Published on October 7, 2017
Everything has a beginning, middle and end. Everything. We all love the beginnings. Our experience of the middle can be mixed and as humans we all have an interesting relationship with endings.
In western society we don’t do endings well. We try to ignore that they exist for a while and then when they come we do all we can not to feel the pain.
I don’t really believe in endings. I see transformations whether its is a soul transitioning to the non physical world at the time of what we call death; or a relationship changing shape when its current form no longer gives enough to meet the evolving needs of the people in the relationship.
As a therapist I have guided many people though these transitions. I have had my own experience of change and loss in the past and right now once again I find myself standing in the arena. It is my turn as sadly I am separating from my husband.
I know this arena well. I visit it even day with my clients. Usually though as a therapist I am on the sidelines coaching my clients as they live their own experience. Today I am here myself amongst the blood, sweat and tears that come with change, loss and rebirth. The way my husband and I live our lives is changing and it is now our time to step into the next chapter of our lives together. We are at the beginning of a completely new experience.
Even with all this before us there are some things that I know for sure. I know we still love each other and care deeply for each other.
I know we are connected at a soul level. I feel that very clearly. From the moment our eyes met across the crowded beer garden at the Oxford Hotel (yes, we met at the pub) until now; our souls have felt familiar. I have always known and still know that we are here to share experiences in this life time.
Our personalities though; the same personalities that were formed in amongst the sadness of our respective childhoods; can feel the rub of our imperfections just a little too much. We are human after all. Two souls in human form here to experience this life through our personalities.
So now after 20 years; the way we are connected is changing from husband and wife to two people who care about each other and are bound by the contract we hold to co-parent our beautiful girls. And both of us take that contract very seriously. We are still a family pod of four. Our pod has just changed shape a little. Ok maybe a lot.
Even with all that I know, nothing can change the fact that break ups are crappy. They hurt like hell and some days I feel like I’ve set up my emotional shop in Struggletown where the streets are made of quicksand and I spend my days more on my preverbal backside than walking upright.
It is only early days yet really. And I know that the way this feels will change. I also believe that it is possible to consciously uncouple. And that if anyone can do it; that Alan and I care enough about each other and the girls to do all we can to settle into a new shape and nurture each other regardless of our mistakes. Well, fingers crossed.
So even though I have supported zillions of people through their own marriage endings I am here now and of course the sidelines view as a therapist doesn’t hold a light to the actual experience. Does it?
Sharing experiences helps others. I am an open person and I often share my life though the pages of my writings as I know relatable experiences heal. I want to help others and as I share my insights so far, it is with the intent to give relief to anyone else who may also feel this way right now.
I’m the expert…. right?
I feel a hint of the shame already. Feeling like a failure can come with every separation. So I am ticking that box but also I’m the relationship therapist right? How can my marriage end?
The answer is of course yes it can happen to me, as I am human. I find as a therapist the reality is not that you have less pain in your life; its just that you are more aware of why we all behave in a certain way and perhaps you have a few extra tools to navigate your way through it.
Shame blinds you to your own value. It disconnects you from your worth. And right now I am I know that I am fragile. My perception of myself is wobbly. I also know though that all of this is completely understandable.
As a therapist I know that shame is natural and that I can either shove it down or try to pretend it’s not there or I can see it, acknowledge it, understand it. I can nurture my heart through the shame. It is not easy mind you.
Today, I have decided that shame is offering me a choice. I can lose myself in the self criticism or I can understand that it is ok to have faults. And I can just embrace that fact sometimes despite everyone’s best efforts things just don’t pan out the way you want them too. Finding a way to be ok in the reality of that is one way to transcend the shame and so here I am in the middle of it all. Taking the first steps into the acceptance of myself as human in all of this.
PUT THAT PHONE DOWN NOW!!!
As a relationship therapist I know that once you have decided to separate; conversations in the heat of the moment about what the other person did wrong are futile at best and extremely hurtful for you both. When emotions are running high no one is listening. All the other person hears is blame.
So the answer to save everyone from drama and the pain is to simply step away from the conversation. There is just no point and nothing positive will come from these conversations at this time.
I support my clients to not answer the phone. Or to politely say’ “ This is not helpful for us right now.” And then to say good bye and hang up. In the modern day we have SMS and Messenger. Hours are lost sending pain filled messages to each other and that is time that you could be spending on healing yourself.
Now in my own experience I am right there on the end of the phone caught in the pain and drama of it all. Pain is intense and we are both hurting. Stepping away from the conversation is not easy. You want the other person to know how you are feeling. We all want validation for our feelings and we want it to come from the person who we perceive has hurt us.
I am finding my way with this one and hopefully in the process protecting us all from further unnecessary hurt but honestly …… it has taken extreme self discipline to get there. My hurt inner child wanted answers and wants accountability. I have had to make myself practice what I already know. That the best way forward is to listen to my adult self who reminds me that people can only be who they are based on what that know so far and that includes me.
The only way through it is to accept the things we can not change in others and ourselves right now and just breathe. Breathe, breathe and breathe. Be accountable to yourself. Look after your own feelings and don’t look to your partner who is also hurting to help you look after your own hurt feelings. It’s a set up that will never work in your favour and its simply not their job.
I’m taking the baby steps with this one. Ill have to let you know how I go.
Self accountability and self care are actually best friends ….
Right now I am spending time reflecting on myself. What am I to learn about myself here? What new level of awareness will I have? Where do I need to apply kindness and compassion? What uncomfortable truths do I need to face to learn and grow though this experience?
It is an inventory of sorts and I know to grow through this experience then this is necessary.
Over 20 years ago I recall laughing hysterically with a beautiful therapist I had at the time – Jill – as she would present me with my failings and flaws and we would both laugh hysterically as I said “Eeeeek … yes .. oh god.. that’s true.. I am that person!!!” So I think I am up for some more of those realisations. I am passionate about learning about myself and I guess this time offers more than enough material to reflect. As I reflect I won’t be laughing of course or maybe I will at the insanity of the human experience … but I will look, consider, reflect and learn.
At the same time I will support myself with acts of self care. Right now it is a lot of just being ok with wanting to retreat a little. Apart from my beloved lives work and of course being a mum (especially at this time with the girls) I am kind of hiding out at home. I feel the need to withdraw and I know that those who love me will understand. I am a communicator and I’m sure this stage will pass very soon. But for now I am just honouring and listening to what my mind, heart and body needs.
Alan and I have had 20 years together and in that time we have both transformed, grown and become more of our true selves. We are both good kind people. I truly believe that we have what it takes to find our way through this time of transformation and nurture ourselves, each other and the girls through this experience.
And in the mean time as we both struggle and find victory with the emotion and the experience; then the best we can do is simply be ok to be where we are, wherever that may be. Because after all, it is completely understandable.
* The reference to the arena is inspired by the great work of Brene Brown.