of the other.  He talks to me all the way up the canyon.  What a gift to have family like this.

Jump to a first date.  Dinner at an expensive Italian restaurant.  Online it seems like a match.  In real life he is overbearing, nervous, talks too much, makes me want to run away and hide.  On the way home from the date he texts me again, asks me if I still want to hang out longer that night.  He'll come pick me up.  We can go for a drive.  "No." I say "I need to prioritize sleep."  I don't want to see him again.  My heart is hurting bad tonight and I don't know why.  I am scared I am overwhelmed I don't know how I got from where I was to where I am.  I call Sarah.  I call Kendra.  "I feel so overwhelmed I can't do this" I tell them.  They come over to my house.  Pop popcorn and cuddle with me in my new, smaller queen sized bed.  My bed that is all mine.  We watch The Office episodes until I fall asleep nestled up against Sarah's warm body and they sneak out quietly and lock the door behind them.  What a gift to have friends like this.

Jump to my mom insisting we get Christmas lights up on my house this year.  I was going to bag it.  Didn't have the mental or physical energy to be festive. She says she will do it.  She is taller than me.  She can reach the top that I cannot.  She stands on the ladder and works the lights and the hooks in frigid temperatures with numb fingers while I hand her the hooks.  When she finishes it looks like light and beauty and joy.  What a gift to have a mom like this.

How do broken hearts go on?

Jump to a California family vacation in July.  It's been a month since he moved out.  This is a vacation he was supposed to come on with me, but now it's just me and two babies.  I have to drive my own car down- there is not enough space for one adult and two car seats in anyone else's car.  My mom insists someone always be driving with me.  I scoff at this.  I can do this by myself.  I cannot do this by myself.  There is a two hour delay getting over the California/ Nevada state line.  111 degrees outside.  My little Corolla, working as hard as it can, the engine too hot, the A/C not blowing cold enough air.  Hugh is sweating, sweating in the back seat.  My mom, riding in the passenger seat, puts water leftover from her lunch on his body to try to cool him down.  Another hour passes at 4 mph.  Finally I am at my max.  Can't handle this delay, this disappointment any longer.  I drive out of the lanes and around traffic, on the dirt strip beside the road, quickly passing car after car.  My brother in another car sees me breaking the rules and texts me that passing other cars like that is not okay.  No, it's not okay.  So much about this is not okay.

Jump to calling my best friend in Seattle to tell her the news.  We had planned to be moving to Seattle in just a few months.  We were going to live in her neighborhood.  He had accepted a grad program there, June was enrolled in preschool there, I was hunting for apartments there, living miles from my best friend for the first time since we were 20 and living together in Hawaii.  "Akasha, we're not moving"  I can't hold back the tears.  "We're getting divorced instead."

Jump to my birthday.  32.  Seventeen days since he left.  Only my family and close friends know.   I want a birthday cake- something, something to make this day feel kind of happy.  Only there's no one to make it.  So I make it.  I borrow a kitchen-aid from my neighbor.  "I hope you're not making your own birthday cake!" she jokes.  "Make Greg do it".  My family wants to make me feel surrounded and loved on my birthday, but instead they overdo it.  This is not their fault.  This is their first "We have a sister who is going through a divorce on her birthday and we want to make her feel loved" experience.  Forty of us at an outdoor concert surrounded by hundreds of strangers and there is chaos and noise and I feel so lost so alone so absolutely all by myself on my birthday.  It's too wild for the cake I made.  So we drive 30 minutes and do it at my mom's house instead.  But now my kids are tired, they're grumpy, they're crying, it's already 9:30 almost 10 pm and the day has slipped far past madness.  "Mom, I can't do this anymore, I need to go" I am choking back tears.  "What's wrong?" she asks.  What's wrong what's wrong what's wrong????  This is all wrong.  They scramble to do the best they can to make me happy.  My family sings to me around the birthday cake I made for myself and I hold my babies on my lap and can't stop crying.  Happy Birthday make a wish.

Jump to a chair lift a few weeks ago.  Skiing with a college best friend.  "My husband jokes that he doesn't like when I hang out with you because I come home and want to get divorced.  That I'm jealous."  The word takes me back.  Jealous?  Jealous of heartbreak and a broken family and only seeing your kids four days a week and meeting at the Maverick gas station to switch off kids like they are some kind of bartered good and dating psychos again trying to find someone someone out there to love you?  No.  I'll take the stable, happy marriage any day.

Jump to announcing online that I am getting divorced.  What a weird world where I have to announce to 5000 strangers that the fun, easy breezy marriage was not fun was not easy breezy.  In a burst of bravery on a Sunday night in August I post a picture of us.  "It's with a broken heart that I let you know that we have decided to end our marriage..."  I cry all the way through the post.  As soon as I hit post I turn the phone off and retreat to the basement.  I cannot handle to see the comments coming in, the disappointment, the "Oh my gosh I'm sorry I had no idea."  I work on jewelry.  Take pictures of necklaces for a summer clearance sale the next day.  I cry I process I take pictures.  I cry I process I edit pictures.  I cry I process I list necklaces online for a business that must support me and my two children and pay for our mortgage, our insurance, Hugh's diapers.  At 1 am I emerge from the basement and turn on my phone.  Texts and comments from people from every stage of my life come pouring in.  From college, from Argentina, from previous students, from BYU Hawaii, from high school friends, from childhood neighbors.  I lay at the foot of the bed in the hot room under the ceiling fan and read them all.  I cannot reply.  But I read them and I cry.

How do broken hearts feel strong?

Jump to three days ago coming home from Puerto Rico.  I leave my car at a friend's house while I'm gone, a more than a friend.  When I get in the car it feels different, it smells good, it is vacuumed.  A note is on the steering wheel.  "I had your car detailed and filled up the gas while you were gone.  Hope that's ok!"  I am floored by this.  I've never been in a relationship where someone was capable, was wanting, was willing to take care of me on this level. I've always done everything on my own.   I don't know how to receive what he is giving.  I feel grateful.  I feel scared.  I leave the note on the dashboard to remind myself that I am worthy and that I deserve to be taken care of like this.

Jump to my 65 year old mission companion visiting me in September.  She is taking her granddaughter up to BYU Idaho for college.  She stops and takes me to dinner and stays the night in my townhome.  We stay up late talking.  She is the best storyteller.  I could listen to her all day and all night and all the next day too.  She tells me about her daughter's recent divorce. "She got married for hope" she tells me "She got divorced for the loss of it."  I understand this.

Jump to June asking me "when am I going to have a baby sister?"  "I have to be married for that June."  I reply.  "But why aren't you married to daddy?"  I don't know, June.  I don't know.

Jump to Valentine's Day.  I drive around and around and listen to Kesha's Praying. "I'm proud of who I am"  she says.  "The best is yet to come"  "I had to learn how to fight for myself"  "We both know the truth I could tell"  I'm supposed to be going to a dumb boy's house but instead I drive and drive.  I text him that I am lost and instead I drive and I listen and I cry.  Yes, indeed, the best is yet to come.


How do broken hearts go on?  Tell me how do broken hearts go on?

-"How do broken hearts go on, How do broken hearts feel strong"  from Ingrid Michaelson's song Drink you Gone.
- "Jump to" structure from Chuck Palahniuk's novel Invisible Monsters
- Deiter F. Uchtdorf talk 2008 "The Infinite Power of Hope"