A dear friend of mine read Running On Empty and took the time to write to me. They were loving words, get “off your ass” words and “let’s get with it” words. I appreciated each and everyone so much so that I decided to share it with you.
A dear friend of mine read Running On Empty and took the time to write to me. They were loving words, get “off your ass” words and “let’s get with it” words. I appreciated each and everyone so much so that I decided to share it with you.
I have been reading a book called Radical Acceptance-Embracing Your Life With The Heart of a Buddha by Tara Branch, Ph.D. It has amazed me.
One of my issues over these last four years of heartbreak and betrayal has been resisting the experience I have had. I have wanted the situation to be something other than what it has been and have denied what was in front of me in order to give the benefit of the doubt or see B in the way he used to be but refused to view him for who he has become. I thought I was doing myself a favor trying to save my family the trauma of divorce when all I really did was just delay it.
And herein lies the problem. Resistance to what IS causes trouble for your body, heart and soul. It creates misery, health problems, and unnecessary suffering. It has made me physically ill. The last four years have probably taken ten years off my life and one reason centers around resisting what was in front of me instead of accepting what was. Given enough time I believed… I could change it…I could minimize it… and I could make B love me again…but of course, I couldn’t.
In her book, Branch advocates using guided meditation techniques and in this case something she calls exploring the POWER OF YES. During this exercise the author suggestions sitting in a quiet place, breathing deeply and closing your eyes. Then she asks you to bring to mind something in your life or a situation that produces strong reactions like sadness, anger or fear. She then asks you to access what it is about the situation that provokes the strongest feelings and be mindful of how that feeling feels in throughout your body…your chest or your stomach of any other place that you may feel tighten or get hard.
Then, and I quote from her book:
“In order to see firsthand what happens when you resist experience, begin experimenting with saying NO. As you connect with the pain you feel in the situation you have chosen, mentally direct a stream of no at the feelings….as you say no, notice what this resistance feels like in your body.” p87
So I followed her instructions and immediately began to feel so stressed that I began to feel ill. My stomach clenched so hard that I felt nauseous. My head started pounding and my chest felt tight making the air flow to my lungs decrease. It was awful now that I was really paying attention to the reactions my feelings were provoking. How I had lived for all these years saying NO to my grief, NO to my anger and NO to my sadness? More importantly did I want to feel this NO for four more years, four more months, or even four more days? Obviously, the answer was NO. Now that I was aware of and could really feel the impact that this denial or resistance to my emotions was having on my physical body I knew I could no longer live this way.
This now lead me to the second part of the authors meditation. After directing NO at your emotions she asks you to once again think about that painful situation and to remember the words, beliefs, and feelings that are associated with it. But this time stream the word YES. Say YES to the words, the thoughts and the beliefs that come forward.
Upon doing this part of the mediation I immediately felt a shift… a lightness and lifting of the unpleasantness that I was feeling. My chest loosened, my nauseau disappeared and my mind became quiet… no longer racked in pain. And with this YES to the experience came an acceptance. It was not an acceptance that what B did to me was okay. It was an acceptance of this is what has happened. You can’t change it nor can you fight it and more importantly I didn’t need to rally against it anymore. As I allowed these non-judgmental YESES to come forth, I felt a release of some of the burdens, anger, anxiety and fears that I had been living with begin diminish as a gentle form of acceptance began to soothe those less than pleasant emotions. I found I could just BE and did not have to react both physically and mentally to all the emotions that I was feeling about the affair or my impending divorce. Finally, I felt a sense of peace.
So this is how I start my day. Saying YES. Accepting what is. Finding understanding where I could not before and I feel good. My chronic pain has decreased and I find more joy. Sure I am still struggling but the struggle doesn’t defeat me. It has just become a small part of my life instead of the epic saga it once was. And for that I am thankful.
One of my biggest fears in regards to the end of my marriage is that I worry that I may never trust again. Frankly, I don’t even know how or where to begin to even attempt such a feat which feels on par with climbing Mt. Everest without oxygen. For up here in Betrayal Land the oxygen is so thin that my guts often feel as if they are on fire and an ever persistent stress headache looms as vast as when the wheels hit the ground in the Himalayan Mountains.
