I should patent this. It wasn’t planned, I didn’t research it on the web, and I had no expectations of the day, but I discovered the perfect way to spend your anniversary if you are in the midst of divorcing your spouse. Pay attention to The Signs.
In my wallet since Mother’s Day 2011 was a gift card to the Sonoma Fairmont Spa. I was waiting for the perfect day to use it. Originally, I thought I would spend the day at the spa with The Genius. But, as it turned out, I spent the day at the spa deep in Genius-Detox. On our 15-year wedding anniversary.
As Paul Simon so eloquently stated, “There’s 50 ways to leave your lover.” And there are at least as many ways to walk through a divorce. I could have gone to the spa on my wedding anniversary strapped down by the memories of that day, the betrayal spat upon me by The Genius, and/or the sadness of knowing that my marriage was over.
But I didn’t.
I went there excited by the possibilities. I had a whole day to love myself. To take care of me. To reward myself for being brave and to honor myself for meeting this challenge head-on.
“Are you celebrating something special?” the concierge asked. (This is the kind of spa that has a concierge. And 90-degree heated outdoor pools, fire pits tucked in secluded patios where you can sip wine and roast marshmallows, and enough spa treatments to welcome you in as Jane-whoever and send you out as Jane-HOTNESS.)
I paused and did something I had come to rely upon since the Pocket Call. I checked in with my soul. Soul said, “Tell her.”
“I’m celebrating myself for uncovering my husband’s four-year affair. Today is our 15-year wedding anniversary, and I’m looking forward to cleansing my spirit and divorcing the liar.”
Bet she hadn’t heard that one before.
She didn’t look at me with pity because I wasn’t asking for it. She smiled. She rose from behind her desk and came around to me, took both my hands in hers and said, “Good for you.”
As she walked me around the mineral pools, steam room, sauna, and lounge area (stocked with amazing teas and fruit, leather sling lounge chairs and low lighting – you really need to hit this place up if you are ever in Sonoma), she told me a tale of a woman who would be my mentor should I ever be fortunate enough to meet her. She dropped her cheating (younger, starving artist) husband like lava after her daughter watched his cell phone light up with risque texts from another while it sat on the kitchen counter one day. She didn’t “try to make it work”, she booted his probably taut posterior straight out the door and went about running her insanely successful import business without a glance back. Well, maybe one just to laugh in his face. Now she’s shacked up happily with a wonderful man and never will remarry. Her business is killing it.
“You will be fine.” she said as she gave my hands one last squeeze. I knew that I would.
You know how we are always remarking on how fast time flies? It’s because we’re not present in the moment. That simple. Period. End of lecture. That day went on forever for me. With sign after sign that I was embarking on a journey that had no destination, no barriers, no road blocks…just one big, long, incredibly exciting journey. Which began with a barefoot Shiatsu massage. Yep. I got walked on. This time in all the right ways. By a woman who looked like Mary. THE Mary. Not the blond-haired Mary with the china-white skin, but what Mary would have really looked like. Beautiful, absolutely, but a face that looked lived-in. Exposed. Experienced. I could not take my eyes off her eyes. She oozed love, compassion and grace. I fell naked to the floor and breathed her every step deep into my being.
Let’s just say her feet…oh, I can’t even put it into words. Miraculous.
After a facial and a luxurious amount of time alternating between a body-temperature mineral bath, an herb steam room and a dry sauna, I took my nourished being to dinner after ever-so-slowly getting dressed. Nothing was going to rush this day. In all, I spent 6 hours getting two treatments. Next time I will shoot for 9. Hours.
My Guardian, I mean the concierge, suggested an oyster bar in Sonoma as a place to stop for my grand finale. My anniversary dinner with me. Alone. Enjoying MY company without having to meet anyone’s needs but my own. I toyed with blowing it off and going home, but decided that if there was a parking spot directly out front I would go in.
You guessed it.
