Day 251/365 It Is Every Day Work

Right now I am straddling three books. I mean, not literally. That would be weird. I was halfway through one book, and became interested in another, and at the airport the other day I was drawn to a third. Usually I am much more of a one book at a time kind of person, but I am getting a little something from each book…there are many pearls of wisdom to be harvested.

One of the books is a book of poetry called “the sun and her flowers” by Rupi Kaur. Her work is full of beauty and pain. She writes about love and loss, abuse, the struggles of her immigrant parents, feminism, and her mother’s selfless love. Actually, I just read the entire book just now. I was riveted. I’ve dog-eared many pages.

As you (well) know I have been on an emotional rollercoaster this year. Right now I feel a bit up, but I still have my seat belt fastened tightly. I’ve learned that healing from grief and loss is not linear. That would be true under any circumstances, but it is surely exacerbated by witnessing my mother’s current fight for her own life.

Rupi Kaur’s poetry…so much of it speaks to me. There are so many worth reading, but for you, today…I wanted to share this one –

i woke up thinking the work was done

i would not have to practice today

how naive to think healing was that easy

when there is no end point

no finish line to cross

healing is every day work

I love the use of the word “practice”. That’s what it is, really. None of us knows exactly how to heal ourselves…especially when we realize that things which may have worked well one day may not help at all the next. We try different things. We learn. We adjust.

We practice every day.

It is every day work.

Day 225/365 Metamorphosis

Give yourself time, they say.

You are not promised any time, they (also) say.

Sometimes I get really turned around listening to “self help” advice. Is it okay to give myself time to go inward and grieve? Or am I wasting precious time doing so; time of which I am not promised an infinite amount?

Even here on this blog…some days I will tell you that wallowing is a worthy and necessary indulgence. Other days I will tell you that you may regret wallowing because you may miss out on something really important while you are focusing on the negative aspects of your life.

(You should probably stop taking advice from me…clearly I am a bit unstable).

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Still here?

Okay, listen…

The truth is I think both can be true. We can wallow, and doing so we can prepare to begin anew. 

Just as the caterpillar forms a cocoon in order to begin her metamorphosis into a beautiful butterfly, when we go inward and grieve (wallow) we have the opportunity to then emerge transformed.

It may appear to the onlooker that nothing is happening inside that cocoon (or maybe it appears that what is happening is naps and binge watching Netflix with lots of wine & chocolate), but in reality, a rebirth is taking place.

Really.

Within that safe space – that cocoon – we can heal. We are given the capacity to become more beautiful and free than we ever imagined.

BUT…

It’s important not to get trapped there, in the cocoon.

It was never meant to sustain us.

When our vibrant colors begin to bleed through…when our newfound wings begin to feel cramped…

My dear, it’s time to break free.

 

Day 202/365 Happy Noniversary

Today would have been my fifteenth wedding anniversary.  My Ex and I have been divorced (more or less) for four years now.

I don’t regret my marriage, not at all…and I don’t regret my divorce either.

Of course, divorce was not a part of the plan. (If you’re following this blog you can imagine that things have moved in a direction far from any plan I ever had). 

I used to believe in marriage. Now I’d say I believe in some marriages. Seeing happily married couples makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside (really). We were happy, my Ex and me…until we weren’t. It was a long and difficult process to get to where we both knew it was time to let go.

Believe me, neither of us took divorce lightly. In fact…

I will fully own the fact that people I knew who got divorced prior to my own marriage’s unraveling – I totally judged them.  Not out loud, of course, but in my head…unless there seemed to be a reason that I deemed worthy.  Um…that I deemed worthy? What the hell gave me that right? Was it the ring on my finger? Was it because I was unhappy too?

Was I thinking – Why should they get to start over when I’m stuck here? 

The truth is no one gets married thinking they are going to get divorced…I mean, I sure hope not, but…that doesn’t mean all marriages are meant to last. I know a lot of people are going to find fault with that statement, because the whole point of getting married is to make a lifelong commitment.

Still, I’m saying it. They aren’t all meant to last.

We come into each other’s lives for a reason (some call this a soul contract). We don’t always know why or for how long…but I dare say it isn’t always forever, even if at one point in our lives we are convinced it is.

I am not advocating that people take marriage lightly. Really, I’m not. It is a serious commitment, and when people have children together, that adds a whole other layer of responsibility.

However, sometimes it is best for everyone involved (including the children) when two people can admit that they no longer feel connected; that something is missing and they aren’t willing to quietly wither away together because they’ve made a commitment that has proven to be unhealthy for them both.

I am grateful for the twelve years I spent with my Ex.  We had many happy times, and the times that weren’t happy….well, I learned a lot about myself (and about life) during and following those times.

