One of the most valuable skills I have learned over the last two years since my separation (followed by divorce), is being able to be “friends” with my emotions; particularly the ones I deem as “negative”. When we have people in our life who consciously or subconsciously want to hurt us because they are hurting, it is difficult to stay level-headed. The cycle of verbal attacks can drive anybody insane.
I was never someone who had the skills to handle (or even the need to know how to handle) abusive people – heck I didn’t even attract individuals who live in the land of “drama”. Therefore, when the mean texts and emails started pouring in from my ex, I was frozen at first. Okay, lets be honest, not just “at first” – it lasted for months and months. This state of complete standstill. All I kept saying to myself and to others was, “I don’t know.” I had no clue what was happening to my life. I was ashamed and embarrassed by what was happening and I was not in control.
This was not suppose to happen to me. I am a good person, I help others, I am a good Mom (most of the time), I carefully planned out my future and this WAS NOT part of it. I did not want my personal life to become public knowledge or for me to be the one people started whispering about. My whole life became one big “I DON’T KNOW!”
I literally had to stop and think, “Who is this person sending me these messages of hate?” While I had known him for most of my life, I never knew this dark, angry, side – and it scared me. It was frightening and confusing not knowing how far he would go to hurt me. Were the things he was saying true? Am I a horrible Mom? Do I not deserve to have a happy existence? Should I stay in a marriage where I was cheated on since day one with pornography (and later acting out – maybe during the marriage, but for sure once I had left). Was I a victim to his choices in our marriage and now a victim to his ongoing verbal abuse? Perhaps all his words were not outright lies. I had made plenty of poor choices myself during and after our marriage, but it was how we each responded to the life experience that baffled me.
It is in our darkest hours, where our tears can water the seeds of growth deep within our souls. I needed to understand life in a new way, that was always my life path. This experience was the avenue I had to go down (heck I believed I picked it as my challenge for growth) to crack open that seed and allow something new to be born. I died, well a version of me died, when I moved out and sub sequentially decided to move on. My whole life, which I had carefully designed, built and imagined with the suburban house with a pool and trampoline, several beautiful kids, and dogs was lost – the perfect picture was lie and I buried it with my heartache, tears, confusion, anti-depressants, and anti-anxiety medication. With this death, I was reborn…but that was not an easy birth and I am still growing.
I was told by therapists and support group friends to, “take care of myself”, but what the heck did that mean? I didn’t know what that meant – I need steps, like concrete steps – do this first, then this, then this, and you will be healed and well. No such luck. I found that I had to lose my identity to find out who I really was. I poured myself into authors like Brene Brown and Wayne Dyer. I would watch TED Talks endlessly and subscribed to YouTube channels like Abraham Hicks, Hans Wilhelm, Sadhguru, Mindvalley Academy and OWN. I was looking for answers on how to take care of me. I needed a better answer to myself then “I don’t know.”
What I found was an entirely different way to live and to see every interaction I had in my day. I am a work in progress, a child again in so many ways. I would joke with my therapist and say I feel like a college student without a major … aimlessly taking classes on life and trying to figure out what is real for me what is not. With the trauma of the marriage and divorce, I lost my intuition. I could no longer hear myself. That gut feeling, or voice in my head suggesting to me what I should do or where to go. Without a functioning compass of my higher self’s voice in my head and heart, I was wandering. I was going at life blindly. But as a shirt I once saw read, “Not all who wander are lost.” – I was just wandering while my seed of life was growing.
Let’s circle back around to emotions and being able to see them, acknowledge them and let them just be. This is an on-going practice for us all. As an example, now when I see a text or email come across my phone from my ex, (which I know is going to try very, very hard to pull me into his tornado of despair), I take a deep breath. I read it knowing he is hurting, and I say to myself it might be true for him but it does not need to be true for me. I create my own reality, my own truth and that is what is real.
His words are just that …. Letters, words, thoughts, opinions and I do not need to hit subscribe to his blog of onslaught attacks. My heart might start to stir and it takes effort not to defend myself thus replying with, “You are wrong!” or, “You did this and that to me!!” or “Screw You!” – believe me, all those thoughts want to come out sometimes. Then I realize, that is what he wants, to bring me down, which is not really going to benefit either one of us. True it might feel empowering in the moment to stand up for myself and “fight”, but I would be acting in such a low negative place. Therefore, I would only bring more negativity into my life. In addition, when I engage him in a non-loving response, it does not allow him to learn and grown in ways that he needs to. So, what do I do? Well, most of the time, I have learned that ignoring him works best BUT, this still leaves me with the murkiness of his words and the fact that somehow I need to learn to “live in a space” (heck not literally, but figuratively) with him that will ultimately still benefit our children. Their sanity and stability is the utmost importance. I also knew that while he worked through his demons, I needed to not take my sweet time working out mine, because for our kiddos to be successful they needed one “stable” parent.
Isn’t it interesting that when we are forced by the universe to move for the urgency of those we love, we are able to do it? My kids needed me to be their Mom – and to do that half way well, I needed to learn to control my emotions.
Here is what is working for me these days. First, I recognize the emotion. I am feeling sad, or angry, or confused, or pissed, or whatever. I notice where I feel it in my body and then take slow deep breath’s into that place. I literally imagine a clean, healing source of love moving into that part of my heart, or head or chest or wherever it decided to plant itself. Then, I give myself a pep talk with positive affirmations to offset the negative. I approach the feeling, as if it were a real living person, and talk to it (in my mind or alone in my car/room so I don’t look completely nuts) and first express gratitude for it. Without the negative emotion rushing through me, how would I ever recognize its opposite?
I ask the negative emotion how long it needs to stick around for – but I do not allow it to stay for more than 24 hours. If I need to live with it for a few hours, then that is okay. At times my emotions rule my day, which stinks for getting “to do lists” completed. However, I know it is not here to stay. I know it will find a new home, outside of my body. As I send love to myself, through a number of different exercises, this helps me return to baseline.
Meditation and prayer have been a clear way to release the negative. I might take a warm bath or shower, I might go to the gym or for a walk/run. I will hug my kids until they cannot stand it anymore. I will serve others when I see a need in my daily life. I keep a happiness journal and do my best to write what there is to be happy about today. I have a white board by my front door where the kids and I write what we are grateful for. I surround myself with positive people who love me and I spend my free-time in following my intuition and learning from so many different individuals online, in books, in conferences and seminars, and support groups. I am living open to whatever may be and not tying myself to an identity that others have placed on me or the titles I thought I needed and was. I can let go of all of that (not all the time), but it takes working on it every day. I am finding value in ALL my experiences, even the ones that suck with the ex, because that is what L.O.V.E is to me; Live Open & Value Everything.