Its late in the morning on Sunday. I’m sitting on my porch after a rainy night, a rainy week. The sun is out and its windy, but not yet warm. The sun and the wind are blowing away the last of the rainy weather in preparation to start up the pre-Memorial Day weekend roaster.
I’m feeling …. Too much this morning, but none of it heavily. I’m feeling a bit depressed, a bit anxious. I’m feeling a bit depressed looking back at the past of a long marriage that ended just over a year ago. I’ve had lots of reminders of this the last week, many interactions with my ex-wife, the mother of my children. These were positive interactions and some of the best examples of our potential to be co-parents in the future. This is something that I want, but it does not come quickly nor easily.
We do not get training in life in how to be a good divorced coparent. Some people, I hesitate to call them lucky, might have been able to see their own parents become good coparents and set an example. Even when this happens no one wants this for their future, because that infers that we have to get married and then get divorced and then become good coparents.For what its worth, I do think there is a big difference between being ‘coparents’ verses being ‘divorced parents’. In my mind, coparents work together to raise their kids. Divorced parents in my mind are single parents that individually take care of their children, sometimes alternating and sometimes negotiating or through lawyers organize some things.
The difference I suppose is working together for the good of the children verses working individually or working together out of forced legal obligation.
The Conscious Uncoupling movement offers up a way to help make coparenting and ending relationships more positive and more healthy for everyone involved, but its very new and through the ever snarky media has been much maligned without any actual critical evaluation of what is involved.
Today, this morning for myself, I have not gone through a conscious uncoupling experience. I’m doing my best to try and move from being a divorced single parent to a coparent someday.
As I started going through the detachment from my ex-spouse, whom I still loved, I worked to detach with love. I was codependent and didn’t realize it until after we decided to divorce, but I did need to detach for my own health and well being.
I did not want to detach using anger to fuel my break away from her. I did not feel that would serve me well and I definitely did not feel that it would serve my children. I did not feel that it would be healthy for them to see their father go through a process of ‘hating’ their mother. I do not hate their mother. I never have. I never will. She is a wonderful person. She is not perfect, but I have never dwelled on her negatives. We all have our negatives. I am no where near perfect.
I do not think I am very bad either. I like myself. I am happy with who I am. I am happy with where I am going. I am happy with how I am getting there. To use a rock climbing analogy I feel like I am part way up a mountain, climbing up a cliff at the moment. A year ago as I climbed, I suffered a bad fall and injured myself. I am still healing from that and part of that healing involves the fear of the fall or the event itself. But I am on this cliff now, climbing and when I look back that takes my focus away from the handholds I need to maintain now. I can see this cliff that I dangle from is very difficult, but I can also see another section higher up that is inverted and even more difficult!
My past fall and the setback it caused, represents my occasional depression. Some of that depression is something I am feeling this morning. As I dangle from my handhold now and wonder whether I can keep hanging on and move further up, this represents a piece of my anxiety about my future. Will I slip and fall?
As I look to the inverted ledge that I have to navigate in my future, that too adds to my anxiety about the future.
Will I be able to do something even more difficult than what I have already done?
I need to do some basic things today. I need to do some work. I need to move myself up and forward. I have no time to reflect and dwell on the past and feed my depression. I have no time to be distracted by my anxiety over what might happen in the future.
Yet, these are real feelings. They are in touch with real pain that I have. Shutting this pain and these feelings out is a mistake as well. If I attempt to simply block them, this is the seed of a problem… I’ve done this before, ignoring this type of pain and it came back to bite me in the form of divorce.
We have to deal with these feelings and emotions and pain. Otherwise when we are trying to live, these things might creep up on us and surprise us and cause us to slip or trip or fall very hard right when we needed to move safely.
So that’s what I am doing right now. I’m raising this up in my consciousness. I’m dealing with it in part by writing about it. I’m chasing away my inner storm by casting light on it with my inner sunshine just as the sun outside is burning off the storm clouds from last night. Each breath I take and each word I write helps to blow the remaining clouds even further away.
I am working through the grief cycle. Its been over a year since this started for me. The grief cycle takes as long as it takes. I was married and in love for twenty three years. It might take me twenty three years to fully put all this grief behind me. It might take twenty three more days, or twenty three months or however long it takes. In the meantime, this does not stop me from living, from moving on.
I fell in love again this last winter. I did not stop loving my ex-wife, but that relationship was not my love. The relationship burned up over night (from my perspective) but the love did not. I fell in love this winter with a new person in my life named Sharon. We have been building a new relationship with each other every since.
I view these two relationships of mine like growing a forest. In the first case, I grew a beautiful forest for twenty-three years. It burned down in a forest fire and there are only smoldering remains of tree stumps left.
Near that forest, I am growing a new forest with Sharon. It is full of beautiful new growth, new trees and plants and is full of light and good things.
The two forests exist near each other in my heart. I can even look upon both at the same time. I can love the beauty of the old forest before it burned and the grief of that destruction for what was lost will be with me for a long long time. I can love the beauty of the new forest and the hope that it represents and the beauty of all the good it offers in the present.
Getting Through the Day
Each day I work through these feelings. Somedays I have to work through them more than others. Some days I am so busy as a single parent that I can barely focus on putting my shoes on and other days I the emotions or feelings build up to the point where I have no choice but to confront them, to work through them and deal with them. I have to raise them up and take them on and clean the wounds and dress the wounds and allow them to heal. I have to work my soul through physical therapy, through psychic therapy. It takes effort.
In the meantime, I also have to rebuild my life around me. That is what I have to do next. I have work to do for my clients. I have work to do on my business as a WordPress Consultant and Web Presentation Architect and as a Writer. I have work to do on my household and with my family, with my children and parents and brother and my wonderful friends and clients, all of which are part of the family that I am growing in yet another forest in my heart.
I can only do one of these things at a time. I can gaze out from my cliff at the vast collections of forest around me, all the relationships. I can walk through those forests and care for them pruning and weeding and watering and growing them each.
I can rarely work on them all at the same time, but I can care for them. I do care for them.
Writing this warms my heart, just as the sun is finally starting to rise to a point where its rays now touch my skin, starting to warm my shoulder and back. In the reflection of my iPad I can see the wind chimes that my son purchased for me for my birthday. I am reminded that his language of love is spoke with gifts. My language of love is spoken by doing things together. I need to remember to consciously speak his language of love back to him. This is part of the way that I can help care for this section of forest.
So many forests to care for. So much life sustaining beauty and purpose that can be added to my life when I do these things well….
I breath in deeply and out again, blowing away more of the minor depression and anxiety whisps that were in my system when I first put my fingertips to my keyboard. I feel infinitely better. I’m ready to move higher up this cliff as I reach for another handhold and lock my fingers on it.
This is going to be a very good day. I’m going to make it a very good day. I trust that you will make your own day very good and care for the forests in your own heart!