I’ve been wanting to write about this for a while, but the timing hasn’t been right. Today it felt right, so here I go. Two years ago Jack and I almost split up. We had a major crisis in our marriage that, instead of pushing me out the door or shutting me down emotionally, opened my heart and allowed me to see how I had contributed to the breakdown of our relationship. Within a day of the crisis, I made a decision to fearlessly look at myself, and begin to make the changes that were necessary.
This summer things came to a head, and to an end. I cannot say anything more about the particulars, only that Jack and I had different ideas about what constituted a working relationship/marriage.
We’d been married for almost 17 years and even though there were so many times I knew things were not good or right, I kept thinking that if I tried harder or wasn’t so difficult, then I could make our marriage a good one. I was suffering and confused about why I couldn’t make it work…and I didn’t want to get divorced again. Divorce felt like a failure, and I’d already been married twice before. I’m not sure if I’ve ever mentioned that here. It was something that I’d been ashamed of. Who gets married, and divorced, three times? Me.
My fear wasn’t only about looking and feeling like a “looser”, I had financial fears as well and fears that my family would look at me and say something like, “Oh my goodness (they probably wouldn’t say, “goodness”) Mom/Mary, how could you do this again?”
These fears kept me paralyzed. I kept trying to turn off (and shut up) my guidance that was persistently saying, “Things are not right here”.
Then one day this summer, I told someone in my family what was going on in the marriage, and that I thought I was going to leave. She looked at me and started to laugh and cry. Then she said, “Thank God!”
“What?” I thought, “Can I be hearing her right?” Over the next week, as I told more family members, and got similar reactions, I had the startling revelation that all of those critical, judgmental, thoughts were my own. Honestly, I knew that I felt this way about myself, but my mistake had been in thinking that other people felt the same and saw me in the same very critical light. The opposite of my “worst fear scenario” began to play out. Love and support seemed to come to me from everyone. I would not have guessed this in a million years.
So I began to walk this out, and as I walked, my fears fell away at an astonishing rate. As they fell away, they were replaced with feelings of peace and inner calm: feelings that always let me know when I’m on the right track.
Every spiritual tradition tells us not to fear, to trust in the larger part of us: God, Inner Wisdom, The Still Small Voice, Intuition…to guide and direct our steps and our decisions. It doesn’t matter what we call this power, it is the Knowing that is often beyond any reasonable explanation. It is our invisible connection to all of Life: everyone and everything.
But taking the step to trust, when we cannot see how something will work out, can be terrifying. I know that it was for me, but I have some experience here too. I’ve left relationships that weren’t working, stayed in relationships that were difficult but needed attention, I’ve started new adventures, I’ve taken risks in a lot of ways, and every time I listened to my inner voice and took these steps, larger vistas opened, life expanded and my “worst fear scenarios” were revealed for what they really were: fear of the unknown cementing into stories.
Another remarkable result of this decision was seeing the work that I do as a spiritual counselor go to a very deep level. As this disharmony in my own life/energy field cleared, my work with clients reflected this change. There is a well-known saying that goes something like, “To really help people, we must become like clean, clear, channels, letting the spirit flow through us freely, and we cannot be clear channels if we are full of shit”. I like that saying. To me it means being honest with ourselves and others. It means being vulnerable, human, and transparent. It means being open, kind, loving and real…it means being and becoming the magnificent people we were meant to be.
“Your present problem is your great opportunity…your life is your laboratory. Your world is your workshop. The reason that you are here is that you may develop spiritually: and the way to do that is to meet the challenge of practical life. You do not develop spiritually by running away from life into some sheltered retreat. Nor do you grow in spiritual stature by gaining your point through will power. It is spiritual law that any difficulties that can come to you at any time must be exactly what you need most at the moment to enable you to take the next step forward by overcoming them. The only real misfortune, the only real tragedy, comes when we suffer without learning the lesson.” Emmet Fox