That's because we separated very early this year. Our divorce is just around the corner.
What followed has been the hardest year of my life. Separation. Preparing for divorce. Property settlement. Shared child care arrangements. Massive financial stress. Not knowing where the kids and I would be living in a year. Planning for a completely different future I had envisioned for myself and my kids.
I think I've spent long periods of time thinking that if I have done enough yoga, meditated enough, attended enough couples counselling sessions, read all the parenting books, done the conscious marriage courses, that things will be perfect... or something near it.
But that's the thing about seeking security, or perfection, or "balance". Life has a way of going, "yeah, nah... not so fast." And throwing a bucket of paint all over you when you're donned in your finery. Or landing you with three bills over $2000 in one week (that happened to me last week).
Equanimity, this sentiment of "the only constant is change, accept it", is easy to swallow on paper. I have buddhist leanings, so am familiar with the concepts of suffering and pain as inevitable parts of life.
Being equanimous doesn't mean this shit doesn't hurt, though. You can accept things change and end. And it can also still hurt like hell.
But perhaps, it hurts a little less if I accept it, than if I resist and fight and wish it was all different (which I definitely do at times).
To be fully alive, fully human, and completely awake is to be continually thrown out of the nest. To live fully is to be always in no-man's-land, to experience each moment as completely new and fresh. To live is to be willing to die over and over again.
- Pema Chodron, When Things Fall Apart
So what has it been like? Well, primarily... it's been a rollercoaster of emotions.
Grief, so much grief.
Guilt, that I couldn't make things work between us... and for not always being able to navigate my way through it with grace and dignity. Anger, at all the unresolved issues between us. Disappointment that the two kids, happy marriage and white picket fence ideal that seemed finally within my grasp, disintegrated in my hands.
To make ends meet I went back to working as a veterinarian, my original qualification. I needed stability and security, something that working for myself couldn't provide at that point in time. It wasn't my heart's work but I found satisfaction in it and the people I worked with were amazing. Thank you Maleny Veterinary Services!
The thing is, working as a vet and reconfiguring my long term goals to build my skills in that area, left little space for anything else that gave me joy.
I stopped teaching all of my classes, except for a loyal group of women I was running privates for... and even that had to be put on hold after a while.
I drastically reduced my nutrition client work. My work with eating disorder clients, women trying to balance their hormones or have babies. Deeply rewarding work I just didn't have the brain space for with my other vet work going on at the same time... and more accurately, with the inner turmoil I was experiencing.
I referred on all health professionals seeking mentorship because I didn't have the energy to give them my 100%.
But it hasn't all been doom and gloom! I've also experienced intense joy and peace. Joy, at reconnecting with certain parts of myself I'd lost for some time. Peace, because I no longer need to suppress parts of myself that I had to keep contained in my marriage in order for it to "work".
I've found wells of inner strength and resourcefulness I didn't realise I had. I remember now that I can do really hard things when I have to.
The things that kept me going were:
- friends, first and foremost. You know who you are. I love you.
- seeing my psychologist
- pranayama, in bed at night before falling asleep. Except when I'm exhausted, which happens more often than not now that I'm a single mum.
- time in nature
- yoga asana and strength training, while not always consistent, definitely helped me keep my sanity.
It's funny how tough circumstances can make you dig more deeply into whatever tools and support you have... and make you realise that you do indeed have them.
You have these too. And if you don't, look up nadi shodhana pranayama and start with that. It helps.
It has taken me this long to publicly talk about this, because I've been processing. Numbing out at times, out of necessity when I just didn't have energy or heart to "work on it" anymore. But processing, too.
In short, it has been a f*cking hard year. But I am finally starting to come out the other side.
Just a few weeks ago, I quit my job at the vet. I miss my calling, my work in yoga and nutrition. I'm grateful for the experience, and I know that I need to do what I love to be truly happy... even if it doesn't come with a regular wage, automatic superannuation and benefits!
Despite all the shit I'm smiling in the photo above. I've managed to look for and be grateful for all the beautiful things in my life right now, of which there are MANY!
So if you, too, have had a hard year, I'm with you. Believe me when I say, it will get better. Remember, you have tools, and resources. I'd love to hear from you about any tools and resources (inner or external) that have worked for you when times have been tough.
I'm still going through it, still learning, still grieving. AND. I'm so grateful for all this practice has taught me, and I can't wait to share it again with people again.
And if, for you, it continues to be a dark tunnel for now, know that you can get through it, you can do hard things, too.