Pen and Moon

musings, life lessons & poetry from Theresa Jarosz Alberti

Tag: despair

My Christmas Carol

The year was 1991. Bob and I spent the Fall at home with our preemie twin babies, exhausted, broke and  exhilarated as we learned the job of being new parents.

I’ve always loved so much A Christmas Carol, from Dickens’ stylized language to the redemption story, quirky ghosts, and all the Christmasy details. Our famous Guthrie Theater puts on a wonderful production of it every holiday season, and there was no way our tight budget would allow anything like that. But I yearned to see it, needed something bright like that to help my tired spirit appreciate the holidays.

I found out that a local independent bookstore (Baxter Books, which has since closed) was having a writing contest to give away tickets to the Guthrie production. They wanted Christmas-oriented submissions — I don’t remember much more than that. I wanted to win tickets so bad that I wrote my heart out, coming up with my own short version of A Christmas Carol. I don’t remember how many winners there were, but Reader, I was one of them. It was so exciting to win something from my writing, and to get to see the performance I wanted so much to see.

I dug into my old files and found it. Here it is, a blast from the past, from 27 year old me. I hope you enjoy it, and may there be wonder and contentment for you this Winter. Continue reading

Divorce Lesson #2

(In case you missed it, you can read Divorce Lesson #1 here.)

It’s been almost 5 weeks now since the D-word landed like a hawk on my shoulder, digging claws in tight to let me know it’s not going away, the heavy weight a constant reminder. In this short but life-changing span of time, I’ve already been passing through phases– complete physical and emotional devastation that left me barely functioning, denial and trying to be super-pleasing to try and make him change his mind, anger, learning to ask for what I want and need (as I figure that out), and coming to a place where I am still raw and feeling tons of feelings, but I can have a few good hours and enjoy something. I can even have a whole good day, which is a miracle and a relief. That good day may be followed by a devastating plunge, but I know I’m on a rollercoaster right now, rapid-pace and full of highs and lows.

I’m also a sponge right now– talking to lots of people, reading lots of things, soaking in knowledge and insight to help me navigate through all this, but also to help me process my feelings and find the parts of myself that I lost or let atrophy over the years. For me, this is not just a divorce but a soul-quest… if I’m going to have to go through this, then I want to use it to make myself happier, more fulfilled, to find the true authentic me that I’ve been too afraid to embrace for so long.

Some people laughingly call this type of thing AFGO– Another F#%*@ Growth Opportunity, and it really is. I’ve had a ton of Miracle Grow dumped on me and my life has turned into one of those stop-motion flower-blooming videos. Amidst all the pain, it’s exciting and scary. I just can’t keep it all to myself, so if you’re willing to keep reading, here I go again…

 

Divorce Lesson #2: Love Is All Around

 

If you’re old like me, this title may bring you back to the Mary Tyler Moore Show: “Love is all around, no need to fake it…”   There’s also the more recent song from the movie Love Actually: “Love is all around me, and so the feeling grows.” For the purposes of this blog, either one works. (Sorry for the ear-worms.)

As my heart has broken, as I grieve the horrible loss of my dreams about my marriage, my future, the life I wanted to have with my husband, it would be easy (and understandable) to sink completely into the darkness and be unable to move. Somehow, even as I sank down into it, I was able to catch glimmers of something else, a sparkly, shiny new gift being held out to me: the gift of Love and Support that truly is all around me.

 

Love, Part 1

 

In the first few devastating days, I knew I needed some support to just survive. I called one friend (we sweetly claim each other as sisters) who listened, suggested and loved. I told another, newer friend and received her dear caring and attention. I wrote to a private online support group who circled me in a strong web of concern and love, giving me empathy, virtual hugs and even helped me to start re-envisioning my process and my life. Some little voice inside me knew I needed all of this, right from the start, and was either strong or desperate enough (maybe both) to ask for it. This was a small circle—which included my dear daughter, who lives with us and could see what was going on and comforted me many times a day. In the first few weeks, we weren’t sharing the news with the world yet. The circle stayed small, but it was vital to me.

