Thursday, January 26, 2012

FInding the Balance



Soon after HOB left, I figured out I needed some professional help to sort through the wreckage of my emotional life. I had never been in therapy before, but I was lucky enough to end up on the couch of a very fine woman who has helped me immeasurably.

Early in the process of recovery, I wailed to her, “I am so tired of this. I just want to be the old Betty again!”

She leaned toward me, locked her deep brown eyes on mine, and softly said the exact words I did not want to hear: “You will never be the old Betty again.”

I gasped and looked at her in dismay. She continued, “You will be a different person because of what has happened to you.” In a flash I decided I needed a new therapist, one who would tell me what I wanted to hear, damn it. She said, “You will never be the old you, but you will be a more empathetic person, a person who understands life and people’s pain in a whole new way.”

At the time, it didn’t seem to me that that was a good deal. I was in too much of my own pain to see how this chasm in my life could actually transform into a bridge to other people.

However, she was right. Before when people spoke to me of loss, of betrayal, of the pain of unwanted change, I smiled a sympathetic smile, and said the well-worn phrases that I had learned to say as a bystander of life’s misfortunes and calamities. Now that am a bit of a veteran, I know that just my eye contact, my facial expression, my hand over the hand of another, communicates more than any words could.

Indeed, when I think back to breaking the news to others, there was, in the eyes and the actions of those who had traveled down this road before me, recognition, a concern, an empathy that told me they really got it. They really understood. Also, in that exchange there was the unspoken strength and assurance that came through that I would indeed make a good, a better life for myself. So many of these kind souls added the words I did not believe at the time, “It will get better.”

I will never be glad my marriage fell apart. A part of me may always feel the ache of the exacting and absolute amputation performed on that late August night. I know what it’s like to be holding a rope, to depend on it, and have someone on the other end let go of his end and walk away.

You fall.

You fall hard.

It hurts.

It’s confusing as hell.

You struggle and struggle to get back on your feet, and you stand, bruised and shaken, not at all sure of your path. Then, slowly, just like everyone said it would, it gets better. You regain your balance. You find your dignity and strength restored--restored and even increased.

And that’s when it happens: you come across someone else is hurting and without even considering whether you are strong enough or ready enough, you reach out, pull that person up, dust him or her off and say those words that he or she won’t believe until later: “It will get better.”

And then, you aren't the old you and you aren't the new you.

You are just the person you were meant to be.



64 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

The greatest therapy for our own pain is the act of reaching out and helping another. Glad you are to that point, Betty.

Old Kitty said...

Awww BB!! Thank you for sharing your emotional journey in the most articulate way possible! It looks like you are going to be a-ok! Yes you are!! You are mighty BB in the throes of reincarnation and it's good to be in this journey with you.
Take care
x

faye said...

Absolutely ... it will get better and better.

Zuzana said...

Beautiful post. And so enlightening to me.
I have never thought about that one single fact: all those hardships and all that pain and disappointment and all that loss that I went through has actually made me understand someones pain better. It has made me a better person.
Beautiful sentiments dear friend. The last two lines are perfect.;)
xoxo

Mamma has spoken said...

Beautiful post Betty! It does get better with time.

Madi and Mom said...

BB thank you for sharing this very personal, heartfelt post with us.
You don't know what is waiting for you around the next bend in the road; however, I'm confident you will handle it with grace and understanding.
Hugs C

Anne Gallagher said...

Just like the acorn that falls to the ground, you've planted new roots and will grow to be a tall and majestic oak. Go you! I can't be any more proud of you than I already am.

Olga said...

Well done, indeed. ...the person you were meant to be. Beautiful.

Laura Eno said...

And you are beautiful, Betty, both inside and out. Keep going, girl!

Rawknrobyn.blogspot.com said...

How you transform your words and life experiences into works of art - you truly inspire. This piece really touches me. Plus I laughed out loud at the lines about your therapist. I'm glad you found a wise one.
xoRobyn

Tabor said...

The old soul of Betty has always been there hidden behind the crust of pain which it seems has now turned into lovely lace. I find that imagery of the rope and the fall so honest and so insightful.

Slamdunk said...

I am glad that you found someone to help Betty. When I was in law enforcement, it pained me to see folks who never were able to move past a relationship that ended.

Marg said...

Love that saying, 'It will get better' and that is so true. I became a different person during my cancer treatments. Glad to hear that things are getting a little better for you. Keep smelling those flowers. Take care.

Flartus said...

Omigosh, Betty, you got me all teared up! I'm so very glad you are feeling stronger--and that you know you are stronger. Wow, you're gonna be totally amazing now. We need to get you a cape. :)

Lin said...

Damn, Betty. You are something! You have come a long way in a very short time.

If you were a song, you'd be an anthem. :)

Momma Fargo said...

I'm right there with ya, Betty. Mine has been final for over a year. You have come a long way in a very short time. You are strong.

We are never the same, but a part of me came back that I had lost during the marriage. It was the ME that my husband had stifled. I'm a free spirit and that part of me is back. I also learned to rely on myself, my friends, and my family. In the long run, I am stronger.