There were two men of a certain age at the bar but the rest of the seats were up for grabs. I settled in and was met with a warm smile from the bartender. A glass of wine, some oysters and a beet salad were all that I needed. Or so I thought. What I got was the answer to a question I had been asking for six months.
Before The Genius embarked on his globe-trotting journey I asked him for two things: tea from Asia and the words “Climb Higher” written in Nepalese, the language of the Sherpas who guide climbers up Mt. Everest.
I got neither from him. I know, you’re stunned by that.
As I let an oyster slide down my throat, eyes closed, savoring every salty, creamy inch, I overheard the man to my right say the two words that stop me dead: Mt. Everest. I leaned in. Eyes still closed. Trying not to let that oyster slide down too fast.
“He was 70 when he first summited without oxygen.” My eyes popped open. “Who?” I blurted out, nearly coughing up the oyster. They didn’t mind the intrusion and there began a spirited conversation about climbing Mt. Everest, one of my main goals in life.
“For my birthday this year I want to get a tattoo of the outline of Everest with the words ‘Climb Higher’ written in Nepalese. I’ve googled it, asked
The Genius people who were traveling in the region to get it for me…all to no avail.”
They looked at me with sparkling eyes, likely due to being in their 70s themselves, living in God’s country and downing the second whiskey they each ordered since I arrived, and said, “You don’t have to look any farther. See that guy over there?” He pointed to a waiter smiling at and tending to a father and daughter having their “I get you on Wednesdays” dinner. “He’s a Sherpa. And the bartender? He’s a Sherpa, too. Oh, and the guys in the back? All Sherpas.”
I got the words “Climb Higher” written in Nepalese that night. I did it. I made my anniversary day and night a magical experience. I made sure I had fun that day. That I laughed, relaxed, processed, purged, sweated, steamed, ate well and lived. The Genius had nothing to do with it, except for buying the gift card. He probably had someone do that for him.
Being open to the possibilities rather than drowning in despair created an avalanche of support as I navigated this new terrain. By believing that I will thrive, that I will live out this second half of my life without compromise and without fear, I unlocked a door that led to a place where all that you need is there for the taking. As long as you believe you deserve to take. And as long as you trust the signs.
I floated home. I could never trust The Genius again, but I had discovered that I could trust myself. And now I had to trust that my children would be okay after we told them that The Genius was moving out. Because he had moved on. Four years ago. But he was just getting around to packing his bags.
so happy for you! everything seems to be falling into place and i’m loving the fact that i can come along for the ride with you. your writing is incredible, funny and smart !! i literally feel like i’m in the room going thru every step with you !! keep on rocking cleo love you ! oh and let’s see a pic of the awesome tatoo !
Thank you for the kind words. Writing for myself and for you makes this journey so much more important somehow. It’s as if I am walking this road for many people, men and women. I am utterly stunned by the number of people who are experiencing the exact same thing as me or are living in a dead marriage.
If there’s anything that freaks me out, besides the thought of being carried off by an army of arachnids or having to stay married to The Genius, it’s the fact that so many people feel stuck in a marriage that doesn’t fulfill them. Or worse, eats away at their soul.
Is everything falling in to place? Yes. Every second something falls and lands in its place. Or shifts. For a moment. Then shifts again. Life doesn’t stand still. And it seems to be speeding up for me. While slowing down at the same time.
All that action could create a frenetic and frazzled experience, but all I say is:
I flow through change, delighted.
Something that freaking simple actually does the trick. Can you believe it? Cracks me up.
Love yourself, CR…
Hi! I heard of your blog from another blog I read. Sometimes your writing has really made me laugh, other times feel your pain – after reading this entry it has added to my own awakening as a 50 something woman whose only child has left home. As I think about approaching 60 in a couple of years I have been thinking what the hell – lately I have been breaking free of the old ideas that when you reach this age then this happen or that – after 50, society says in so many ways, it is all basicallly down hill, especially as a woman. I love this entry – it is inspiring – I love that you found the translation yourself, you didnt need the Genius (love that name it is hilarious!) to give you that. I love that you made sure to make this day great for yourself. The more I live the more I think we are on this journey alone in many ways – and that is a beautiful thing.
