Saying YES to a Divorce Proposal

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“Only in an open, nonjudgemental space can we acknowledge what we are feeling.” Pema Chodron

It was four years ago on a day like this when he walked into the room and told me that he was going to file for a divorce. I looked at him and said; Okay! I saw the baffled look on his face and knew he was not anticipating the answer that he had just received. He said; “Is that all you are going to say? Okay?”Perhaps I had contemplated a day like this for years. Somewhere in my heart I knew such a day sooner or later would arrive. What I didn’t know is when I would be ready to say okay and stand by it. I have heard that threat numerous times in the past many years and although unhappy with the marriage, I had asked him to reconsider. And then tried to work it out. Just a few days before his final threat, I told my personal life coach that I was planning to stay until the kids would leave to go to college. But somehow this time when he threatened to file for a divorce, I knew in my heart that I was done.

That “Okay” was said with no hesitation. Fully in the present moment, I wasn’t thinking about the future what ifs and the past I should haves. I was just there with the experience and I was done. So I answered him: “Yes. Were you expecting anything else?” I don’t recall the details of our conversation but I do remember the disbelief in his face. I remember saying ten years of marriage counseling is a long time. We have tried. It is not that we didn’t. We are done.

Every event and incident that followed was a reaffirmation of the appropriate decision that was made. He continued the same old patterns of behavior throughout the whole separation and divorce processes. The ups and downs that we had endured as a family falling apart were greater than what I was able to foresee. The manipulation continued in every step of the way. I had my fair share of crying and frustration. Sitting on my cushion, feeling the pain in my core and allowing it to pass through me. I learned to be with all of it. Processing and feeling, I stayed with the experience.

Perhaps I should say that he did ask me to reconsider. He said that he made a mistake and was willing to work it out. But there was no room left, there was nothing to be worked out. His way of working things out would have been just me doing what he thought that needed to be done. In his mind if I changed the way he expected me, everything would have been fine. I was reminded many times by my life coach, that I could only do my 100% of my 50% fair share and I could not be doing his part. I knew with his way of thinking he expected something that was not mine to give, so I had to let it all fall apart.

It is hard to let go of things we know how to do. The routines. The familiarity of how things should be. When a marriage falls apart, our aground gets shaky. Everything becomes chaotic and out of order. Meditation allows us to sit with this uncertainty and shakiness. It allows us to feel our heart, the ache, the pain, the anger, the agitation, and the suffering. When we can sit with our feelings and become intimate and familiar with all of it, we give ourselves an opportunity to get to know who we are in the most intimate way.

Pema Chodron in her book, When Things Fall Apart writes: “Life is a good teacher and a good friend. Things are always in transition, if we could only realize it. Nothing ever sums up in the way that we like to dream about. The off-center, in-between state is an ideal situation, a situation in which we don’t get caught and we can open our hearts and minds beyond limit. It is a very tender, nonaggressive, open ended state of affair.”

My life didn’t sum up in the way I anticipated. However, I learned to be grateful for the experiences. Without the challenges of this divorce, and learning to allow myself to feel my way through that, I would have lost the chance of the personal growth. So I found gratitude in having the opportunity to experience a chaotic marriage and a messy divorce. I only had to lean in, stay open and just be.

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