“When you come to the edge of all the light you know, and are about to step off into the darkness of the unknown, FAITH is knowing one of two things will happen: There will be something solid to stand on or you will be taught how to fly.” – Barbara Winter
On October 13th I will be celebrating my 30th wedding anniversary. Funny how different a twenty-something’s view of marriage is versus the view at fifty-something. But that day is one of my fondest and because of what happened five years ago I am most grateful for this celebration. Teacher, writer, mystic, Joseph Campbell says “The hero/ine’s journey always begins with the call. One way or another, a guide must come to say, ‘Look, you’re in Sleepy Land. Wake. Come on a trip. There is a whole aspect of your consciousness, your being, that’s not been touched. So you’re at home here? Well, there’s not enough of you there.’ And so it starts.”1 I did not know this at the time but I had received the call.
An early October morning in 2009 will be forever branded into my memory. Seared is more accurate, just the way it must feel for cattle when a rancher puts his mark on them. Burns at first, smoke rises, the image permanently imprinted. My husband had been on a business trip, nothing out of the ordinary as travel has been part of his livelihood for over 20 years. Unbeknownst to me, however, he had arranged to meet an old college love the night before. For some reason we did not make our usual connection on his estimated time of arrival back home before I fell asleep. Consequently, was completely caught off guard by what was about to unfold. His late arrival @ 4am came with the words “I’m not sure I want to be married to you anymore” and the unraveling of our 25 year marriage began. Time stood still while I tried to make sense of what was happening and telling myself this was a dream I would soon wake up from. I began to free fall. Could not breathe. Nothing familiar to hold onto. Nothing to do but fall into the dark abyss of the unknown.
Within 2 weeks, my husband was out of the house. My disorientation period continued, half in the present, half wanting to believe this was not happening. Kept gripping my belly, no appetite, couldn’t sleep, took deep exhales and long walks in the woods or wandered listlessly around my home. The only thing I can compare this experience to was being in labor; focusing on a spot on the wall and breathing as the waves of a contraction washed over me. This adventure endured for 5 months. Even though I prayed every day for my beloved’s return there was a point where I surrendered the marriage having lost all hope of reconciliation. However, I could never completely let go of why I had fallen in love with this person in the first place and all we had experienced together, including two beautiful daughters, and basically growing up with one another.
My surrender was a letting go, not a giving up. Once I accepted my circumstances, however, a shift began to occur. Throughout this whole process my beloved had asked for time to figure this out. Slowly but surely that is what he did. He eventually found his way back home and we have been finding our way back to each other ever since. Our relationship is deeper, more loving, more real than we could have ever imagined. I’m intentionally writing this now as the October Full Moon is ripening. Full Moon’s are the time of the month to release, cast off, shed, bury what is no longer needed. I choose to release this and create space for something new. I haven’t been ready to share any of this out loud until now, but plan to continue “writing down my bones” as a way to heal and bring closure to this life chapter. This is enough for now. But remember, we all lose our way. The real adventure is finding our way back.
1 Osben, Diane K, A Joseph Campbell Companion, Reflections on the Art of Living, 1991, Harper Collins.