We have two beautiful children, and we are both dedicated and loving parents.

I am also grateful for my divorce. I’m doing things I know I never would have done if I’d stayed married…things that have filled my heart and soul. I feel like I am discovering who I really am for the first time in my life.

 

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I also want to say (although this may seem odd)…

Looking back (especially this year, after the passing of my dad), I am so grateful to have had the amazing wedding day that we had. It was a perfect day, and we were surrounded by all the people that we loved most. Several of those very important people aren’t with us anymore, and so to have the memory of that perfect day with them all there to celebrate…it is a truly priceless gift. 

For that reason, October 9th will never be a sad day for me.

This afternoon when my Ex brought the girls home to me, I wanted to acknowledge the day, but “Happy Anniversary!” seemed weird to say. So I just awkwardly said, “Happy October 9th!”

He looked at me quizzically.  “What does that….? Oh, right. Shoot, sorry.”

Later he texted me, “I am Sorry.”

I wondered for a moment if he meant he was sorry for forgetting our “noniversary”…or for our marriage…or for our divorce…?

After a while I simply responded, “No regrets.”

That’s the truth.

 

 

 

Day 162/365 There Are No Winners

It never felt as though my dad had a favorite amongst my siblings and me.  Even though I’m the middle child, I’m the only girl. Ryan is the “baby” and Billy is the eldest, and dad’s namesake.

We all had our niche, and we are each very different people.

We all adored dad, and we each experienced that in our own way – creating our own relationship with him – each one unique and tender.

When he died, our initial shock looked much the same. When I looked into my brothers’ eyes it was like holding up a mirror to my own pain.

As we have moved through the nearly nine months since dad’s passing, I notice how differently we seem to be processing things as we acclimate to life after death.

We all have different sets of life circumstances, different joys and stressors. We each seek different outlets for our grief and anger (exercise, writing, work…). We each have our own triggers, too.

I am not really sure if, in their daily lives (away from mine and my mother’s), my brothers’ pain is as exposed as it often seems when we are together, or if the very act of being together bubbles it up to the surface for all of us.

I guess there are some questions I’ve been afraid to ask…

Do they have more joy when they aren’t with others who, when looking in their eyes, mirror their pain?

Do they, like me, sometimes feel ashamed during moments of happiness? As if we are failing to don our respectful black mourning clothes?

Or…is their pain truly always so palatable as it seems?

If so, do they suspect I may not have loved him as much as they did?

Did they love him more than I did?

Intellectually I know that my brothers and I all loved my father equally – or more to the point – it isn’t a competition in which he or she who mourns the longest and deepest wins.

Dad would laugh (or likely is laughing) that I would need to be the best at grieving.

When I reign myself in from all of the crazy-making questions, I can see straight to the heart of it –

Just as we each created our own unique and tender relationship with dad in life, we must each create our own unique and tender relationship to him in death.

There’s no wrong way to do it.

There is no timeline.

In fact, there is no finish line.

There are no winners, only survivors.  

 

Day 48/365 More is Revealed

“Are you dating anyone?” he asked.

“No” I said, feeling a sudden and powerful discomfort.

“Why not?” he probed, not unkindly.

“I don’t really have time,” I said. “Between having the girls five days a week and running a business…” I trailed off, perhaps knowing it’s a complete lie.

You make time for what you want.

I didn’t share the words that were resting on my tongue – my heart is not available.

I have packaged it up and left it resting on the doorstep of someone who doesn’t want to open it.  Could there be a better way to protect it, then to leave it where it will stay safely and tightly wrapped?

Last spring I posted this image on Facebook with the caption:

“Sometimes the anticipation of something beautiful happening can be just as sweet as the actual happening.”

Sweet sentiment, but…hmmm, it occurs to me that this is a particularly enticing notion for someone who has been disillusioned, disappointed and wounded.

Why?

Because deep down we’re sure that the reality of love will never be as sweet as the idea of it.

I spent twelve years with a man I may never have really known. I walked away from our marriage with two beautiful children, a smattering of scars, and a some deeply painful questions.  If I never really knew him, could I have ever really loved him? Could he have ever really loved me? Do I even know what love is?

Here’s the truth –

I’m afraid.

Insecure.

I don’t trust my own heart to know what’s true.

So, there’s safety there – there in the almost, not yet, someday…

I see it now as it is – a hiding place, and perhaps – hopefully – also a healing place.

Revealing this to myself doesn’t change anything.

Not today, anyway.

Today I’m much too busy.

{Smirk}

Someday, though…

“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk that it took to blossom.” – Anais Nin