I shouldn't be surprised, right? We've all heard the 50/50 statistic, regarding our chances of successfully settling in for the long haul, so it's a given that people you know are going to get divorced.
Statistics also show that people who married in the early 2000's are on an upswing - fewer divorces than those who came before us... so that's a good thing, right? Sure. But divorce is still gut-wrenchingly common.
13+ years after my own nuptials, divorces are nearly as common among my friends and acquaintances as the weddings were a decade (plus) ago.
It's disheartening. With every divorce, I see a little bit of ease and security flow away. I see people harden, pull in, close up. I see people crying for their children, working too much, and dipping a terrified toe back into the dating world. I have yet to meet a person for whom divorce was a welcome relief; even if it was for the best, a part of them died along with their marriage.
The 'happily-ever-after' died with their marriage. Their sense of security and vision of family died when the rug was pulled out from under them (no matter who did the yanking).
A decade or so ago, it was a beautiful thing to see so many happy couples getting married. It felt as though the world were falling into place, and the people I knew and loved were getting what they deserved - happily ever after. There is a certain amount of peace and relief that comes with seeing the ones you love pair off; they are safe, and loved, and wanted.
I knew what the divorce statistics said. I knew that a lot of these folks wouldn't, in all likelihood, celebrate their silver anniversary... maybe not even their 10th. And don't get me wrong; I knew that my own marriage was no exception. When faced with 50/50 odds, you know that you are just as fallible as the next couple.
It makes me so sad to see people that married within months of me, and had children alongside me end their marriages, even when it is, without a doubt, the right thing to do. I hurt for them. I mourn the loss of their younger, optimistic self. I mourn the happily ever after that wasn't so permanent, and that they so often feel unanchored and adrift.
I'm sorry, and sad, but so very proud as well.
I see them working hard. I see them picking up anything they can work with, and making armor from it. I see them overcoming their fears, drawing on strengths they didn't know they had, and making courageous choices.
I see determination. I see strength. But what moves me most is the vulnerability - what moves me is seeing them decide that they aren't ruined, aren't finished, aren't torn down. I see them dip a tentative toe back out there, and I see the belief that they can still find a happily ever after, and a revamped vision of family.
That is what is sweet, and optimistic, and heartening in all this; seeing the spirit reborn and courage take over.