In a room with a couch, an orchid and a box of tissues sat three people. Dr. K., The Genius and me. The Genius had finally (maybe) confessed the extent of his affair – four years of cheating on me with The Happy Dance Chick. He had recently said he should have ‘blown up our marriage’ in the first year. I had just spoken the words I never thought I would say – I want a divorce.
This moment in time was the definition of crisis. My mind felt concussed, battered by barbs and, worst of all, the realization that I had failed to protect myself, that I let myself down.
I allowed myself to be screwed over and just skipped along picking daisies and changing diapers while my husband was sniffing roses and sharing a bed with another woman.
In between heaves and sobs I said, He’s taken away my ability to trust. I’ll never trust again.
Conveniently, I left out the most important word: myself.
He’s taken away my ability to trust myself. I’ll never trust myself again.
How Divorce Killed Trust
In the days that followed, I allowed myself small walks down memory lane. It was all I could handle if I wanted to avoid dehydration by crying. I wondered how many times I had walked into his office when he was speaking to her. Or how many times he had called me from a hotel while she waited in his bed. Or how many times he fabricated a reason to take a business trip so he could be with his mistress. I thought about kissing him knowing he was also kissing her. And how our conversations about the future were nothing but an act for him. And a waste of time for me.
All these sojourns to the past led me right back to this:
How could you not have known? For four years?
I’ll never trust again. How could I not have known?
I felt like a fool. A colossal fool. It wasn’t like I was duped by Jim Carrey or some other shape shifting master. Just a regular guy. I allowed myself to be hoodwinked by a person I was supposed to know better than all others. I chose to place my trust in someone and wasn’t just a little wrong, but whole lots of wrong. I misread my marriage. For years. According to The Genius, I misread it for all 15 years.
The problem did not lie in trusting others, the real scary thought was that I had no business trusting myself.
Razzle, of Mt. Whitney fame (who refuses to climb Mt. Rainier with me, which I totally understand) has a knack for reading situations and people. She is rarely off base. As in never. While I often felt like I was digging in dry sand to see who someone really was or what their intentions were, Razzle was able to nail the situation like she was reciting from memory lines in a script. I can’t count the number of times I would say, How do you know that? How are you so sure? She would say, It’s so obvious!
Leaving me feeling so naive. Blind.
I’m stunned that at the time it didn’t occur to me that my inability to read the intentions of those with whom I had personal relationships was a fatal flaw. Something that seriously needed my attention if I was to create positive, healthy relationships. Instead of saying, I’m just not good at that, I should have been saying, I’m going mad Sherlock Holmes on this mystery.
But I was too busy solving problems for other people without their request.
I regularly sought out Razzle’s opinion on encounters and the intentions of others. When she would swiftly provide an answer time would slow to a stop, giving me a chance to see the importance of needing to do my own assessment. Out of all the experiences we have had together, those times – and there were several – stand out. I would pause, take in what she said, and then think, How does she do that?
Then promptly go about my frenetic existence.
Today, I realize that one of her many gifts for me was to show me the value of discernment. But at the time I wasn’t even familiar with the word, so I just graciously accepted her input, relying on her time and again to do my assessing for me. I put the responsibility for making personal choices on her shoulders. Sure, you can call it seeking advice, counsel. But I didn’t even bring an opinion to the table in most cases. If pressed to evaluate the intentions of another my response would be a guess. One worked over by Ego. So, most assuredly dead wrong.
I didn’t see that I was being betrayed because I didn’t know how to see it. Nor what was preventing me from seeing it. Some may call it naiveté, or perhaps a symptom of not having matured. The negative spin on being childlike. However it is labeled, it also holds the designation of Most Important Life Lesson.
I didn’t understand the importance of being able to eVALUatE, the importance of being able to use diScErnmEnt. And the magic that happens when my eyes are no longer blinded by my Ego, allowing the subtleties of life to be seen. The words within the words. The morals of the story.
And now I do.
Because I benched my Ego.
For the last two weeks the turtle that hangs around my neck has gotten quite a lot of attention. The young man in the sporting goods store who saw it from ten feet away and stopped dead:
I love your turtle!
The woman behind the counter in the quirky Bolinas shop that sells thumb pianos and silver ponytail holders, pashminas and postcards, with her long tresses streaked gray and her hands perfectly suited for swirling around a crystal ball who pointed to my neck and said,
I tilted my head as I tried to wrestle percussion instruments out of the dudes’ hands before they scared away the customers with the cacophony.
