There is so much wisdom in surrender, knowing that I don’t know, opening to guidance, keeping the faith that there’s a reason, relaxing deeper into trust. When I could finally let go of the life I thought I had, the life I felt entitled to, I finally had the space to welcome my real life, as it is, right now. Then the real healing could begin. I had to let go of my marriage and I had to let go of my anger toward my children’s father for abandoning the marriage. I had to let go of control (I had none to begin with). When everything fell apart and there was nowhere to go but through, I learned to get clear and sober and fill my mind with prayer. I learned to turn everything over to a power greater than myself. I turned over my thoughts, words and actions, my hopes, dreams and fears, my beliefs, perceptions, my ideas of success and failure. Somehow, grace pulled me through the darkest nights of my soul; somehow I survived the changes that took time… I am grateful for prayers, sacred words spoken that bolster my courage and soothe my bodymind. I am grateful that my whole life has become a prayer.
When he left I tried to forgive him. I wanted to forgive him and I wanted to forgive the other woman. But as much as I tried, it wasn’t working. I was still angry, lonely, grieving. I was still terrified, feeling betrayed, victimized. Then I realized I didn’t need to work on forgiving them, I needed to work on forgiving myself. I am training myself to understand that I’m worthy of love even if I’m not perfect. I’m working on forgiving myself for tolerating the way I was treated in my marriage. I’m working on forgiving myself for being human. With the focus back on me I can actually feel my body/spirit/mind/heart/self as it heals. I’m finally getting to know the woman I am, and I’m discovering that I love her.
Halfway through this challenge, and I have to pause to be grateful for gratitude itself. I began a gratitude journaling practice years before my marriage ended, and had made it a habit to focus on what was going well in my marriage, so I was shocked when my husband announced it was over. Turns out he had been doing the opposite, focusing on what I did that annoyed him. Although I pleaded with him to step back and look at the good in our lives, he had made up his mind that I was the worst wife ever and there was nothing I could do about that. I continued to write in my gratitude journal as my life fell apart at the seams. I continued writing in my journal even as the voices in my head told me I’d be better off dead. I continued writing in my journal as I weathered storm after storm after storm. I have learned perseverance, strength, discipline, will, resilience. I have learned how to put things into perspective. I have learned that I don’t need a man to feel worthy— I am worthy because I exist. I survived. And I attribute a large part of my success to the mindset I developed while practicing gratitude. Thank you gratitude!
For the longest time I thought I was incomplete. It felt like there were so many missing pieces. I searched outside of myself for the answers. I recruited men to help me feel complete. I was married for nine years, and one day he said it was over. In my devastation, I found IFS* and parts work. I read the book You Are the One You’ve been Waiting For. I worked really hard, attending Twelve Step Meetings, therapy, EFT tapping, prayer and meditation, reading, writing. Two and a half years later, still celibate, I can finally feel the truth: I am the one I’ve been waiting for. I really can take care of myself emotionally! Every day I am practicing self-love, self-acceptance, self-compassion. If we could all recognize that we are the ones we’ve been waiting for, life would be so much more…peaceful, fun, light, free… May we all discover the gifts within us. May we all come to cherish the beautiful beings that we are. May we come to discover that we are the ones we’ve been waiting for.
Forgiveness cannot be forced. When my family fell apart I tried to rush to forgiveness, thinking that it would speed up the healing process. But I was just engaging in spiritual bypassing— using my spirituality to circumvent the messy trenches of deep grief and traumatic loss. I prayed to God to show me the way, hoping I could fly over the dark valley and avoid what lurked there in the shadows of my deepest, darkest memories. I read books and listened to speakers, I attended meetings, I thought I knew what I was doing, but I was really attempting to avoid the inevitable. Finally I discovered that what I really needed was to allow myself to feel. I had to go through the grieving process. I had to face the loss of the life I knew, I had to take each day one at a time. Some days the pain was so intense I didn’t think I could live through it. People would tell me It won’t be like this forever; I didn’t believe them. Over time, as I remained clear and focused on my goal to find a place for me and my kids, I noticed the fog was lifting; I felt more like myself with each passing day. Looking back I see that it was my effort to heal that blocked the healing. It was my belief that things should be a certain way that kept me from embracing things as they were. And now I’m still working on forgiveness, but at least I have the sense now to allow that grace to come, naturally, when the time is right and my heart is ripe for such sweetness…
Slowing down, taking time… Body run down says Stop. Rest. I listen. I rest as much as I can in between classes. It would be so easy to blame. To go back into victim mode and complain about the upheaval. But that’s not congruent with who I am. Who I am is strong. Who I am is loving. Who I am is resourceful, creative, inspired. Who I am is kind. So instead of looking out and blaming, I look in and ask, What can be done now? My body says Rest. I listen. I rest.
