Two weeks from today, my CPE residency will be over...
Sure, I still have a job here at the Clinic until the end of August. Sure I still have patients and family members and staff to support and love on and care for day in and day out. Sure I will still share an office with my co-residents - at least until we start getting jobs and moving on/moving out. All these things I'm glad for. But still - things are coming to an end. No more verbatims. No more covenant group (a reality over which I'm torn). Having grown to love CPE so much, it's hard to believe how quickly it's ended.
Something else is over, and I can finally talk about it. In the last month, after a lot of time and talking and thinking and discernment and therapy, Frankie and I have decided together to separate, to get divorced. As I've tried to talk about my sadness and anger, my grief and my fear, and in particular, my addiction and numbing, I haven't known how to without finally saying aloud what's happening. Uncoupling. Amicable dissolution. Whatever nice words exist for it, we've both agreed that it sucks, and it hurts, and it's scary... but it feels like the right thing to do. It feels like the best way to love each other and honor the men we've helped each other become.
When announcing his divorce to his partner of 25 years, Episcopal Bishop Gene Robin said,
All of us sincerely intend, when we take our wedding vows, to live up to the ideal of ‘til death do us part.’ But not all of us are able to see it through...The fact remains that it takes two people to make a marriage and two people to make a divorce. The reasons for ending a marriage fall on the shoulders of both parties: the missed opportunities for saying and doing the things that might have made a difference, the roads not taken, the disappointments endured but not confronted.
Frankie is still my best friend, a good man, an amazing IT fix-it-guy, and much more. When talking with people about separating, frequent responses include "I'm sorry", "Are you sure", "Maybe you just weren't meant to be", and many others. I never thought "I'm getting divorced" would be words to come out of my mouth. There is no easy way to talk about things ending. There is no simple discussion about going through a major transition. But I'm glad I have someone who recognizes my need to talk about it and honors that.
Love can change a person the way a parent can change a baby- awkwardly, and often with a great deal of mess. ― Lemony Snicket, Horseradish
More has changed this year than I ever anticipated: I'm still not smoking. I eat better. I offer to pray with people instead of waiting for (no, dreading) them to ask it of me. I don't cringe at being called Pastor, or Chaplain, or Reverend. I get excited about being the one to tend to a person's spirit and not merely being a makeshift therapist. I'm more comfortable being alone. I ask for what I need from the people around me, and I don't (always) through a tantrum then they don't/won't/can't give it to me. I'm not as cynical about miracles/church/Jesus/the Bible/other-things-that-make-recovering-Christians-cynical.
Many, many people have supported me throughout this year. And many, many people have supported me and Frankie as we have come together, married, made a life, and are now moving on (if you know me remotely well, you know that I'm starting to feel that knot in my chest that precedes a cry spell - it's coming). Maybe all I need to say right now is thanks. For loving me and us. For believing in me. For supporting my call and my vocation. For putting up with my tantrums. For helping me see my strength and resilience. For teaching me how to understand and then tell my story differently.
Ends are not bad things, they just mean that something else is about to begin. And there are many things that don't really end, anyway, they just begin again in a new way. Ends are not bad and many ends aren't really an ending; some things are never-ending. ― C. JoyBell C.
I hope to write more as I move from chaplain resident to just plain chaplain. I hope to keep getting better, to keep doing the work. And I hope that I can keep making a difference - both at the bedside and on the screen. In the meantime, I wish you Peace.
photo credit: Miki Yoshihito (via Flickr)