What’s on me?
Her all-knowing smile widened – the turtle you wear. Honu. I like it.
I began to notice sea turtles everywhere. (To include right this very minute in Starbucks. As I type this a man is ordering a double whatever, wearing a shirt with no words on the back – just a big, beautiful, mosaic sea turtle.) A sticker on a car bumper, a tattoo on the shoulder blade of a wetsuit clad surfer who peeled half of his second skin off to walk back to his car, board under his arm. On a pillow in a picture in the magazine, I read while waiting for my crown, of the dental variety. The only thing that didn’t happen was a physical encounter with one. But, honestly, at this point, if I woke up next to one I wouldn’t be surprised. I’d wipe the seagrass out of its face, cuddle up and fall back to sleep.
Last week, after the oohs and aahs had wracked up for a charm I’ve worn for over a decade to very little fanfare, I turned to the animal totem cards.
Sometimes I’m a little slow on the uptake.
As is my norm, I selected the one link that begged for me to click it. And this is what I found…
Turtle symbolizes both new beginnings and endings. It is through the ending of something that allows space for something new to arise. This ending may be of an outer circumstance or a change or shift that occurs within ourselves. There may be a sense of loss or even grief over what has passed and yet it is through the energy of Turtle who is very long lived and thus very wise, that we can come to understand why something did need to leave our lives…
For Turtle people, home is where they are in the present moment…
When Turtle appears and for those who carry this medicine, it is also important that we have patience and act only when we feel the time is right for us to do so. Turtles themselves are slow moving and do have slow metabolisms…
(Fascinating…on the day of the anniversary of the Pocket Call, before reading this, I decided to stop taking my thyroid medicine. A medicine I’ve been taking since I was 30, the age when I married. I spent last week in a stupor. Back on the little blue pill. No, not that one. Someday I’ll figure out a natural way to stimulate my thyroid, but right now is not the time.)
Our world has become so solar, everyone feeling the push to constantly act and do rather than sit and just be and know that from time to time, that’s precisely what we need to be doing…
Turtle knows that by moving slowly and calmly, we allow the doors of intuition to open. Intuition is also linked strongly to the imagination, something else Turtle people have an abundance of. Imagination and daydreaming, its handmaiden, are what allows us to not only see new possibilities but to imagine the easiest and clearest ways to reach those possibilities. Things tend to come to us when the time is right for them to do so and pushing the river not only will not bring them any faster but on an energy level, may actually repel those things from us…
A totem rich with symbolism and one with which I deeply resonate.
As I read the first quote I didn’t think of my marriage and the near signing of the Marital Settlement Agreement, formerly known as Divorce Papers. Nope.
What I was mourning was the death of my Ego.
As beautiful as it has been to bench it, it’s also sad. Like I’m burying my twin who was problematic, but nonetheless loved. Benching the Ego is a game changer, leading to a period of turbulence and disorder. Things that felt good before don’t feel good now, comforting ways of the past now interfere with a present that, in sensory terms, is like being dropped in the midst of New Delhi when you’ve only ever been in Boise.
Now I know why the benching of my Ego had to happen at a turtle’s pace. I needed to prepare for this puppy.
I needed to understand the importance of having boundaries. That I am on a solo journey here, and it’s not my responsibility to take on the emotions of others. My hypersensitivity to the energies and emotions of others, being an empath, was something that I buried long ago (ran away from), but through many months of excavation, I had rediscovered it at a time when I could benefit from understanding that side of me. When I had slowed down enough to feel again.
Recognizing this part of my spirit has been significant, especially in terms of parenting. And obviously, it comes in quite handy when dealing with The Genius. At the time I felt it was purely an external type of issue – sensitive to the emotions and energies of others. But surprisingly I became much more sensitive to my own emotions and energetic body.
And that is when I saw my Ego through my eyes alone, and not as it wanted to be seen – my perfectly structured persona.
It was then that my ability to discern was born.
Happy freaking birthday. You’ve arrived at the perfect time.
Without hiding behind my Ego, I am actively living an honest life. Instead of clutching onto its shoulders and burying my head in its back, my arms are wide open and the subtleties of all that swirls around me can seep into my being.
With no filter controlling what I see, I am able to discern what is.
And then trust my choices.
Because I can trust myself.