April two years ago my wife told me that she didn’t love me and wanted to end our marriage. April one year ago my Dad held me & told me I hadn’t cried as much as a child as I had that month. It had been a rough month, and I really thought it could not get any worse. But it did.
In order for my life to improve I needed to understand two realities. Firstly, my wife no longer loved me. Secondly,we were not going to have a respectful, compassionate seperation for the sake of our 9 year-old son but one that was fraught, highly charged and emotional. It took the first year for these realities to finally dawn on me.
It was the most hurtful two years I have ever experienced. But now, I believe it to have been worth it. This suprises me a little. Why do I feel this way? I think it’s because of the lessons I learned which I describe below.
Early in the first year I started to look after myself physically by learning & practicing yoga. I continue to do yoga each day. It works for me, and I think any form of physical self-care helps. I am fitter now than I was 10 years ago. Most importantly, I wanted my son to see that even when it hurts it is still important to nurture yourself. I wanted him to learn that negative forces need not result in negative reactions.
Another lesson I learned was that the hurting would end. It took longer than I expected but that was outside my control. Part of this lesson was understanding that my reactions were within my control. I made the decision not to fan the flames with anger or mean-spiritedness, at times going against legal advice. For example: In preparation for my custody hearing my lawyer wrote an affadavit. I was unhappy with it because of its attacking tone. My lawyer was shocked when I instructed him to remove all attacks and to focus only on the benefits for my son. The new affidavit was now a single page. It was successful. After wards the compliments from my lawyer on my legal advice did not result in a reduction of his fee:)
Friendship was another lesson I was lucky to learn. I had two friends who had both gone through seperations and they were so helpful. Just having someone who listened was such a valuable human gift. I was also lucky in that they did not feed into my negative thoughts & emotions. They cared about me getting through this in as healthy a way as possible.
I cannot exactly remember when I understood that in order for me to heal I had to be aware of blame. This was difficult and it still is sometimes. I catch myself saying to myself ‘She did that…’ and try to just be aware of this mind-speak and not let it take me on an emotional roller-coaster.
Fom this lesson, I learned to avoid male and female stereotyping. Early on I went to meet the organiser of a mens-support group. He was so disparaging of women that he turned me off his organization immediately. I have female friends whose husbands have left them with children and I felt I had more in common with them. Hurt is genderless.
So…now in the third year I can write that this most painful of experiences has resulted in a structured, compassionate solution for my son and me being happier & fitter mind & body. My son has been my best teacher, and I’d like to live up to the adult he’ll be by practicing these lessons each day.