Here’s the thing. I wasn’t just betrayed in four major ways by my husband over the past several years…that alone I could probably deal with. No, I was also betrayed by:
So two of the most important people in my life betrayed me and mistress’ whole family that I was trying to help. How does one get over that? EVER?
I have tried asking for help in forgiving. I have tried to let go of the hurts of the past year. I meditate. I read books about joy, letting go, and the like. I pray. I beg. I plead. I bargain….nothing helps.
For quite a while i was doing okay but in the last week I have gotten angry. I mean really angry and all of a sudden all these betrayals feel like I am dancing on hot coals…my feet and soul being scorched and burnt black as the earth itself. And with all that anger comes feels of disbelief and distrust that feels so vast, so tall, and so unending I do not know how I will ever cross it or get over it.
I want to trust again because I think it is so much healthier for you. Living in a cloud of distrust slowly strangles you. As a result our soul becomes parched and drier than the Sahara Desert until it is so dried out it just blows away like the dust that you have become.
I want to trust again. I want to trust men, women and most of all myself because with betrayal I have lost the ability to trust my own perceptions and all aspects of my reality. I have lost my ability to discern, to see clearly, and to read between the lines. I no longer trust what I see or feel is genuine or meaningful. I have become damaged in a way that I wonder if I can ever come back from. Does BETRAYAL=BLACK HOLE?
I want to trust again and I know that it starts in some way with forgiveness…but how? How does one do it successfully and let go in ways that are not detrimental to oneself?
I wish I knew the answer.
I’m depressed. There. I said it. I’m depressed.
Frankly, it worries me as I have never allowed myself to go there. With so many people depending on me and a sister who spent time in a mental hospital; I have never before let myself plumb the depths of the despair I am feeling. However, now I am trying to give myself permission. Permission to explore what is on the other side of two years of marriage chaos and confusion. Permission to grieve for dreams that have been pushed aside by reality and for children who struggle due to the challenges of autism. Permission to just feel what I need to feel, even if it hurts. And permission to feel those deep rooted emotions and to not intellectualize my feelings as all the intellectualizing I do just makes me hurt worse.
I will confess this intense feeling of sadness scares me to my core. Not because I am afraid to feel those lows but because when you have had a family member who has experienced hospitalization due to her mental health issues and you have spent years dealing with hers…well, I just don’t want to put my family into that vat of pain and helplessness you can’t help but feel when surrounded with all of that. Yet, my therapist said to me that I have the skill set to survive if not thrive while looking at those things that make me uncomfortable and sad. And after reading Thomas Moore’s The Dark Night Of The Soul I know that there is plenty to be gained by going there for a brief respite. But still, I hesitate, my feet in cement for fear of going in too far or deep. For fear of becoming like my sister. Of letting people down. Of not “performing” the requirements that are expected in this one act play that I am living.
I know I need to take a look at what is coming up from the depths of my soul. I know that I need to allow myself to feel these intense feelings. I suspect that it is similar to drilling for oil while trying to contain the amount that surfaces at one time. And its also acknowledging that what comes up will have to be refined in different ways depending on how it will be used. And I acknowledge that any spills that occur will give me new skills to better contain the overflow the next time.
If I had my way I would stay in bed for a week and pull the covers over my head. I would play every sad song I have ever heard and have a Bailey’s on the rocks sitting on my bed stand sipping it over several hours. Oh hell, maybe I would guzzle it instead. That is what I wanted to do today. BUT…I had to make breakfast and lunch for everyone, take them to school, take a kid to the doctor and another to get her allergy shots. I had to wait for the dryer repairman, do the dishes, and mop the floor. I had to pay bills, get the oil changed and attend a meeting. Tomorrow it is more of the same.
So, here I sit, one toe half in and half out of this deep sadness. This depression. Perhaps if I am brave enough I will step on in and let it take me where I need to go. To places I have never visited but probably should. Only afterwards will I understand that there are things to be gained from examining things below the surface. And who knows…I may just strike the motherlode while I am exploring with the sheets making the perfect tent in which to hide away from the world.
