The adventure through the Yucatan wilderness had been fun. Under the blazing sun, in the humid, cloying heat, we explored temples, drove through the jungle, fondled boa constrictors. Now we stood at the edge of a 30-foot cliff and gazed down at the beautiful, deep waters of the cenote and thought of plunging into them. We were hot and sweaty and exhausted and there was no way we weren’t going in, because the other option was simply to, well, melt to death. The staircase leading down to them would take a few minutes to clamber down, or…
“Okay!” joked the tour guide. “Who’s brave enough to be the first sacrifice to the Mayan gods?”
“Where’s Mel?” asked my recently-wedded husband.
Later, my husband and I gazed in equal parts awe and dismay at the bruise that was forming on my backside. Perhaps a cannonball wasn’t the best diving position for an impulsive, bottom-heavy woman to take when jumping off a cliff. Of course, it was perfectly emblematic of the type of thing I do: something absolutely zany, and sudden, with little fanfare, but lots of commitment once I’m in. And afterwards, there are usually a few scars and bruises to show for it.
My divorce happened the same way. I had been pondering it for a while. Inching up towards the edge of the cliff, gazing down into the murky darkness below, I knew I was scared because I didn’t know what lay in the darkness, but I did know the unhappiness that had chased me up to the precipice. The same unhappiness that lurked there when I finally took a breath, closed my eyes, and jumped off the cliff. With little fuss, on an otherwise uneventful night in January a couple of years ago, I stood in my kitchen in California and told my husband that I was done with the infidelities and lies and unhappiness, and that I would be divorcing him.
It took a while before I hit the ground after that leap. There were a lot of dark and lonely nights, a lot of false starts, a lot of sacrifices and some high prices to pay. But it finally ended, perhaps fittingly, on February 14 of this year. While I was drinking margaritas and watching Deadpool with my friends in Indiana, a judge was signing off on my divorce decree in California, freeing me from a life that I had once felt was the only thing left for me. Now, I know that's not true; I've had a year and change of really genuine happiness to know that the only unhappiness that is permanent is the one that we force on ourselves.
There will be bruises, but they will fade. There will be wounds that bleed, but they will scab over and scar. The fall may be long and terrifying, and the landing may be rough, but sometimes...you just have to jump.