It still hurts, but it gets less every day. I kept myself busy and work hard on hobbies, projects, fixing things, and blogging.

Therapy helpe me too. We must have the same therapist. LMAO.

Hugs.

Eva Gallant said...

You expressed yourself perfectly! It does get better...bit by bit!

Mandy_Fish said...

Oh hell's bells you just brought tears to my eyes.

This was beautiful, as are you.

The Empress said...

Yes, sadly, Betty.

But you know what is awesome?

You don't go back to the old you.

You don't even have to think about, you stay changed.

A woman came up to me at a parent's swim meet, and out of the blue said, "I'm going through a divorce."

I stopped what I was doing and looked at her...without thinking, I put my hand on her arm, looked in here eyes and said, "Oh...I am so sorry."

She looked at my surprised and said, "Thank you. Most people say, "well, must've been for the best." and then go on to talk about something else.

Your therapist will be wonderful in your life, just like mine saved me.

I wish you were on twitter.

xo

Entre Nous said...

I think of you often and am glad to see hope shining through :}

Out on the prairie said...

It all is coming around well, and you have grown during all of this.Many of us would prefer a different route, but this path falls on many.

Susan in the Boonies said...

This post has moved me to tears.
We carry our scars with us where we go.
We are not the same.
I KNOW WHAT YOU MEAN when you said, "I just want the old me back".
Your vulnerability and new found strength give me hope.

Love you, Betty.

Retired English Teacher said...

I love the last line. You are so right. It is all about find balance again at a time when we never believe that is possible.

I love that you have been so open with us, Betty. Your authenticity and transparency about what you are feeling while you keep from speaking negatives about your former husbands testify of your character.

You are able to change and become "the person you were meant to be" precisely because you are honest and open. These traits make you an excellent writer, one with whom the reader can readily relate. They also make you an excellent human being. One I am proud to know.

Gigi Thibodeau said...

Oh, Betty, I've just been reading through some of your posts from the past few months. What a time you've been through, and how poignantly you write about it.

A few years ago, when my whole life fell apart, I began going to counseling, and my therapist said almost the exact same thing to me. I was angry with her for days, and probably weeks! I felt so robbed of everything I cared about, and now I couldn't even be my comfortable old self anymore?!

I didn't understand at first that things just are what they are. I was different . . . and I would keep changing. That just felt too out of control to even face at the time. When I look back over the past five years, I am so glad to be, as you put it, "the person I was meant to be," but it has been a long, slow journey to get here. The best piece of the whole process is the empathy for others that I've gained.

Thanks so much for this beautiful post. You are a strong and wise woman. xo Gigi

Sush said...

Oh Betty...how do you manage to put your feelings (and what so many have experience as well) into words that exactly express what you've been through. You are a real class act...I admire how you have handled all of your problems. Yes even the wanting to tear out your hair moments. You are honest and true to yourself but not to the destruction of others. A rare and wondrous person you indeed are.
Blessings~

Poetic Shutterbug said...

Betty, I am so sorry you had to go through all of this and I can feel your emotions though your words.

It's been my experience when we go through a loss of any kind, that pain, though it is always with you becomes easier to cope with as time passes. Reaching out to others makes us stronger and helps us cope.

Thank you for sharing your experience with us.

Lindy MacDuff said...

It's a wonderful thing to be the person you were meant to be. :-)

Brian said...

We all love you because you are who you are meant to be!

Talli Roland said...

Betty, what a wonderful and beautiful post. Thank you.

jenny_o said...

That's a great analogy.

Wonderful to hear that you have come so far already. You're an inspiration to anyone going through any kind of upheaval and trying to make it to the other side.

Pearl said...

I do love how thoughtful you are, Betty.

:-)

Pearl

Leanne said...

Beautiful, Betty. So beautifully written . . . Honest . . . Brave . . . Real . . . All the things tht make you YOU. Yes, you will never be the same . . . but from where I see it, this Betty is just as amazing as the other. And I am so glad to know you.

Jennifer Shirk said...

Wow, I blinked at what the therapist said to you. But it is true. Thoughtful and moving post.

Ann said...

Awesome Betty. Not only is this a fabulous post but you are a fabulous person.
You know, it's been a long time since my divorce and I've remarried and I still can't say that I'm glad my first marriage ended the way it did but I can say that it was probably for the best. It enabled me to become a person I really like.

Gigi said...

Oh Betty, you brought tears to my eyes. What you say is true - and not just for the turmoil that you've been (and are) going through.

All of life's "bumps in the road" (for lack of a better term) change and shape us into who we are meant to be. And that was a message that I seriously needed to remember for myself.

I'm so glad you went for help when you needed it most. And I'm so glad you found someone who could help you.

Peggy K said...

I adore you! I adore how beautifully you write. How you say it just the right way.

I love what your therapist said. If I were to have one wish granted, it would be that everyone realizes that with every breath they take, every moment of the day, they are not and will never be the person they were the moment before. And that's a good thing.

