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Lessons From the End of a Marriage

A “How to Thrive” Guide After Divorce

Forest Fire

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Smokey the Bear tells us that only we can prevent forest fires.

But that’s not really true.

I mean we can avoid throwing lit cigarettes on top of dry pine needles and we can faithfully cover our campfires with dirt before retiring for the night. But those measures won’t stop the errant spark from catching a ride on a gust of wind. They won’t redirect the lightening’s path away from the dead wood that riddles a mature forest. Even the professionals, with their fire breaks and controlled burns can’t really stop forest fires. They can only hope to mitigate their damage.

Because forest fires are an inevitable part of nature and nature always has its way.

We tend to focus on the destructive properties of the fire. And certainly, when fire and civilization intersect, the results can be devastating. The loss is apparent in every charred stump, the once verdant forest transformed into an alien wasteland.

We focus on the loss because it is what we feel acutely. It is sudden and catastrophic. We cannot help but contrast the blackened skeletons with their once proud and rich forms.

But the fire is more than an ending. It is a beginning.

The conflagration clears away the dead and dying trees, making room for the seeds protected just below the soil to begin their journey to the sun. The blackened trunks enrich the soil, replacing nutrients that had been leached for centuries. Any illness that may have gripped the forest is extinguished with the flames, allowing an opportunity for new and healthy growth to emerge.

I’ve begun to see my divorce as a forest fire. Devastating. Destructive. Inevitable. Yet also cleansing, burning away all that was dead or dying or diseased. Leaving behind richer soil and brighter sun to nourish even better growth. And I’ve now gone from wandering lost through the charred stumps of the old growth to reveling in the beauty of the new.

So even though Smokey is wrong and we cannot prevent every forest fire, we can do our part and when they do happen, we can strive to see the potential hidden just beneath the newly exposed earth.


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17 thoughts on “Forest Fire

  1. Reblogged this on Ladywithatruck's Blog and commented:
    An excellent analogy. A relationship with a narcissist is much like a forest fire (I wish I would have thought of that but I will give credit where credit is due ) leaving a path of destruction behind it, destroying everything that comes in it’s path; but as with a forest fire a rebirth or rejuvenation happens after the devastation. The scars of the fire remain forever but new plants grow, some of them only grow where there has been a forest fire. You could look at the charred remains of once majestic trees and forever morn the lost of the forest or you can appreciate the beauty and life that follows the destruction; it is a choice.

    1. I know. Be patient with yourself. I went from feeling the pain to remembering the pain to now feeling almost like it happened to someone else. Because in one way it did; I am no longer the woman I was. There is hope.

  2. The seeds of our Giant Sequoias need fire to prepare them to grow…just as we humans are tempered by the fires of personal disaster. I am glad you are growing back strong and tall, Lisa. – Fawn

  3. I love this. I’m actually writing something now from the perspective of the fire starter. I am divorced, but was the one who initiated for various reasons. I’m glad you are able to look back with healing eyes and view it is the start of something positive.

  4. Truly an excellent comparison. I am watching my Lavender grow in the backyard after I cut it back last winter, the stubs looked dead. Now it is rich and will soon attract bees and butterflies as it blooms. Perhaps this is similar. I will think on this one for a while.

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