It has to happen at some point, the lawyer spoke over the phone as we discussed when would be the best evening for my daughter, Bella, to spend her first overnight with her dad. I swallowed the lump in my throat and accepted the inevitable truth.
I wrapped up a work function and then headed with a co-worker to a kick-off party for a former project I had worked on. Walking over to the party I felt “cool.” Like I had this whole divorce thing. Like maybe it was possible to be the new "hip girl at school." No strings to tie me down. No way.
I was there five minutes.
And I wanted to go home. More so, it was a deep inner feeling that told me I needed to go home to face the reality and hard truth of divorce. I’d never be able to run from the loss and pain of not having Bella in her room, tucked in her bed, knowing I was just an arms length away to tend to her every need and heart’s cry.
I drove the stretch of highway from downtown to my house with an emptiness setting in the closer I got to my driveway. I pulled into my garage and walked right up to her room. A grief so deep fell over me and I fell face to the floor weeping. With tears running down my face and in between deep sobs, I kept repeating I didn’t choose this. I knew I had. I had made the choice to end the marriage. But deep down I knew it takes two. And deep down I knew it didn’t really matter either way.
I had lost.
And there was no way to run from it.
My friend went to adult summer camp this past year. Like a legit camp with crafts and bonfires and no technology allowed. They flew in an airplane then took a couple hour bus ride to get to the camp. It was all deliriously perfect.
The camp allowed you to send cards to the campers to receive while at camp so my friends and I set out to create our best-attempts at our best-guessed idea of what adult-summer-camp-cards should look like. My friend, Karen, initiated the card-making-party and handed out paper and markers to get-to-it.
When she handed me my piece of paper, I noticed there was a tiny streak and a few blots of pink on my piece of paper. It was pink - and while I love pink - the white paper was no longer perfect. I whined out loud and quickly grabbed a new sheet to start my new perfect card.
Wow Kaylee, really? I thought later, YOU’RE STILL THE SAME AS YOU WERE WHEN YOU WERE FIVE YEARS OLD.
When I was five, I hated “messing” up when I was coloring. My teacher would always advise to just color next to the mistake or flip the paper over. I was always appalled. I didn’t want messy. I wanted perfect. Over and over I’d grab a new sheet.
Those first couple of months I saw divorce as a way to “start fresh.” Just cut the cord and begin again.
I had plenty of experience with this. Every time life had offered me something hard I had ran. A rough boss, I’d quit. A tough relationship, I’d break up. Even one single attempt at a push up and I’d let my arms down slowly and then quit mid-way back up, collapsing to the floor in defeat.
I always had this idea of what everything should look like and so I was never okay with what it actually did look like. I’d become REALLY good at running. When it got any kind of hard I’d just cut it off and begin again. Or reach for that fresh start where if I stared at the piece of paper on the table I could pretend there wasn’t a basket full of imperfect attempts beside me. As long as I had that “one new sheet” I could keep running.
Except this time I had a daughter. She was a part of me. And I couldn’t completely cut the cord. This time I was forever tied to my story.
For the first time in my life I didn’t want a new sheet, a new life. I wanted a WHOLE life instead. And that meant keeping all of my messy parts.
And so, I’ve learned that sometimes life will require me to rearrange, cut out and scotch-tape things around. That’s okay. That’s a part of me.
Instead of trying a million and one times to draw perfect, I’ve learned that glitter goes a long ways. That there are a million different shades of color to add. And I’ve realized you can fold paper into a paper airplane and send it flying. Or you can origami-it into a swan that can set sail across the waters.
Oh the adventures this ONE sheet of paper will speak of – the story it will tell. But only if I choose to keep it.
Starting over is just a lie to begin with because we really all only have one life to live anyways, but it was a lie I believed for so very long. If I only had a new job, a new house, a new wardrobe, a new haircut, a new number on the scale. If I only had a never ending rotation of new friends in the perfect popular circle. If I only could be always happy and always funny. If I could always be in relationships that always fulfilled me without having to give or sacrifice.
Then maybe it’d be worth keeping?
But I’ve learned it’s worth keeping because I have a daughter. I have a Bella. And it’s worth keeping because my sheet of paper tells a story of perseverance, struggle and hope. It speaks of family and friends throughout the years who have written love all over my paper.
I don’t want to lose all that beauty.
I choose my imperfect life. Because I’ve learned it’s absolutely perfect.
I don’t need a new me. I need to keep at the only me.
Now, pass me that jar of glitter please.