Roller Coasters, Penny Loafers & Leaps of Faith
article by Meredith McKinnie
Take a leap of faith; we’ve all heard it. But the sayings don’t ever really matter until they apply to us. And sure, that leap can be into a swinging jump rope, or a game of hopscotch, or even a first date…but what if it’s toward divorce. I paused just typing the word, such a negative connotation, a heartbreaking reality, an ending none of us anticipate in the beginning or we wouldn’t begin. But what about focusing on the positive of divorce? Once the decision has been made or even forced upon us, why the heck not? In times of tragedy, we mourn, we move on. We focus on the positive…so why not do the same during divorce?
My divorce was the best decision I ever made for myself. I made it FOR ME. I remember the mute hopelessness, projecting fake smiles to convince myself I was happy. But without that leap into the unknown, I may still be there. I was so fragile, waiting to break, almost wanting to break. The weight of it all just gets so darn heavy.
So many choose to maintain the façade, to pretend they’re happy or the possibility of happiness is around the corner. Women stay there for years, posted in their lonesome corners, waiting for their lives to start, to feel loved again. Oh you hear it all the time. “I’m staying for the children…you don’t know him like I do… it was only the one time he slept with the waitress…he doesn’t usually pass out in the backyard high on Ambien and beer.” We politely smile even when it sounds absurd; when you’re certain your best friend of fifteen years doesn’t believe her own words, you smile, and you nod, and only hope next time she finds the strength. You can’t fight it for her, but you would if you could.
As a survivor of divorce, you want to take your best friend by the hand, flash that montage of her future, the peaceful home, no longer restrained by the weight of petty, trivial matters, make her believe in possibility again. A bad marriage is like emotional cancer. It eats you from the inside out, rots your core, weakens your resolve and tests your faith. And as bad as it seems inside the circle, stepping out to the unknown, scares the mess out of us.
It’s like when I was ten, and Dad took me on the Texas Giant at Six Flags. I was barely tall enough, terrified. I had to be brave. I had to take the leap, though I was convinced I would plummet to my death…and I was in loafers…and one was missing the penny. But while the darn thing shook, and made this maniacal whooshing sound, what I remember most is my Dad’s face. He loved it – the rush, and seeing his bravery, his pure enjoyment, I embraced the drop. I plowed into the unknown. I rode four more roller coasters that day. Had I not taken Dad’s hand and stepped outside that circle of familiarity in my loafers, I would have missed the rush. I would have missed Dad’s face. I would have missed out on a life lesson. It’s outside the circle where we find ourselves. We find the extent of our own strength.
That first leap is essential. Divorce is scary, but so was the roller coaster. There’s something to be said for the strength it takes to make the leap. We should respect it, not for the product of divorce, but for possibility, for the belief that we deserve better. The breakup can become the break through. And the burden begins to lessen, and our smile finds its way back-unforced, and we catch ourselves looking up, hoping for sunny days to match our mood. The unknown we always feared seems full of newness, life, possibility, and there’s air there, fresh air, and we breathe deeper and fuller, and we focus on the positive. It gets easier. That first leap is the hardest, and before you know it, you’re skipping and you haven’t even noticed your feet come off the ground.