June 6 is a rather momentus day in my life. I debated about whether to talk about this on my blog, but signs are telling me that I need to work on letting a bit more of my personal self out there, to let more people see who and what I am, so here goes! I’m going to tell you a story because it can illustrate how we can learn from the events in our lives, not because I want folks to tell me how sorry they are, or how strong they think I am, or any other of that kind of stuff. I’m not looking for kudos, I’m trying to pass a message.
Thirteen years ago today all my worldly belongings were packed into the biggest Uhaul they make, plus a bunch more in pickup trucks. I was moving into the home I live in now. A week or so before, I had watched my soon to be ex husband move his worldly belongings in another Uhaul, away from our home and off to Reno. When he drove down the street, I collapsed in the middle of the road. I was devastated. All my dreams had shattered, I thought my marriage had been a lie, as my husband told me just before he left that he had never loved me, he only married me because I was his “pipeline to sobriety.” See, we were both sober alcoholics at the time. (I’m still sober, he’s dead from drugs and alcohol, he died last year.) But I had this cute little place to move into, and about a half dozen other sober drunks helping me move. If you’ve never experienced the humor and fellowship of sober drunks at a moving party, you’ve missed out. Their laughter held me up, just like elephants do when they circle around the weaker one of the pack to hold them up. They got me moved, making sure my bed was set up and made, so that I would have a place to sleep that night. My new life was starting. I still live in this place. I have a white picket fence. That’s a big deal to a drunk like me. People like me don’t normally have white picket fences. The symbol of a white picket fence is meaningful. It stands for peace and freedom and a normal life. I didn’t have that till I got sober.
A week after I moved here, I got the news in the mail, my divorce had become final on this same day, June 6 of 1996.
I journeyed through life after that. I am a photographer, I own a studio that does a lot of weddings. Going to do weddings every Saturday that summer after that was tough. I would have to find a private place during the reception while the bride and groom were eating to cry a bit and recompose myself to continue with my job.
That first winter here I struggled with a depression so deep I could not get out of bed. My AA sponsor commanded that I call the doctor when I finally told her what was happening with me. I got help and started to work my way out of that morass. I learned something: anger makes one feel powerful in a very powerless situation, but it’s a false sense of power, it doesn’t last long, and it will make you sick. I went the other way, into forgiveness. Forgiveness is one of the greatest spiritual tools we have available to us, the freedom we get from it is profound. I had to do some work to get to forgiveness, in AA we call it inventory work, but I got there and then I was able to make amends to my ex. After that we became friends and I was deeply saddened by his death. I was also very priviledged to be able to be there for his two adult children when he died. This is what recovery and spiritually allows one to do.
Two years later, also on June 6, but in 1998, I got a phone call about 4 am. My mother had passed away. I needed to get up and fax permission copies to the mortuary so they could get her body from my aunt’s house. It was a Saturday, I had two very large weddings that day. I was relieved my mom had gone on, for she had been in a lot of pain and misery. I had made my peace with her, and she with me, so there was no regret in her passing, only the normal grief. But I had two weddings to do. I was responsible for getting the photos that would last these couples and their families a lifetime. I had made promises, and I kept them. I don’t see a lot of good work ethic these days. I don’t know where I learned that if you make a committment to do a job you keep that committment no matter what, but I consider that a good work ethic and I’m proud of my work ethic. I pulled out an old technique I had learned from a long ago shrink called shelving. It means to shelve what emotions you are feeling when something else needs to be done. I’m very good at that. I went and made some of the best photos I ever made that day, and no one knew my mother had died that morning. I did almost lose it when the minister for the second wedding showed up. I had known him for years, and his manner is, well, very ministerial, and I wanted to confide in him, but I knew if I did I would not be able to stop crying, so I turned away from him when he arrived and resumed my job.
Today it is Saturday. I have a wedding this afternoon. A nice older couple who want to get married on the beach. It may not happen as the weather has been quite strange, cold, rainy. Yesterday it hailed and snowed on top of the mountain behind my house. But I spoke with them yesterday and they are excited to get married and have a Plan B and will be happy no matter what happens. I might still take them to the beach even if they don’t get married there, just so they can have some photos. I know they want them.
Today I am at peace. I remember that lady who grieved so for the loss of her marriage, and today I am grateful. I am grateful for the things my ex taught me. I am grateful for his place in my life. I am still sad by the turns he took in his life after we parted. I wished him nothing but the best, and he didn’t get it. But then again, maybe he did. In this philosophy, metaphysics, we teach that we each choose our own path, the path our soul calls us to travel, because it wants us to learn lessons we could only learn by choosing that path. Maybe that was the path for him. I don’t know. But I am still sad for him.
Today I am grateful for the business of this wedding this afternoon. I am grateful that this couple chose to allow me into their lives at this intimate time. I am excited because I am working with a new assistant today, an enthusiastic young man who wants to learn photography. I plan to teach him, even though one day he will go into direct competition with me. I have no fear of that, there is no competition in my world and there is enough for all of us.
Today I am at happy. I planted a garden where there was gravel and junk when I bought this place, and my plants are growing at such a rapid rate that it awes me every spring, how they can grow so fast. I’m beginning to see buds here and there. Spring comes late here in the mountains.
Today I am healed. It was a long road, but today I am able to be in an intimate relationship with another person and share on a level I was not able to share before, with my ex. I realize now, looking back on it, that we both had deep intimacy fears that prevented us from deepening our relationship. Perhaps with time we could have, but today I am healed and grateful for the wonderful relationship I have with Monty, who posts on this blog all the time.
Today I am a spiritual healer and counselor. Guru to some, although I am still somewhat uncomfortable with that. I look at my life as it was, and compare it to as it is, and shake my head in wonder. I smile, knowing I paved that road I traveled on, as there was no road there before. I built it, I paved it and I still travel new roads, making pavement as I go along. I still go the Road Less Traveled. Sometimes it gets a bit scary, but mostly I’m just excited about the journey.