I have always maintained that no one separates or gets a divorce overnight. If this is a path you have trodden, you will know, this was the last resort.
If I can liken the end of any long-term relationship to riding a train, my guess is you would have been riding along the ‘if only’ journey for years.
It may have been you who chose to get off or the other may have pulled the break, but either way along this journey, you have no doubt been through all the ‘if only’ stops:
If only I could be understood
If only I could find a way to better communicate
If only I could change him/ her
If only we could move
If only the kids were older
If only we had more money
If only I could deny my need for this thing or that
… these stations seem to be endless. I know I sat on that ride for years with divorce or separation never crossing my mind, and I now believe it could have gone on forever.
I made myself quite sick on that train as I approached each stop along the way with the commitment and enthusiasm that at this one, we would be redirected to a safety.
I threw everything I had at it and as an ex-campaign manager, you can only imagine what that looked like! I was driven and determined to make this work, eventually though it was my body that gave up.
And it is at this point, after the whisper has become a shout, and then it knocks you right over – that we are forced to stop looking out the window for the solution and we start to go inward. The eye is redirected to the dark recesses of what our hearts have wanted to deny, and we have been looking away from.
It is only from this very raw and real vantage point, with the eye turned inward at we are ready to connect in the truth of what is here for us really and what it can offer.
We begin to accept that all the longing in the world for that to be different cannot change the truth of what that is.
This is when we discover the greatest tool in us all – the witness.
The one in us who can see what is there. The one who is not in it but observing it. The one is not obsessed with how unfair, unjust, and insane it all is. The witness is the one who gently takes us by the shoulders and whispers ‘yes dear one, it is all of those things, and so too we cannot stay’.
This higher version of us has the courage to see it and the strength to change it.
This is the higher you who pulls you gently towards a future you do not know but must trust. This light can feel so distant that in my case it appeared as one lone star in a blackened sky, barely visible, and yet if you stilled yourself long enough, she was there.
And so, you begin a new journey.
You step off the train and onto a path yet unknown. Terrifying, exhilarating, exhausting, empowering and utterly overwhelming. You hold on to the trust in yourself that having ridden all the stops you now accept that train ride could have gone on forever.
Surely then, from this new place of understanding if we know why we had to alight we should then be spared the grief?
Or at least did we not do so much of that on the ride itself that now we can be set free to gently walk into the sunset?
That is not my experience nor that of any of my clients.
It may well be that you have indeed grieved the relationship, but have you grieved for yourself?
The part of you who can’t quite believe it couldn’t work. The part who is in shock it didn’t. The part of you who may now be a single parent, no longer living in your much-loved home or working in the business you created together. The part of you who perhaps lays dormant a lot of the time, under the shadow of the larger part who knows you could never have stayed.
So, how do we hold ourselves here when the grief may not make sense to us?
You may choose to write or move or garden or run, something that allows your unconscious mind some space to move through. We aren’t good at sitting in the discomfort or overwhelm, we avoid it at all costs. We distract or dismiss or disavow our hurt. However, like draining a well, it must be allowed to seep out.
Because sometimes it just doesn’t make sense, and this is not the work of the mind but the private work of the inner chambers of your heart.
Rumi says, ‘The wound is the place where the light enters you’.
He must be smiling down as for sure writing and teaching a course called ‘Reclaiming I Matter’ couldn’t have been birthed off any other ride.
So, with love, patience, acceptance, allowing, tears, and expression we may all learn to heal and move through the stages of separation and divorce.
As a PACFA registered Psychotherapist, I specialise in supporting people through the trauma of separation or divorce. From my consulting room in Bowral in NSW or online from the comfort of your own home, I work with you to look inward, reclaim your inner power and find true joy again. Get in touch with me to start your journey back to yourself.
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