It was the year 2000 and I was facing one of the worst periods of my life. In less than two years I'd lost both my father and grandfather. Thrown into that mix, I was blindsided by the words, "I don't want to be married to you anymore" followed by "I'm seeing someone else". He said these things to me in the convenience of a moving vehicle headed towards a vacation spot I thought we'd been looking forward to for months. When I asked what could possibly coax an individual to choose that particular time to drop such an earth-shattering bomb, he simply replied, "I thought this vacation would shed some light as to whether or not there was still something left to care about".
Image: Orin Zebest via Flickr
I swear in my mind's eye I can still see my heart, extracted and bloody from shock, tossed along with thirteen years of love and trust right out the window of our mini-van. I look back on that first night, wishing I had the strength to follow through with a quick and painless way of ending my existence; it was over because this man was my entire life. Little did I know something wonderfully unique and new was burgeoning, all because this man was no longer my entire life.
What nearly killed me saved me.
The abrupt end of that path forced me to focus on a new one. It was scary as hell - filled with debt, forced out of my home, and being alone for the first time at the age of thirty.
Once the brunt of the storm had passed, however, I realized that I could survive on my own. I didn't need to rely on anyone to make me happy. I didn't have to be afraid of being Me any longer, and so I became my own best friend. All of these things were forced upon me by the man I thought I knew. For a long time I felt betrayed and rejected but as I grew into the woman I was meant to be, I became grateful to him. Grateful that he had (for the lack of a better word here) the courage to do what I couldn't do for myself.
It's so easy to see the clear skies above once the clouds have passed, isn't it? I'm sitting in a home that I love, blessed by friends near and far, surrounded by a loving husband who totally gets me and spending my days painting. I can honestly tell you though, it didn't take me 13 years to settle on the word Grateful for that particular experience. I knew it the day I gained complete control over my own bank account, the day I started supporting myself, and the moment I signed the lease for my very first apartment. Those milestones were some of the best moments of my life and each one came to fruition from that disastrous day in early August.
Craig and I will be celebrating our fifth wedding anniversary this week. Every year he jokes that he should send my ex-husband a "Thank You" card. We both chuckle a bit at this thought, though secretly I know if anyone needs to send a "Thank You" card it is I, for if it weren't for the words 'It's Over' , I may have never found the courage for a new beginning.
My wonderful yoga teacher, Sue, read this quote to me during class one day last week. I'd like to share it with you. It is from one of my favorite poets and is so fitting for this post.
Your grief for what you’ve lost lifts a mirror
up to where you’re bravely working.
Expecting the worst, you look, and instead,
here's the joyful face you’ve been wanting to see.
Your hand opens and closes and opens and closes.
If it were always a fist or always stretched open,
you would be paralyzed.
Your deepest presence is in every small contracting and expanding,
the two as beautifully balanced and coordinated