Have you ever played the Lava game? The one where you jump from couch to chair to Momma’s antique table specifically designed NOT to hold the full weight of a human? The ground is all one giant lava pit and if you touch it, well, catastrophe strikes.
My marriage was one ridiculously long game of Lava. Only the stool beneath my feet exploded, and suddenly, after almost twenty years, the game was over.
In pictures, all of us became adept at keeping up appearances, the kids oblivious to the way others may or may not live at home, our environment their version of normal. I played the part of lawyer’s wife and mother, hopping from perch to perch, avoiding the Lava. Judging by some people’s shocked responses, apparently I played it well, at least for those not living with me.
But living in a game of Lava for so long causes side effects – Anxiety, stress, feelings of entrapment, and perhaps the worst one of all, the loss of one’s voice from swallowing too much dry heat for too, too long. Stuck atop an exploding stool, in the end I didn’t just touch the Lava, I bathed in it.
Here’s the thing about bathing in Lava. It scorches. I’m not gonna lie, it’s painful, and humbling, and exhausting to heal from such deep wounds. But. Lava also cleanses. And as it cools, hope springs forth.
It’s been fourteen months since the boys and I have been a family of three. We’ve grown closer than I thought possible, stronger than I could have imagined, and experienced the deepening of our faith I’ve craved (however timidly).
Because even when I prayed to feel that closeness with God I had felt in the past, I knew. That kind of connection doesn’t come easy. It was a bit of a self destructive prayer, is all I’m sayin’.
We all have war wounds, lifetime scars, from this journey, but all three of us are beautiful, strong, resilient, and more passionate for it.
The boys. Y’all. There are not words. Just tears of gratitude to God for the gift of them.
And me. I’m finally finding my voice. It’s a mixture of the girl I once was and the woman that’s survived. It’s raw at times, louder than before, and powerful in its sense of self. My voice knows fear and often chooses to speak through it anyway. There’s a reason the symbol of a phoenix resonates with survivors. It resonates with me. Walking in these shoes, I can say firsthand, I get it. Because often what people may miss is that the phoenix doesn’t just rise up from ashes; the phoenix is a bird. And after hovering atop a rickety stool surrounded by the Lava – wings – well, they feel extraordinary.
So the rising, yes, it is glorious.
But the flying….