Category Archives: Separation & Divorce

The Audacity of Divorce Court

Waking up this morning in this surreal state. Today is my first appearance in divorce court.  There are alot of things that cause me discomfort about this. But probably the thing that causes me the most discomfort is having to interact with my X in the forum of “divorce court.”  I have a backlog of stories to be telling you. If you haven’t noticed, I’ve recently become more verbose. Something shifted. And I have a huge backlog of stories to tell.  One thing I’ve been meaning to tell you is that I’ve realized that there is this lexicon that lives in my body. A lexicon built over 16 years with my X that tells this story of how I loved.  It is deeply engrained in the fabric of my cells.  I know it well, this lexicon of love I will call it. What my body doesn’t know as well is the lexicon of goodbye and the lexicon of separation and divorce.

My body remembers well what it feels like to lie beside him night after night for 16 years. To be held safe and warm in his arms at night. I can still feel the warmth of his front body against my back body.  How he sandwiched my feet with his legs when they got really cold at night. How he brought me a drink of water every night before bed.  How on some evenings I’d fall fast asleep on the sofa and he’d convince me to take my tired and reluctant body upstairs. My butt can still feel the push from his hands as he forced me up those stairs and how I’d lean back with all of my body weight backwards into him. It was rather comical. That was the lexicon of bedtime. Screen Shot 2014-11-19 at 7.58.07 AM My body remembers well how I prepared meal and after meal for us. It remembers breakfasts. Breakfasts were huge around here when X was still here. My body remembers how it made the eggs and toasted the toast.  Pulling this that and the other thing out of the fridge and onto the table. My eyes remember the fullness of the table spread. My belly remembers the feeling of full.  How I kissed him goodbye in the back room and how he rode away up the gravel driveway to work. My ears recall the sound of the tires on the gravel. And my arms remember waving goodbye and and my throat remembers calling out to him, “I love you sweety.” (with a y of course, not to be confused with “sweetie” which was what my ears recall him referring to me). This is the lexicon of our mornings and it’s a well worn dialect in this body. My hand remembers well the feeling of being held in his hand as we walked the streets of the market. How we walked the streets of the world together. My body remembers how when we walked, he always took the position between me and the street. My ears recall him saying he did this to protect me from danger of the street.  My pinky finger remembers the way it would link through his pinky and fourth finger. This is the lexicon of how we walked through space. Screen Shot 2014-11-19 at 7.54.54 AM Today my body has the awkward task of going to divorce court. Alone.  We live a few mere blocks from one another and within walking distance to the court house.  My body is considering now the awkwardness of walking there alone. On this cold and miserable November day, my body considers walking the streets to the courthouse on the same sidewalks we walked hand in hand. Walking by the place where we had our first date.  And the place where we were engaged to be married. And the place where we rented an apartment for 3 years. The awkwardness of the courthouse and the courtroom.  I’m a lawyer, I know the halls of these places well. These are war grounds. Where people go to battle it out.  How is it that after 16 years of speaking the lexicon of love,  that I come to meet him in this place of war.  My eyes still find discomfort with seeing him from a distance and my body still finds discomfort with not closing that distance.  How he will sit in one place side by side with his lawyer. How I will sit some place different by myself.  The awkwardness of having to wait like this for our turn to be called to appear before the judge. And the awkwardness of being called by the judge. How we will walk down the aisle together once again. Yet apart.   To the war tables. This very linearly arranged room. How I will stand behind one table as respondent. How he will stand at another as applicant. How we will speak to the front of the room to a strange person called a judge about how it is we sever this life we shared.  This is a lexicon my body really doesn’t know. How to be in relationship with him in these awkward ways. What do you wear to divorce court? My mind for some reason remembers now, the dressing up for our wedding day.  Everyone knows you wear a white dress to your wedding. But what do wear to divorce court? I am learning day by day this new lexicon of how I relate to this man I now call my X husband.  My eyes feel tearing and my cheek feels the tears rolling downwards.  There is another life with all kinds of new lexicon on the other side of this divorce. It’s already happening and I’m building a new language in this body to speak to that.  But today, this body goes to divorce court to speak the foreign and awkward language of divorce to a man that I held dear for 16 long years. Screen Shot 2014-11-19 at 7.48.26 AM

For My Son. This wish.

I was out with my 2 year old son the other day at Hogsback Falls when I happened upon a sweet moment which I shared with a friend via text:

“A neat realization. Out at Hogsback. I caught him blowing on one of those white dandelions.  I never taught him that.  Maybe his dad did.  The imagining of that touches me. That he gets to be exposed to new and different repertoires than I can offer. That I get to be surprised by his growing repertoire”

As background I’ve been a single mom pretty much attached at the hip to my son since he was 6 months old when I separated from his dad under rather fugly circumstances.   Quite honestly it’s the first time I can remember that I’d ever observed him doing something outside the realm of what I’ve exposed him to.

