Passover commemorates the liberation of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt, 3,300 years ago, led by Moses, a.k.a. Charlton Heston in the movie The Ten Commandments. It is the story of a heroic and daring Exodus from slavery to freedom and it is also the story of 40 years of misery and complaining and suffering. This Passover marks the fifth anniversary of my separation and eventual divorce… and somehow misery, complaining and suffering come to mind.
But neither story ends there. I know it’s a little nuts to equate the end of a marriage to the end of slavery and it’s certainly an exaggeration, but like many marriages, it started to feel like we were wandering in the desert with no hope of a promised land. We were staying together more out of stubbornness and obligation, rather than deep connection and love. We both felt trapped and needed to escape the bondage of our marriage vows. Read More →
Five years ago this month, my marriage ended. We didn’t separate for several more months and the divorce took over two years to be final, but the marriage ended in April of 2009.
I have never experienced anything quite that painful. It didn’t help that I had also lost my job because of the economy and that on June 9, 2009 my mother died. And my daughter decided to move to California and then I had to move. So with two dogs and no job, the end of a 23 year relationship and the death of my mother, I somehow managed to get through the most intense period of fear and grief I had ever known.
I got so much support from friends. I was so lucky to have resources like therapy and different communities (especially Friends In Deed). The grief was so intense I don’t think I could take a deep breath for months and I know that I lost probably 20 pounds within the first two months. That was a perk, to be honest. For years I’d struggled to lose those pounds and they simply fell off.
Five years later, I feel stronger in many ways and happier most of the time. I feel grateful that I’ve learned to live an independent life and that the loneliness I feel sometimes is better than the loneliness I felt when I was married.
This too shall pass. One day at a time. Surrender.
All those trite expressions really are true. Everything I learned from reading Pema Chodron helped me.
I think I will go back to the Big Group at Friends In Deed tonight just to give thanks for all the support I got there and to listen.
Five years later I am not the same person was and I am deeply grateful for the lessons I learned. They were painful lessons, but I think maybe that’s the only way we really ever learn them. And I am grateful most of all for my sense of humor — which I sometimes forget about — but somehow I’m always reminded to laugh.
From 2001-2009 I was a caregiver for my mother, who was in and out of emergency rooms, hospitals, nursing homes and rehabs. I was also raising a teenage daughter, living with a husband whose business had gone under, working hard at my own job, and walking two dogs. I was feeling overwhelmed, but that was nothing compared to 2009. Read More →
I have been writing and reading about spiritual teachings for several years and I always love to share what I am reading. There are several books I’m reading now, one is Brene Brown’s new book “Daring Greatly” which is wonderful and the other one is “Dark Nights of the Soul.” I love this quote from the beginning of that book and I find that it so relates to my own life and also Pema Chodron’s work about happiness and acceptance:
Many people think that the point of life is to solve their problems and be happy. But happiness is usually a fleeting sensation and you never get rid of your problems. Your purpose in life may be to become more who you are and more engaged with the people and the life around you, to really live your life. That may sound obivous, yet many people spend their time avoiding life. They are afraid to let it flow through them, and so their vitality gets channeled into ambitions, addictions, and preoccupations that don’t give them anything worth having. A dark night may appear, paradoxically, as a way to return to living. It pares life down to its essentials and helps you get a new start.
Here I want to explore positive contributions of your dark nights, painful thought they may be. I don’t want to romanticize them or deny their dangers. I don’t even want to suggest that you can always get through them. But I do see opportunities to be transformed from within, in ways you could never imagine. A dark night is like Dante getting sleepy, wandering from his path, mindlessly slipping into a cave. It is like Odysseus being tossed by stormy waves and Tristan adrift without an oar. You don’t choose a dark night for yourself. It is given to you. Your job is to get close to it and sift it for its gold.”
I didn’t choose my “dark night” three years ago when everything I believed were the most important parts of my life left me, my family, my home, my job. Those things defined me for many years and suddenly I had to “re-define” myself – during my dark nights. It was the greatest gift, the time I spent and continue to spend, sifting for the gold.