There is No Bliss in Divorce, or Is There?

Desert Storm

Desert Storm

Two nights ago, at 10PM, as I was getting ready to drop into a deep and much needed sleep, I got the call. “Sweetie”, he said, mustering up a half-assed and miserably failed effort to connect on some kind of familiar ground, ” I just can’t do it anymore. I have no commitment, no confidence and no faith that things can work out.”  I won’t tell you what he told me next, but suffice to say what it involved included zero integrity, no loving kindness and might I be so bold to say, tons of cowardliness.

Divorce ain’t pretty folks. It rocks our world, turns things upside down and leaves us swimming in a sea of questions and confusion. It strips away all hope, and reduces our faith in humanity. Sometimes we get bitter, often we get angry and many times we lose all faith in ourselves.

Technically, we weren’t married, and, we have been cohabiting for 2 yrs. We share a home, meals and a whole lot else together. For all appearances, our union held a note of perfection that both of us recognized immediately.  To be confronted with the knowledge that we were unable to hold it together, and work through the tough stuff as it showed up, fills me with an impenetrable sadness.

To be honest, it wasn’t a surprise. Still, it hurts like hell, and for someone who upholds a high level of commitment, I was in it for the long haul. One friend sent this today and it spoke so clearly to me:  “There is a life death life cycle within a relationship, if we have the courage to hang in there with it. Not to say break ups do not need to happen, but we also often trigger each others deepest stuff, and if we have the courage to hang in, can have a new birth within the relationship IF we allow ourselves to be transformed by it. Trick is, both have to want and be committed to this.”

And that was the problem, commitment, or lack there of. No matter what the game is that you are playing, you must play with 100% to get the winning results that you are looking for. Otherwise you might as well stay on the bench, or not even show up for the game. I wanted to hang in and discover the new birth, he couldn’t handle the labor.

How do we gracefully deal with these moments, when our heart is breaking and our spirit is shaken? Here are some things I have learned along the way:

  • Don’t Do It Alone!! For me, (as a Life Coach supporting others in the design of sustainable relationships and with a business called Living Bliss!), the idea of letting others learn that my life wasn’t perfect was horrifying. Yet, in reaching out I have found so much love, comfort and support that I am almost forgetting about…. what was his name?
  • Practice Radical Self Care. I say radical because these are the moments when it is hardest to care for, and be loving to, ourselves. This morning, raw from last nights call and not much sleep, I ate steamed veggies just picked from the garden, and warm rice. The yummy nourishing effects supported me throughout the day, where as coffee would have added to my stress level.
  • Sit Still. Don’t make any rash decisions or step right into action. Allow for your feelings to surface. Feel them. Rant, rage, cry, scream, mourn. Allow space to just listen to what is asking to be called forth in you. Get to the center of your heart and discover what you need to do.
  • Exercise!!! As the imminent end drew near I wanted to do nothing other than hide under the covers and sleep. The problem was, I wasn’t sleeping. My mind was obsessively racing and my heart was breaking open. I required myself to get out for a walk each day, and felt increasingly better after each time out. I’ve heard that only 15 minutes a day of brisk walking can seriously improve serotonin levels, a great prevention of depression.
  • Speak your truth. Do not be afraid to let your now ex-partner know about your disappointment and pain. This can be done in a loving way that is not projecting blame, but speaks the truth in a real and direct way. If there is something you really need for them to hear, keep saying it until it can be heard.
  • Let go! This is the hardest step. It means letting go of our dreams, hopes, aspirations and visions for what this relationship could have been. It means accepting and fully embracing the other as they are, and blessing them on their journey. It might mean forgiveness as you come to terms with it all. It also means letting go of the fear for what is next, the self judgement for what you “could” have done, and the anger towards the other for actions, “lack of’s”, and ultimately for putting an end to the relationship.  It might also mean letting go of who you thought you were and finding a willingness to transform into something new.
  • Celebrate change. Ultimately, I know deep in my heart that this divorce is the right thing. We weren’t happy and our spirits were dying. I find relief in letting go and excitement in the opportunity to begin redesigning my life as I want it, as I mourn the dissolution of the relationship. This 4th of July weekend I am going to have a “Celebrate Independence” party to fully embrace my new life and let go of the old. Rituals of any kind are so important at these times in our lives to mark new beginnings and put closure on things that are complete.

