Growing a soul

P1020681Sometimes, growth involves a seeming split between aspects of our self.

This week, I’m marking time. In fact, I’ve been marking time for the last 15 months – since I separated from my husband in September, 2013. I can hardly believe that over a year has passed and we’re no closer to bringing our divorce and property settlement issues to a close. Nor am I any closer to having a home base I can call my own. The sense of disenfranchisement has, at times, been acute. It has led me from extreme anxiety to downright despair, and back again, many times.

A couple of weeks ago, I hit rock bottom. Whilst I thought I’d already been there, it seems I was mistaken. After attending the first mention at court for property settlement negotiations, and realizing that my husband had once again stalled the process by his continued refusal to collaborate on a fair outcome, I initially tried to keep myself together, and thought I’d succeeded somewhat. Again, I was mistaken. After the hearing, I phoned my psychologist and left a message assuring him that I’m okay – but five days later I plummeted. The fall was unexpected and rapid. On an ordinary Tuesday morning, my psyche seemed to just shut down, leaving me completely unable to get out of bed. I rolled over, pulled the pillow over my head despite the stifling heat, and willed myself back to sleep. Avoidance, a clever defence mechanism, kicked in, in full measure. I missed appointments, spoke to no-one and didn’t bother to shower.

I wanted desperately, and still want, to get on with my studies and my writing; to reconnect and rebuild my support networks, which all but vanished during my marriage, and to surround myself with familiar things – my writing desk, my books, a garden. Itinerant living, staying with family and friends, has left little cognitive, emotional or physical energy for me to retain much positivity and motivation. From a practical perspective, the sheer fact that virtually everything I own is in storage, has interfered with my ability to move forward with my life. My mind is, in many ways, rearing to go, but I can never quite find the right book, or the study notes and modules I need to continue on my path. They are, quite literally, scattered in several places within a 70km radius, packed in boxes and baskets. With my physical difficulties in full swing because of the continued stress, I simply don’t have the wherewithal to pull it together.

And yet here I am…without a lot of choice in the matter, other than the choice to behave in ways that move my soul forward. My cognitive growth, which I hold so dear and which is an integral aspect of my identity is, of necessity, simply idling in the background with no-one in the driver’s seat. Clearly, there is a plan in action that is much greater than I am.

I am reminded of a poem I read some decades ago:

‘When the river of life runs against you,

And washes you out of your boat,

Don’t fight against the undertow,

Just lie on your back and float.’

 

For someone like me, a perfectionist who has not been bored for a moment in my 54 year old life, ‘floating’ is about the most difficult thing you can ask of me. I don’t want to float. I want to be busy, productive, and creative. I want to add to the world, not exist in a state that feels so useless.

 

What might my lessons be at this point? For I learned long ago that life is a series of spiritual lessons that, if learned well, allow us to move on to the inevitable next lesson, with our spirits enriched, our souls advancing in their maturity.

Long ago, I learned the art of patience – so I know it is more than that. I expect that part of it is to learn to trust in the love and order of the Great I Am, something I’m able to pay homage to, but find extremely difficult to actively practice. I want to know the final destination, or at least the next steps along the journey. It seems I’ll have to do without for now.

I also strongly suspect I am learning to stand up for myself in a righteous manner. Each time another obstacle is thrown in the way, each time my husband stalls and balks, I have a choice to make – to give in to the increasing pressure and accept his terms, or to continue to act in my own best interests, no matter how difficult he tries to make my life. I could also rage at and blame him. He is still, 15 months post separation, controlling where and how I live. I have moved beyond absolute fury to a willingness to quietly stand my ground. In a spiritual sense, I realize it is of paramount importance that I conduct myself with integrity, without blame, accusation and anger. I also know that my husband will attempt to press every one of my buttons in quick succession; he has, after all, a hotline to my vulnerabilities and has used each of them repeatedly and mercilessly in the past. It is a given that our upcoming conciliation conference will be peppered with nasty attacks. It is also a given that I will quietly refute the allegations and calmly state the facts. For months now, I’ve been rehearsing my responses in my mind and I hope they have become a natural part of me.

So, you see – in a way, my mind is helping my soul out. It still feels like I’m marking time, and I still feel discomforted by my circumstances, but I need to learn this lesson well. I certainly don’t want to have to repeat it; nothing is surer.

Onward and upward.