Right now, I’m mid-way through facilitating a six week live video-conference course with Nadine Ferris France (a fabulous facilitator of The Work who lives in Ireland). It’s called Divorce, Separation, Break-Up Is Hell: Is It True?
The curriculum we’re using (and updating as we go) is the very same curriculum I developed with a good friend Charlotte in 2005.
It all happened after our first School for The Work, when Charlotte and I shared our beliefs about divorces we were navigating. We laughed, we cried, we learned. We did The Work with each other. We created a course to gather others in to do it with us.
Yikes, that was an intense time.
Back then in my first year after The School which was also my first year becoming single again, I slept literally about 4 hours a night. I remember doing The Work on sleeping itself. “I need to sleep” (as I was awake at 3:30 am yet again).
Is it true? I guess not. I’m awake.
That was the break-up of the century. Literally, the break-up of a lifetime. I was devastated, panicked, confused, and unbelievably sad.
Not only did this unexpected break-up occur (it felt like it came of nowhere) but I had to get a job and move to a different home. The life changes felt insane for me at the time. They felt like riding a roller coaster gone off the tracks.
This was not in the plan.
When I look back, I can see an intricate series of thoughts about primary love relationships….and rules about them I thought were true (or were supposed to be true)….come crashing apart.
These thoughts went like this:
- commitment means forever–for life
- divorce or break-up means failure or immorality
- my partner gives me security, adventure, happiness
- it’s sad when someone leaves
- being alone is hard
- being together is blissful
- being alone means you’ve got love problems
- love means never having to say your sorry (I learned that one in sixth grade–it was in a cartoon–which should have given me a clue about whether it was true or not)
- you should always love only one person at a time
- your partner should love only you, no one else
- etc, etc, etc, etc, etc, blah, blah
It’s like there’s a rule book about what’s right, and what’s wrong, in relationships.
The thing is….having the rule book is incredibly stressful.
The minute someone does something that’s NOT expected, planned, “good” or “right” in a relationship, we freak out. The minute someone even suggests doing something that’s frightening, we worry.
At least I sure did.
This month in Year of Inquiry, we’re looking at our beliefs about relationships from the past, present, future. Love gone wrong. Love hoped for. Valentine’s Day is in only ten days. Hopes, dreams, disappointments, loss, wishes.
That relationship should have gone another way.
Can you find a relationship–any relationship? (It’s OK if it’s a friendship or a professional relationship, it will still be useful to inquire).
it should have gone differently–Is it true?
Can you absolutely know it’s true? Are you 100% sure beyond a shadow of a doubt for all time, that the relationship you have in mind should have gone another way?
No. What’s the reality? It didn’t.
How do you react when you believe that relationship should have gone another way than it did?
Wow. I’ve had this thought many times. I see pictures of the “better” alternative. I regret, I cry, I wish, I beg, I shut down.
I don’t notice how lovely my life is today, right now in this moment. I complain. I tell the story over and over again of how hard, how much it hurt, how bad it was. I tell other people the story. I treat myself like I did it wrong. I suffer.
So who would you be without this painful story that the relationship should have gone differently?
Yowser. It’s a little like a frying pan to the head—bbboooiiinnngggg!!
Without the belief we shouldn’t have broken up? Without the belief he shouldn’t have done that? Without the story it could be so much better?
It’s kind of exciting. Thrilling even.
Noticing the adventure of people coming, going, coming, disagreeing, agreeing, pushing, pulling, lying, truth-telling, leaving, returning, leaving forever, even dying. And not having a war with it.
Turning the thought around: It shouldn’t have gone differently. My thinking should have gone differently.
How is it a good thing that it went as it did? What else became possible? What else is still possible now? What became easier for you? What did you learn?
In the divorce from my first marriage, I learned a strength within I never even imagined–a sense of trust and joy about the inner world, and outer world, I didn’t even know could be real. I was astonished.
It was the rug pulled out from under me that woke me up to the safety of being here (and no, I certainly didn’t always feel safe from the inquiry….it was a process and still is).
Yes, it was magnificently hard. Yes, it hurt like the deepest heartbreak I had never ever felt before. Yes, it changed my life entirely for the better.
I started a career. I took care of my own house. I went on the most incredible adventures–literally on airplanes and boats and driving places to meet new people and hear new wisdom and learn how to deeply meditate. I worked harder than I had ever worked before. I dated many people. I made new friends.
I took workshops on qigong, self-employment, money mindset, dance, art, meditation, parenting, addiction, compulsion, grief. I read so many books. I had quiet time. I became a better, less anxious mother.
What happened with relationships taught me about love stories, and how to stop believing what doesn’t really matter.
“What really matters is not your thoughts, not your emotions, not even the outside world….The only thing that really matters is the you that’s in there. The kingdom is within you….When you can pull back behind the experience, what’s left is you. And you are the most beautiful thing that walked the face of the earth.” ~ Michael Singer
I’m not saying I feel this way every second of every hour (ha), but it is amazing to think the divorce I went through, the deep questioning of the Love Rule Book, has been a road to discovering what is wonderful and mysterious, even beautiful, about All This.
If you have a sore heart because of loss, disappointment, unhappiness, irritability, fear, worry or pain because of what happened with someone else in the world–that you believe shouldn’t have gone that way–then you’re in for a treat when you do The Work.
If you live in Seattle area, then this coming Sunday February 10th 2-6 pm is half-day retreat in The Work at Goldilocks Cottage (my place in Lake Forest Park). A wonderful time to go through the whole process from start to finish and see what happens. Only $50, a small group. Learn more and sign up here.
…”As long as you think that anyone or anything is responsible for your suffering—the situation is hopeless. It means that you are forever in the role of victim, that you’re suffering in paradise.” ~ Byron Katie
P.S. For a deeper experience: One (and maybe two) spots have come available for a small intimate healing retreat called Sit In The Fire with Roxann Burroughs (Byron Katie’s daughter) March 22-24 in the Seattle area (outside of the city, but not by much). Hit reply to this email and let me know if you’d like to talk or want more information and I’ll send it to you. We start Friday morning and end Sunday 2 pm.
Spring retreat registrations are happening. May 15-19, 2019 Seattle. Sign up here. If you need to stay onsite, please ask about the five rooms available for reservation.