Friday, May 3, 2013

Recovering the gift

Organization may be lacking this evening.

I go to a group for survivors of domestic violence. I've been attending since November, when I can. Yesterday night I went for the first time since school got overwhelmingly demanding, say about 3-4 weeks. I hadn't showered since I'd come off the mountain, my back gritty from the salt left by Lithium deposits in my sweat, no makeup, a sloppy ponytail. I only recognized two of the other women in attendance, so when we started with introductions around the circle I promised that even without makeup I was myself. Carrie, one of the group leaders, pressed for updates on school and my plans for summer. 

"Finals over, grades in," I reported. "One B. One A-. The rest, As."

Carrie thought that was worthy of applause, which surprised me. But I sat, head bowed as they clapped, and then thanked them. I told them about my mountaineering plans and how the weather was not cooperating. I said that I hike as often as possible as a form of meditation. Carrie agreed that it was good, and we moved to the next woman.

Carrie is an amazing woman. I can't tell you why because what's said in group stays in group, but I truly respect her for the challenges she's faced and overcome.

Each week she leads group she brings an object lesson. Carrie's object lessons aren't like any I've encountered before; they're more or less multiple human puzzles and they stretch my mind in ways it isn't often pulled. This week we joined hands in a line, and them Carrie placed a bike inner-tube over the shoulders of the woman at either end of the line. Our job was to keep our hands joined but move the inner-tubes from their respective ends of the line to the other, crossing in the middle. If that wasn't mind/body bending enough, Carrie and the other group leader worked against us by pulling the inner-tubes away from us, or backwards down the line, or by tugging at women to disrupt our progress. 

If you can imagine what's going on, I have to hand it to you for having an incredible imagination.

It took a lot of cooperation, logic, and fight to get the job done. Carrie always makes sure we accomplish these puzzles (and they've been weirder), which is more or less the point. The puzzles are for the sake of empowerment.

But this week, Carrie and I had an interesting confrontation mid-puzzle. She was yanking on the tube, pushing against one of the women trying to pass it over her body, and I got pissed. I got in Carrie's face and told her off. I have to laugh now, because I think she liked it.

Once we'd finished, Carrie sat us down for evaluation. We talked about fighting for each other, about finding fulfillment serving and in allowing others to serve us.

Then she shifted the focus to me.

"I want to tell you about Gudri," she said. "You put up a real spunk tonight. You have a tremendous power; I feel it every time you come to group. As soon as you walk in the room it's here. You believe in people."

I'm tearing up and a little pissed at Carrie for making me cry in group, but I agree. "I do believe in people!"

"It's powerful. It's a gift. I love it when you come to group. We can all feel it."

So here's where I wanted to go tonight. That four-page rambling dialogue that my soon-to-be ex submitted to the court in February? That four-page diatribe of how sick and violent he claimed I was? Those four single-spaced pages that he intended to have permanently affixed to my name? 

I called him on it on Wednesday night, because for the duration of the time we were together he told me over and over and over again that I have a gift with people. Up until that document, he'd asserted that I had tremendous power to touch people's lives, to change them. He'd told me that he believed I would be the one to help heal the rift between him and his estranged daughter, and I believed him. 

Except for one thing. Regardless of my ability to connect with other people, they must choose whether or not they will change and how. Regardless of any gift for understanding and compassion that I may have, I cannot take responsibility away from those I choose to let into my life, for those I care about.

Wednesday night as he and I were emailing details about the Stipulation, my husband tried to pull the manipulation/guilt card again. I'd requested that he work to be nice so we could get things wrapped up in order to put behind us dealing with or seeing each other. He shot back that if I hadn't requested the 90-Day Waiver this Stipulation mess never would have happened, that I was a hypocrite in asking for niceness. 

I got pissed. It comes of exerting superhuman patience and calm for three months. "I am glad for my original statements. If you'd not responded to them I'd never know how you've felt about me during this marriage. Your answer to the 90-Day Waiver request was enlightening; it explained a lot. If it was your true estimation of me and our marriage, then yes, doing my best to facilitate that neither of us has to see or deal with one another again from the divorce's finalization is definitely not just nice, but a kindness. I'm honestly surprised that I'm the one who filed, and not you."

It's the most fire I've displayed through this entire divorce. He didn't respond, which is quite unlike him. Twenty-four hours later the Stipulation was in an envelope in my mailbox.

Ever since I filed it this morning I have been in a great deal of emotional pain. I am feeling loss at a level that I wasn't anticipating. It's not the loss of my husband. Instead, I am dealing with the agony of letting go of belief in an ideal that I had invested myself in wholly. 

Carrie is right, and I'm glad she said what she did last night, because I think I'd begun to doubt myself. I realize I can't fix. I can't control. I can only love and allow myself to be open and vulnerable. There is power in vulnerability. I've never been as open with another human being as I was with my husband. I think that's why this betrayal, why his inability to respond to my love has hurt me so much.

There is only one way to heal. Continue to use the gift. Risk, even if only in the smallest increments, until the full repertoire is again within my power to disperse.


  1. Obviously I am no expert, but I have to say, I think there are a lot worse things in the world than being alone. I've had to spend a lot of time learning that lesson. It hasn't been easy and it has lead me to confiding and finding "friends" in some pretty interesting places, but the older I get, the more I realize that I am going to be fine on my own. You are such an amazing woman. You will be fine too.

  2. Thank you, hun! You know, I'm a pretty interesting place to find a friend. And I miss being around you. What do you say to lunch this summer? Not just once, but maybe two or three times.