“How can what I’m going through be helpful to others?” This is a question that I ask myself everyday, and it is the focus of my blog. One challenge that I’ve faced while going through this divorce is not being able to write about all aspects of it, since it also involves my estranged husband, Jack. But really, no matter what is happening in my life, I do not talk about other people here. That cannot be helpful to anyone including me….but talk I must, at least with my spiritual counselor, friends, and family who can be with me without judgement and who can allow me to hear the wisdom that will lead me to an expanded life.
I’ve been surprised at the amount of anger and bitterness that has come out of me, especially in the first few months, and more surprised (really horrified) that it wasn’t just with these “safe” people that I shared what was happening. As a matter of fact, I felt as though I could not meet anyone without telling them what had happened in my marriage. There were a number of instances when a voice in my head said, “This is inappropriate” and yet, I could not stop myself. I felt like a possessed, revenge-filled, angry, hurt, woman, who could not shut up. I started to become afraid that this “bitter root” was going to take hold and I’d end up old, alone, and endlessly repeating my sad story.
I had lunch with a friend a while ago and I was still on this roll. She was a gracious listener and said what felt like the most soothing words I could hear. After I finished my lament she said, “What the f….! And I said, “Thank you”.
Her words, with all of their force, perfectly met the emotions that I was feeling. After that lunch was over, another voice came into my head and it simply said, “enough”. From that moment on, I’ve been able to walk in a new direction, toward a life that I want to live and as the person whom I want to be…but it took going through that ugly, strange, angry, messy, time as honestly as I could, to come out the other side. I may well have alienated people along the way but I also believe that true friendship and love can withstand our less-than-perfect, troubled, temporarily insane selves.
I never go through anything without reflecting on my own behavior, and this divorce has been no different. Lately I’ve thought about two people who came to me years ago, when they had just broken with their spouses. I’d like to say that I met them with the same open, present, energy as the people in my life, but it isn’t true. In both cases I tried to be “spiritual”, reminding them that nothing happens randomly, that this really was happening “for them”…blah, blah…it makes me cringe to think about this now. Not that I don’t believe these things, because I absolutely do, but my timing was all wrong. They weren’t even close to the healing stage yet. They were both freshly out, wounded, and in so much pain. What I wish I’d said, when they told me what had happened, is, “What the f….! How are you? What do you need from me? I’m here for you”, but I didn’t…and I lost both of those relationships…but I also learned a lot. I’ve learned how to be with someone who is going through an emotionally messy time. I’ve learned how to listen without judgement. I’ve learned that none of us are perfect and that we all need people to be real with.
So I’m not being hard on myself for sharing too much or for looking like a mess to others…as a matter of fact, I’m glad that I did. Many years ago, I was talking to someone about some struggle that I was going through and she said, “You really don’t mean that!”…I cannot even remember what I was talking about but I remember thinking, “You don’t want to be friends with the real me. You want the cleaned-up version of me.” Well, I don’t want that. I don’t want the cleaned-up version of people. I want real, honest, at times gut-wrenching, at times magnificent, people in my life.
I also don’t want to live out a tragic tale of woe. I don’t want to be talking about this divorce, or my previous marriages/divorces, in a year or 5 years, and have all of the unspoken, unacknowledged, emotions come out. Now is the time to heal so I can truly say that even the unplanned, painful, and seemingly unacceptable things I’ve experienced have all been right and I have let go of blame and resentment. This is the light that I’m moving toward and that I see and feel with my heart…and if I need to go through the swamp to get there, OK.
There is so much written these days about “positive thinking” that people have become afraid to admit what’s really going on inside. I’ve heard countless people say some version of, “If you really knew what I was thinking, you’d think I was a horrible person”. But we often need to do just that: admit where we are right now, so we can move up/out/through the situation.
“We cannot change the world by a new plan, project, or idea. We cannot even change other people by our convictions, stories, advice and proposals, but we can offer a space where people are encouraged to disarm themselves, lay aside their occupations and preoccupations and listen with attention and care to the voices speaking in their own center.” Henri Nouwen