Life Doesn't Fit in a File Folder

Sketching Project: Joe

Nearly a year ago, I joined Neutral Ground, a peer support group for people who are divorced, widowed, or ending a significant relationship. A non-profit organization, Neutral Ground has no religious affiliation and is open only to adults.

Actually, that’s not true.

A year ago, I Googled “Need Help During Divorce.”

It took me nearly 6 months before I got up enough courage to attend my first meeting.

That Thursday night, I sat in my car in the parking lot for over a half hour, bawling my eyes out, grieving too many things at once.

I’d lost the person I thought was my best friend, the person who’d promised to love, honor and respect me for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health.

From the outside, it must have seemed like I had it all: a beautiful home in an affluent suburb; new cars to drive; a country club membership. We took regular vacations and owned a second home in Florida. I had fancy friends who threw fancy parties.

And yet.

I was desperately lonely.

No one is going to understand why I left, I thought. These people are going to think I’m nuts. 

But the thing is, they didn’t. The people at Neutral Ground made me feel welcome. Despite the fact that we’re all going through the same thing, we all process things very differently. Where one person is angry, another is sad. One woman misses the dog; another misses the snowblower. We listen to each other’s stories and monitor each other’s progress from week to week. We attend social events with each other and encourage each other to keep going. Every few months, there’s a communal dinner and everyone brings a dish to share.

It’s nice.

Not too long ago, I actually got to a meeting a little early.

(This doesn’t happen very regularly.)

Anyway, this guy was there.


And I just so happened to have my backpack with all my art supplies inside.

He was kind enough to let me paint his likeness.

And he was extra kind to let me post it here.


If you’re going through a difficult time in your life, I urge you to seek community. Everyone needs a place where they feel understood. Neutral Ground has been that place for me. We are not alone. We are never alone.

tweet me @rasjacobson




5 thoughts on “Sketching Project: Joe

  1. I am very proud of your courage and I hope other people will find life does go on. Dad and I love you very much.

  2. Oh sweetie, life can look very different from the outside, can’t it? I am so sorry for the horrid struggle you have undergone, but so glad you are finding support and coming through the other side! Hugs. <3

    1. Hi Kathy:
      It’s getting easier, month to month. I think that watercolor was particularly runny that night as the paint was mixed with my tears. Over the last year, my painting has improved greatly, and I finally started writing again – not so much here, but in private journals. I feel like I have something to write about again, things that need to be said. This time, I’ll make sure to have everything backed up. Thinking of you, KB.

  3. This is another post of progress Renee and it is very encouraging. You are doing so well. <3

    The best way out is always through.
    Robert Frost

    I applaud your courage, your big heart, your growing talented artistry 😉 obviously… and especially your desire to unleash ALL of who Renee is bestow us with your beautiful humanity. I for one am VERY glad you are part of this/our community of bloggers!

    Keep up the great work Renee. 😀

  4. Renee – I’ve been reading your posts for five years now. It’s difficult to imagine the changes that have happened to us all – it is the community and the connections to each other that sustain us. I have come to realize that all of us – and I mean all of us – are feeling the same pressures and hurt but outward appearances are what we project and what others see. We are all good at hiding these imperfections and thinking that we are the ones who are ‘messed up.’ The fact is, we are all ‘messed up’ in some way. I admire your courage and I am grateful for your friendship. Peace – keep moving forward, one step at a time, making each step and day count.

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