Things change. And friends leave. Life doesn't stop for anybody. ― Stephen Chbosky, The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Over a month has passed since I wrote publicly. Announcing my divorce from Frankie was more painful... correction — getting divorced from Frankie is painful. End of sentence. I've been doing my best to treat it as simply another of life's happenings, like the paperboy knocking over one of the potted plants, spilling milk, getting a cavity, overdrawing from a checking account, or any number of mundane, at-most-annoying things that hold no comparison to the real, kick-in-the-gut pain of becoming unmarried. I didn't want it to affect me, but as I ignored it with my mind and my heart, my body has gently (read: not-so-gently) reminded me that I'm hurting, afraid, and have a new loss to grieve. Something has changed, and I can't just keep moving at my same breakneck pace.
Signing my divorce papers the day after I presented my last final CPE evaluation to my group, well, it may not have been the smartest idea. After spending the rest of the weekend in Chicago, I came home the next week only to quickly develop strep again, this time with the highest fever I've had in a while. 103° is no laughing matter. I almost whipped out the frozen peas, but that would have been a waste since I couldn't have swallowed them.
My neck, back, and legs have been stiff. My energy levels have been low. I have more difficulty waking. My nose has been running. My throat is still irritated.
...my body keeps reminding me, "hey, you, this is happening, and it hurts"...
So much has changed for the better in the last nine months. I am more confident. I ask for what I want and need from those around me in more direct ways. I speak more boldly. I voice my feelings and experiences more quickly rather than diving right into the fantasy of my mind. Even if not the best at it, I'm more mindful of my body, of how it feels, and of what I put into it (okay, so it's had a few too many cookies lately... leave me alone).
Other things have not changed... or they are changing more slowly. I still hold my tension and my emotions in my body instead of finding healthy ways of release; being physically active is still not my strong suit. I still have a flair for the dramatic and the fraught at times, wanting to be rescued but not always trusting the people around me to actually be there in the ways I need most.
...when you ask for help, you have to be willing to take what others offer with gratitude
I reached out last weekend via social media for help, and while there were some friends who responded in ways I felt met my situation appropriately, other responses were filled with quick platitudes, reminders of how "it will all be okay," advice on how to grieve and where to direct my grief energy, and many more. I am thankful of all who responded, who saw my invitation and who decided to go out on a limb. It was then, though, that I realized the challenge of such a broad reach-out when one is a spiritual care professional: sometimes you want to be chaplained the same way you've been taught to chaplain.
When I talked with my boss, Amy, on Monday about the weekend's events, she pointed out how natural it is to be afraid of change, and how my level of fear, anxiety, and trepidation is perfectly normal given all the change I've experienced in recent months. The truth is this: I'm not a superhuman. I am not immune from the fear of not knowing what my next job will be, the anger of having something not work out, and the sadness of losing a relationship in which I was deeply invested. I need support to get through, and I get better support when I ask directly. My body aches less when I stop expecting it to hold all my emotions. Crying helps. Screaming helps. Writing helps. Eating way too many Oreos — not so much.
We all face changes, and we all respond to those changes physically, emotionally, and spiritually. We're all afraid of something, and we do better for and are kinder to ourselves when we stop, take a breath, and name what we feel and fear. Even the most painful of changes does not have to be endured alone. We need only ask, and help will be there.
photo credit: Aurimus (vial Flickr)