carried away

carried away

Today I signed the divorce agreement papers. 

I was off to one of my favorite gardens to do a version of this ritual, a ritual I thought would be perfect for the fall season, a ritual I so desperately needed.  The sky was a brilliant clear blue, the air felt neither too hot nor too cold, a light  breeze was blowing.  Everything was at peace in my little world and in my little heart and I knew that this day was the day to get it done. 

It was really simple–too simple.  All I had to do was go to the notary public down the street and sign three copies. People all around me were busy making plans for vacations to India and sending money back home to family in Russia.  Laughing, living.  The notary asked me what kind of document I would be signing.  I whispered, a little choked up:  “A divorce agreement”.  I half expected her to kick me out–to tell me to take my somber business elsewhere.  She simple shrugged, wrote it down in her log and asked me for my ID.  She didn’t notice that my hand shook as I signed.  She was busy chatting with her partner.

When it was all over I drove immediately to Brookside Gardens, one of my favorite places.  It was hard at first to find a quiet place, a place with enough solitude for me to do what I needed to do.  It was the perfect day for wandering the gardens and so the place was packed with families.  I told myself that if it didn’t feel right I would leave.  I stopped worrying about it and let my heart lead.

my sheltering tree

my sheltering tree

I walked along the path looking for fallen leaves, gathering a bag.  As I walked over the crest of a hill, this tree called out to me.  Her roots were like two arms, offering an embrace, a safe place for me to do my work, her weeping boughs offering shelter and privacy.  I surprised myself when I said outloud–“This tree is for me”.  I walked over, touched her bark and settled in her arms.

I took from my bag a few smooth stones and wrote the names of things that weighed me down.  I had intended to only write one word but thoughts, phrases, memories all came tumbling out.  My stone was full.  I had one stone covered in images of Loss, one in images of Want, another in Shame and so on.

 And then when I was done, I began to write my fears on the leaves, one by one. 

When I was done I  said goodbye and one by one thew the rocks into the lake.  Then I took each fear one by one.  I thanked it for doing its best to protect me but I told it why I didn’t need it anymore.  I asked it to leave and threw the the leaf into the water and watched the water carry it away. 

Some of my fears were old acquaintances.  We once were fast friends these fears and me, but now they only popped over every once and awhile.   It was time to say goodbye for good, although it really felt more like a formality.  We had outgrown each other.  But it lightened my load to let them go.

letting go

letting go

But then, as I sat writing, I discovered there were some fears that really were important to me.  These were the fears that most recently did a pretty good job protecting my heart from the threat of more grief and loss and lonliness.  These were the ones I most needed to get rid of but saying goodbye to them was like ripping a bandaid off my heart, exposing her to the wide wide world.  Walking back to my car I felt lighter yes, more centered, more present in reality but oh did I feel vulnerable too.  Truly truly exposed.  Like a lobster who had just molted, naked and without armor.  But growing…

I drove back to meet Max.  We spent the day in the quiet comfort of our neighborhood family.  Then I took Max and we drove.  I felt the need to just hang out with him but to be out of the house. To be us against the world again.  We drove until we found a place to eat and played games and drew pictures while we ordered.

I know that this vulnerability is good.  It means that my heart is growing.  That letting go of fear makes room for new love, new experiences and new joy.  And I am grateful that I have places to go to tend to my heart–my writing, creativity, space with Max, walks in the autumn sunshine.

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