Over the past few months, I’ve been alluding to my own personal struggles as well as our collective trauma as a nation. This week I publicly announced that I’m getting a divorce. One thing that I’ve committed myself to is never abandoning myself again. This means that as easy as it would be to get ugly, to lash out, and place blame throughout my divorce I cannot do it. It is not within me to directly harm another person with my actions. Hold accountable? Yes. Harm? No. How is this possible during a divorce or any other trauma? I don’t have all the answers but I’ll tell you what I’ve learned.
Learning from Struggle
For anyone who has gone through a divorce and thus googled, “divorce,” late at night you know what I found. That divorce is listed as the second hardest thing humans go through next to the death of a family member. I can attest that it is hard but I haven’t lived long enough to confirm what Google has to say. What I do know is that when the divorce came to me in the early days my emotions were overwhelming. There are many reasons for that but I’ll share those later on. In the middle of those emotions, I of course found rage and fear. When these emotions came to me I had to decide what to do with them.
Knowing that I have committed to never lose myself again, not to anyone or anything, I knew that while I could listen to my emotions I was not willing to use them against my ex-husband or others surrounding him that were causing me to hurt. I was full of hurt but if I channeled my hurt into anger to lash at them all I was doing was perpetuating the cycle. I would lose myself and someday regret it. So, instead of choosing to lash out, I chose to take the high road by taking really good care of myself.
Focusing on Yourself
The first thing I did was to make sure that I allowed myself space to feel every single feeling. That if I was having a hard time I honored it, then provided the care my mind and body needed. Just today, for example, I had a stressful call, and to process my stress I put everything down to walk and clear my head. The next thing I did was let people help me and reached out to my tribe. In doing these two things I was able to hold space for myself to reclaim who I am and not at the expense of harming others or myself. I’ve found that this short process can help on any given day.
In walking through this process and thinking about collective trauma and stress I’ve begun to wonder how many of us are doing this and how many of us are choosing to suffer instead? I am a lucky woman, surrounded by some of the most caring, beautiful people you’ll ever meet. On some level, I see each of them struggling with this. It’s not in a large, overt way but more from a willingness to either give when they do not want to, making concessions for others, or creating problems/solutions outside of themselves. Guilty as charged, we all can do this but we can also all be aware of it.
One of the things I’ve struggled with for a very long time is just fully standing in my own being, doing exactly what I was created to without feeling shame. I’m a talented clinician and businesswoman yet I feel stigma each day for this. A stigma for being strong. Fear is the keeper of this shame and no longer welcome in my life. I cannot be afraid of who I am or what I want. Remember, we’re all divinely born with gifts to give. If I’m scared of who I am, what I want, or what others think of me I’m risking giving my life away. Again, remember; I’m also not willing to be someone else ever again.
Moving on as the Real You
So where do I, do we go from here? We make choices that feel at home with ourselves and honor the talents within us, taking one thing at a time. We really feel our feelings and tend to them the way we do for our children. A common phrase in my head starts with, “Jessie my love…,” when I am hurting. We can also bear witness to harmful behaviors of others, hold them accountable, and refuse to lose ourselves by meeting fear with fear.
It is entirely possible to live a beautiful life, full of hardship and joy at the same time. This is the way; walk through pain, hold it close, honor your worth, and rise above. When you have risen you have the talent and strength to ask those harming others to stop and leave. This creates a more beautiful world for you, your children, and everyone around you.
I believe each of us has a chance to do this every single day on both a large and small scale. Can you be brave enough to walk with me? Can you imagine a world without hate and harm? Where those oppressing us are held accountable and gifted teachers guide us? I dream of it every day.
Walk with me. Lay down what doesn’t serve you. Roots in the grass, wings in the sky. Fly away with me.
Photo credit: Jennifer O’Leary