daring adventures in love + loss

dear you,

some things i’ve learned in the last 2 years of my divorce process:

love yourself like no one else does. speak kindly and with self-compassion to yourself. be your own best friend. 

two years ago when my husband split after 10 years together, i thought i was going to die. not from killing myself, but from heartbreak. i did not know how i was going to get through the next hour, much less the next month or year. my world was upside down. i didn’t know previously how physical the experience of grief is.

out of deep wisdom and self-survival, i framed this perfect picture of sweet little me. to remind myself to be kind and love this little girl inside me.

i moved out of our beautiful shared san francisco victorian with the help of strong and kind hired movers to a small loud street-level apartment on a gritty street of oakland. it was the hardest day ever and apart from the movers, i did it alone. i cried when my couch didn’t fit through the door “it’s not about the couch”, i sobbed on their buff shoulders. thank you.

soon, my dear friends and family came. my parents visited from maine and took me shopping for a new ikea couch and sewed up new curtains. thank you. my friend and her daughter graciously helped me put the couch together one afternoon. thank you. more friends helped me hang art. another helped me unpack my kitchen and spent my first night in my new apartment. i received all of their love and support as best as i could. honestly it was a little overwhelming. a true lesson in receiving. thank you.

i had rarely slept alone and had never lived by myself. i hardly knew if i could support myself alone financially as a single and now bereft artist. i was just teaching myself to drive again at 36 after never owning a car. the last month living alone in my sf apartment, there was a rapist on the loose in my neighborhood. i had never felt so terrified and uncertain of my future and my ability to care for myself.

the first morning alone i went to candlelit yoga and felt the grief coming out. so grateful for that class. said yes to friends offerings of anything social just to keep me going.  i created a self-care calendar. marking down ways i had cared for myself that day or planned to just like i had previously done for exercise or productivity. i created gratitude lists. sometimes they just said “brownies”.

i don’t know if anyone knew just how dark i was. how broken. how much time i spent in bed watching “parks n rec” episode after episode (thank you netflix) and how the smallest text of support or post card made the biggest difference in holding on. thank you.

slowly, i returned to myself, or my new self-compassionate version. cheering that little red hooded girl along. this voice was the biggest shift of all. An inner voice that encouraged me versus criticized me to do better, work harder, be thinner, make more art/money/friends and be more perfecter.

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Another big gift has been to learn to not do it all alone and create opportunities for built-in support~ your team!

creating routine support during this time has been incredibly healing:

* my weekly divorce support group led by a great therapist and others who are going through it too.

* weekly writing group led by laurie wagner where you can write it out around a wooden table.

* my yoga practice with my favorite teacher kimber simpkins who combines yoga with her incredible wisdom.

Next post I’m going to share the dear books that helped me heal.

I’m still on this journey, but I can now stomach writing it down now that 2 years have passed and my divorce is nearly finalized. It’s helpful for me to remember and hopefully helpful for someone out there to know it does get better. And if you have a friend in this place… send them some love!

xoxoxox

20 Comments

  1. Posted December 13, 2013 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

    Hi Mati, I just read this & the first thought that came into my head was how amazing you are. Thank you, truly, for being so open & honest. One of my closest friends has just been through something similar & I’ve done my best to be there for her, it’s hard when you want to take the pain away from someone but you know you can’t. She knows I will always be there for her & will do my upmost to help. I will share your post with her :)

    Em xx

  2. L
    Posted December 13, 2013 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

    Dearest Mati, Your heart felt post brought me to reminisce about my own journey thru divorce. I had a 10 year marriage that disintegrated into a million pieces along with my heart. I remember those early days, the fragile feelings, the fears, despair, the dark of it all. I wish someone would have told me all those years ago that I would eventually find my way back to Me. As lost as I had felt I once again found my way. You are doing so well Mati. The thing about moving forward is that little by little you gain more and more momentum. Blessings, peace and love.
    Lynne

  3. Posted December 13, 2013 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

    how difficult that all must be. grief is so personal I admire your willingness to share yours. I’ve never divorced, but I lost a child many years ago, so I know how hard it is to grieve…almost a full-time job! it’s so helpful to others to know someone has grieved and come out on the other side with some semblance of mind…so sharing your story will be so helpful to others….well done you.

  4. Posted December 13, 2013 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for sharing your story. And you, you’ve definitely got this!

    Do you know about Maya Donenfield’s blog “Honoring Hope”? Her husband also left her and she created a blog about her recovery process. It’s by invitation and you can find it here: http://honoringhope.blogspot.com/. If you are interested, you can contact her from her primary blog here: http://mayamade.blogspot.com.

  5. Posted December 13, 2013 at 6:43 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for sharing your story here. It is always helpful to see how someone made it through to the other side of a really emotionally difficult time. I am looking forward to your next post where you share your book list.
    Blessings to you,
    Briana
    PS I love the idea of a self-care calendar!

  6. Faith Mudgett
    Posted December 13, 2013 at 6:45 pm | Permalink

    Thanks to a mutual friend who shared your story, I want to thank you for sharing your story. Although my divorce was finalized in 2006 & my X remarried in 2006, the drama still continues. We share a amazing daughter together. But I can’t even begin to tell you why they didn’t ride off into the sunset and leave the past right there…in the past. The craziness, hateful things they say, do and have put me though makes no sense. 7+ years of drama has pushed me to the breaking point and I ended up losing full custody of my sweet girl. And my X thinking he is above the law is going against and keeping me & my daughter from seeing and communicating. She’s 17 and will be 18 in October … I’m looking so forward for her being of legal age. Til then, I’m trying to find “me” again and rebuild myself esteem.
    Thank you again for sharing your story.
    Faith

  7. Posted December 13, 2013 at 8:13 pm | Permalink

    Thanks Mati for your honesty. I too had no idea the level of physicality that grief requires. I was shocked many times over the past year, feeling fine, like I had turned a corner, and then, suddenly with no warning, bursting into hot, scorching tears. I also got a new couch (well, used from Kijiji, but ya know, new to me). The old couch turned into a metaphor representing my old relationship. The old couch was uncomfortable, didn’t fit & actually hurt me to sit on for long. It was unsalvageable. Broken. I actually felt so much lighter when it was gone!