You are no longer mine
Even though you are still here
In this castle you don’t want to be in
With a woman you don’t want to be with
With children who, well,…. who knows what they realize
But soon their lives will change
Their innocence forever gone
Wiped away by male menopause
That dreams of lusty new love
And fireworks that light the night sky
With love’s first kiss
You insist you are not angry
“Look how quite I am”
“Look how composed”
Head down, eyes masked
Yet the words you CHOOSE sting
The heat charring them before they leave your mouth
I know that you will not admit the anger
Because it would make you appear
Flawed to yourself
And you cannot have anyone think you are
Anything less than
A Hard working
With all the Qualities
That a knight is supposed to possess
And you have to see yourself in this way
To like who you are
Because if you really looked deep inside
You would be devastated
By the little boy inside of you
Who cries out from pain of
An abusive mother
And an absent father
And a self that has been lost for so many years
You think you have found yourself
Now that you have found your voice
But you have only skimmed the surface
Of your deep lake of hurt and anger
That drives you to change
But your deepest self
Because you are afraid if you really had to examine
The truth of who you are
And where you came from
Your tears would flood this earth
And there would be
No one there to dry your tears
And stop the carnage that you are creating
Maybe someday you will become like
That Knight you so desperately try to emulate
By being brave, true, and loyal to yourself alone
And by slaying that ancient dragon
That lives within your soul
But you will have to cross deep rivers
And Low Valleys
To get to the place
Which brings you peace
But by then
The castle will be empty
The princess gone
And you will have fought the battle
But lost the war
Everything you once loved
And everyone who loved you
And you will be
But a mere man seated at
The Roundtable all alone
Today we walked the cliffs
I saw Stan the Great Blue Herron
The Spout of a Whale
Wildflowers growing everywhere
A double rainbow
Five Wet Horses
100 Sheep and One Goat
My Kids Playing On The Waters Edge
We Held Hands Like A Old Married Couple
We kissed passionately
Both felt good
We went to dinner
I felt content
We played family games
I had a glass of wine
And I felt incredibly blessed and grateful…
So how come I still question
If this is real
This new “you and I”
And wonder if this relationship
Is really true
That what I think we have
Is what we really have
Or only what I wish it to be
Will I ever trust?
That we are together forever again?
How does one learn to do that?
Is it time?
A vacation together?
Just enjoying one another’s company?
Or is it a monthly visit to the doctor
For a prescription of xanax?
When do you know it is real again?
Or do you never really know?
So you just sit quietly
Huddled within your own mind
Unable to tell truth from fiction
Anymore….never knowing for sure…
If this what I have to look forward to
For the rest of my life?
This uncertainty at its finest?
It feels good
But how will I ever know
If I can come out from behind
The firing lines
Safe and secure
That my body will not be riddled
With bullet holes made up of delusions
Of what I think is true
Instead of what really is
Will I ever feel safe in this relationship again?
Or will I always wonder
If I should just jump down the rabbit hole
Home Alone is one of the most seen movies in the world. Although it was made years ago, you can always find it on one channel or another because it is a family favorite. It is funny and it makes you laugh out loud…unless it comes to roost in our own life. Then it ain’t so funny!
B and I were heading home from New York the other day after a wonderful weekend anniversary trip. Though we had been through two years of a “maybe” divorce, this weekend felt like we were in love again. That is when the sitter texted me.
I JUST LOOKED AT MY WORK SCHEDULE AND I HAVE TO WORK TONIGHT. I WILL NEED TO LEAVE AT 10 p.m.
“THAT IS FINE,” I texted back. “WE WILL BE HOME FROM THE AIRPORT AROUND 10:15 .SO IT ISN’T REALLY A PROBLEM”…until it was.
Standing in the crappy line with a GROUP 6 boarding ticket while annoying, is not a problem. Usually. Unless, you step on everyone’s toes and piss them off, while trying to maneuver yourself back to the cockpit to get your suitcase checked because all the overhead bin space is taken. Placing your belongs in the overhead bin…no problem…for the GROUP 1-5 passengers. GROUP 6…FORGET IT! Fastening my seatbelt was easy as pie as my anti-anxiety “fear of flying” pill kicked in. Everything was going as expected until these words were uttered by the cute and spunky stewardess whom everyone suddenly looked like they wanted to slap:
” PLEASE RETRIEVE YOUR BELONGINGS AS EVERYONE WILL NEED TO DEPLANE. THERE IS A PROBLEM WITH THE EMERGENCY SLIDE AND GROUND MAINTENANCE HAS TO BE CALLED TO FIX THE ISSUE.”
