This blog is from the heart, informed by having been married to a closeted gay man and understanding how that experience changed the trajectory of my life, both as a woman and as a psychotherapist. Please add to the conversation and "Follow" if you're so inclined; all voices are welcome!

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Beyond heartbreak

“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.”    ~ Elisabeth K├╝bler-Ross

I have been so moved by the straight spouses who have been willing to share their stories, both via my blog and in my office. The quote above was posted by a gay friend on Facebook recently, and it just articulated so perfectly the healing that can and does take place in our lives. 

Even 25 years later it takes very little effort to recall, both cognitively and viscerally, those dark days and nights after my marriage ended. I saw clients all day, then came home to my empty apartment and cried all evening. To this day, there are songs I can't bear to hear -- "Somewhere Out There," "Lady in Red," and anything by Bob James and Earl Klugh. That music provided the score to my grief and can call it back in a flash. Red wine and Mint Milano cookies were a weak attempt to stanch its flow. Every pillowcase was stained with mascara. I felt discarded. Foolish. Sad. And profoundly alone. Believe me, there are no special grief exemptions for therapists. No tricks of the trade or inside information. 

So I know heartbreak. And, to the extent possible, I know your heartbreak. And while it never goes away completely, there will come a time when it no longer defines you. A time when it is no longer your first awareness in the morning nor your last thought at night. And you can love again, love someone who will treasure and protect and deserve your trust. A secure net for your leap of faith.

Wishing us all peaceful hearts.

The Journey

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice ‑
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible. 

It was already late                                                                                  
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do ‑
determined to save
the only life you could save.

                      ~ Mary Oliver

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