I’m about half way through reading one of the best books ever, and I’d be neglectful if I didn’t pass it along to folks that are trying to figure out the divorce experience. Buy it. Read it. Then give it to someone you know who could benefit from it.
“Rather than letting our negativity get the better of us, we could acknowledge that right now we feel like a piece of shit and not be squeamish about taking a good look.”
“I used to have a sign pinned up on my wall that read: Only to the extent that we expose ourselves over and over to annihilation can that which is indestructible be found in us…It was all about letting go of everything. p.7”
“Most of us do not take these situations as teachings. We automatically hate them. We run like crazy. We use all kinds of ways to escape — all addictions stem from this moment when we meet our edge and we just can’t stand it. We feel we have to soften it, pad it with something, and we become addicted to whatever it is that seems to ease the pain.”
“To be fully alive, fully human, and completely awake is to be continually thrown out of the nest. To live fully is to be always in no-man’s-land, to experience each moment as completely new and fresh. To live is to be willing to die over and over again. ”
“We think that the point is to pass the test or overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don’t really get solved. They come together and they fall apart. Then they come together again and fall apart again. It’s just like that. The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy. (10)”
“Once there was a young warrior. Her teacher told her that she had to do battle with fear. She didn’t want to do that. It seemed too aggressive; it was scary; it seemed unfriendly. But the teacher said she had to do it and gave her the instructions for the battle. The day arrived. The student warrior stood on one side, and fear stood on the other. The warrior was feeling very small, and fear was looking big and wrathful. They both had their weapons. The young warrior roused herself and went toward fear, prostrated three times, and asked, “May I have permission to go into battle with you?” Fear said, “Thank you for showing me so much respect that you ask permission.” Then the young warrior said, “How can I defeat you?” Fear replied, “My weapons are that I talk fast, and I get very close to your face. Then you get completely unnerved, and you do whatever I say. If you don’t do what I tell you, I have no power. You can listen to me, and you can have respect for me. You can even be convinced by me. But if you don’t do what I say, I have no power.” In that way, the student warrior learned how to defeat fear. ”
― Pema Chödrön, When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times
[A very small excerpt. If interested, you can read the entire discourse at the link below.]
John J. Robinson in his book Of Suchness gives the following advice on love, sex and married life:
“Be careful and discreet; it is much easier to get married than unmarried.
If you have the right mate, it’s heavenly; but if not, you live in a twenty-four-hour daily hell that clings constantly to you, it can be one of the most bitter things in life.
Life is indeed strange. Somehow, when you find the right one, you know it in your heart. It is not just an infatuation of the moment. But the powerful urges of sex drive a young person headlong into blind acts and one cannot trust his feelings too much. This is especially true if one drinks and get befuddled; the most lousy slut in a dark bar can look like a Venus then, and her charms become irresistible.
Love is much more than sex though; it is the biological foundation between a man and a woman; love and sex get all inter-twined and mixed up.”
via A Happy Married Life: A Buddhist Perspective.
Becoming single again continues to be an evolutionary process. For me, the “again” part was about 35 years ago. So now at age 60, my experience as a single adult never did have a chance to mature. And since I’m only going into month number 3 of separation, I realize that I’m still at the very beginning of a phase that I never really experienced.
What I have experienced is the yearning to have a partner to go through life with; I’ve experienced the hopefulness of finding someone willing to say “I do” – three times. I’ve experienced the heartbreak and pain of having that hopefulness dashed, and having three someones say “I don’t anymore”.
Each time had a wonderfully exciting beginning, an oppressively declining middle period, and a traumatic ending with varying versions of post traumatic after-effects for a very long time afterward.
I guess you could say that it’s been a life-long search for happiness. I’m beginning to realize that the searching should have started from within, and that without that foundation of personal understanding, happiness from without just ain’t gonna happen.
I had a phone conversation with my most recent ex the other day on various financial “bidniz” matters, and at the end she threw in the obligatory how-are-you-doing-although-I-don’t-really-care comment. I told her I had the intention to change my will after the divorce was completed, and that I wanted her to know that if she heard I was getting married again, to please buy a big handgun like the one she owned when we lived out on the land in Alaska and shoot me. My will would state that it was not murder, but rather an act of assisted suicide.
I thought I heard her chuckle. Or maybe it was a gasp. At any rate, the conversation ended shortly thereafter.
Getting to be truly OK and well-adjusted as a single person is gonna take some time. But I’m in the perfect situation to work on it now.
Suffering and unhappiness are caused by attachment, according to Buddhist philosophy; attachment to impermanent things. In the case of marriage we say “until death do us part”, which recognizes the impermanence of life. But in the case of separation and divorce we can suffer because it happens during the period where we expected permanence – the period “until”.
It is the nature of the left hemisphere of our brain to analyze the past and make plans for the future based on assumptions of some degree of continuity – of the relative continuance of situations and things and people. If we want to compare our brains to the way computers work, the left hemisphere runs on a serial bus whereas the right side is more like a parallel processor. The left side tells us to put money into a 401(k) and save for retirement and defer taxes. It tells us that buying a house and having deductible mortgage interest will benefit us in the long run compared to renting. And it tells us that getting married will add stability to our relationships and our lives.
How to avoid suffering and unhappiness involves not being attached to those things which are not permanent. The only reality exists in the present moment which doesn’t even have a fraction of a second of time associated with it.
The answer isn’t to be oblivious to the future and avoid all planning of course. We are human beings, and as such have to plant seeds if we want to have a chance at harvesting.
But if we live entirely within our left brains and buy into the illusion of permanence, there will be times when we are unhappy and suffer as a result. We will be mourning the loss of something we never in reality had.
“Shock and Awe” bombing: Iraq
Being told she was moving out was a shock, but it was something I was able to work through. We’d been to two counseling sessions after all, so I knew that her saying that she wasn’t talking about the “D” word meant she was talking about the “D” word.
The “awe” part is just starting to come to me, and it feels like what I imagine it would be like if someone were slowly draining the blood out of your body and replacing it with ice water.
They say that when a spouse announces that they want a divorce that they’ve been thinking about it for a long time. For me, it’s just dawning on me how long “long” was. Apparently 6 or 7 years ago. We were married 13.
How could they wait and plan that long? Maybe I should have seen it coming. After all, why would you buy a house in another town just so you have a place to stay when you visit your kids? It sounded plausible, and it wasn’t out of the question financially. And we did stay there when we visited her kids.
Well, the kids are grown and on their own, and she made the move to the house she bought. And the bank credit line is run up to $12,000 which I didn’t know because she insisted on doing all the banking and paying bills for the last 13 years.
If I think back to 7 years ago, I didn’t have a clue. Heck, I didn’t have a clue even a year ago when she was getting closer to pulling the trigger.
“Love is blind.”