The divorce is final. You are free to chart your own course with the wind in your sails, anywhere your heart desires. So why then, are you gasping for air, struggling to stay afloat as the waves crash on your head? You go under again with what feels like your last breath.
No matter the reason for how you got here, it was meant to be smooth sailing. So what’s the deal?
I came to America not on the Mayflower but as an exchange student. My eyes were wide and excited to meet Bon Jovi and “Cheerleaders”… What I did not expect to meet was homesickness. One of the first school meetings off the boat was in a giant lecture hall where the dean warned us about the stages of leaving home, from euphoria to depression to eventually feeling settled. (He also warned us of “cheerleaders” which I unfortunately did not heed and resulted eventually in the telling of this story. Also note Bon Jovi was not at fault.)
I have never felt homesick. But low and behold in the middle of my college introduction of fun, one day it hit me–a sad feeling of missing the known. It took me by total surprise but in the 108 degree weather I actually missed the rainy gray cold of Northern England. I wrote some letters home and made some collect calls, but for a couple of weeks I felt very alone, lost, and adrift in an unknown sea.
Breathe and Go Down Again
It was the same way with my divorce. I would sail along, or at least move forward with my life and new direction, then wake up for no apparent reason swallowing water and gasping for breath. I felt out of my depth, lost and quite alone with a longing to go home. No matter the grey gloom that I had sailed from, I wanted the normalcy of being home and married. My lack of buoyancy in my attitude meant I would have days where I was above water gasping at life and friends to then be followed by a day or two of underwater depression feeling heavy, like I could not breathe or go on.
Weight of the Past
The first year alone was of course the worst as I realized I was carrying the weight of my past and that of my ex. I look back now and see myself floundering in the water wearing one of those goofy fishing vests with a million pockets. Each pocket is weighed down with its own past memory, regret, or loss. Each weighing a ton. Some of the memories are like lures that hook my skin as I try to the remove them. Memories old, new, happy, sad, full of love, and also anger. They weigh heavy on my future by making me cling to your past.
Gasping, stressed out, underwater and under pressure, with family, friends, finances and expectations.
Learning to live free of self, guilt and the past (and the pressure of the future)
Slowly, over time I began to forgive the past and let go of unwanted weight. There was no quick fix, magical book, or sign up weight loss program. It was a conscious decision and still is years later, and sometimes day by day, moment by moment, pocket by pocket.
I learned that I cannot change the past, and the past can effect my future. Be calm and patient with yourself and those around you, and you will find yourself back in the boat breathing a little easier and moving on to your new adventure.
With love & water-wings,
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Three years ago today I was waiting in line at a flower shop with a cup of coffee in one hand and my cell phone in the other as my boss rattled off an impromptu message for the roses he was having me pick up for his wife.