Your words give others strength, BB. Thank you for that!

Bouncin Barb said...

That is exactly what happens too! When Rich had his heart attack, we kept waiting to feel "normal" again. It wasn't until a nurse/therapist told us that "life as you knew it has ceased to exist". Once we accepted that things got much better and accepted all things new. You're doing so great. I'm really proud of you! Hugs.

Linda said...

It makes me wonder if your therapist has been down this road herself. She seems to have the wisdom that is usually only the result of experience.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

You have journeyed a long way to this new you. I'm glad to be reading your wisdom again.

Catherine said...

Fantastic post Betty. Truly inspirational. Always changing, always learning, always growing. That's life I guess.

Wishing you a beautiful weekend friend.
xo Catherine

Linda Myers said...

Nope, you'll never be the old you. You'll be the new, transformative you.

It will be wonderful, eventually.

Ms. A said...

With my hand over yours, I can say without a doubt, it will get better. You will never be the old Betty, you will the be stronger, survivor Betty. It will get easier.

Daisy said...

Betty, you have such a good, kind and caring heart that I'm sure you have always been there helping others up and dusting them off even before you ever experienced this pain. You probably don't even have any idea of how many you have helped along the way. (I'm thinking especially of your students here, but I'm sure there are many in the other areas of your life as well.) I'm sure, though, that you can empathize with those who are down even stronger now than you did before. Very well-written post, as always.

Mrs.C said...

Simply beautiful Ms. Betty! Simply beautiful!

Hilary said...

Beautifully expressed, dear Betty. You gave me tears with this one. That rope analogy is so perfect and your last two lines... well that's when the tears came. You are a true gem.

SquirrelQueen said...

A very well written and beautiful post Betty. As I read your words I realized something. Through the years friends have told me of troubles within their lives and my normal response has been 'I'm sorry' and 'it will get better'. So easily spoken but until we experience something like this we have no clue as to how it feels.

Every experience changes us, some more than others.

Murugi Njehia said...

This is lovely!I am new to your blog and i am a new follower. :)

Green Monkey said...

ah Beautiful Betty... you're doing such a fabulous job of untwisting and rebuilding. much love to you my friend

Shan said...

Your words are so true and so right.

Hugs.

SueAnn said...

Yes a new Betty! Beautiful, caring, compassionate.....I like this Betty
Hugging you
SueAnn

CiCi said...

Betty, Betty, oh my gosh. This is so wonderful. You write from your heart and you reach down into mine and people like me.

I so like the description of the person holding the other end of the rope, letting go and walking away. For me, trust is huge, and to find that trust abused hurts like hell.

Look in the mirror, Betty. Look at the beauty and the experience and the new dignity.

Kazzy said...

I have never even met you in person and I can see a transformation in the last 6 months. I wonder who I am meant to be...

Susan said...

Reaching out and caring about someone else, is still the best feeling around.
Susan
http://www.squidoo.com/my-favorite-coupon-offers

Nezzy said...

There are so many things that happen to us in this old life that change us forever.

That doesn't mean that we can't be better than we were before.

I know while we're walkin' through the storms that we can't often see the sunshine but Honey, it will be there and shine on you again.

God bless and have a wonderful weekend sweetie!!! :o)

The Chicken's Consigliere said...

It is amazing how things get better and how friends and even strangers can help. I'm glad it is getting better for you.

busana muslim said...

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Velvet Over Steel said...

Oh yeah!! Perfectly explained and put, Betty!! We get stronger and Better; so doubt about it!! :-)

Pat said...

All of our experiences in life shape us into who we are today. We don't have to LIKE the experiences, nonetheless, they happen. This divorce has made you a STRONGER and more EMPATHETIC woman. There's the silver lining!

Pat Tillett said...

You don't always get what you want from a therapist, but you usually get what you need...
I'm so happy that you are there. You are awesom!

You know my background. I didn't get to this point of semi-normal, by myself. Years of therapy. It's not always easy, but if you are willing to work and walk through your pain, the payback is amazing!

Jenny said...

Oh Betty, what a powerful and wonderful post.

I love Pat's comment. I will remember it.

It's so hard to cling on to our image of what we were and what our lives were. Letting go can be so difficult...but, oh my, when we do our eyes are free to open wide in wonder at the possibilities.

Incedible post, Miss Betty.

Joanna Jenkins said...

Thank gawd for good therapists. I'm so glad you sought help and worked it through to the end... which is really the beginning, isn't it.

Keep up the good work.
xo jj

Tracy said...

What a powerful blog Betty...and so true; we are who we were meant to be-hurts and all. I had some wonderful therpists in my life and while I didn't always enjoy hearing what they had to say, they helped me tremendously...keep working dear!

KleinsteMotte said...

The image of the rope is very powerful. Although there are some ropes that need some slack (kids growing up), the severed ropes are mighty painful! You are a survivor. And that you are changed is definite, but you are wiser. And it's good that you have some solid friendships. HUGS

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