Then came our Facebook announcement, since it was becoming more complicated to not tell people, even though this was a painful step. We preceded this with a weekend of running around and telling people who we knew needed to hear this in person. Our public announcement was crafted by both of us, a positive message about our circumstances and our intentions to do this in a loving, healing way. It was one version of our truth, and while some found it emotionally confusing, it was what we needed to say at the time. Bob and I sat side-by-side with our laptops, pasting the same message and photos into our status bar, hitting send at the same time. The flood of support started within moments—warm, caring, affirming, loving waves washing over us, hour after hour. For me, this opened out into FB messages, emails, texts, calls and in-person hugs. I let it all wash over me.

 

Love, Part 2

 

I also needed to share another truth—my own personal emotional experience. We’d left this out of our announcement, but I’d been sharing a bit of this with people face-to-face and I found that healing. I decided to start blogging about it with last week’s Divorce Lesson #1— I needed to share my own story and had a deep desire to share the lessons I was learning in the process.

Sharing my story cleared up any emotional ambiguity left over from our announcement. It was more of a behind-the-scenes view, and again, the floodgates opened with even more support, empathy, stories of “I’ve been there and survived,” and love-love-love-love-love.

Love.

This has been the awe-some, mind-blowing, affirming silver lining in this dark cloud. As my heart splits open to lose one kind of love, I am suddenly and unexpectedly awash in another kind —the love of a whole world of people who care and are reaching out. To me. Love that has been around me, unseen by me, unacknowledged.

I’ve spent a lifetime shutdown from this kind of love. I grew up twisted in on myself, contorting myself to be someone that everybody would approve of. I’d taken messages coming at me from people in my world to mean I wasn’t loveable, I needed to change, maybe if I were perfect, then someone would love me. I wore a façade.

Of course I haven’t totally been closed off—I’ve had love, I have many good and loving relationships, but my orientation to the world was to hide who I really am and try to be someone more acceptable, unless I felt completely safe.

What’s funny is that it’s so ironic– I don’t feel safe at all right now, and yet the tables have been not just turned but tossed out the window. What have I got to lose? And this: maybe I’ll be loved just for who I really am, deep down inside? And finally: I love myself enough now to take a risk and ask.

 

Love, Part 3

 

Last Tuesday ended up being a really tough one for me. I’d been having a good day, then Bob came home and we had a unexpected difficult talk which left me sobbing and broken, unable to stop crying. It had been several days since I’d wept with such ferocity, and I been thinking I was done with that really hard part. I felt like I’d been climbing out of a deep canyon, making progress, and then my foot slipped and I was back to the bottom again. Bob left after a while, had someone he needed to be, and I was left alone with my howling inner demons.

I called my sister-friend, and she helped me so much, talked me through many things, listened. And when I hung up the phone, I found myself back in the pit. So alone and hopeless. I call it one of my Dark Nights of the Soul. The image that kept coming to me was George Bailey weeping on the bridge, thinking he’s worth more dead than alive, so broken down, ready to jump. I wasn’t ready to jump… but death seemed like it wouldn’t be unwelcome, if it happened to happen.

That’s when this little voice inside nudged me. Reminded me about the love all around me. I desperately needed that. And I somehow knew that it was there, just for the asking. So I asked:

Any good thoughts you can send my way, even virtually, would be so much appreciated. I’m having a pretty rough night, can’t talk about it now. Might not be able to respond… sigh. Thanks.

It was a simple plea. 34 words put out on Facebook and some online groups. And yet it yielded immediate and powerful results. I sat crying in front of my computer as you—so many of you—offered me love and comfort from your very own hearts. Comments and texts and messages and emails and offers and uncountable good thoughts poured in, one after another. It was such a healing balm. It didn’t take away my pain, but it was hands reaching out to pull me up. It got me through the night.

Wonderful Life 4

Even as I go through hard times, I am looking up to see a brilliant sun shining down. There’s so much love. Even just opening up to see the strangers who briefly enter my life and make eye contact and give a smile, the bank clerk who connects, the guy who says ‘darlin’ as he holds open the door, the friendly barista. It’s all good.

Yes, this damn divorce is life-changing. But perhaps I can take a moment and recognize that these lessons I’m learning are even more profoundly life-changing. Love, there is so much love, if you open to it, choose to see it, learn to ask for it. It’s been waiting for me to wake up, for each of us to see it.

Thank you, everyone, from my grateful heart.

 

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One of my favorite songs about Love:

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