I have a new awareness of what I’ve experienced in the last year and how much it has impacted my life.
I am literally a different person today than I was at the end of September, 2017. And not just because I’m a year older. I have lived a lot of life and delved so deep into myself to figure out the answers to things that have plagued me for years. I sought spiritual answers, health answers, psychological answers, pedagogical answers. I attuned myself as much as I could to pay attention to what was happening around me and what I needed to calibrate.
I told Tom last night that it’s too bad that I spent the two years we were remodeling being so mad for most of the time. It’s too bad because it was unnecessary and made us miserable. I mean, I had plenty to be unsettled about. I still do, truth be told. But the difference in perspective is monumental.
I feel like everything is okay now, so it is.
I didn’t feel like everything was okay then, so it wasn’t.
Some wise people have told me this statement more than once in my life:
You don’t have to believe everything you think.
It runs contrary to what I thought my life was going to be about now, post-divorce, post raising children. I thought I was going to be in touch with my feelings, that they were my truth and I had to pay attention to and answer them at all times.
I was so off track.
Emotions and feelings are important, but more than 1/2 the time the are absolutely incorrect. “Sojourner, Rend Your Heart” is a tattoo I have on my left arm. I got it the month after my ex-husband and I split up, to mark the change in direction.
For the record, I hate the term ex-husband. Will is much more to me than “ex.” I don’t think of him ever as an “ex” person in my life. He’s still IN my life, and that’s how I want it. I love him. I always will love him and won’t ever stop caring about him as much as I ever did. But I didn’t want to be married to him anymore. So he’s not my husband. But he’s not an ex-husband. He’s just not my husband anymore. He’s still my family. It’s like a new role we need to coin a term for, a person that you treasure and love that is co-parenting your co-children with you. That term I can get behind. Since there is no good term, I’m just going to have to call him either “my kids’ dad” (what I’ve said for the almost 3 years since) or just, simply, Will.
Will is the first person that told me about the ancient Hebrew tradition of rending. The idea of tearing at clothes when someone dies to “rend your heart,” to let all the emotion out. And one person told me another story where the people patched their clothes with the seams overlapping so that their pain is a part of them, a part that is always there and respected for its lessons. And maybe it was also because they were a broke village and it was necessary to keep the mourning clothes because they couldn’t replace them. The idea of rending, of letting my pain of losing a marriage I treasured is why I have that tattoo. And when I got it I also got in my head that I was supposed to just feel everything and then believe it as solid oak as well.
WELL THAT IS A LIE.
Not everything we think is true. Not true for the world and not true for us. Many of our emotions are ruled by our amygdala, the oldest part of our brain. Some people call it the “lizard brain,” or “caveman brain.” It’s where our fight or flight instincts live, where all our basic human needs are wrapped up. Raw emotion goes to the same place in our brain, and if we’re really worked up-we’re likely completely stuck in our amygdalas.
I don’t want to live stuck in my lizard brain. I want to be squarely on the earth here, living a balanced and reasonable emotional life.
So thank you brain and experience, for finally realizing that having emotions and trusting every bit of them is not actually wise.
That was a big lesson.