Copyrighted by Lorna Tedder. Originally published in Third Degree of Freedom .
I’m fast approaching the one-year anniversary of my divorce. In a few more days, I’ll have achieved the year-and-a-day landmark, and maybe I can stop wearing the blackness of grieving not just what happened but what never was.
They say that women grieve alone and men grieve with a woman. I don’t know. I wouldn’t want to be the woman grieved with, I don’t think. There’s aloneness in both, I suppose, and I really don’t think there’s any other way to do it than alone and working through it, either actively or passively letting time smooth the edges. I’ve heard a number of newly divorced men say, usually about the four-month mark, that they’re over it and they’ve moved on. In every case, without exception, they’re not “over it” and they haven’t “moved on.” Their definition of moving on seems to include dating again or possibly even falling in love again. Usually sleeping with someone on a regular basis. But they haven’t moved on. Their issues are still there, dragging at their feet as they try to walk into a new life, only to pull them down again with the next person because they haven’t worked through them and slung them off.
Have I? I think so. I’m long past feeling any jealousy toward my ex’s new life, though there are still times when anger bubbles up and maybe it always will, at least to some degree. There’s a part of the anger I have to hold onto to make sure I’m never in the same situation and to make sure that I both can and will argue for myself rather than swallowing my hurt and anger and turning them inward. I can’t let myself forget my history or I’ll be doomed to repeat it. But I can learn to release it, just remember it and honor that it happened and that it became a part of me.
There are men who’ve told me of their past sins and still kick themselves for what they did long ago, far beyond what I think any human should do. They seem to wallow in it. I always want to press my palm to their foreheads and say, “You’re absolved! You’ve done your karma! Now move on!” But it’s not my place to do that. It’s theirs. It’s they own stuff they have to work through, just as I have my own, too. And it takes as long as it takes.
It’s not about time. I can’t say that a year and a day will magically cure anything, though that’s close to the right timing of the process for most people I know. And it’s about the process, not the days on the calendar. It takes as long as it takes. Some people never work through the process or look at the past to figure out how not to take it into their futures. They refuse to look at the darknesses or shine the light on it. So it’s still there. Waiting to rear its head with the next lover.
It never takes days and it seldom takes just months. Sometimes the process of healing takes years. But it can’t be speeded up much (without consciously seeking help)and it can’t be tampered with. It does have to be accepted. It’s about changing old patterns and old ways of living and loving. About reprogramming.
For me, I always think I’m about done, but then there’s still some healing left to do, and these may be things I must always be aware of. Maybe healing is never really 100% complete because where we were wounded will always carry a special tenderness to the touch. For me, it’s about not getting trapped into a mindset of failure or lack of worth based on the opinions of those I love, about changing the way I relate, and about not putting up with all those sabotaging thoughts sent my way, including my own. It’s about being me and enjoying being me and not particularly caring if someone doesn’t like it or approve (I’m almost completely there on this one!). It’s about making sure I’ve really learned the lessons and don’t fall back into old patterns.
And I do recognize that it’s probably best that I haven’t jumped out there into a rebound physical relationship where I would have carried too many old patterns forward or brought new ones untried into a new relationship. I’d like to share my life again, but the next man in my life doesn’t deserve the baggage of my past, so it’s up to me to dump the baggage and walk freely again, briskly, dancing instead of lugging.
And as for divorced men I’ve met in the past year, well, a couple of them would have made great company, at least until the first time I said something that they interpreted in accordance with the expectations of their exes and not with what I really meant at all and either screamed at me or retreated from me…and that would have brought up too many of my own issues.
No, my guides are right. It’s best to get through our healing processes on our own so we don’t drag our crap from the past into what might otherwise be a really fulfilling relationship. And that kind of relationship is worth waiting for.