Whole Life Learning, Partnership, and Divorce

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I’ve experienced some lessons in going with the flow that have underscored my belief that what resists, persists, and that when we surrender to flow, we are like the leaf floating carelessly, poetically along the stream. Simple. Eloquent. Beautiful in our imperfections.

Where else should that leaf be, but in that moment?

I had more than one opportunity this week to take note of others’ blind struggles where their behavior underscored their reputations, which typically precede them.

Here I was numb with brain-fog from the introduction of a major life change, and as I lumbered around in my emotional stupor, I saw the helpless auras of others in person and online, as they denied their own painful truths. I took note, but rather than react, or even act, I just tucked those notes back into my peripheral awareness.

I saw rudeness, competition, desperation, and anger. I saw passive aggression. Those are five different characteristics from five different people. Self-conscious in my own right, I vowed to BE. I vowed to wear vulnerability, acknowledging my pain, openly. Because… AUTHENTICITY.

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Perhaps I am hyper aware of others’ inner pain due to being acutely in touch with my own. What we are going through has been more painful than my own parents’ deaths.

Things are awkward. But, when being real, awkwardness conveys truth. I guess right now, I feel saturated with truth.

I had some rounds of doubt and fear this week, but managed to re-center. We have been a blended family for nearly two decades. Blended families are not seamless. But, in the sum of all things, we connect.

Ironically, in the realization of our impending separation, the seam disappeared. Tears flowed. Hurts were released. And it was evident that our children struggle. All of them.

I get this sense, that, especially our adult daughters are suddenly faced with some of their own realities, because when we drop our truth out loud, their own layers peel away to reveal their inner challenges. Tears are grief, fear, and sadness. They need to flow.

To them, I give my acceptance. The girls who raised me.

The confident but sensitive flower who wears her feelings on the inside and mothers her own daughter with patience and commitment, and the passionate dreamer who seeks the mysteries of life through a dance of self discovery clothed in the complexity of absolute self-love.

In me, they can find a safe space to self-examine, and they don’t even have to leave a note telling me they were there.

And of course, my heart and anguish are laced into a protective worry for their little brother. The child who binds all of our blood. The child who has always insisted on having sisters instead of “half sisters.”

He is the child for whom I would go to the ends of earth and back again just so he can experience all of life’s joy in as many short years as he has been alive, because life is just that… short.  And his Momma dates him by nearly 43 years. Not 19, not 26, not 30, not 38… but more than four decades.

Being an older mother gives me a sense of urgency about this child and concentrating all that I can of his childhood into the moments at hand. And that has totally meant protecting our space, our schedule, our freedoms, and his autonomy.

When he remembers, his childhood won’t be lost in the hustle and bustle of endless space-filling activities where he had to put off his self-identifying passions (and needs).

And if I can help it (and I can), his childhood won’t be confiscated by divorce, because we will rewrite the traditional paradigm for family.

Which means, I will rewrite my script.

That’s more challenging than it sounds. It is far easier to draw lines (and build walls) and distance pain than it is to redefine what it means to stay connected.

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His sisters belong in this new family structure. Even when I hadn’t learned emotional acceptance for their life choices and attitudes back when he was a small child, he wouldn’t be swayed by my disapproval or opinions (an example of how whole life learning cultivates free and independent thinking). His sisters fit the structure of his paradigm for love. I learned from his example (another beautiful side effect of whole life learning).

Probably, this week has been awkward because of our own making. We accepted this impasse that derails marriage, permanently.

We recognized that there really is no point in trying to turn it over under the light for further examination. We stood apart from our emotions, as if they were lamps and chairs.

We’ve exhausted all our tries. We are left there standing, looking at reality like it is a heap of left-over 2 x 4s, wondering what we can do with it. Denial is the easy way out. Avoidance only begets more of the same.

Moving forward separately has become our de facto, if not reluctant form of navigation.

But, tears and fear still weave their way in and out of our moments.

Ironically, this requires us to practice acceptance in a way that we probably have not done before, if we are honest with ourselves.

But, continuing to share the space with all of its weight and memory has the potential to turn the remnants into sawdust, scattered – receiving only the foot steps that walk away.

We all have awkward weeks like this, but we ignore them. We commit that we will come back to pressing concerns and disorganized areas of our lives.

Then, years sail by, and we learn to negotiate pathways and smooth over wrinkles.

But, if we are not careful, we imprison ourselves and lose the freedoms to be who we need to be in the process.

Add kids to that recipe, and well… you cultivate dysfunction and potentially the need to heal from childhood in adulthood.

That is why we must feel this journey now as opposed to putting up walls, bitter boundaries, and restrictive, limiting beliefs about each other as we part.

We’ve made mistakes, many of them. But, one thing that we do not regret is embracing our child in partnership through whole life learning, and as much as we are able to do in their adulthood – his sisters as well.

While I head towards the role of single mother, my perspective is clouded by an aura of change and uncertainty. It is scary, as I prefer predictability – and life is about to be anything but predictable.

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