Tuesday, February 21, 2017

The Post I've Waited Eighteen Months to Write

Over the last eighteen months I've started a dozen posts about my divorce, only to delete them. I wanted to wait until there was no shred of resentment, no hint of blame, no whiff of judgment or my personal specialty--sarcasm.

Today I can say simply that the relationship didn't work for either of us. He's happier now, and so am I. Our kids have relaxed into knowing they still have two parents who love them.

Now, instead of the divorce, I want to write about the gifts I've received during the last eighteen months, about what I've learned so far in this incredible awakening to my own good life.

Letting Go  Changes Everything.

Near the end, fighting panic at the idea of splitting up my family and becoming a single mom, I got on my knees and gave the whole mess to God. For the first time in our twenty-year rocky relationship, I was willing to let go if the Universe deemed it so.

Two days later it was over.

I bawled my eyes out the first day, wandered around like an insomniac zombie the next. Two days after that, I felt a peace and lightness I hadn't felt my entire adult life.

As it does with all endings, anger and hurt and resentment would rush back into the void in the coming weeks. But there was a rightness to letting go that never left, even when fear had me breathless. I remember that golden afternoon early on when I lay on my bed, dizzy from crying and lack of sleep, and let the Universe take over. There was a rush of understanding that forces beyond my comprehension had brought me to this planet and given me this Jennifer-shaped space to inhabit, that I was just an ordinary human, yet infinitely valuable--even if no-one knew I existed.

Having been in one relationship or another since age sixteen, I'd never accepted my wholeness. Now I have (or have made a good beginning), and it's wonderful. For the first time in my fifty-plus years, I'm happy to be just me.

Letting go made that possible. And I'm grateful.

It's Not Personal

What other people do, say, and believe is about them. What I do, say, and believe is about me--always. When I get angry--and I do--my anger points to an area of my life (often an old coping skill) that's begging for my attention.

I have no right to judge another's actions (how the hell do I know what anyone needs?) but I have the absolute responsibility to decide how I will respond. My peace is up to me. Always.

There's freedom in that, and I'm grateful.

The Universe Gives Me What I Need, Not What I Want

I was asleep in my life. Now I'm acutely--sometimes painfully--awake. But there's still a strong pull for the old ways; to lure a warm and needful someone who'll wrap his arms around me and whisper that I'm beautiful and that he has what I want; to bury my head in his chest and lull myself back into the love-drunk haze of forgetting who I am and what I'm made for.

Being newly-awake in your life is like walking around without skin. The slightest brush feels like a third-degree burn. New thoughts, realizations, and understandings sink in so fast you wonder if you're ever going to process them all. It's a strange season. I'm awkward as a teenager, bumbling around making rookie mistakes, apologizing. My friends--who've patiently listened while I blather about all the new stuff I'm figuring out--are probably as anxious as I am for this season to end.

Wonder who I'll be when it's finished?

I have a long history of fitting myself to the needs of another, of carving away pieces of my soul so I don't take up too much space. But a bell can't be unrung. When the invitation comes to dance the old, familiar steps, there's a new disquiet alongside the familiar pull. I can choose the old way for a time, but I can't fool myself into believing it's good for me.

Now I pay attention to the sensations in my body, how my heart literally aches when I use my old coping mechanisms to chase what I think I want. But when I let go of wanting and reach a radical acceptance of All That Is, peace takes its place.

With each deep exhale, I'm stronger. And for that, I'm grateful.

Eighteen months ago I'd have told you a very different story about my divorce. Today I can tell you being single--and learning to be well and whole on my own--is a huge gift. The biggest gift since my children and my sobriety. I wouldn't go back even if I could.

Life isn't always easy, but my life now is very good...and for that, I'm grateful.