Standing on my own with my busted halo

This Saturday I went back to my old apartment and finished packing my things to move them to my new apartment. Clothes, books, file folders, even an old computer. But there was something, actually someone, I left behind — my husband.

I’ve made an agonizing but clear decision to separate from my husband after 11 years of marriage, the last five particularly rocky and difficult. We’re two good people, one with more years of Catholic education than the fingers on her two hands, who just couldn’t make the relationship work.

Our early days were filled with joy, the joy of listening, of singing together, telling stories and laughing late into the night. We did car trips really well and enjoyed simple things like walking together holding hands. We both loved great and quirky movies. There may have been some signs early on that we would run into trouble, but we ignored them, certain our love would conquer all things.

Over time lots of forces did press in on us:

  • A culture that doesn’t value marriage
  • Our inability to join a community together that would support our relationship
  • Interests and goals that repeatedly took us in widely different directions
  • Our “garden-variety” personal failings of stubbornness
  • Inability to hear the other person
  • Lack of honesty
  • Fear
  • Anger
  • Sadness
  • Thirty-something over-work

Wow, we messed up together pretty bad.

It’s pretty tough to write this column for a young adult Catholic website. Seems like a prerequisite for writing should be having it all figured out. But then I think about the name of this site, busted halo. My halo is busted. Maybe I am in the right place?

During a time like this I’m turning to my faith with lots of earnestness. I understand more fully why Jesus liked hanging around with the busted halo crowd. I’m asking questions, listening, reflecting, my tears right up near the surface, humbled, forced to be more honest with myself, relying on God like never before.

I notice small bits of goodness and they seem more precious to me, like the orange and white cat that jumped into the passenger seat of my car when I went inside my old apartment to retrieve another box or the single white calla lily growing outside my new apartment.

I turn on my car radio and am surprised by the number of love songs written by fellow busted halo travelers. I hadn’t quite noticed this before, and suddenly they have something to say to me.

My friends and family are helping me stitch up my busted halo with a wisdom, forgiveness and an inner strength I wasn’t sure I had. I’m glad it’s winter, because while I yearn for a future spring of new life one day, I’m willing right now to be sitting and mending by the fire.