It is beautiful to be alone on this journey, even if you are in a totally happy relationship. There’s something about respecting the individual (not selfish) nature of our life that seems to turn on the disco ball, no? It’s wonderful to be needed, to want to give to others, to want to be part of a circle, but it’s liberating, freeing, and so very sexy (you know how I am using that word) to love yourself. To want to be alone with yourself. That is something we all should do more of with gusto. I have had my most amazing creative bursts, emotive bursts, and belly laughs alone on a mountain somewhere. Just me, some birds, probably about a million arachnids and mountain lion or two. All of whom give me space to be, as I do for them.
Age, time…they are all things of the Ego. Ways to keep reminding us that we are set to expire. Well, screw that. Age means squat. Time? I pay no attention anymore. Obviously we have responsibilities and have to mark a calender, but we don’t have to live by it. When we do it kicks us right out of the present moment. I know we’ve all heard this before, but I have been putting it into practice and it truly works – live fully in the present moment. When washing your hands, revel in washing your hands. Notice how they look, think about how many hugs they’ve given, tears they’ve wiped away, balls they’ve thrown, hands they’ve held, how they’ve always been there when you needed them. Every action, every day becomes nearly monumental. It makes me walk around, even in light of what I am dealing with, in a state of never-ending gratefulness.
You’ve got millions of experiences to have – make each count. Be present so you can see the small and grand gifts that are being placed along your path. This life, your life, is now about you. And I want you to rock it. Then I can look to you and say, that’s how to shine on. Thank you so much for sharing, reading, and living.
I spent my wedding-anniversary-while-divorcing shopping with my sister for her wedding dress. Yours was better.
Thanks for sharing this journey with the world. Mine’s long over, and everyone’s is different, but your strength and bravery and heartbreak and fortitude are inspiring.
You are a GREAT sister. I would have told my sister, “So sorry. Can’t shop today. Have to feed the arachnids. By hand. Naked. In their nest.” Thank you for taking the time to read and comment. That means the world to me. Every comment is a big hug from a beautiful soul who is stopping me om my journey to say, “I’m here for you.” It makes me feel so connected and so very grateful. Thank you. Don’t go far, and…
I am amazed at your strength, courage, humor, and grace. Not just in your handling of this situation but in the fearless way you have shared yourself and your journey with us readers.
I found my way to your blog via Lainey, and while reading your story I was struck with how it resonates with so many other stories of the woman I know.
We, as women are nurturers. We give constantly, to our children, our partners, our friends. What we tend to forget is to give to ourselves. And then we forget how to give to ourselves. Most woman I know, including myself sometimes feel guilty in taking time for ourselves. We think it detracts from the time, energy, love and effort we give to others. Instead it is this nurturing of self that renews us and makes us better able to love and share with the people in our lives.
I am so glad you have rediscovered your own voice and are taking time for yourself. As to your Genius ex, I pity him. (Wait, was that condescending?) Anyone that self-involved and unaware probably cannot experience true joy or any self-knowledge. In the future, I suspect you’ll be left with a sense of bewilderment when you look at him as opposed to nausea. That feeling I have had in regards to more than one ex-boyfriend that leaves you thinking, “What did I ever, ever see in you”?
So well-said! And spot-on. I remember Mr. Jackpot asking me what my needs were, did I even know. I went blank. That was very unsettling. To not know what I need…hard to put into words…it’s like I’m separated from myself. Disconnected. I’ve been actively rebuilding that relationship with myself since The Pocket Call but have amped it up since being asked that question. When I know exactly what I need I will attract it. That simple.
I know one thing I need – this blog and you! Go nowhere. And…
Or worse, eats away at their soul.
I’m starting to wonder if it takes something so painful like ending an emotional arrangement to understand this? After my debacle, friends? commented how happy I appeared (I was good at disguising it. My real friends knew) The relationship just chipped away at me piece by piece. I was happy to know the truth, but it’s still taking time to find all the pieces.
