Sunday, July 18, 2010


I was blessed this past week to have my very good friend and college roommate, Steve, drop by for a visit. His visits occur only infrequently, unfortunately, because he and his wife live in Arizona. Which is despite the fact that the climate there is basically inhospitable for human life. What with living in a desert and all.

I'm sure they'd say the same thing about midwestern winters.

But mostly what I find myself thinking about now is the experience of loneliness. This is perhaps in part because I've been alone most of this weekend. The boys are at Meg's place. So while I've had time to get things done, it has been...alone. I went to a movie by myself, golfed by myself, cleaned up the house by myself.

Of course, loneliness is only partially related to the actual presence of isolation. I remember a profound sense of loneliness growing up in a family of six children. I remember feeling alone in school surrounded by hundreds of children. I remember feeling alone in my marriage.

Mind you, isolation doesn't help any.

But part of what I find interesting about the experience is figuring out how much is fresh and how much is a kind of emotional echo. Because I think there's some of both. There is in loneliness a sense of missing companionship...but (at least for me) there is also a sense of having always been missing companionship, a sense of having always been an outsider, a sense of never quite fitting in.

This latter part of the feeling is not so much fresh as...known. And the very fact that this feeling is so familiar tells me that this part of the experience is not really about what's happening now. It's about a thought, a belief system, an emotional pattern that I carry around inside of my head. A pattern of neurons firing that is so well tread that it occurs at the slightest provocation.

It is tempting to see it as a kind of emotional enemy, something to be defeated and overcome. But my experience tells me that creating such a battle inside your soul is not the solution. My latest project for myself is to follow what Pema Chodron talks about -- to learn to relax into such experiences, to respond to them with openness and compassion rather than tension and resentment.

Because ultimately the loneliness that is truly about this moment is manageable and can be addressed. The loneliness from the past is a part of me; it cannot be destroyed, and a battle will only turn mind mind into a war zone. Such things can only be healed.

Peace to you, my friends.

Monday, April 05, 2010

the divorce mower

Meg is moving to her new place on Saturday, a day in which I will be taking the boys to a birthday celebration with my side of the family at Chuck E. Cheese's.

Meg's announcement of her impending move led to some urgency in getting some things taken care of before she left, things in particular that I need the van to transport (Meg will be getting the van in the divorce). The thing of particular import today was a lawn mower.

Buying the mower itself was a fairly simple process for me. I have a place I like to go to for servicing needs, and they sell a reasonably good brand of mowers. So I borrowed the van, went to this repair place, and picked one up.

Lawn mowers, it turns out, are kinda expensive. But the lawn mower itself is kinda cool.

Which, I was thinking, is an oddly appropriate metaphor for my feelings about the divorce right now. It's a big financial hit, what with less income, taking on a greater share of the costs for the home, and having to buy all this stuff. But I am left with a living situation that is less conflictual, more full of hope. Cooler.

It is now officially my divorce mower.

Peace to all of you.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Divorce is...

I was thinking recently that I might jump-start my effort to update my blog more frequently with a series of entries under the heading of "divorce is...."

I'm finding that, like most events of significance in life, divorce is many things, with layers and depths. It is grief. It is growth. It is imprisonment. It is liberation. It is fear. It is pain. It is hope.

It is, in short, a difficult journey...though perhaps not primarily so much one through the legal system, but through the heart, through the soul. Divorce has a tendency to expose and lay bare fears, angers, resentments, and bitterness. The least pleasant sides of yourself and of your partner are on full parade with an alarming frequency.

It is perilously easy to demonize, dangerously tempting to assume the worst in this kind of situation. And yet I have come to think that perhaps the greatest test of one's character is how you treat someone who is divorcing you. To do so with some sense of integrity, some sense of compassion, some sense of dignity and healthy boundaries...that, my friends, is growth. Painful, difficult, sometimes even excruciating...growth.

I can say with the utmost honesty that I fail that test at least as often as I pass it. But I hope and pray that I am getting better, that through this all I will have become more aware, more honest with myself, more compassionate.

My prayers for peace and love to all of you.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

on divorce and worry

I've been reading one of those books on the stages of grief as they relate to divorce. There is a lot of stuff in there that is true and helpful. Still, I can't help but find a bit laughable the notion that they can capture "stages" that describe what divorce is like for people.

Take me. At heart, I can be something of a worrier. And so, I find that the emotion most prevalent as I navigate this strange world of divorce is...(drum roll please)...worry.

My mind seems to have an almost endless creativity in finding things to worry about. I worry about whether I'm at fault for what happened. I worry about whether I'm being kind enough to Meg. I worry about whether I'm being kind enough to myself. I worry about how all of this is going to affect the kids. I worry about all manner of choices related to the divorce...from the bank I chose for refinancing the mortgage to my decision to stay in the home rather than move away. I worry about finding love again. I worry about whether my heart will heal enough to be open to it.

The worry itself, of course, really shouldn't surprise anyone. Worriers, when faced with stress...worry. It's as close to a psychological truism as they come.

Part of what I find intriguing about the worry, though, is that logic seems to have little power over it. I know that most of these worries are untrue or exaggerated. But knowing this logically has little power over worry. Indeed, worry seems to respond to this by worrying about why on earth I would have so many illogical worries.

No, worry seems to respond better to a kind of inner gentleness, to acceptance, to kindness. I pray that I might remember to bring that attitude to myself, to Meg, and to our boys in the days to come.