On further contemplation of this moment at Hogsback, I recall the significance of blowing on this white spherical weed. How I engaged in this ritual as a young child and made a wish.  Wishes I no longer remember.  Yet in *this* moment I am filled both wishes and eager anticipation for the unfolding of my dear son’s life.  I wish for him to transcend the bounds of my experience and limitations of what I can show him in this lifetime.  That he evolve to be bigger and better than I could ever be because of the inspiration shown to him by his dad.  Because of the inspiration offered to him by the many others that he will cross paths with.  I wish that the echoes of those experiences will serve him and offer him a growing and expansive repertoire to choose from.  A repertoire that he can see with, understand with, play with, grow with, do anything with, or do nothing with.

And. What a relief!  I don’t have to this alone.  I can relax some.

K one point for my ex. Just one.

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Shifting Weight

I recently attended part 1 of a 3 part training in a conscious movement discipline called Soul Motion. It’s an embodied leadership training that recognizes the immense value of being in the body, as a way of cultivating the kind of presence that allows us to lead from a whole, resourced and integrated place.  One commitment I made to myself during the training was to join my local chapter of Toastmasters to continue practicing embodied leadership while speaking publicly.  I attended my first meeting and volunteered to do a 2 minute “table topic” speech. A topic is given to you just before you speak.  Well …. in no uncertain terms, I fell flat on my ass. A complete train wreck. What surprised me though was how I didn’t spin out into story as I know I would have in the past. Stories like, “how can I lead if I can’t speak publicly, how am I to return to the workforce and rebuild a career if I can’t do this, how am I to inspire others?”  Stories that only serve to box me in. What changed? Practice. Process. In this case, the simple practice of shifting weight.  I returned the following week to present a speech on just that. Here it is:

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You may remember me from such places as Toastmasters last week, when I feel flat on my ass in an attempt to tell you all about what my personal feelings were on what the world should do if aliens were to land on the planet next month. Though I fell flat on my ass I must tell you all Mr. Toastmaster, fellow toastmasters, honoured guests. There is nothing I want more than this. That I consider it a privilege to have the opportunity to step into the places that scare me the most. The places where my personality falls out the back of me and I’m left feeling like an empty shell.  To free fall into the void of darkness. The place of I really don’t know. The place where we take the greatest risk of falling.

I spoke last week about welcoming.  What my practice is these days is learning to welcome myself through my practice of dance and movement. More specifically, I’ve been practicing my walk. Noticing the shift of weight that occurs with each step.

All movement in the simplest of terms starts with a simple shift of weight. A commitment on one side. Establishing that sense of foundation. Release. Commitment. Rebounding.  Shifting and then landing on the other side.  We move from a place of finding foundation, shifting and  committing to another place of finding foundation. What I’ve observed is that there is a risk inherent in this shifting of weight. I know this because I’ve watched my son take his first steps. This place in between where we risk greatly. Losing our balance,  falling down, hurting ourselves, doing the ugly dance in an attempt to recover balance.  But it’s also the place where we have the greatest opportunity to shift, change our trajectory. Grow. Thrive.

What I’ve come to learn is that most of us resist this space in between commitments. We find a comfortable foundation and become stagnant and frozen there or we find a pattern that worked at some point and stay stuck in this pattern even when it no longer serves us.

I know this all too well cause I’ve spent the last 16 years of my life balancing on one leg. Happily married to a handsome, wealthy man.  Financial means that left me free to not have to work for the last 10 years at least.  Living a dream life in a dream home. Finally, after seven years of trying to conceive, completing the fairy tale with a son born 19 months ago. My foundation, as sexy and alluring as it was, was a fairy tale. A highly addictive one that left me frozen and perilously vulnerable for 16 long years.

A year ago my fairy tale came crashing down on me when my now ex-husband suddenly and violently kicked my leg out from under me. I fell from grace over dinner, when he suddenly announced he was leaving me and was out the door in less than an hour.  I came crashing down with all my weight into that place of in between.  I’ve spent the last year of my life recovering from the fall. Finding my foundation and humbly relearning to walk again. To shift weight. This time with a true foundation under my feet.

Learning to sink in and rather than lean in on someone or something to carry me through life, I’m learning to recognize my own foundation. That I alone have the strength and skill and determination to keep shifting and shaping and growing and expanding.  Strong legs that can run a marathon. Arms that have held up my marriage and raised my son.  A strong formal education. A sharp, analytical mind and a body that feels and is alive with sensation and wisdom.  Grit, tenacity, bravery, curiosity, compassion.

