A few months ago, blogger Swati from The Singe Mothers Chronicles invited me to write a guest post about something positive I’d learned from my divorce. My post was about how my divorce had taught me to trust my gut or my intuition. For those of you who missed it, here it is:
Divorce, for me, was and continues to be a learning opportunity, mostly about me. One of my most valuable lessons has been learning to trust to my gut or put another way, listening to my emotions and paying attention to them.
I’ve learned I’m a pleaser by nature – I’m a Libran which means I like peace and harmony. Nothing wrong with that except that ever since I was a child, I’ve often kept quiet about my own needs so as not to rock the boat. I don’t voice my own needs easily. My upbringing taught me to look at issues logically and rationally rather than emotionally; there is no point in getting upset about something that makes sense so don’t waste your energy. Accept it and move on.
I was married for almost seventeen years. It was never an easy marriage, except perhaps in the early years before the children came along. Regardless, I’d vowed to be faithful in sickness and in health ‘til death and the very thought of divorce was foreign. For one thing, no one in my family had been divorced and I had no friends who’d experienced it. Divorce was something that happened to other people and I felt that getting divorced would be like admitting I’d failed, that I’d made a bad decision. Every time the thought popped into my head, I simply pushed it away – wasn’t going to happen to me.
Then, I was visiting a very good friend – she lives in England, I’m in the U.S. so we don’t get to see each other very often but we’ve been friends for thirty years now. Quietly over a cup of tea, she asked if I’d thought about divorce. I explained I didn’t think it was an option because it wouldn’t change much, after all, we had two children and I’d still have to communicate with my husband. She left it at that.
When I got back to the U.S. the question kept popping into my head, refusing to be ignored. Finally, I thought I’d seek the help of a therapist. I went to see one who my acupuncturist recommended. To be perfectly honest, when I first met her I thought she was a little weird. I didn’t mind that she was Buddhist but what felt so strange was the way she started the session. She wanted me to sit on the coach, hands in my lap, close my eyes and breathe. Then to talk about how that felt, did I feel tension anywhere, did I feel any sensations, what was uncomfortable. Well, just doing that and then talking about it made me uncomfortable although I don’t think I told her that … remember, I like to please.
I learned that this was body-centered psychotherapy. Others call it your Internal Guidance System. As we talked about whether I should end my marriage, we used this technique to test various decisions. Could I visualize being single? Was I ready to tell my husband? How did I feel about possibly not seeing my children every day? How did I feel about giving up the secure financial future?
My therapist and that technique guided me through the hardest and most painful decision I’ve ever had to make and guided me toward a much happier future. I still use the technique. Sometimes now, it is instinctive like when I’m juggling priorities with not enough hours in the day or when I’m trying to choose a contractor for a home maintenance task.
Other times I’m less tuned in to what my gut is telling me: the knot and burning sensation at the base of my neck on my right side develops, screaming at me to stop what I’m doing and to listen. Then, I work through a process of elimination to discover the cause – could it be an event or meeting I’ve accepted that I don’t want to go to? Could it be the argument I had last night with my daughter? Could it be that I haven’t been spending enough time with my children? Could it be something that someone said to me that has upset me?
When I hit on the right cause, the knot intensifies and then I work through possible solutions. The solution that feels right is the one that makes the tension ease. Yes, it is usually that obvious and it is that immediate. If I don’t get that feeling, then I know I need to spend some more time thinking it through.
I’m not saying I always make the “right” decisions now but I am much more confident I’m making the decisions that are right for me, decisions that factor in all that touchy feely stuff, decisions that recognize my needs, decisions that are true to me and I know I’m a happier person for it.