In the last few weeks, a 21 year relationship which began with love, hope and excitement, produced two beautiful children, and at its ending had spanned half my life, was reduced to a reference number and a one line entry in the Commonwealth Courts Portal.
Divorce, particularly when a marriage has produced children, is never anything to celebrate – even when the end of that marriage was both necessary and desirable. I felt sad, a few tears were shed, and a check in with a friend was required.
It sometimes feels as though some wounds are so big and so wide and so deep that they will never heal. I feel frustrated that when so much in my life is good, and positive and amazing, there is a corner of me that seems to have so successfully imprinted the pain of the experience of my marriage that I am easily plunged back into the moment of it.
I’ve recently felt as if I have unintentionally created a circuit where if any, even minor incident, raises uncomfortable feelings for me, my thought processes are immediately diverted and I am back in the pain, humiliation and devastation that marred my marriage. It’s as if opening the door to sadness and anger for any reason lets these feelings also tumble out, like Pandora’s Box.
However, I realise that those feelings can flood out only if I allow them. My life is not happening to me – I’m creating it every minute of every day. Alfred Adler said that all behaviour is purposeful. So what am I getting out of allowing myself to feel like this?
I was listening to a workshop by Carolyn Myss in the car recently and I think I might have found a clue. She talks about people living through their wounds (she calls this ‘woundology’) in order to protect themselves. And this rang a bell with me. I often feel that I am impervious to further hurt, because I am so hurt already. I’ve told myself that nothing is going to hurt me as much again, so I’ll be ok. But maybe this is only working because I’m holding onto the hurt. Have you ever had a terrible headache, for example, and directed yourself away from it by pinching yourself elsewhere? We find it hard to experience pain in more than one place at once. And if your head already really hurts, then banging it doesn’t really make it much worse – in fact it can serve to distract you a little.
So whilst I still hurt, nothing else can hurt me. If I let go of that hurt, I open myself up to the possibility of being hurt again.
But it occurs to me that pain, upset, wounds and challenges are part of the rich fabric of life. They are a mechanism through which we learn and develop. No one escapes. Everyone has a wound or two. And it might be possible that by holding onto mine I am preventing myself from further personal development. Even more importantly, it’s probably true that by creating mechanisms to prevent the bad stuff coming in, I am also denying myself the opportunity for joy – as they are one side and the other of each other.
So now all I have to do is work out how to let it go…
Postscript – to any previous readers, I seem to have inadvertently deleted my last post on the courage required to be authentic. Sorry about that! Entirely accidental (and a bit annoying to be honest!)
Additional postscript – I worked out how to reinstate posts I’d deleted, so it’s back. Yay!