Now I will confess I try to keep positive in these types of situations. I mean, after all, it is better to be riding on a “fixed” plane than a “broken” one. But an emergency slide? Really? I mean how often are they used anyway?. Hell, I thought, if there turns out to be an issue, I will gladly stand at the open slide-less door and just toss people out onto the ground below. Problem fixed. Now, let’s get this freaking show on the road!
A collective groan so loud it nearly popped the rivets holding the plane together ensued. This was followed by a sound reminiscent of a herd of lumbering and pissed-off elephants starting back up the gangway.
Faces that had been smiling only 5 minutes previous were now pinched and drawn. The variety of cuss words I overheard was astounding and during the race to the customer service center several people nearly lost there lives. Frankly, there was not enough free alcohol in the entire terminal that could cheer up this downcast and angry crowd.
As B and I stood in the wrap-around line waiting to talk to that poor unlucky agent who had been plucked by the previous 50 ticket holders; it finally dawned on us that we had a problem. A serious one. We only had an hour layover after we landed before we were to catch our final plane home. Unfortunately, this was the last plane for the night we were soon to discover. Suddenly, were having our own HOME ALONE moment and nothing about it was the least bit entertaining.
Now being home alone is okay in our household during the day but certainly not overnight. We knew that Andre wouldn’t care as long as he could lay around in his underwear eating chips without being bothered by anyone. Change is hard for kids with autism but as long as there is food available and no one around to boss him around; Andre was happy.
Paul started crying over the telephone. The unknown is difficult for him but an unexpected change of plans is a catastrophe. . Let’s just say this didn’t fit into his scheme of things and the breakdown started.
Gracie…well, she isn’t one for being away from her Mommy and Daddy…especially at night. But we knew she would suck it up if she had to.
And so we started calling everyone we knew as the minutes started ticking away. 10 minutes late. 20 minutes. 40 minutes. 50 minutes…which was the point of no return. We were now officially screwed. Finally, an hour and 40 minutes later we lifted off unsure of what the future held…except that most likely Children’s Protective Services might be giving us a visit in the near future.
As nicely as I could I explained our situation to the stewardess. HOME ALONE. TWO WITH AUTISM. MELTDOWN.
“Would you like a beverage?” she responded cheerfully.
I was tempted to ask for a double scotch on the rocks but decided that a drunk absentee parent was most certainly worse than a sober one when talking to government officials. Therefore, I took my seat, bought the WI-FI service for $29.95 and sent out a plea for help on Facebook. I am happy to report that by the time we landed, I had three friends offer to help and a neighbor who informed me that she would take the kids to school. These are the times in life when “do unto others as you would have them do onto you” suddenly takes on a whole new meaning.
Flying five hours across the country we still had hope that we would make our flight but it was not to be. So we took our food vouchers and ate dinner in the airport, then took the shuttle bus to our hotel and finally settled in to watch a movie. When we turned on the t.v, guess what was being shown? Yep, you’re right… it just happened to be HOME ALONE. That apparently is the way we roll.
Sometimes I look over and see the silhouette of B moving against the morning sky, purple and pink, rising over the peaks of the mountains as morning escapes from yesterday’s grip. I see a man, handsome still, in the middle of mid-life crisis trying to make his way towards tomorrow and whatever that looks like; a life he can no longer define nor see for the house of cards he built has fallen and taken him down with it.
I sneak a peak, my eyes heavy with sleep, as his pants slide over his lean legs, over that smoothed over scar that he got when riding his bicycle, pedaling as fast as he could before flying over the handlebars and landing on a sharp rock along the creek. That was a 5 stitcher and he wears it like he owns it because it is now part of who he is and has been for some time. With a swift tug on his pants I see what I imagine to be that same sense of determination and the speed with which he rode that bike but using it now so that he doesn’t have to slow down and make those hard decisions. About himself. About me. About what he is doing or not doing with his life.
As I lay in bed I hear the coffee pot downstairs start to gurgle and come to life. He sits quietly reading the Bible until I hear the pull of the yoga mat and the PLOP it makes as it lands squarely on the floor. Now he will exercise for 12 minutes. No more, no less. Then in go two slices of toast which magically pop up and in 2.5 seconds they will be slathered in warmed butter topped by a generous helping of tart thick lemon curd. The coffee cup I bought him in Michigan drops softly to the counter like water on stone and the refrigerator door softly opens, the coffee creamer in the impossible to reach left hand corner. It never fails.
