Some of us edge our way over the threshold of change into our transformational journey the way someone works their way into the ocean, one tiny step, one inch of cool water against the skin at a time. Some of us get knocked sideways by a big wind and are forced to be on a journey we don’t even think we chose. Whether you choose it or it chooses you, you can be sure it is your soul’s desire and a huge opportunity for you to awaken to the more real you and the life you were truly meant to live.
Here is my story:
The average length of time between the first thoughts a woman has of divorce and when she actually does is about seven years. That’s how long it took for me: actually even longer. I was afraid. My husband made the bulk of our income. I did not see how I could support myself and the lifestyle I lived by continuing to teach piano. It was fun as a part time gig, but full-time would’ve been exhausting. I always thought of divorce as failure and the image I had of me as a divorced woman was sitting at my kitchen table, hair in curlers in a chenille robe sipping a whisky on the rocks. Never mind that I don’t curl my hair, wear chenille robes or drink whisky.
I didn’t know I was entitled to alimony. I stayed with him so long because it was tolerable. He didn’t beat me. We got along. We did fun things like mountain biking and hiking together. We rarely argued, mostly because I avoided confrontation and gave up asking for what I wanted. He cheated and brought home a check. I checked out and was in denial.
While training to be a life coach, I began to listen to and nurture the heart within me that yearned for a better life. I finally got up the courage to sit down with my husband and, tears flowing, I said, “I don’t want to be married to you anymore and I don’t know how I can make it on my own so I’m going to need your help.” I could hardly believe the request for help came out of my mouth.
After some research and a conversation with a lawyer, I discovered that, having been married over 20 years, I was indeed entitled to alimony and 50% of accumulated wealth. Even though I knew it was fair, I felt guilty asking for it. I tried a solo road trip in my VW camper and our conversations while I was gone were so good I thought maybe we could work it out after all. But, as soon as I returned home, it was the same old same old.
A year after I tearfully asked for a divorce, we began the collaborative legal process. We were advised to stay in the same house together while in the process. It was excruciating. I began to box up the things that were mine without question. Then we’d sit down and go through books, CDs and the like and take turns taking what we wanted until they were divided. I had a girlfriend come over and help me pack. She kept my inner-hoarder in check. She reminded me that I would not want to be reminded of my old life. She was right, though it took me a little while to discover that.
I will never forget the day I moved and left the only man I’d loved or made love to for 30 years behind. I followed the moving van out of the driveway and as the wheels hit the asphalt of the street, I felt 100 pounds lighter and surprisingly exhilarated.
It took 18 months to finalize a very simple divorce. By then I’d moved again and lived in a new town. I’d left behind incredible and completely affordable health insurance, my designer house with the traffic-stopping landscape I’d help design. I left my cat, half of everything I once called mine, my town and community and my sense of identity as a married woman and being coupled. I closed my piano studio with twenty people on the waiting list and began to build my new business as a life coach. I think I had, maybe, 2 or 3 clients at the time. Even my fantasy of getting along with my ex after the divorce was shot full of holes by his incredible anger and resentment over the financial impact of community property. He said to me, “you should leave with absolutely nothing.” Other than money, it came close to happening that way.
Sometimes I felt sorry for myself and fell into victim mode. Sometimes I felt martyred. But mostly I felt free and I had enough hope to begin to build a new life for myself. I settled into a small granny unit on a beautiful piece of property in the hills of Santa Cruz. I had the use of a pool, miles of private hiking trails to explore and neighbor dogs to join me on those walks. I could drive right up to the beach sand in my van and work in it as a temporary office. It didn’t really matter to me that most of my boxes were under tarps in the garage. All that mattered was tending to my broken open heart and my awakening.
I took so many workshops and participated in so many programs it would make your head spin. It did mine. I was free to explore and explore I did. I continued my meditation practice, explored nature up close with my camera, wrote and wrote and wrote. I came to know solitude as a powerful healing and evolutionary force. I strengthened my relationship with the Divine in ways I never expected. I tracked synchronicities and discovered they were not coincidences. I began to receive and read messages from nature. I opened myself to receive the abundance of a friendly universe.
I grew myself right out of the old me who cried herself to sleep every night for six months straight (no kidding) into someone I respect, appreciate, love and admire. I walked up to butterflies and asked “Do you recognize yourself or do you feel as strange about your new wings as I feel about mine?” I got a second lease on life and I can’t imagine where I’d be today if I’d given in to my fear and stayed in that marriage.
I moved twice again since those first healing years, and I continue the journey of healing and awakening. It is a way of life for me and I am happier than ever. I had help along the way, but it was bits and pieces, scattered everywhere. I felt like I was putting together a jigsaw puzzle without the box to show me the picture. You don’t need to take the hit or miss trail like I did.
I believe you will heal in your own time, and I know that a catalyst like the sacred dream journey will help bring it all into focus for you, give you a powerful and solid foundation in body, mind, spirit and heart upon which to build the life you truly deserve.