« Wednesday November 16, 2005: V.G.'s retreat | Main | Sunday September 11, 2005: Personal: Katrina and 9-11 »

Sunday October 23, 2005: Personal: The Final Healing Stage

        Randy was mentioning the other day that I have neither the bitterness nor the knee-jerking emotional responses that seem to plague so many divorcees. True, I'd healed many of the wounds of my divorce; yet, by my own standard I still recognized a defensive reaction--one that mainly surfaced in the earliest days of our relationship. It had come up once again when Randy took a ten day trip recently and I was left to think about wedding plans. I called it the ‘dith’ing response (deer in the headlights), a freezing of the enthusiastic and extroverted glow, a fear- and guilt-ridden wondering about what I was getting the introverted part of my nature into this time.

         Randy's and my relationship has always had this amazing closeness. When two people are freely giving to each other--without expectations or reservations, without the need to be defensive or protective--it creates an incredible open space within the relationship. Neither of us had experienced that before, despite my belief since early childhood that it was possible for a relationship to have that incredible depth and intimacy.

        So, we'd spend hours being completely open and honest in our sharing, elated by the warmth of the relationship; then I'd get off by myself and start 'dithing,’ wondering what was I doing, jumping headfirst into a relationship before I could even figure out if it was a good relationship for me to be in. I could see myself rapidly sliding into an emotional commitment, before even knowing if our differences could be surmounted, or if (in the long-run) this would become another emotional roller coaster.

         All the independence and security I had built by myself was about to be upturned, right at a point in my life where I might be too old to start over from scratch, should things fall apart later. Randy was talking of selling my house and having me move to Ann Arbor, of me dropping down to part-time work or maybe retiring early so we could spend more time together—big steps if the relationship failed to work out as we planned.

        A moment’s reflection and I could reassure myself that this relationship was what I had always wanted and needed, it was radically different from my first marriage, and that I did want to make this commitment. Why then the emotional knee-jerking response? What lay buried beneath my rational thought process that could still raise doubts? I suspected some part of the healing process was still not complete.

        After the divorce I had gone through a three-stage healing process. I’ve described this procedure in earlier posts (click here for entries from October 14, 2004 and October 15, 2004). It is admittedly an intense process which leaves one emotionally drained, in return for rapidly dissolving emotional blockages and underlying defense systems. The end result is a long-lasting freedom--well worth any temporary emotional discomfort. My earlier healing sessions had allowed me to rapidly get back on my feet after the divorce, rather than carry old battle scars into my new life.

         The first stage of healing had always come easy to me, though I realize it's the part most people get hung up on: I had to forgive all the cruel and hurtful things Thom had said and done to me. It helps to know that emotionally stable and secure people don't tear into other people. Negative garbage spills out of people who are themselves feeling vulnerable or threatened. They lash out to protect their own self-esteem, their self-preservation mode either overriding their concern about other people's reaction, or else justifying the damage done. Targets selected for venting are usually safe marks--persons unlikely to respond with a more defensive and destructive outburst of their own. This is not hard for me to understand and accept.

        The second part of healing required facing deeper emotions: I had to forgive what Thom had not done, the times he had not been there to support me, or to take on the responsibilities usually expected in a marriage partnership. These were not easy issues: among other things, Thom had left me at medical risk twice during the last high-risk pregnancy, ignoring critical doctor's orders about home care; in the last half of our marriage, Thom had given time, attention, and money to another family, while our family was left desperately scrapping the bottom of the barrel. My feelings of being neglected, abandoned, and/or taken for granted, cut deeply and required a more extensive healing procedure. Eventually I could acknowledge, accept, and heal the emotional pain.

        The third part of healing surprised me by being the most difficult of the three forgiving procedures. I had to get past the crash-and-burn death of all the hopes and dreams I had carried into my marriage. This was a different type of grieving process, not related to specific persons or events, but the cold, cruel way reality had blocked my best intentions. By the time I completed that stage of healing, I was left with a sense of enormous freedom, with the hope and enthusiasm to move on and build a better life.

         Why, after this successful healing, was I still being confronted by some repressed or subconscious emotion about marriage and commitment? The dithing reaction seemed stubborn in its tendency to pop up unexpectedly, despite repeated attempts to calmly review how different this relationship was from that of my past. I could only assume that some part of deep internal healing was left undone.

         While I was stretching out the next morning, I realized the source of the problem: I had still not forgiven myself for making ‘the mistake.’ I could rationalize all the reasons why I'd married in spite of my reservations, why the marriage was destined to fail despite all my efforts, etc., etc.. I had never forgiven myself for poor judgment in the selection of a marriage partner. Lurking in the shadows of my psyche was still the fear I was capable of making another painful mistake in judgement.

         How laughable--the ease with which I'd forgiven the painful way reality plays out, at how I was able and willing to accept my own suffering, all the while refusing to give myself the freedom to be human and make mistakes. Emotionally, I decided it was critical to go back and finish the healing, lest this fear carry over into other areas of my life, even after I'd remarried.

         The following day, I had quiet time and was well rested enough to start the procedure. I fully expected that I would be addressing feelings of anger at myself (for making the mistake), and sadness at what I had put myself through. As is often the case, those superficial feelings were quickly dissolved and deeper feelings rose to take their place.

       I found myself feeling a deep and pain-filled sorrow--for how that decision had ended up affecting the lives of my children, for what my family had gone through, helplessly watching the ordeal from the outside. I was sorry I had let other people down. This is not what I would have expected to be the source of my dithing, but then, that is the nature of our hidden fears.

        V.G. Kulkarni, a Hindu Brahmin, once related the story of Kali’s struggle to kill a demon whose each drop of blood, upon hitting the ground, would give rise to another demon. Kali could only defeat the demon by stretching her tongue across the battlefield and drinking up all the spilt blood before the drops could reach the earth.

        "The story of Blood-seed Demon points out that when one attempts to get rid of a single desire, hundreds more spring up in its place. Only through Divine intervention can these desires be removed once and for all."

        Our deepest fears function in a similar manner. What shows up as a problem in our daily life is a reflection, a blood-seed of some deeper and more powerful fear. Sometimes you just have to just deal with what’s in front of you. Sometimes you need to root out the source.

         Experience has taught me well--these deepest fears are helpless and powerless once you have the courage to face them directly. The challenge is being able to trace a deep-seated fear back to its hiding place in the shadow-realm of our psyche. How lucky for me that life can continually present problems, and that these can serve as red flags, suggesting areas that still need attention and work.

Posted on Sunday, October 23, 2005 at 10:27AM by Registered CommenterThe Skeptical Mystic | Comments2 Comments

Reader Comments (2)

What I like about your post is the honest way you open up your own soul onto the page. Thanks for sharing the hows of your own experiences
Thanks for all your comments. I see you have a new blog, the Mystical Skeptic. Best of luck with your blogging...........Jan
June 3, 2007 | Registered CommenterThe Skeptical Mystic

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
All HTML will be escaped. Hyperlinks will be created for URLs automatically.