When I dropped The Shame and Accepted the Pain

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“Let go of who you are supposed to be and embrace who you are.” Berne Brown

We never walk into a marriage thinking that we are going to get a divorce one day. Thus, when we find ourselves in the path of separation, the sense of failure is right there with us. We find ourselves responsible for not being able to work things out. The critical mind becomes louder and louder. We start going back to the memory lane. Checking every corner of the past, finding our own flaws and many times our partner’s shortcomings. And right there with the critical mind, shame is sitting to stop us from further embarrassment and humiliation. So we stop ourselves from sharing and owning up our story.

I remember when it all started, just the beginning of our separation. I would wake up in the middle of the night and watch my mind race through all the things that had happened in the past. Wondering where I went wrong. Then I would worry about what may happen in the future. Staying awake for hours; sometimes not being able to fall back sleep. At the time my daughter started showing some anxiety and did not want to go to her dad’s house. I was recommended to take her to see a therapist whose specialty was working with families who were going through a divorce. I started seeing her myself as well, trying to get help and tips on how to deal with the kids during this difficult time. Once I asked her for a book recommendation and to my surprise she suggested “A New Earth” by Eckhart Tolle. She even let me borrow her audiobook.

That night when I woke up in the middle of the night again, I started listening to the audiobook. That became my habit for several weeks. I would fall sleep at some point with the soft voice of Eckhart Tolle and I would wake up and rewind it over and over again trying to listen to his message. Acceptance was one of the biggest things I learned from that book. There is a part in the book about acceptance, he says; “Acceptance means: for now, this is what this situation, this moment, requires me to do.” Then he has an example that says; “you probably won’t be able to enjoy changing the flat tire on your car in pouring rain, let alone be enthusiastic about it, but you can bring acceptance to it.” So I saw the flat tire of my life in pouring rain and realized I had no choice but to ACCEPT IT.

I remember repeating this to myself and as I sat on my meditation cushion, while watching my mind race again. I would remember the word acceptance, then I would drop the other storylines. After all, this was my life and I needed to own up to it. That was the only way. There was no other way.

When we start accepting our life as is, the critical mind and shame have no room to stay. Whatever has happened in the past is just the past. This is our life, here and now. When we have moments of pausing our degrading mind and feeling shameful, we can start opening up and seeing what is happening at the present moment in our life.

So I saw my life at face value. This was it. I was feeling the pain and sadness in every bone and cell of my body. I wasn’t trying to justify it anymore. I wasn’t trying to avoid it. I would just sit with it and feel it. I remember so many times at the end of my yoga class laying in Savasana, the corpse pose. I would start crying and feeling my pain deeper than ever. Yoga helped my body to open up and meditation my mind.

When I accepted my life as is, I recognized that I needed support more than ever. I reached out for it. I stopped looking at my separation as a personal failure and started opening up. Not only sharing about how I was feeling and experiencing, but also asking for help whenever I needed one. Whether it was a phone conversation with a friend or a ride for my kids, I would not feel embarrassed asking for it. Ultimately, I gave myself permission to be ok with not being ok. To fall apart when I could not hold it together. To just be. That acceptance helped me connect with the open heart of the people whom I was surrounded by, always there for me with no hesitation. When we feel vulnerable and lonely, we can connect with people’s kindness. Perhaps when we can open up enough to allow them in.

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