For any of you experiencing the heartbreak of “divorce”, or separation, or challenges and struggles within your love relationships, I hold you in comfort, support and love. Know that you are just fine, that it really will be OK, and the sun will come out again. Your heart will open and love will visit again. The lessons you learned on this journey will support you in new and more courageous, evolved, radically wonderful relationships, if you pay attention and do your work. The bliss comes when we are able to deeply integrate these heartaches as heart openings and a great gift to our personal evolution.

As I engage in the process of healing my own heart, I send special prayers to all relationships for healing, transformation and peace.

I send this prayer, especially, to Joao, in honor of all our dreams, lessons and the gifts of our time together.

When the dream began-Hawaii 2007

When the dream began-Hawaii 2007

A definative moment

A defining photo-the dream begins to change

Somewhere in the middle of the our river

Somewhere in the middle of our river

Drawing to a close-we sure "looked" happy!

Drawing to a close-we sure "looked" happy!

my favorite photo of us

My favorite photo of us

A Trip Down Memory Lane

Class of 1979 trips down memory lane

Class of 1979 trips down memory lane

I just returned from a 10 day excursion down memory lane. What a trip that has been, on many levels! It’s amazing how returning to the scene of our past can set into motion a whole score of things.

Engaging in such activity could be trauma inducing, or it could provide us with some new insights, understandings, and appreciations. Being able to see the experiences of the past as gifts that support our growth and personal evolution, rather than a list of regrets, is key.

A high school reunion is probably the epitome of reminisce-ville. Especially when it’s anywhere past the 25yr mark! This was my 30th, and we returned to the school campus of our co-ed, college prep, boarding school, Wasatch Academy. A particularly great school, Wasatch prides itself on student body diversity and making a difference in students lives. It is where I first got exposed to a wide variety of cultures and the people who lived in them. It also became my first experience in community living, something that would have a positive impact and influence on my future life. My favorite part was getting to see all the natural wonders in Utah which was nothing like I had ever seen as a Nor-Easter!

I drove in my car from Arizona to Mt Pleasant, Utah for the reunion. I traveled along the Vermillion Cliffs In AZ before crossing the border into Utah, a spectacularly beautiful drive that loosened the baggage of my mind and allowed for the memories to begin. Along the way I stopped at Red Canyon, Bryce Canyon and many other beautiful spots. I recalled how my mom and sister drove me out to school from CT and who I was in that time. A naive, messed up kid for sure!!

Arriving at the reunion, I was struck by how instantly at home I felt, despite the many changes and advancements over the years. Connecting with friends, I saw myself mirrored in their eyes, all of us asking the question-how did I get here? I facilitated a sharing circle that allowed for participants to share their hearts truth regarding anything that needed clearing from long ago, any part of their life over the last 30yrs, or what is alive for them right now. The shared theme I heard in this circle was the awareness that life rarely turns out as we plan, that who we thought we were going to be is nowhere to be found, and that the influence of life at Wasatch Academy was a positive force for all.

How lucky we all were to have attended this institution that molded and shaped us, educated and informed us, supported and encouraged us, and set each of us on a path of discovery that 30 yrs later brings us all back together again. While not the same people by any stretch of the imagination, I could see the essence of everyone as I knew them in their smiling eyes, shining spirits and searching hearts.

Zion-spectacular beauty, land of memories

Zion-spectacular beauty, land of memories

My journey home allowed for lots of reflection as I took myself to quiet and beautiful nature spots for soul rejuvenation and personal retreat. While making certain to visit key locations,  I thought about the circles of time, who I was and who I have become, and how at each stop along the way there was a flood of memories that connected me to my past and looped around to connect to my life experience of today. My favorite place was Zion, an astoundingly beautiful spot on this Earth, that reminded me of my own greatness and how far I have come since I last visited there.

Ultimately, the journey to our past often informs our future, and this trip has been all that and more for me. While at Zion I received some information that indicated some very big changes in my life were on the horizon. It was exactly the same way in 1979 as I traveled home after my graduation from Wasatch.

Circles in time. The bliss of memory lane is that we know how to do it different this time.

The Bliss of Great Travel Preparation

Sandstone Dome, Kolab RoadThis week I am getting ready to leave for vacation. I’m packing my bags, getting my ducks all in a row, defining my intentions and emotionally preparing for a couple weeks on the road.

Preparation is an important part of any journey, whether it is an actual physical journey, or a journey of the heart. How we prepare for something sets the tone for how the experience will be for us.

