I think it’s time to add a new category here on Seedling: Healing After Separation. Yes, I can feel myself healing, though so much is still changing and I am still in an extreme state of limbo. The kids and I are still faced with a very uncertain future, what is certain is that change is upon us, we are up to our necks in it. Yet, somehow, we seem to be healing.
The beautiful part of all the messiness of separation and divorce, is that, for me, I honestly feel liberated. It’s so clichéd, I know, but I do. I’ve been released from all the strange inklings that something was off. I’ve been released from the worry surrounding Chepe’s actions. I’ve been released from the incredible weight of being the one who has to keep it all together all by myself. Now, I am the only one working to keep it all together, yet somehow, it doesn’t seem so unmanageable; now I just have to keep it together for two small kids and one adult, rather than try to manage two children and two adults, one of which seems out of my control. I have suddenly been liberated of having to be a part of a team – and making sacrifices as such; I am liberated from being the only one playing on that team and the only one who made sacrifices, and am now able to explore parts of me that were so important before I was married but that I shoved into the very back of the closet afterward because they didn’t seem to have their place, because they were completely unsupported. It feels awesome to be returning to Me finally.
It’s not to say that I think that my time with Chepe was a waste, no, a month or two before the shit hit the fan, the topic came up of us growing into the best us possible, and I said that I felt that I had grown to be a better person throughout our marriage. I asked him if he felt the same. Interestingly, and it all makes sense now, he shrugged and gave an evasive answer, but more or less said that no, he didn’t feel that way. (Well, that’s because he wasn’t better, worse if anything, but maybe the same, I’m really not sure now.) For me personally, I feel like I really learned how to love deeply and put others first and work really hard with little compensation during these seven years that we were together, and especially during these past 5+ years since my children were born. I was a Peace Corps volunteer when I met Chepe, more or less giving up two years of my life to serve in a foreign country, yet I feel that I really learned what service is after my kids were born. I feel that I learned humility, and sacrificial love, in a way that I would never have been able to learn it without them.
But there were parts of me that had been really important to me that I really just stuffed into a bag and threw under my bed. Some of these parts I tucked in slowly, others were gathered up quickly like fallen leaves in the autumn and discarded with little thought because they didn’t seem to have a place. Others, it felt like Chepe picked them up and bagged them, they weren’t things that he could support, didn’t want to support. And I let that happen, because sacrifices have to happen in marriage, right? But what of the things that are really important to you, so important that they really are part of who you are, not just a part of you? Sometimes you don’t realize how important they are until they’ve gone away for a while and then come back.
At any rate, I feel alive like I haven’t in a long time. I’m still choked with sadness that my days as a stay at home mom are coming to an end, I am searching for full-time work, day-time work. It’s unavoidable. But other things are awakening within me, they are sprouting up like seedlings in the spring-time sun, though it is October. The autumn is a time to acknowledge and let go of those things within you that are dying. My marriage is dead to me. There is no going back for me. But I am alive!
Today, I took the kids to Farm Sanctuary in Watkins Glen, NY. We went on a tour and met some of the rescued animals. We listened to the facts about big factory farming. It’s disgusting, inhumane, and totally irresponsible. It’s amazing that we fight for humane treatment of cats and dogs in the US, yet willingly eat animals that spend their entire lives in worse conditions with no light at the end of the tunnel, bred to grow impossibly large within a short time and being butchered before they reach maturity. The animals that we eat are tortured before they arrive at our tables. It’s as blatant as that.
I am not vegan, I am not even vegetarian, but I practiced vegetarianism in college. I gave it up when I entered the Peace Corps to get the most out of my experience. Post-Peace Corps, being vegetarian was not something that I felt could fit into my married life. We didn’t eat meat every day, actually, Chepe was very against eating meat everyday, or even animal proteins, it wasn’t how he was raised. But by the end, it felt like we were, it was just a habit and we had gotten into it. But returning to vegetarianism was something that I did consider as he was leaving. I gave it a half-assed attempt, but wasn’t too into it, and used the excuses of the kids, that our teeth indicate that we are omnivores, blahdie blahdie blahdie. Yes, that’s true, but the compassionate part of me knows that these animals suffer. What’s a girl to do?
Well, it’s time to add second new category: Compassionate Living. I’ve decided to move towards a more vegan diet, which will be awesome for Elizabeth, she loves fresh fruits and veggies. I am going to join a CSA (community supported agriculture) again next year, which I had all ready been planning. I all ready have local beef in my freezer, I know the farmers and the animals. I also have local sources of eggs from which I know how the animals are treated. I plan to seek out sources for locally raised chicken and pork, accepting only meat from farmers who treat their animals humanely and allow them access to the outdoors. Luckily, I live in an agricultural area, and it should be possible. Chicken is the thing that I think will be hardest to find, cuz who wants to butcher and pluck chickens? But overall, lets move towards a more plant-based diet, and treat the world and our fellow creatures with respect.
That’s not all though, ‘returning to me’ involves living a compassionate life, making choices that positively impact my local community, making choices that positively impact our global economy and those that we share this earth with, making choices that positively impact our planet Earth. I felt like Chepe lived a life like that when I met him, during our first years, but as time went on, he seemed to care less and less. My friend and her boyfriend recently split as well, and she said that she wants to find someone who’s values were more in line with hers, I would say the same (if I do bother to try to date, which I may not).I still believe, and I have always believed, that the choices each of us makes does make a difference, no matter how small it may seem, and I intend to live my life that way.
What I like about living consciously is that my children see this and learn from it. I was very open today with Elizabeth about the realities of factory farming, we talked about it a lot. The conversations led this way and that, it was very interesting, and she absorbs so much and makes so many great connections all on her own – like that chewing gum is not vegan, which we learned in a book we have at home, so she couldn’t have any at the sanctuary because it is a vegan establishment. By talking about the choices I’m making and drawing her in to help make those decisions, I empower her! I lead her into a compassionate life as well, be it vegan, meat eating or somewhere in between.
Here’s an anecdotal story: If I see a turtle in the road, I will always stop to move it to the other side. Turtles need help crossing the road, and will make their attempt to cross until they succeed or die. One day, while riding with my father, we saw a turtle in the road and he did not stop. Elizabeth enquired as to this, noting that he did not act compassionately, or in a way that differed from what I would do. I just said that everyone does things their own way and stopping for turtles is not Grandpa’s way. But a few weeks ago, I had a spider in my car, it was climbing over my head, I don’t like spiders. So I stopped the car, rolled down the window, and dropped it out. A little further up the road, I hit a flicker (a type of woodpecker). The poor thing kind of rolled up over the car. I wasn’t sure how badly it was hurt, so I turned around and went to look for it, with the intention of taking it to a wildlife rehabilitator if necessary. I was unable to find the bird, so hopefully it was fine, but Elizabeth did throw a thought out there. She said, “Mommy, you saved the spider, then you went to help the woodpecker. You move turtles out of the road, you like saving animals don’t you?” Well, yes, I suppose I do. Just another way in which I am returning to being Me.
Share your thoughts: How do you practice compassionate living? What are some ways in which you have gotten away from some part of you that you felt was very important, and then later returned to when some kind of condition in your life changed?