I landed back in Wellington last Thursday under a Full Moon, after spending a week making my way up the South Island staying at friends’ and family’s houses along the way.
The trip unfolded spontaneously, as I allowed each next step to reveal itself in it’s own good time.
Fortuitiously, my Dad and step-mum arrived back a few days early from their camping trip, so Samuel and I were able to spend a fun-filled afternoon and evening at their house in Blenheim, before catching the ferry the following afternoon.
A rough trip was followed by rush hour traffic, and a dash up the coast to meet my now ex-partner so Samuel could go and spend some time with his Dad, grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles and sister.
It’s the first change-over we’ve done.
Emotion was welling up in me before I’d even opened the car door – not at the thought of Samuel going off to spend time with his Dad and that side of the family. No, that was fine. I was excited for Samuel, and excited to have some time to myself.
Nope, the emotion was for my ex-partner. The grief and loss is so so present, so raw. There was no acrimony in our parting, and I will always love him dearly. Holding my heart open like this though is tough. Tougher even because energetically, we’re still very much connected. Being in the same space as him means feeling all my emotions, and his too. Plus wanting to stay clear and connected for Samuel’s sake.
Needless to say, after saying goodbye, I sat in my car and wept. For me. For him. For our son, always separated from now on from one of us. However I felt like I didn’t have time to process the grief though, or maybe I just didn’t want to face the pain then.
So I didn’t sit long, and definitely not long enough. It was off to meet my friend Marianne, who’d made quinoa salad for a potluck dinner and havan (fire ceremony) we were off to that night – me with my unprocessed grief and jangly energy. Not fit for company really, but the promise of a ritual fire ceremony under a full moon with the Wellington Sangha was too tempting to miss.
So I went, jangly energy and all.
After a lovely pot luck, we all gathered outside wrapped up warmly against the blustery southerly wind around a ceremonial fire and altar.
The lovely and powerful Amanda Reid led us through 108 rounds of a Ganesha chant – designed to remove obstacles. Every time we came to the end of the round, we’d symbolically pull an obstacle from our heart and throw it on the fire. Before we started, Amanda, who’s just spent time teaching in Cambodia, shared a story of a woman who’d done this ceremony there.
This woman had experienced the violence of the Khmer Rouge, and carried so much pain and rage at her experience. Every time she ‘pulled’ an obstacle from her heart, she’d see a visualisation of a huge thorn. As the 108 rounds continued, the thorns became smaller and smaller. On the final round, she discovered to her surprise, there was nothing remaining to pull out.
It was an inspiring story, demonstrating the power of ritual, of chanting, of working with energy.
My own experience was nothing so visual nor poetic. The effort of suppressing my emotions earlier that evening had dropped me into a scattered place where I had to concentrate simply on being present. No hope of surrendering to the experience and letting grace take me.
It took me a few days to be able to come back into myself and find a way to access the grief I knew was there. It is so important to stay with the truth of my experience right now, and to feel the pain as it happens – not stuff it down, ignore it, pretend it doesn’t exist, solider bravely on.
That’s always been my coping mechanism ever since I was a young child, and it hasn’t served me well. Whatever we don’t feel and experience at the time comes back to haunt us later on ten or hundred-fold. It comes back in the form of aching backs and cancerous tumours, depression and anxiety.
This time, leaving the man I love and dealing with shared child access, I know I must stay in the emotions. I gotta feel!
When I was growing up, I always sworn I’d never get married and I’d never have kids. My family was incredulous when I choose to become pregnant with Samuel. However, my desire to stay childless and un-married wasn’t about choosing a lifestyle, that desire was based in fear.
I’d seen how much pain my parents went through when they divorced. I felt how painful it was for my Dad when he only saw us on weekends and at holidays. I was so afraid of feeling that pain too.
My greatest fear in life was to have a child and separate from his or her father.
Which I have now done. That which we fear will appear 😉
Last night, when a long, slow child’s pose helped me access the pain I hadn’t felt yet, I cried and cried and cried. Not just for myself, not just for my partner or my child, but also for my parents and my siblings. For my family when it broke apart. I let the tears come, and I consciously dove as deep into the sensations as I could.
I can handle this now because I know that feelings come and go. I know I’m strong enough to feel any pain. I know I can be with whatever arises.
Today, a comment my sister posted on a photo of Samuel and I – “I miss playing with him!” – prompted another round of tears. This time for my son. It’s been four days since his Dad picked him up, and I’m off to get him tomorrow. I miss him so much. And when I feel how much I miss him I know how hard it must be for his Dad too and I feel for him as well.
My grief, my partner’s grief, no doubt my son’s grief as well… all because of what? Because I got into a relationship I shouldn’t have? Because I had a child with a man when my gut was screaming no? Because I couldn’t deny my truth any longer and had to leave?
There is so much pain in this situation, and I am responsible for it. No getting around that one. So I accept the pain, the tears, the grief. I’m sitting with it all. Knowing it too will pass. Knowing that pain is inevitable in life. Knowing that I have done the best I could and next time, this time, I will do better, because I have learned.
Learned what happens when I indulge my weaknesses.
Learned what happens when I deny my truth.
Learned what happens when I ignore my intuition.
Learned what happens when I’m needy, and insecure, and weak.
In the moment it can be so tempting to do what we know is wrong for us, it is so easy to pretend there is no cost. But we always reap the rewards of our actions, one way or another. And so do the people around us.
My pride, my ego, my desires, my wanting… all have lead me here. Because I allowed them. Because I thought I knew better – I wanted to know better – than the quiet whisperings of my heart.
And that’s ok. So it is to be human. To fall, and pick yourself up again. To cower in fear before shining forth in love. We live, and we learn.
Tomorrow I will pick my son up. I pray I will be strong enough to hold love and space in my heart for both my pain and my partner’s. That our son will feel nothing but the love we both have for him.
I pray that whatever arises, I can meet it with love. For in love, we allow our light to shine. Where light shines, the shadow disappears.
And so we heal – ourselves, our families, our friends, our communities, our world.