When I started writing Muchness and Light in late 2010, DH was not happy. I'd been toying with an old writing project, which later morphed into Persona Non Grata, and I'd been thinking for days about starting a blog. I wanted a different outlet to hone skill and craft. I was also in the beginnings of what would become this huge shift in how I saw myself and my place in my world.
Initially, he was hurt and irritated that I hadn't consulted him about it. It wasn't that I wanted to write, he argued, but that he could've helped me choose the blogging platform and the technology that would be best for my project. I hadn't needed his help, though. I was perfectly capable of researching these things and deciding what would work best for me.
For a while, I didn't readily share my writing with him. He would grumble when I did a new piece, seemingly irritated both at what I had to say and that I was saying it at all. Yes, it diverted time and attention away from him and the children and whatever else I'd normally been doing for two hours on any given morning. To delay the laundry or the dishes, to allow myself a little time to get inside my own head and see how it worked, was certainly giving my psyche a chance to flex muscles it hadn't used in about ten years.
I was thinking for myself again. I was doing for myself again. I was still handling everything logistically in our world, but I was changing.
DH was not happy.
In hindsight, our marital problems were really amping up. Of course I knew there were issues—that was part of the reason I was so unhappy. It was very difficult to mend or even maintain our relationship, especially given the enormous change I was experiencing.
Through all of the volatility, I wrote.
As our marriage spiraled out of control, we would fight in the guise of trying to repair our damage. Night after night of emotionally and verbally violent arguments, a constant battering of each other, trying our best to both attack each other and defend our positions. Sometimes I would just sit and take it, letting him yell at me as punishment for the choices I'd made that had flown in the face of our marriage. Sometimes I would yell back, vehemently reminding him of all the ways he had failed me and us, as well. Sometimes when he was especially brutal, I would do my best to disengage and walk away until we were both calmer and more reasonable.
DH never liked it when I disengaged. It infuriated him that I would step out of his line of fire and walk away. That was often when his words would become knives thrown straight at my heart.
Late one night, when it was apparent that he'd worn me down to the point of just taking it, I realized there was no reasoning with him. I was tired of being told I was wrong and said something about going inside to write for a while.
"Your writing is a joke!" he laughed derisively. "No one gives a fuck about what you have to say! Your blog is just your fucking diary about shit no one but you and your friends care about it. You should shut the fuck up while you still have a shred of dignity!"
Make no mistake that it stung like hell. After twenty years together, he knew how to cut me to the core. I questioned my writing, my motivations, my talent, and my voice. Since that incident over two years ago, I have heard those words in my head every single time I have been unsure of this path.
I could tell myself that what I had to say mattered. Sure, it matters to me. It matters to my friends. I have collected a small but loyal readership of people I've never met and never hear from, but I see the web traffic and get occasional messages from random people telling me that something I wrote touched them.
I still questioned it all the time.
Recently I started writing guest posts for DivorcedMoms.com. Given what I know about being both divorced and being a mom, it seemed like a natural extension of what I do here. Plus it would be an additional outlet to tackle some issues and say some things I might not want to constantly float on Muchness and Light. (This is not a divorce blog, after all.)
I submitted my second piece, "8 Things Every Divorced Woman Should Do NOW!" a couple of weeks ago, as part of a suggested assignment on their contributor site. I was thrilled when they not only ran the piece but also featured it that week in their newsletter and on their splash page. I saw the link to the article tweeted and retweeted by the editors.
Someone else was interested in what I had to say.
Two days ago, I received an email from one of the DivorcedMoms.com editors.
We are thrilled to tell you that your article is featured on mariashriver.com
It a great article and we are so happy to see it profiled. We love your writing, keep the posts coming:)
And there it was. Maria Shriver's site had picked up my article and reposted it. There was a link back to DivorcedMoms and to my writer profile there. She (or her social media person) had tweeted the link, which was retweeted repeatedly by strangers. It was on her Facebook page, with comments from women I'd never known saying how much they enjoyed it, how it mattered to them.
After the obligatory squealing and dancing and texting and calls to almost everyone I knew, I forwarded the email to my therapist.
Someone else wanted to hear what I had to say. DH was wrong. I shouldn't have shut up and been quiet.
And I started to cry. As I've admitted before, I sometimes cry when I write. I'll hit some place of emotional truth, and the tears flow cathartically as the tension is released. (Hell, I'm crying as I write this now.)
It wasn't so much confirmation that DH was wrong; it was verification that I wasn't. My voice mattered to someone else, to someone other than me, and it had value even if only for a moment.
I was right to write again. I was right to question my life, then and now, and to work through my issues in the public forum I'd chosen all by myself. I was right to believe that my words held strength and worth and truth outside my own busy, complicated head.
I don't know what path I'd be on had I not chosen this one. In the end it doesn't matter, because this is where I am. It may not be right for anyone else. It may not have been right for DH. But it is exactly where I am supposed to be.