After my divorce, I did not magically move on… magically become sound and happy again. I was emotionally drained, physically worn, and spiritually lost. I had nothing to give and yet… I had to find a way to do just that: give to my children, give to my students, and find a way to once again be present in life. One day, I showed up to speak to a trusted mentor. She took one look at me and said, “Until you fill your own well, you will be unable to give yourself to others.” And she was right. How was I supposed to help someone else meet their basic needs if I was too tired and worn to meet my own? I went home and I made a list of everything that drained me emotionally, physically, and spiritually and step-by-small-step, I began to change my life. Filling my own well, meant that I took better care of myself: making time for sleep and exercise, housekeeping and bill paying, prayer and communion with trusted friends, and in this way…. my emotional, physical, and spiritual well began to fill once again and I was able, overtime, to become balanced and serene and capable of providing experience, strength and hope to those I love. – “Dear God, help me to take care of myself when I am feeling drained by the struggles of life. Help me to make choices that will result in my best emotional, physical, and spiritual health.”
During my marriage I found that it was never truly safe for me to express anger.
Each time I would try to share my feelings, my husband would become defensive, angry, and soon… I would be apologizing for upsetting him.
We went on this way for years with nothing really being accomplished… nothing changing… it was frustrating for me to feel that I wasn’t being heard.
Each time he would deflect my anger I found myself becoming furious until finally, at the boiling point, I would bubble over and spew every hurtful word I could think of to show my frustration.
And what would happen then?
Things would become even worse because once I had expressed my anger inappropriately, I was full of shame and despair regarding my verbally abusive behavior.
Today I know that if I express my anger rationally, and someone chooses to fight from their shadow self, that it is not “on me.”
It is best not to take it personally but step away from the situation and give them time to think it through.
If they choose not to address my issue… then I can make choices to protect myself and change the boundaries of the relationship if necessary.
“Dear God, help me to express my anger appropriately. If I have concerns and frustrations let me share them with a calm mind and with pure intentions to make things right.”
A very well-known spiritual speaker once said at a lecture:
“We love to get in the cage with the gorilla. We climb right in and try to take care of all the problems and then wonder why our arms and legs are being ripped off.”
I remember laughing at the thought of it and also the reality: I was doing this almost every day at that time.
I was trying to take care of everyone and everything around me, with no thought for my own well-being, and then wondering why my life was in such a total shambles and why every time I looked in the mirror I found a woman who was worn and frazzled.
To be a nurturer, to be caring, compassionate, empathetic is a gift and a characteristic of myself I value greatly. I feel fortunate to have been raised to think of others when they are in need.
However, I must let other people do what they can for themselves, and accept that if I jump in too quickly and try to “save the day” I am robbing them of their own learning lessons and robbing myself of balance.
“Dear God, help me to allow others to grow. Help me to nurture without over-stepping my boundaries.”
Though my divorce was a very painful experience, it taught me a lot about when it was appropriate to react and when it was better to let go. In my marriage, I often reacted immediately instead of calming my mind and waiting to decide how important the problem really was. I would constantly get worked up about things that wouldn’t even be remembered 24 hours later. I allowed my resentments, my emotions, to constantly rule my words and actions. A good friend, at the time, told me to take just a moment before reacting and say to myself, “How important is it?” before calling someone out. I was amazed at how many times I was being nit picky, judgmental, really just saying something to say it or using my words as a way of holding my illusion of control. I started to see my character flaws appear in each scenario and I didn’t like it. Today, I still sometimes react without thinking but more often than not, I hold my tongue and wait to allow time and clarity to set in before speaking.
– “Dear God, help me to let go of the little things and stay focused on more important matters.”
It amazes me how I will struggle so hard and for so long with a particular problem and suddenly, when I least expect it, comes a moment of clarity. It appears in my own “aha!” thought or… in the words of a dear friend or… an image I see on TV… something… anything… that somehow drives me to finally connect the dots. When it happens I always feel like saying to myself, “I can’t believe you didn’t see this sooner” but the truth is… without the journey… there is no moment of clarity. It is a series of events that leads me to that moment and it is my Higher Power that brings me to clarity exactly when I am ready to accept it.
– “Dear God, help me to be aware and in the moment so that when clarity finally arrives… I am willing to move on and away from my past problems.”
I have been fortunate to have been loved and to have loved in my lifetime.
The joy I have felt during the moments when I was most at ease and engaged with someone I held so dear were beyond what I ever expected love to be.
But as a young child, I never understood that with the highs of love also come the lows.
Like most children I believed that like in the fairy tales: Your one true love would come along and make everything right in your world.
That just isn’t true.
Even in the best of relationships, life does not stay static… changes occur… adjustments must be made.
I see now that my love for someone, does not guarantee me a constant high in life, but gives me the will to move through the lows, to work within the parameters of our shared life, to understand another human being and cherish and love them flaws and all.
It allows me to be vulnerable… attest to my own strength of character… and reminds me constantly what I am willing to give of myself.
“Dear God, thank you for giving me the gift of love. Thank you for blessing me with those I cherish.”
In the beginning stages of separation and divorce I found that nothing could override the hurt:
Not a kind word.
Not spiritual footwork.
No matter what good surrounded me…. the hurt still permeated my heart.
This did not mean that I didn’t appreciate the kind word…
Cling to my gratitude…
Struggle to move forward through spiritual footwork…
I did… and I worked my best to keep my spirit strong for my children.
But hurt still ruled the day.
Sometimes in life… there is no getting around the hurt and the pain… the despair caused by a great and terrible loss.
The only way to ever heal is to allow time to mend the wound.
We give time to our physical pains: a broken arm… a broken leg…. but what about our broken heart?
I have learned I mustn’t be so hard on myself when I have a feeling… I must accept that today… I am hurt… and tomorrow I might still be hurt…. but if I continue to appreciate the kind word, hold fast to my gratitude, work to move forward on my spiritual path, then someday, hopefully in the near future, I will feel well enough again and able to move on with a strong heart.
“Dear God, help me to accept my pain. Help me to see it as a marker of how deeply I loved… how much I was willing to give… and bring me the strength to be open to love once again when I am ready.”