By: Autumn Elizabeth
I’ve been thinking a lot about the life I would have now, if I were still married. I’ve been thinking about all the things in this life I have now I would have missed, and all the things I would have gained. Life isn’t always as simple as we’d like it to be. There isn’t just married and divorced, now and then. Everything bleeds together, and a little bit of the past always seeps out of a broken heart.
I’ve watched people lose everything when partnerships break, and I’ve seen people gain unbelievable freedom, I’ve seen divorce law work against everyone, and marriage inequality leave people without a legal leg to stand on. I’ve seen the end of a marriage strip people of dignity and faith, and I’ve seen it restore belief. I’ve seen all this in the lives of others, and in my own life.
I’ve also thought a lot about what it means to move on, to start over, and if that’s even possible. I think for some people moving on involves taking down pictures, and throwing away old love letters. But my elopement celebration pictures are still buried somewhere on Facebook, beneath almost two years of photos from my new life living abroad, but they’re still there. For me, the past doesn’t go away, life just steps in, putting ever more distance between the now and the used to be.
I haven’t forgotten how the refusal of my church to bless my same-sex union tested my faith in religion, but I also remember how the end of that union brought me closer to understanding the ways divine loves works through us all. Where there is love, there is God, and my life, before and after my divorce, has been filled with love. Heartbreak just made me look at that love differently. Our hearts may be fragile and easy to break, the love of the universe is far sturdier.
Love flows through broken hearts, and wedding vows, it continues whether we erase our past or relish it, whether governments and churches sanctify or vilify it. Love continues even when we doubt its very existence. Love is there, in the smile of a stranger, and the hug of a friend, in the blessings and the break-ups. Love lives, today and every day, and even the whole world’s collective heartaches can’t break it.
I’ve seen a lot for my time on this planet. I’ve been engaged to my high school sweetheart, I’ve eloped to Paris with a brave Midwestern woman , I’ve had an un-blessed, illegal marriage, and a lawless divorce, and I’ve moved across an ocean for a new love. Everything bleeds together, the good and bad, the past and the present, the wedding vows and the divorce papers, it all runs together and somehow love embraces it all.