The last couple nights have been entertaining in a way that I have been without for quite awhile. Thank you again for the humor.
If there’s one thing you can rely upon with me it’s to bring the funny. I bring it. I can’t go anywhere without it.
Cherry Tate says
“I’m celebrating myself for uncovering my husband’s four-year affair. Today is our 15-year wedding anniversary, and I’m looking forward to cleansing my spirit and divorcing the liar.”
Best. Line. EVER.
I just wish he could’ve heard you when you said it… I could just see the look on his face…
It was an epic moment. One I will treasure forever. You should have seen the look on the face of the concierge! She was proud.
Thank you for making me laugh first thing in the morning! I love revisiting that day.
What a monumental day you had! I have gathered inspiration from it. Your writing makes me feel like I have experienced it. I feel warm and fuzzy.
Thank you m’lady. I love to know I give the warm fuzzies. Stay close…
I wish I had known about this blog 3 months ago, this would have been the perfect way to spend my anniversary while in the middle of my messy divorce. My now-ex-huband wanted me to go to the lawyers office to sign the papers on our 18th anniversary, I banished him from my sight, after lambasting him for being so heartless and cruel. . . he didn’t even realize that that date was our anniversary.
I love this blog, you are so insightful and brave to share this, and it has helped me so much as I work my way to the same goals, to love myself, and find myself, and move on to the next book in my life, and hopefully learn whatever lesson this was supposed to teach me.
I did go to my hairdresser for a spa/makeover the day that I had to attend a public affair where my ex’s new trailer trash girlfriend would also be in attendance, and my hairdresser outdid herself, and gave me back 10 years of my life, at least in the looking good department. Money well spent!
I know how you feel…I just picked up my papers and saw that The Genius chose our date of separation as our fifteen year wedding anniversary. I find that so juvenile and consistent. I wonder if your ex truly didn’t realize that was your anniversary. Sometimes I think lawyers like to play the role of a novelist, upping the drama because their jobs are so tedious.
Whatever the case, dates mean nothing to me now. Time means nothing. The only thing that matters is the absolute most present moment and living by my boundaries so that I may enjoy it. Together, you and I will allow the minutiae of the 3D world to roll over us as we continue to walk compassionately on out path.
Thank you for taking the time to comment and for being here. Stay close…
I have been following you for months now, through the kinda good, the okay, not so good, the bad, the REALLY bad, and the recent end of my relationship. I’ve had a rough time dealing with the breakup, mostly because I have been delaying the mourning (essential for moving on), and it climaxed yesterday when I was hit with a whammy of a revelation. Which is just swell since today (funnily enough, also the anniversary of The Pocket Call) is my birthday. I spent most of yesterday crying and feeling sorry for myself, and wanting to cancel all the celebratory plans tonight.
I just introduced your blog to my roommate last night, and when I woke up this morning she walked up to me and said, “You need to read February 16.” I’ve read and re-read this post half a dozen times now, crying and laughing and crying some more. I know I’ve been holding onto something that was not healthy and I that I was so unhappy in, but I haven’t been able to let it, and him, go. I have been having an ongoing pity party, and that’s ridiculous since my life is going in places I am SO excited about, and I am surrounded by so much love, beauty, creativity, nurturing, and support. I’ve lost sight that I WILL BE FINE; I’ve strayed off course by dwelling where I need not be. I’m not quite there yet, it’s going to take more self love and care (maybe a few glasses of wine tonight won’t hurt either), but you’ve given me direction. And more importantly, hope.
I’m printing this post and hanging it where I can’t lose sight anymore, and I look forward to the day I can take it down – when I will be okay. Thank you thank you thank you.
