I could see my husband was depressed. I didn't realize I was the source of his unhappiness. We were adjusting to the empty-nest phase of life as our recently-married daughters were increasing the family at a rate of six babies in five years. Hoping counseling would help, I faithfully met my husband at the counselor's office every week, until he dropped out. I stayed and finally admitted defeat when the counselor asked, "Do you want to be married to someone who doesn't want to be married to you?"
No; but I so desperately wanted him to want to be married to me as much as I still wanted to be married to him. I journaled my way through the first couple of years, pouring out my shock, despair, disbelief, fury, and terror worrying about what would become of me.
Then came a chance to housesit for friends for a few weeks. I had many empty hours to myself and a pile of journals. I wondered if I could write fiction after years of writing non-fiction. I wrote Asunder, a novel about starting again in middle age, and discovered I love writing fiction. I wrote a happy ending and added a study guide about shifting attitudes toward marriage - and divorce - in the modern age. I searched for an agent and/or publisher. Finding neither, a friend who was self-publishing his own book, helped me publish Asunder. It got great reviews, but few sales. The remaining copies are in boxes in my garage. I'm searching for a place to donate them to help others reeling from a mid-life divorce.
The experience of writing a fictional account of becoming suddenly single again in mid-life opened new doors. It was good therapy to write it. I often felt helpless and cornered going through the divorce, but on the pages of the manuscript, I had control over what happened. I found a large sisterhood of women who were also divorced. Many women, and a few men, resonated with the book. So did people whose spouses had died.
The experience taught me two lessons. I can write fiction. I recently published a historical novel about the Mayflower voyage and first encounters between Indigenous people and English settlers. I discovered there are many paths to publication. With sufficient time, patience, and persistence I can pull together a team to help me tell - and sell - my story.
Though I still regret the divorce, I am grateful I was able to plow through the grief to write a book that helped me, and I believe others, recover. Writing Asunder gave me the confidence to write Mayflower Chronicles: The Tale of Two Cultures. The new book has sold more copies in a few months than Asunder sold over the past four years.
During the divorce, I felt like the best years of my life had ended. Researching and writing the current book has expanded my world in ways I never could have imagined.