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Cheat the System, Trust the Process, and Find Joy

This morning, Christmas morning 2022, I performed another exorcism – an emotional bloodletting of sorts. I want to walk you through it, because I figure if it’s therapeutic for me … it may be therapeutic for you, too! Or, that’s my hope ...

Anyone with a family split by divorce knows the pain of separation at Christmas; the nostalgia, the loneliness, and the horrible grieving of a lost past, while simultaneously grieving the present and the future you were robbed of, too. It’s huge.

But what’s a girl to do, alone in her cabin, while her boys are with her ex’s side of the family, surrounded by people she used to host, and share food with, and laugh with, and play with - people whose love in which she once basked? How can it be that now, she drops her kids off and hugs them all a brief hello/goodbye with tears in her eyes?

We lose so much, in divorce. We lose good people. I guess it’s only fair that my husband ‘won’ his own relatives in the divorce … but I loved them, too.

Life, so often, ISN’T fair.

It’s hard.

And I still haven’t found a better word, than ‘hard’. “I must be a crappy writer”, I think to myself, and shake my head in wonder that you are still reading when ‘hard’ is the best I can do.

It’s FUCKING hard!

Is that any better?

But I don’t want to spend my whole day stuck ‘here’, feeling these ‘hard’ things, so I start asking myself some questions.

Inevitably, these ‘hard’ moments - acknowledging and feeling the awfulness of one of my jagged little reality pills - leads me down the same path. Of course, this path leads into the woods and disappears around a bend, and I never know exactly what to expect along the way … but I have come to learn that the only way out, is through. And moving through it, of course, requires forward movement.

And here is the truth. Until and unless, I can find somewhere safe to sit with my pain, feel it, and acknowledge it, there will be no room for connection and joy. There will be no forward movement. Without connection and joy in this numbed-out nowhere-land, I will ‘get stuck’ on the path, somewhere in the deep, dark woods.

For me, dealing with emotions the size and shape I’ve had to process after losing a fiancé, a home, a marriage, my children … means it’s going to get messy! I mean, if someone walked in, there would probably be an intervention – but, it works for me.

My process is messy, loud, and interspersed with bouts of snot and bursts of laughter. I often think it would be entertaining to strap a camera on me while I am doing manual labour around the farm, or while I’m in my cabin writing and listening to music, and I'm working through a doozy. There is generally a mixture of dancing, singing, laughing, crying, and stretching - aaaaaalways stretching - as I regain autonomy over my devastated body. You’d witness a withered Artemis; poisoned to prevent the recurrence of a disease already cut from her flesh; regain her energy, her purpose, her strength, and her tremendous vitality ... and one step at a time, you'd see her emerge from the woods, dancing.

Know this; ‘getting over it’ and ‘moving on’ doesn’t mean that it won’t ever hurt again. What it DOES mean, is finding a way to move through the pain, to make space for joy. Then, you have to remember to go looking for it.

Joy doesn’t show up and knock on your door. In fact, it is likely outside. It will require you going outside of yourself to find it.

Today, met with memories of the wonderful people I inherited through marriage and lost through divorce, celebrating without me, meant that I was either going to numb-out on the couch all day, in a state of semi-detachment, and go through the motions while self-medicating … or let it rip.

You know what I chose.

And this is how it went down.

It’s the coldest day we have had this year, and on the heels of a record-breaking blizzard. I threw on my parka, boots and scarf over my PJs and ancient bathrobe and trudged through the snow to my little cabin. I was struck by the wind and the biting cold on my bare hands. And the SUN - SO bright on the snow!

It took my breath away, as I scampered, head down into the wind and snow, to my 3-season cabin. Using it, in this - the 4th season – has its advantages and disadvantages. And it always depends on how you look at them.