Today we chronicle and upload every last little moment of our worldly togetherness in pictures and videos.
At the end of a marriage there will be many visual reminders of what life was like before your world took a detour.
Those smiling faces stare at you as you look back in bewilderment wondering how real your marriage could have been.
No matter what the circumstances of your divorce, remember that your own happiness, if it was truly there, was real for you. What others were thinking and feeling is beyond your control.
Pictures are the visual words of my life. Through marriage, separation, divorce and family rebirth pictures chronicle those life moments.
In my mind, I was happily married for many years.
There were yearly family portraits and the camera was rolled out for every extended family gathering and holiday.
But then my family life got derailed. My spouse walked out and so over twenty years ago we became a family of three. As a single parent it was my spirited determination that we would continue as usual and not let the number three change the family tradition. Photographs were a unifying force.
In fact, the very first thing I did after my former spouse left was take my sons off to the photographer and have a family portrait done. We look young and fragile, mother and sons, but we are united in the camera frame.
At that time I collected all the casual family pictures that included my former spouse and sent them on to him.
Many years later he told me they all still sat in the big brown envelope thrown in a corner of his home office. Odd how there can be different priorities in a family, where, for some, photographs are nothing but a cipher in a life lived long ago.
After the divorce, there was the question of what to do about those wedding photos. No one smiling in those very formal 1970’s pictures knew that some twenty-five years later the marriage would be over. In that photo purge after the marriage breakdown I decided, for some forgotten reason, to keep the wedding photos stored in a cardboard box titled “family memorabilia”.
There was a certain irony in the aftermath of a recent minor flood in the basement of my home. The cardboard box containing the wedding photos was damaged but not the pictures.
Pictures have become a touchstone for our family threesome over the past twenty years. Scattered throughout my home are framed photos of the smiling faces of my children and grandchildren.
The poet Mary Oliver wrote, “Joy is not made to be a crumb.”
Pictures helped me find that joy in life after my divorce. As I learned to smile openly, effortlessly for the first time in my life, my picture collection reflected a new and happy me.
The family cottage is where the chronicles of our life after divorce line the walls with a hodge podge batch of photos that go right back to our threesome over twenty years ago and all the way up to the burgeoning family of nine we have today.
There are special collections I mount in photo collages.
This past summer, just as my sons do at each visit, my young grandsons took delight in finding themselves in varying stages of babyhood from previous cottage visits in those frames on the wall. The generations are lovingly bound together within our photomontage.
Whenever the opportunity presents that both sons are home or we are all together as we were last spring, there is another threesome family portrait. In the early post-divorce years I see a look of bewilderment masking some of our smiles. It took us a while to regain our footing after the breakup. It was an astonishingly sad time.
There is one favourite photo of mine I call ‘Top of the Mountain”. The three of us are literally and figuratively atop a mountain in the Rockies. Taken just a few years after the family breakup, we three had finally found the way forward. This photo represented a turning point in our new family life.
That underlying mask of sadness is gone. There’s a sliver of sun over the crisp, white mountain tops in the background. Smiling broadly and effortlessly into the camera, we had truly arrived in our future.
When a marriage ends, those old photos litter our lives reminding us of what was and is no more. In your new life, surround yourself with photos that bring you joy. You will know which ones to choose just by looking at them.
ABOUT LINDA SIMPSON
“I take strength from your calm, your honesty, and the hope you give me for my future.” Cheryl
Linda is a fresh voice in the divorce advice world. She offers a pragmatic, common sense approach to life after divorce issues based on over twenty years surviving and thriving following a very traumatic divorce.
As a single parent, her sons are an enormous source of joy in her life. Linda is a loving mother and grandmother to four delightful grandchildren.
She holds a degree from the University of Waterloo with concentrations in sociology and philosophy and guidance counselling certification from Queen’s University.
She is an accredited trainer for The Peace Education Foundation, a leader in conflict resolution training. The institute is ‘dedicated to educating children and adults in the dynamics of conflict resolution and promoting peacemaking skills in home, schools, and community.’
In a long and successful teaching career, she also served as a counsellor and workshop facilitator for SEL (social emotional learning) programming and The Peace Education Foundation throughout her school and school district and was a frequent conference presenter for SUNY Potsdam Faculty of Education USA.
She writes for The Divorce Magazine UK and her blog is seen regularly on Huffington Post Canada where the focus is life after divorce and parenting issues.
She is a writer and poet and is presently at work on a book based on her divorce experience.