This week I want to share with you some writing I have done for a 6-week class I just finished. The class was called “Tell It Slant,” and is designed to help a person write about the painful things in their life. The instructor, Sheila Bender, is a wonderful woman who has experienced her own pain and shares her experiences and life lessons with other writers. This is my second class with her. For more information on Sheila, take a look at her website, WritingItReal.
This first piece was early on in the course. Sheila asked us to write about discarding something and how it connected us to our pain/experience. I’ve moved twice this year, and that has caused quite a bit of chaos in itself. This bit is how I dealt with a small item of memorabilia from my marriage.
~~~ When packing up my belongings in the rental home, I came across a small vial filled with black volcanic sand and tiny little seashells. This was given to me by my ex-husband many years ago upon his return from a 6-month cruise (not a pleasure cruise…he was in the US Navy). I left a lot of knick-knack stuff behind when I moved from Minnesota. At the time I was packing things up in February, I remember my thoughts as I held onto that little Hawaiian souvenir. It was a place he had always talked about taking me; wanted to show me.
At that moment in February, there was still a small part of me that couldn’t let go. I still half-expected him to “come to his senses” and beg me to stay. Or at the very least, he would show up on my doorstep in Arizona and beg me to come back to him. So, I very carefully wrapped the little bottle in packing paper and moved it to AZ with me. I unpacked it and placed in on the bookshelf. It sat in that position until it was time to pack up again, this time to move across town.
I held that little piece of my old life in my hand. I listened for that voice to begin in the back of my head… “He’ll come back;” “You still have a chance of regaining your old life;” “It would hurt his feelings if you get rid of it.” The little voice never kicked in.
This was a definitive sign of moving on, of letting go of that last remnant of hope. The little souvenir bottle was tossed into the trash bin. There was no ceremony involved. No gut-wrenching pain of letting go. I refuse to give meaning to something that is easily disposed of.
I no longer hold out a secret hope that he will want me back in his life. I know my best years are ahead of me, even though I am now 51. It would be too easy to emotionally withdraw from the world. It would be too easy to let things disintegrate. But I’m not going to do that.
To no one but myself, I owe the work of moving on, growing as a person, learning to be “whole” without a life partner. My kids need me to be there for them. As do my grandchildren. And so do my cats. I refuse to crawl back into that dark place that I never knew was there before this divorce. ~~~
The following piece was for an assignment discussing healing. Sheila asked that we begin each section/paragraph with the same refrain, “I want to heal because.”
~~~ I want to heal because…I want to be able to look back on the last half of my life (to date) without it coming down to one big painful memory. Sometimes it feels like everything is boiled down to the collapse of my marriage. There were good years, good events, but sometimes it is hard to remember them past the pain of the last year. My life has encompassed more than a 25-year marriage. There is more to me than the pain.
I want to heal because…I need to get past or through the feelings of failure. A relationship takes two to keep healthy, but only one to destroy. I don’t want my unsuccessful marriage to be the highlight of my life. There is more to me than the pain.
I want to heal because…I am not sure it’s possible to move on in a healthy fashion if my focus is on the past and the pain there. I don’t want friends and family to think of me and have the first thing to come to their minds is me being “bitter.” There is more to me than the pain.
I want to heal because…I believe when I can look into the past, without the gut-wrenching pain, I will be able to put into action my belief that my best years are ahead of me. My story, my life, doesn’t have to revolve around a marriage, whether it be deemed a success or a failure. This is just one chapter of my story. My story is made up of many chapters. There is more to me than the pain.
I want to heal because…I want to get closer to living the life that feels fulfilling. I want my writing to continue; I want to tell my life story without rancor; I want to embrace the possibilities of the future. There will be tough times ahead, I’m sure. But healing will broaden and clarify the lens through which I will see those tough times. There is more to me than the pain.
I want to heal because…I want to stop thinking in terms of healing. There has to be a point where one is “healed.” Where one doesn’t think in terms of wounds, which are open, bleeding, festering, whatever…but in terms of healed, healthy, closed, faded, or even a bit scarred. Where one can look into the past and experience the acceptance of the unchangeable, the learned lessons, the solace of knowing something is over, of not wishing retribution upon someone, but there is still a path ahead to explore.
I want to heal because…there is more to me than the pain. ~~~
Thanks for allowing me to share a bit of this Road to a Dream with you. If these writings resonate with you, and you would like to share, please feel free to leave a comment.
Until next time…be kind to each other…and to yourself!