I have to thank you! For the first time I reread the How To Spend Your Anniversary post so that I could sense what your roommate resonated with as it pertains to you. Wow. You were meant to comment today on that post and I was meant to reread it today. Do you see how perfectly it all plays out when we accept that it really is our responsibility to be happy here? An avalanche of possibilities falls right into our laps. With signs to show us that we are heading in the right direction. You read a post about my wedding anniversary and comment on the anniversary of the Pocket Call which is also the anniversary of your birth, which sends me from the present time celebrating the Pocket Call to the day when I celebrated my anniversary. Just the Universe letting us know it’s on the ball. Wild.
I so needed to reread that today. Thank you.
Have you gone on a date with yourself? I sense you would rock at that. The other feeling I had was to center on the idea that people move into and out of your life. The Encounter. It’s by design. Could you imagine having the same teacher from kindergarten through post-doc? That would blow.
G (which, by the way, is my favorite letter), if I could teleport to wherever you are celebrating your birthday I would be there with a candle stuck in my pony tail so I could hug you with both arms. I know you will be fine. You are fine. Your soul is 100% perfectly fine. I am so grateful you are here. You’ve had a huge impact on me, m’lady. Thank you.
Celebrating you tonight…
There is so much we have in common between our two experiences. Thank you for sharing. I feel a little less alone now.
Thank you so much for taking the time to comment and for being here. Wouldn’t it be nice if it was only me that had to deal with betrayal? I’d gladly shoulder the burden if it meant that everyone else lived happily ever after. Then, in my next life, I’d be born with a super high metabolism and no wheat allergy so I could eat whatever I wanted as my reward. Gelato would be served at every meal, and in between.
You are not alone, B. Especially at HGM. We’re always here to ponder, excavate and share wisdom. And look for magic everywhere.
YOU ARE AWESOME-i’m ashamed to say that the past 3 years I’ve spent my birthday & anniversary (we got married on my birthday 13 May) being sad & depressed & emotional trying to make sense why my marriage broke. I’m taking a leaf from your book & m making a promise to MYSELF-i’m going to climb higher from this day forward-NO MORE ROWING THE PITY BOAT- thanks Cleo -YOU ROCK!
Thank you, m’lady. You are awesome too! Why? Because you’re alive. You were born at the most perfect time in the history of the planet. Literally. Out of all the little specs of life floating in the Universe, YOU landed the opportunity to live on the prettiest planet we know of at a time when the stars shine and the air is breathable. It’s quite an honor. Congratulations.
Fair Lolita says
Thanks to this insightful and oh so funny blog my day today will be much better spent. A million thanks for helping me feel braver and renewed.
That is fantastic! I love hearing that! Big smile. Thank you for taking the time to comment and for your kind words. Stay close and it won’t just be a day that is better spent but your whole life.
M S says
Thankyou thankyou thankyou. I have been stuck feeling bad about myself for a long time. I just started reading your blog today and cried when I made it to this entry. I am dealing with financial abuse in addition to infidelity I didn’t know about for 9 years, so there will be no day at the spa…however something about your hope and your faith shows me that there is a better way for me to be thinking about my future. You are my role model. I don’t feel like a victim,but I have been feeling ugly and hopeless. What a harmful way for a mother of 4 doing all the child raising on her own to be feeling, no? I am gonna say somethingo nice to myself next time I look in the mirror, as per your inspiration!
Wendy DeGaetano says
Thank you so much for this blog. I just found it today but am looking forward to following you. This is all new to me but I am looking forward to decovering myself.
Thank you for sharing this. It has really helped me to focus on the positive of what I call ‘the day of BS’ and celebrate that my almoat ex husband is out of my life and me and my children are breathing in free fresh air that he is no longer in our lives.
It’s been a little over 3 years ago that my husband of 36 years walked out of our marriage, running away like he was on fire, no remorse and nothing ever said.
Then,, only 4 months after he left, I got a phone call late one night from my brother in NY to tell me he found my European Adoption documents hidden in our father’s apartment while he was cleaning it out. To find this out at age 57 years old was so stunning and shocking to me. I read the docs he sent to me and found where it said the adoption was finalized on Nov 29th, when I was 3 months old, which happens to be the anniversary date of my marriage. Soemthing to celebrate indeed.