I’ve been without much emotion throughout the divorce process. And I thought that was telling. Telling me that I had moved on long ago and that the years spent working on the marriage eventually led us here, to this place of separation. I thought I had very little to mourn anymore. I’ve been solid, strong, bountiful, happy. “Divorce looks good on you,” I was told. All signs to me that life’s path, though unpredictable, leads you if you follow. And yet, despite all the positives, I knew there was something missing in my unemotional demeanor. I seemed off somehow. Like I was forgetting something.
The papers are nearly ready to be signed now. And though I printed out the most recent draft, they sit on my desk untouched. I can’t bear to look at them. And when I try, my brain rearranges the words into sentences that dont make sense. I forget what I was fighting for in our last mediation. Something that was a really important addition to the finality of us.
Its no coincidence that my back pain has returned. That I am now, for two days straight, laying on the floor, hardly able to take my dogs outside. I have had to cancel my rush-rush schedule and soak in my pain. The body reminds us to feel when our brain pretends to forget. The doctors ask, “Did you do anything that led to the pain? Did you lift something too heavy or twist in an awkward way?” How can I be truthful? How can I say that I feel like I’ve been carrying too much weight, on my shoulders, for much of my life. But that I can’t name what exactly is so heavy? Or why I can’t seem to just put it down? How can I explain that my pain is my fault, and yet, it’s not? Do I tell them that I have twisted myself into roles, and jobs, and belief systems that, while well intentioned, have helped me find my way to here. To this burning ache, in my lower back. The same place that provided unbearable insight during two unmedicated childbirths. “Support my back!” I screamed at my doula. “My back is hurting the most!” In the end, oxygen was what I needed to work through the pain.
And now I am trying to come to terms with that heavy word. Divorce. Is it ugly just based on syllabic intonation, or does the meaning make it so? I’ve been trying on the word in conversations. “We are divorcing,” “I am in the process of divorce,” “I am a divorced mom working on raising my daughters to be true to themselves.” Somehow, that word always sounds ugly. Saying I’m divorced is like admitting I’m fat. Out loud. It brings feelings of shame and self blame. It’s a word that my childhood taught me to stuff away and talk around as if having a large vocabulary could make it better.
There are metaphysical reasons for why we each have personally specific reoccurring pain. When I investigated lower back pain I learned that it’s often sparked by the fear of lack of financial support, it’s the fear of your own survival that amplifies the pain.
The truth somehow hurts and heals all at once.
Today, on day 3 of pain, I woke up and finally listened.
I heard my body saying – “You will not work today. You will not have business as usual today. Today you will hurt.”
And I heard my brain say, “Write.” And I open my blog and begin spilling my words through my fingers.
And I looked at my calendar and saw that it is erev Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish holiday celebrating a new year ahead, new opportunities to do better, to be better, to choose to see more clearly, to recognize oneself and one’s blessings. This is a time of reflection, to recognize our failings and our strengths. To be sorry for pain you may have caused to others, to yourself. A time to embrace your pain in order to actually let it go.
So here I am. Flat on my aching back. Dogs at my side. Tears on my cheeks. Recognizing that it hurts more to run from the pain than it does to embrace it. And as I write, my phone rings, and I hear a dear friend invite me and my children to dinner for the holiday. And I say, yes please. And I remember the saying, “New beginnings are often disguised as painful endings.” And I recognize that they are actually one and the same.
~L’shanah tovah, jrb