One of my favorite songs is an old Fleetwood Mac song called Landslide. In the chorus, Stevie Nicks sings a line that goes, “I've been afraid of changing because I built my life around you. But time makes you bolder, children get older and I'm getting older, too.” I never really paid much attention to the words when I listened to the song on repeat when I was in my twenties. But recently, they have held a lot of meaning for me. Time has made me bolder, and the older I get the more I feel the need to live my life exactly the way I want. When I was married, I was someone's wife, and before that I was searching for someone who would complete me. What I failed to realize is you can't build your life around someone else, because they might not always be around. Now that my marriage is over, I feel as though I spent the last eight years of my life building something that came crashing down in the end.
The first verse of Landslide goes, “I took my love and I took it down. I climbed a mountain and I turned around, and I saw my reflection in the snow-covered hills, until the landslide brought me down. Oh mirror in the sky, what is love? Can the child within my heart rise above? Can I sail through the changing ocean tides? Can I handle the seasons of my life?
My marriage often felt like climbing a mountain. The climb was difficult at times, but I kept going forward because I knew the effort was worth it. I didn't know then that the mountain would one day move beneath my feet, sending me careening down over life's jagged edges. The two of us had come so far, and I had tried so hard over the years to make things work. But then, just like in the song, I saw my reflection. I saw, years after my wedding day, that I didn't recognize myself anymore. And that's when an emotional landslide finally brought me down. The fall was long, and sometimes, even after the divorce, it still feels like I'm falling. There isn't anything stable around to grasp onto, so I keep wondering if the fall will ever end. When you're a child, you have your mother or father to hold your hand and support you so that if you do fall, you are quickly back on your feet. As an adult, I don't have that anymore. I have to learn to be the steady person who can offer a supportive hand, but sometimes I still feel like a little girl, sliding down a mountain. Marriage made me feel safer, but now I have entered into a season of my life where I don't have that person to depend on, or even share a fall with. I'm on my own.
I remember an afternoon several years ago in Winter when my ex and I went on a bike ride in the snow. We came to a large hillside, and like children, we decided it would be fun to glide down it's steep snow-covered side. Protectively, he tried it out first to see how fast the bicycles would go, and the agreement was that if it seemed too dangerous, he would signal to me from the bottom to stay put. Watching him ride down from the top looked a bit scary, but also exciting. I braced myself, and one moment before I took my hands off the brakes, I saw through the frosty air that he was holding up one hand for me to stop. I heard him say something faint, but it was caught up by the wind, and even though I knew I was going to fall, something made me let go of the brakes and go. The incline made me quickly pick up speed, and I saw my ex below, prepared to catch me at the moment when I would inevitably be thrown off the bike or hurled into the blackberry bushes straight ahead. For some reason, a moment before I reached him, I veered sharply to the right, and crashed in a twisted heap onto the ice. It hurt, but I was okay.
Finding A Soft Place To Land
The thing about falling, is that even when it feels like it's never going to end, at some point it does. The trick is in finding a soft place to land, not to try to grasp onto things on the way down. You can't fight it, because gravity always wins. All you can do is let yourself fall freely, and try to look where you're going to avoid a hard landing. It's the same with divorce. In the harshest, most painful end to your fall, you might end up angry, lonely, bankrupt, or desperate. Whereas, in a softer landing, maybe you'll be hurt, but not bitter. Maybe you'll discover something new at the bottom, make new friends, start your own business, and maybe even make peace with your ex, and with yourself. You may choose to veer sharply to the left or right as I did that day in the snow, and choose your own unique way to fall. The important thing is to accept life's forward motion. If you find yourself in a landslide, face it bravely. When you make it to the bottom, you won't be so afraid of life's downfalls anymore. As I get older, the fact that I fall down doesn't seem to matter so much, but the way that I do it does. I guess time has made me a little bolder, even when it comes to my divorce. Gravity happens, and I'm not going to try to fight it. I just want to make sure this next landing is impressive.
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