What Happens When You Walk Through The Fire

By Rachel Thompson

From the upcoming book, Broken People

Copyright ShadowTeams Publishing, 2016

When I finally decided it was time to tell my (now-ex) husband I wanted him to move out, I wanted a divorce, the truth is, I wasn’t ready to walk through the fire. Skipping around the burning coals for years, dancing past the cinders, dropping hints through smoke so thick it choked my ability to be honest with him, and to be honest, with myself.

Burying myself inside ramshackle, thorny pillars of daily survival – walking through each day without resentment eating away at my growing scorn became a sort of merciless victory.

Drifting further into myself, the cloud of silence growing, the fire building.

When silence didn’t work, we had conversations about what needed to change, what we both needed to work on. I loved him. It wasn’t that. It’s still not that. He’s a good man, a good father. I’ve known him almost half my life. My god, how is that possible?

My feet continued to burn.

I blurted it out one day, “You need to leave!” in a rush before I lost my nerve, my soles on fire. I couldn’t breathe with his booming voice, his anxiety vibrating, snapping at the very air of his slamming door, slamming drawer, clutter-filled presence.  I needed peace. I wanted counter space. To breathe in my own clear air.

My soul burning.

So he left. Not without some protest, a mountain of bills, and the upheaval of our now suitcase-carrying, back and forth children who think I’m being selfish. That’s okay, I see their point. They are too young to understand that breathing isn’t selfish.

It’s more important we do this thing together, focusing on co-parenting them, and we do, in the tepid froth left after the boil. He still calls me “Hon,” after twenty-two years together, which is sweet and only slightly strange, as when a child calls you by your first name.

It’s been easier, and harder, to go through than around. There is no detour when it comes to ending a marriage. “You will have to walk through the fire,” my therapist tells me, and she’s right. Nobody does this for you. It’s a grown-up thing, this divorce business.

You dig through the ashes for answers, and realize that you are just as imperfect as you fear, that all those clichés about change are excruciatingly true. I don’t blame him. I don’t blame me. I don’t even blame change. Maybe I’m fooling myself, but adapting a Zen approach to it all helps immensely, particularly when the best I can do is breathe.

I watch my former resentments as they pass me by. While I don’t shake their hand, I don’t wave goodbye to them either. I’m not there yet. I want to be that evolved, and maybe one day I will be. There is frustration and anger that lie below any relationship; we are not special.

The single, burning stack is falling as the pieces scrabble for new places to land.

I realize control is an illusion. We can’t shape a tattered love that’s no longer there, yet I can choose to cherish memories, and be thankful for happy times and amazing kids; that we’ve salvaged enough of this shredded relationship to still care about each other because of our children makes me if not happy, at least grateful for this solo walk.

I’m damaged. I’m healing. I’m tending my scars.

The way it is with any kind of burn.


rachelintheOC author avatarRachel Thompson is represented by literary agent Lisa Hagan, and is published by ShadowTeamsNYC.

She is the author of the award-winning, bestselling Broken Places (one of IndieReader’s “Best of 2015” top books and 2015 Honorable Mention Winner in both the Los Angeles and the San Francisco Book Festivals), and the bestselling, multi award-winning Broken Pieces (as well as two additional humor books, A Walk In The Snark and Mancode: Exposed).

Rachel’s work is also featured in several anthologies (see Books for details).

She owns BadRedhead Media, creating effective social media and book marketing campaigns for authors. Her articles appear regularly in The Huffington Post, The San Francisco Book Review (BadRedhead Says…), Feminine Collective, IndieReader.com, 12Most.com, bitrebels.com, BookPromotion.com, and Self-Publishers Monthly,

Not just an advocate for sexual abuse survivors, Rachel is the creator and founder of the hashtag phenomenon #MondayBlogs and the live weekly Twitter chats, #SexAbuseChat, co-hosted with certified therapist/survivor, Bobbi Parish (Tuesdays, 6pm PST/9pm EST), and #BookMarketingChat, co-hosted with author assistant Melissa Flickinger (Wednesdays, 6pm PST/9pm EST).

She hates walks in the rain, running out of coffee, and coconut. She lives in California with her family.

Author Site: rachelintheoc.com
BadRedhead Media Site: badredheadmedia.com
Twitter: @RachelintheOC
Twitter (Business): @BadRedheadMedia

SexAbuseChat: @SexAbuseChat

BookMarketingChat: @BkMarketingChat

MondayBlogs: @MondayBlogs 
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorRachelThompson
Facebook (Business): https://www.facebook.com/BadRedheadMedia
Google+: https://plus.google.com/+RachelThompson/
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/rachelintheoc/
Instagram: https://instagram.com/rachelintheoc/
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/rachel-thompson/24/784/b95
Author Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/j9oaH
BadRedhead Media Newsletter: 
Full-size Author Photo Link: http://i119.photobucket.com/albums/o158/Froze8/RachelThompson_


2940149889440_p0_v1_s260x420-188x300 Broken-Pieces-paperback


    • Thank you, Robert. It’s not an easy process — I certainly knew it wouldn’t be, considering all factors, including our children. I didn’t expect so many difficulties after the divorce — this has been a true education in human behavior. But as I say, control is an illusion. xx

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Evocatively written. I remember the smouldering anger and trying to hard to pretend we were going to be okay, we nearly both suffocated. It was a relief, in the end, when he went. Breathing is more important than you ever realise, but I don’t think we ever know how much until someone’s mere presence stops us being capable.

    Thanks for sharing this. I hope things get easier for you.


    • The breathing — I held my breath for YEARS. In fact, I got a tat on my right index finger after he left that says ‘breathe’ to remind me to do just that. Obviously, we breathe, but those deep, cleansing breaths were non-existent in my life for who knows how many years? Breathing is moving, moving is living. xx

      Liked by 1 person

      • From a physiological point of view, loss of ‘good’ breathing so often goes hand in hand with intensely stressful situations (if you’re interested, the Fear-Tension-Pain cycle explains more) and remembering to do it turns into a chore and a real act of intentional self-care. Deep breaths stimulate the limbic system, which does pretty much incredible things for us. We need those deep breaths.

        The tattoo sounds awesome. I didn’t have one to commemorate my split because the whole thing was just such a disaster I want it buried under nicer memories, if possible.


    • Hi there — it is, but staying in the marriage was slowly killing me and hurting our kids. It’s still difficult, but mentally, we’re all better off (including, I hope, him). Thank you for reading and commenting. xx


  2. Sometimes it’s time to walk through the fire. You know what, we all survive when we walk through the fire, it’s our mind and our emotions that hold us back. Keep on going my dear. Usually after a fire walk we are much better.

    Liked by 1 person

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