Goodbye Guest in Your Heart
I wanted to know what would happen if I took a year off and dedicated myself to writing. So last fall, I left my job as a paralegal, cashed out some of my retirement savings and collected odd jobs like driving, childcare and animal sitting to make ends meet. It was exhilarating, terrifying and filled with endless false starts. I had attempted it the year before but chickened out. It was so much pressure and I was scared.
How do you reach midlife having successfully avoided your passion and calling? It was a lot to face.
Writing was my first goal. Publishing my second. There was no way I was going to do either without self-discovery. Plus, there was a list of other things around the house I had neglected for about a decade such as clearing the basement, getting the fireplace working and making my daughter’s room bigger than a closet. Done. Done. Almost done.
The psychic weeding was the most liberating and difficult. It’s ongoing but I made headway. At least one dumpster full of debris such as mildewed photos, the frames to beds I no longer own as well plywood, bricks and vinyl siding I hung on to just in case. There were the relationships as dangerous as the sink hole in my back yard that I didn’t know I was too deep into until my feet was stuck under the earth. Those had to be filled in and patched up. Most often, I had to discard what was no longer useful and taking up space on my foundation.
The writing part was easiest. Focus most difficult. I did get over a dozen articles published on the Ms. blog, in Elephant Journal, Writing through Divorce, Taste for Life and What the Flicka. I even have a piece on speculation at the Atlantic Monthly website.
Bylines were intoxicating. My ego was large and happy. But publishing isn’t what fires up my soul. The writing process, available to EVERYONE is way more important. Too few people know how healing writing is even for those who consider themselves non-writers.
I hope to change that focusing on both the availability of writing and the need for healing from trauma – at my new website, which will launch the first day of spring. Yay.
But before I move on let me say thank you for reading and commenting at Guest in Your Heart.
Guest in Your Heart will always be in mine. The logo, done my cousin Jamie, still makes me smile every time. It’s simple, an opening with a question mark as one half of it.
The last five years were intense. They started with the dismantling of a twenty year relationship. I’m not sure divorce can be anything but difficult. However, I’m now friends and co-parent well with my ex. I still consider him family. We’re not configured the way we once were but we are still devoted to loving and providing for and nurturing the same child.
He brings over milk or medicine if she’s sick or I am. I pick him up if his car breaks down. We share still book titles and talk about our favorite TV shows and celebrate Christmas together. It was a process but we’re on the other side of it. It involved lots of apologies and space. It ended with me not only having to check a different box on medical forms but an entirely new way of living my life.
I’m not the person I used to be. And I went through a lot of pain. But I like where I have ended up.Ultimately, I didn’t want to stay mad or miserable. Eventually I had to look at my own choices and the things I remained silent, in and outside of my marriage. Speaking up and out was scary, vulnerable and revealing. But silence was deadening. I know some wounds feel fresh forever. For me, my divorce isn’t one of them. To get beyond my pain feelings I had to look at the entire 20 years and not just the way they ended.
Really, in the end, since my ex is no longer my husband, I mostly just care about what kind of a father he is. The type of husband he was at the end isn’t as relevant now that he’s not my husband. His choices are his own. His relationships with adults are not mine. I don’t regret the marriage or the divorce. I will always be sad that my daughter doesn’t have both parents under one roof, which would have been ideal if we could have remained that way and been healthier together. That wasn’t possible for us.
I realized I could love my ex without being in love with him, and choose to still be kind to him even though I wasn’t going to trust him to be a caretaker of my heart again.
At some point, it became an actual choice not to shut my heart down completely. I remember the day when I got a meat loaf from a friend. My daughter didn’t like it and I don’t eat meat (well I eat fish now but I didn’t eat it then). Anyhow, my ex loves meatloaf and I had a moment by the trash can where I thought, “Do I hate him enough to waste this when I know he would love it?”
When he came to pick up our daughter I sent it home with him. It was the first softening I had when I decided the waste of the food and my spite wasn’t the part of me I wanted to feed. More than one person thinks me an idiot. I honestly don’t care. I can’t control anyone but me and I don’t want to be that pissed off person for my life. I have no say in how he lives or lived his life. Those are his choices. Then and now.
Yet, I’m not able to get over, forgive and let go of my past, my childhood, at least not yet.
So what gives? It certainly happened a longer time ago.
I’ve had to soul search on this issue more than one time and I’m not finished yet. It has everything to do with what my next phase of life is all about. Healing trauma, understanding the impact of childhood abuse on the adults we become and activism to prevent it for future generations.
Abuse is a “man made” problem and not an inevitable part of life.
But before I move along, blogwise, I just want to say thank you for reading any of my words here. I’ll welcome you at my next blog too, of course, but the target audience is people wanting to process trauma and life transitions with writing and adults abused as children. Those topics may not speak to you.
So let me just say thanks for visiting here and letting my words near your heart and brain. You let me be a guest in your heart and if you have commented or visited you have been to mine. We don’t have to stay bound together to make that meaningful. Sometimes hearts open just for a cup of coffee and other times to share couches and a roof. Whether heart host or guest, thank you.
I’ll cross post for a while in case you want to check out the new writing and blog. But for now, thanks for reading, commenting and sharing your comments, feelings, blogs and writing with me.