Sometimes it’s OK not to prepare, to just be spontaneous and on the fly. But even that requires a certain level of preparation to be open to the flow of the experience.

How do you prepare for journey’s? Are you methodical or chaotic? Are you a list maker, or can you keep it all in your head? Do you ask for help, or try to do it all yourself?

Noticing how we engage in certain situations provides clues for how we might best show up in other circumstances. The area of preparation is ripe with possible insights.

Take a moment to consider how you might prepare for your next journey; whether it is traveling home to see the folks, embarking on a new exercise lifestyle, embracing the brilliance of your soul, building your business or learning how to slow down. What are the essentials you need to pack? Is there a new way to prepare that will support you better in arriving at your destination?

Me? I’m a list maker. And I lay out all my clothes on the bed, seeing how many I can mix and match to create numerous outfits with the least amount of clothing. I’ve learned over the years that I tend to wear the same favorite things the whole trip, so there is no need to bring my whole wardrobe. Books on the other hand…..well, let’s just say I always bring a few!

“Traveling is a brutality. It forces you to trust strangers and to lose sight of all that familiar comfort of home and friends. You are constantly off balance. Nothing is yours except the essential things – air, sleep, dreams, the sea, the sky – all things tending towards the eternal or what we imagine of it.” – Cesare Pavese

“All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.” – Martin Buber

“Not all those who wander are lost.” – J. R. R. Tolkien

(This post originally appeared in July 08, at it applies so well to this week, I decided to take the easy road and not write a whole new article. Another trick for great travel preparation-decide what is really important and make it easy on yourself!)

Sustaining Long Term Relationships

Wasatch Academy Class of 1979, in 2005

Wasatch Academy Class of 1979, in 2005

You grew up together. You went to school together. You have known each other a long time and no-one knows you like they do. You met on vacation and have stayed friends ever since. You used to be partners a long time ago and now you are the best of friends.

We all have those special people in our lives; true friends we can’t imagine not being there, and that have been with us for a long time. What makes these relationships last longer, and others come and go so quickly?

This morning I was doing an interview with Sharon Michaels on Blogtalk radio (I’ll post it as soon as it goes live!) and I was talking about my work around encouraging sustainable lives, relationships and environments. It seems to me that sustainability needs to be looked at differently, from a broader perspective. As the world looks at planetary resources, and creating energy in environmentally sustainable ways, so to do we, as individuals, need to do the same. We must continuously ask ourselves-is what I am doing producing energy that is renewable, or is it depleting my resource?

Back to relationships. My theory is that those relationships that last and last are the ones that consistently and constantly provide renewable energy sources. They feed us in ways we need and want. They lift us up and hold us up. They provide the kind of energy that helps us to grow and learn and evolve. They give us that freedom to grow, and don’t abandon us when we need a little extra push in our lives. They’ve got a back up energy supply when our batteries are running low

Take a look at the special people in your life that have been there for awhile. Check out my theory and explore how those relationships give you energy. Now take a look at the ones that don’t feel so good, that maybe you need to let go of, or that you are hoping would go away on their own. What’s the difference?Do you have more relationships that produce energy, or more that deplete your energy? If the latter is true I encourage you to begin the process of letting go of these destructive dynamics that only serve to bring you down.

Old yearbook photos make nametags for 30 year reunion!

Old yearbook photos make nametags for 30 year reunion!

Speaking of long term relationships, I am in the midst of preparing to head up to Utah for my 30th High School reunion!! Hard to believe so much time has gone by. I am really excited about connecting with old friends, rediscovering classmates in ways I have not previously known them, and bringing my full authentic self to the table. It’s funny. As I communicate with some of them, most of whom I have not seen in years, it seems as if no time has really gone by. The essence of these amazingly gifted, smart, funny, and wild old classmates, and friends, is still the same. I feel the energy within myself build up as I imagine the way renewed connections will nurture, feed and inspire all of us. The fun factor alone will probably produce enough energy to fuel my car all the way back home!

While we don’t all stay in touch, all of the time, I know that this group of friends will regularly be a touchstone in my life, a place to come home to and a way to remember with great reverence where I have come from. They witnessed, and accepted me, as a naive, skinny, rural teenager from the East Coast, who was far from home and had no clue what she was stepping into for her senior year of High School. There is no doubt they will do the same for this just-a-little-bit-wiser, not-so-skinny, menopausal women, who knows that home is where your heart is.