|My writing spot by the Miami River|
Good Friday was a day of self-care and reflection for me. I scheduled an early massage appointment at Harmony Farm because I wanted to have time to walk the labyrinth on the grounds before having lunch in Tipp City.
The massage was blissful, opening my mind to new thoughts and connections. The weather was perfect, the first day in weeks with temperatures warm enough to want to do the hike down to the labyrinth and be comfortable walking slowly. My mantra, Solvitur Ambulando, It Is Solved By Walking, guides my steps. As I navigated around the twists and curves of the labyrinth, I stayed open. I found myself asking, who am I? The immediate answers were wife, mother, friend, writer, creative, and teacher. That wife came first was eye opening. I am no longer a wife. But its place in the list tells me how important that role was to me. And though I am no longer a wife, it does not mean I wasn't a very good one because I was. It's been a long journey to recognize and accept that.
After the labyrinth, I decided to walk down to the Miami River. Harmony Farm has picnic tables and benches there, a fine place to write, reflect, and enjoy nature. As I walked I kept noticing forked sticks. After the fourth or fifth one, I decided to pick one up. I had a flash back to Lent ten years ago. I was reeling from the discovery of my husband's affair and was in my home town in Pennsylvania. I fled there while my husband remained in Ohio to decide if he wanted me or the twenty three year old woman with whom he was having an affair. As I write that I am astounded that I tolerated that. I expect that most folks who know me are surprised as well. Severe trauma can do that; it can bring us to our knees. Literally in this case. I remember going to confession and sobbing out my story to an elderly, very startled priest. He had no idea how to help me. I did not know how to help myself but I knew I needed help. Which brings me to these forked sticks in my path. I had to make a choice back then. I chose to survive and I chose to do whatever it takes to feel whole again.
People react to trauma in different ways. With regard to affairs and divorce, it is quite common to see some divorce quickly and then immediately find another relationship. Some folks stay together without doing any healing work and live with toxic hurt and mistrust bubbling below the surface. Some couples work together, maybe for the first time in their relationship truly being honest and vulnerable with one another, and create a better, stronger marriage. In my case there was no quick divorce nor was there any healing. So it was up to me to do the work on my own. PTSD is not something one heals from quickly. But I chose to walk that way; I took that fork in the road. Perhaps all these sticks in my path were there to remind me to do it again. To look at the possibilities and decide where to go next. The journey was difficult but rewarding. I'm glad I took the time to sort through all the hurt and pain and examine who I was, who I am, and who I choose to become. My first, most important role is to be myself. Only then can I successfully meet others' needs. To get here required time. To get here required making difficult choices. I needed to be on my own. I did not need to fill the hole created by divorce with another person; I needed to fill it with myself. Now I wake each day with gratitude and say, "I choose to be happy." I've put on my traveling shoes and look forward to the journey.
The last stanza of Robert Frost's poem, The Road Not Taken:
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.