    It’s taken a while, so slowly I thought I wasn’t making progress, but I feel like myself again.

  8. Posted December 14, 2013 at 12:29 am | Permalink

    brave, beautiful, and strong…love to that little girl deep within who reminded you to keep going. love to you, friend.

  9. Posted December 14, 2013 at 5:43 am | Permalink

    You are brave and beautiful!

  10. Posted December 14, 2013 at 8:37 am | Permalink

    Hi Mati! Your blog brought back so much of what I went through after my own separation and divorce! Your wise advice for anyone going through a break up parallels a lot of the healing things I did for myself. I probably had a lot more anger though, which I channeled into the graphic novel (The Heartbreak Diet) or maybe it’s just that my ex gave me such good material for a story….!!!

    Glad to hear you are rebuilding! Its hard to embrace change, but there are many things to celebrate, just not with that person at your side! You can only enjoy the ride!.

  11. Posted December 14, 2013 at 8:48 am | Permalink

    Grieving is so exhausting. How wise you you were/are!

  12. Posted December 14, 2013 at 10:06 am | Permalink

    Thank you Mati for sharing this. It’s a lifeline as I begin my own divorce process. It is hard to express to others the feeling of separateness and sudden loneliness. I look forward to your book list.

  13. Posted December 15, 2013 at 6:06 am | Permalink

    oh Mati, this is so beautiful– what strength! what wisdom you found within you– how incredibly smart to frame that little red-hooded girl and have her be your guide through those darkest hours. I am so honored to have read some of your story here– this will help many people— thank you for sharing– xooxox, e

  14. Stephanie
    Posted December 15, 2013 at 7:04 am | Permalink

    Sending hugs and love Mati, thank you for sharing this! xoxo

  15. Robina
    Posted December 15, 2013 at 10:06 am | Permalink

    Dear Mati,

    I am 1.5 years into my own divorce saga (after 30 years). Thank you so much for sharing this. We are brave! A dear friend refers to me as “Tiny But Fierce,” and it’s true. I have become a warrior to self-compassion and a fiercer than ever mom to a beautiful 16-year old son.

    Thank goodness for our friends and family. I will never be able to repay what my posse of women have done for me. I hope no one ever has to go through what I’ve been through, but if they do, I will be there and be extra FIERCE.

    xoxox

    PS: For anyone who hasn’t taken Mati’s class….DO IT!!!! I learned so much in “Daring Adventures,” and it has taken my painting to a new level.

  16. Eileen
    Posted December 15, 2013 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

    Hi Mati,

    I’m so sorry about your divorce and subsequent grief. This post and your honesty reminded me of self- care and how much I crave/miss it. I have become lost in work and a bit in life with multiple losses over the last couple of years. You are brave and I appreciate your courage… thanks for the reminder to do the same.

  17. merlin
    Posted December 16, 2013 at 9:24 am | Permalink

    “love yourself like no one else does. speak kindly and with self-compassion to yourself. be your own best friend”

    These words were the light I needed to see. If I could just do this…., today that seems herculean, but you have given me the lamppost to find my way, and maybe to begin a self-care calendar to become my own light. Thank you.

  18. Posted December 17, 2013 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

    Brave, beautiful Mati. Thank you so much for sharing this beautiful story of hope. You are such a wonderful person! I’m looking forward to following your journey into the next magical phase.

    With love,
    Lisa

  19. Aly
    Posted December 26, 2013 at 5:18 pm | Permalink

    Mati, you are so sweet to share your feelings here. I so relate!

    The PAIN to even breathe after the break up. My GF of 7+ years broke up with me without warning. I went into shock. I’ve never experienced depression or grief like this. I thought she was “the one” and I had no doubts, through thick and thin. We were raising kids together and a close family with the kids’ dad too, and no one saw this coming. I too had to move out, with the help of friends (learning to receive) and be taken care of when I couldn’t eat or function. This is now 9 months into our divorce, and while I feel I’m on an amazing and beautiful life path and dear relationship with myself, I was shocked at how hard the holidays have felt for me AND the kids. Really tough feelings coming up again.

    I am going to use your self care calendar. Very kind of you to share this idea!

    How funny that some of us have a couch story. That makes me laugh. I did NOT watch our couch, so full of the old snuggles and evening conversations that I loved. I lived without a couch for months, my poor friends had to sit on the yoga mat, in front of the big window with me, hours on end. Finally I treated myself to my first “adult couch” and just love it. Symbolic!

    I just returned to being able to paint and work in my art journal a few months ago. Turns out I don’t make art from my grief. I make art from my joyful feelings and connections with soul.

    I feel we are each on a beautiful journey that will be not only “ok” but wonderful. I don’t pretend to understand why things had to happen the way they did. (Ask me in five years…..)

    Hugs and love to all going through difficult relationship times.
    – Aly

  20. Posted December 30, 2013 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

    dear friend, I love you. I love you and your honesty, your beautiful words and your work. I love your bravery and truth.

    xo

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