Selections from "860 Days at Acheron"
In ancient Greek mythology, Acheron was known as the "river of woe", the "river of pain" and the "river of lost souls.” The Suda describes Acheron as "a place of healing…cleansing and purging the sins of humans.” For a season of 860 days, my husband left…me, our son, our home. For 860 days, I felt as if I was sitting on the banks of Acheron awaiting my healing and my husband’s “return from the underworld.”
We all think we know what we would do when enmeshed in such a situation, yet the reality is that we have no idea until we are confronted by it. The experience exacts a detrimental toll on one’s sense of self, self-confidence, and emotional stability. I was broken; a fragment of myself–I couldn’t even make art. I mourned my marriage and missed my husband while I tried to mitigate the impact on our son. Well-meaning friends told me to “file for divorce”, or to “move on and find a new guy.” But I wanted nothing more than to have my family intact once again.
Desperately trying to find the light while riding a rollercoaster that I never got in line for, I was steeped in the palpable unknowability of a new normal that was entirely abnormal - as if a limb had been amputated. I felt utterly alone; that no one understood; that the pain would never stop. There was no beginning, middle, or end. There just was. There were times where I fought to survive, where I would say or do almost anything; times of shame; times of deep sadness, all interspersed with interludes of peace. Yet I held on tightly to my bountiful faith and my own hopes.
My experience ended with reconciliation, but faint scars remain. Consciously reliving this experience is at once both difficult and cathartic. Yet I feel that by sharing my trauma via this work, others experiencing similar grief may feel less alone in their pain, more able to endure and survive it, and ultimately, may learn–as I did–that they have more strength than they thought was possible.