And well all else fails, I’m learning to lean into my most important resource. The capacity and desire to stay in love. Cause when all else fails and I’m flat on my ass and lost without a compass in the badlands, self love and mothering myself is all I’ve got.  I’m recognizing that these resources I’ve built over a lifetime are more than enough to carry me to the other side. More than enough to pick myself up from any fall, regardless of how ugly and undignified that fall may be.  And more than enough foundation to rebuild a life and a career on.

What I want most in this life is to be as alive and engaged as I can. To feel deeply. To shift weight and rise and fall. To fall often. Because what I know for sure is that it’s in this falling. In this darkness in between commitments that I’m really coming face to face with the truth of myself. It’s where I’m growing. And risking. And twisting and turning. Widening my field of vision. Strengthening my foundation to keep on doing this work.

I fell flat on my ass last week and know in the past that would have really spun me out. But instead I’ve been really pleased with myself. For stepping into the void. Taking a risk. Falling. Picking myself up. Dusting myself off and not letting that experience hold me back. Leadership I’m learning. It’s not about pulling off the perfect speech or living a perfect fairy tale life. For me it’s about having the courage to keep stepping into myself with truth and authenticity, compassion and love. And to keep on welcoming myself just as I am.

Living in Our Own Blindspot

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When I think back on my marriage of 16 years to X there is an image that so often comes to mind.  Countless meals sitting across the table from him.  I’d be there, ready and present, sharing the joys and pains and challenges of my life. Yet somehow, especially in the last few years we were together, he just simply wasn’t there. He was checked out and who knows where. Somehow, and sadly, I became his blindspot.  Somehow, I became invisible to him.

X and I didn’t really fight a lot. But when we did, they were the same three arguments. The chief among them being this fight to be seen. To be heard. To be valued. To feel that what I had to say was important and meant something to him.  I fought long and hard in this place.  I stayed in this fight because I felt that the extent to which I was invisible to him,  I wasn’t fully alive. I felt like I was literally fighting for my life. All those years, all I really wanted from X was to look up from whatever it was that had his attention. To look up from across the table and really see me.

Just yesterday I sent a text to a most dear and remarkable lover. Parting words as we drift away from one another:

Include

Yourself

You deserve it.

And the extent to which you do is all you really have to offer of any meaning.

What I was addressing in this text was what I perceived to be his inability to fully value is own worthiness.  Finding various reasons to numb out to his own tremendous potential.   Together we had this practice. To include the excluded. To question the many ways we box ourselves in and challenge the worthiness of these boundaries.

What occurred to me at the time I sent this text was how often in this quest to include the excluded, we can overlook to include ourselves. I was at a yoga training this morning and each student was to blindly choose an inspirational saying from several that our teacher had placed in an envelope. The saying I chose was so perfect for me and pointed to so much of what matters to me these days.

A hero is no braver than an ordinary man, but he is braver five minutes longer.

 ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

After coming through the fucking shit storm I just came through, I can tell you with great certainty what true bravery means to me.  So much of what I’ve gone through has taken immense bravery. The night X left me, after 16 years of marriage,  blindsiding me after dinner (ironically enough while sitting at our dining table across from me), abandoning me  with a 6 month old baby. What it took to get through that first night.  Or the day I found out he had been unfaithful to me.  The countless days of having to solider forward as a single mom, reclaiming my life. All these things have tested my sense of courage and bravery.  But what I want to tell you is that despite all this, what I’ve come to believe is that the greatest act of bravery is to be present and honest and real with ourselves. And braver yet, to stay present, honest and real despite the fact that the person across the table doesn’t see you.

What I have come to believe is that this ability to hold, value and love ourselves is everything. That the quality of our ability to step outwards in this world is a direct reflection of the quality to which we are able to step inwards.  That the strength to which we are able to step out with is only as strong as the strength to which we are able to step in.  That our ability to be real and present with others is only as strong as our willingness to be real and present with ourselves.  That we can’t truly love another until we’re willing to lay it on the line for ourselves.

For me it hasn’t been easy to get out of my own blindspot. Being so undervalued in my marriage to X took a beating on my own sense of worth. Marriage is funny that way.  The opinions and beliefs of our spouse become a reference point of truth and reality for us. When our spouses turn on us it’s very disorienting.   Consciousness of this pattern helps.   Finding the people that see and and value us helps a great deal.  Probably the thing that helped the very most was a simple commitment to stay in love with myself despite all the despites. And time. Lots and lots of time.

Sure, there are times when we all fall out of love with ourselves, when we become our own blindspot. But the question then becomes, can we keep falling back in love with ourselves.   Can we stay alive and devoted? Patient and compassionate?  Can we keep singing our song regardless of whether or not anyone else is listening?  Can we be brave enough to include ourselves?

As I sit here alone at my dining room table, across from the empty chair that X used to sit in, I think well of my journey this last year.  This is MY voice. This is MY story.  It is dear. It is precious. And it is worth telling.