As I sort through boxes of papers, kids’ drawings, greeting cards, old photos, clippings, my drawings, lists upon lists of ideas, plans, goals, as I survey many more boxes to go through, boxes of stuff…random bits… appliances, cleaning products, textiles of every kind, doodads and thingamabobs, it brings new meaning to the phrase Going through it. I, my friends, am really Going through it. I’m going through layers upon layers of the life I shared with another when we were married, when we were a family of four. He left and took what he wanted. He left me responsible for the rest. I am going through it. It strikes me as odd and yet fitting, that I would need to take my old life with me to this new place in order to see how my old life doesn’t fit in here. I had to feel this feeling of my old life not fitting in order to go through it and release what no longer serves, what is too heavy, too laced with old memories. I didn’t feel safe letting go in the old house. Somehow the old things protected me. But I had to leave the house we shared; it’s no longer mine, or his. So I took all our stuff with me, and crammed it into my new space, a smaller space, a much smaller space. Boxes and bags and bins and little pathways in between, it has felt like a hoarder’s den the last few days, as I carted the last bits from the old to the new. I see now: My old life is choking the new. I had to feel this. I had to feel this discomfort. I had to feel this feeling of drowning in my old life, surrounded by what no longer works, so that I could clear some space to welcome the life that wants to be lived when I’m willing to stand in the present moment, in spaciousness, in trust, in a willingness to feel what is alive, right now.
Stuff, stuff and more stuff! There is no end to the stuff! Kids’ stuff My stuff House stuff Stuff that was left behind when he walked away from our life together, and now I get to sort through all of it. Years of the content I created as a yoga teacher, in binders, in bins. Bins of fabric and yarn. Art supplies. Books, books and more books. Clothes and shoes. Garden stuff… Random bits of this and that… Plus the household stuff. Is there no end? I’m am so exhausted. But there is still more stuff.
You can’t heal what you can’t feel… and so my biggest task has been just allowing the feelings to rise, to be seen, acknowledged, embraced, and finally felt. For a long time I attempted to deny my feelings, because they appeared too painful to accept, and I was afraid of what might happen if I allowed the tidal wave to crash over me. It turns out that I was giving my attention to my fear of the difficult feelings rather than to the feelings themselves. The fear made it all seem so much worse that it really was. Once I peeled back all my layers of distraction, denial and defense and exposed my tender heart to myself, I saw that there was nothing to fear. As the grief came up, the doubt, the self-blame, the regret, the anger, the loneliness, the abandonment, the resistance and all the others emerged as a procession, one by one, to be fully received and welcomed by me. As I allowed these feelings to flow through, I sensed underneath them my resilience, my strength, and finally my hope for new feelings to arrive once I’ve made enough room for them by letting the old feelings go…
I’m amazed I’ve been able to keep up this pace, 2-3 yoga classes a day for two months, but I’m not just doing this for me, I’m doing it for my kids and for my students too. I’m doing it for the ripples of peace and goodwill that flow out into the world when I make just one person’s day a little brighter. It’s amazing how I can find the strength to go on, day after day, feeling tired, feeling wiped out, feeling like I have nothing left at the end of the day, and yet, each morning I wake up, and I’m ready to do it all over again. This feels like I’m being trained for something even bigger. This feels like an opportunity to flex my resilience muscles, my endurance muscles, my persistence muscles, my faith muscles. A year ago, I felt weak and destroyed, devastated, betrayed, abandoned… But now look… Just look at how strong I am now.