Sometimes I wonder how it would feel to leave him? Would I miss him alone or would it be all the familiar sounds that accompany his particular way of doing things…fast, precise, and predictable that I might someday long for? Or are both so interwoven one cannot be thought of without being accompanied by the other? Would I think of him every time I heard a toaster pop from now until eternity? Eternity is a long time, after all. Is it something as simple as a toaster that makes you stay?
Leaving seems like such an easy thing to do. We leave our children, we leave our friends, and we leave our co-workers but most of the time we have the luxury of knowing we are coming back. How do you put one foot in front of the other if you are closing the door forever? Leaving scares me because I know without a doubt that if I left the loss would be immense, carrying me downstream like a river that has jumped its banks. Can you grab onto something to save yourself when you are being swept away so fast or do you just go under? Do you scratch, claw, and cling until your own blood is shed before moving on or do you step lightly onto the nearest rock with your dignity and grace intact?
Of course, I also know that if I left there would also be relief. Not in leaving him per se but in finally being out of the limbo that has wrapped itself around my windpipe for the past 9 months, squeezing so tight that air can neither come nor go…stuck somewhere in that thin membrane that separates life from death. To taste the crisp air and to rid my lungs of the stale would be a blessing.
Yet even with all the questions and angst, I know that I would miss B desperately. His humor, how he takes care of my sexual needs before he worries about his own, and the shine in his eyes as he watches our children grow into themselves. I would miss all that we have shared and created…the houses we built, the closeness we had that once knew no bounds, and the walks we have taken through fallow fields in order to start anew. I would miss my best friend, my travel buddy and the man who I watched tenderly hold each child, some born of him, some not; and give them the life and love that each person deserves. We have mostly had an amazingly rich life together and for that I am thankful.
While I stand on this precipice I also think about my own transgressions. I realize that in the past several years I have been so deep in my own pain and worry that I couldn’t recognize the extent of his. His fears about his job, getting older, providing for children with special needs, and living with a woman he doesn’t understand and who no longer understands him. And I confess that even if he could have told me his hurts, sorrows and pain, that I may not have been in a place to hear him and to understand that the depth of his pain was so old and so deep that it had turned to crude.
And so I wait. Trying to act and not react. Trying to find peace within myself before looking for anything from him. And in the back of my mind I wonder that if that time comes to leave…will I know it? Will I recognize it for what it really is or will I see it through my own imperfect and distorted lens… pushing things forward at a pace that makes us fly over the handlebars resulting in a patchwork of stitches; the resulting scars forever visible for all the world to see. Or can I just decide to stop pedaling and make the decision to coast; in an attempt to find contentment with where I am at this point in time and in no hurry to reach some unknown destination? For one thing I have discovered is that we often meet our fate on the road we take to avoid it and truth be told, I am in no hurry to find out precisely what it is.
I read a few of my writings to him
He was hurt and upset
Believed my words and thoughts were raw
“Why didn’t you let me see these
Before we went into the therapists office
Why would you save this for in there?
Why didn’t you let me see your words and let me
think about them before going in?”
It’s suppose to be a safe place
Exactly where we are suppose to take
Our deepest hurts and fears
Where we have someone to help us
Through the words and through the tears
Why did you ambush me?
It’s his real question
Unspoken with words
But spoken just the same
Maybe I just want to hear from your heart
And not listen to your rehearsed
Very logical answers
Maybe I long to know
What you really FEEL not THINK
To hear words spoken from the heart
Not encased in the laughter you use
To deflect the feelings that threaten
To overwhelm you like a bad case
Of poison ivy
Guilty and sad that I hurt him
Wishing that I could say with words
The things I so easily write on paper
Perhaps they would be less complex
And easier to hear
But I am not sure that words are whats needed now
Maybe its deep feelings
Because we both want to run from them
Instead of dealing with the pain they contain
I still love him
That it hurt me deeply to hurt him
Even if that was not my intention
My intention was to be HEARD
And I wish I could take back the words
I said because I don’t want to see
Because of my pain
And his pain
Because really he just wants peace, love and rainbows
Happiness and joy
He claims he is a simple man
Uses it as an excuse
Not to touch those parts of him
That make him feel vulnerable and afraid
He is a simple man
But we both know better than that