Cutting Big

Number 1 rule of surgery is limit exposure – keep your hands clean, your incision small and your wounds covered. Number 2 rule of surgery is that if rule number 1 stops working, try something else. Because sometimes you can’t limit exposure. Sometimes the injury is so bad that you have to cut and cut big. In surgery, the healing process begins with a cut, an incision. the tearing of flesh. We have to damage the healthy flesh in order to expose the unhealthy. It feels cruel and against common sense, but it works. You risk exposure for the sake of healing and when it’s over, once the incision has been closed, you wait. You wait and hope that your patient will heal. That you haven’t in  fact, just made everything worse.  
— Gray’s Anatomy (1/21/2010) 

One of the e-mails I received from Divorce Care recommended that people list all the losses they are feeling due to the divorce (this might also apply to other situations where you feel loss, like injuries or illness), big and small, they all need to be named and dealt with.

My initial reaction to that suggestions was why dwell on the bad stuff? Won’t that just make me feel even worse? To stare at a whole, big, concrete list? Don’t I want to just not think about it? Wouldn’t coming up with a list of my blessings or good things that have happened in the past ten months be much better for me?

But I guess, like most things you try to bury and ignore, the things you lose in a divorce continue to fester and haunt you until you acknowledge their existence and bid them adieu. The list below isn’t my complete list, because it was getting way too long, but a mix of some of the big and small things I came up with.

I have lost: 

  • My husband, my life partner, the person I once considered my very best friend
  • Trust
  • Faith
  • Confidence in my own intuition and judgement of people and situations
  • Feeling that I was truly accepted and loved, and the comfort and warmth that goes with that feeling
  • Family and friends that left with my husband
  • Affection and sex
  • Daily conversation about life and plans
  • A shared love of music
  • Shared decisions
  • A sense of home and belonging
  • Dreams of growing old together, and that sense of knowing and being known
  • History, continuity, the feeling that comes from having journeyed through life experiences and stages together — some of them pretty tough, some of them the best times of my life
  • A person to “remember when” with
  • The person I was and how I felt with my husband
  • Physical and financial sense of safety and security
  • The promise of retiring from my current job and finding another job doing something I really care about but, unfortunately, doesn’t pay very well
  • The calmness that comes from not worrying about every penny spent
  • Eating out at nice places
  • The extravagant vacation I was hoping to take for our 10th anniversary
  • Ability to take vacations or see my family for the time being
  • Acceptance, comfort, and inclusion that comes from being married or just from being part of a couple
  • Schedule coordination and shared duties
  • Fun of picking things out for the house together
  • Humor that only we seemed to understand
  • Actual heat in the winter
  • Christmas and birthday presents to give and receive
  • Going out dancing
  • My karaoke partner
  • My golf instructor
  • My happily ever after story

Additional losses that will come when the house sells: 

  • My dream of living in the country until I get dragged, kicking and screaming, to some stinkin’ “senior” housing
  • My beautiful kitchen and the joy of cooking in it
  • My riding ring, which was the best birthday present I’d ever received
  • Having my horse at home and the peace of mind of knowing he’s safe and being well taken care of
  • Being able to catch the horses doing something interesting and photographing it or just getting a good laugh
  • Watching Java play with Luke, another good laugh
  • Java’s swimming pool, another source of amusement
  • Being able to walk outside and just ride
  • Being able to snowshoe, ski, and walk the dog without leaving my property
  • Being able to have my horse trailer at home and keep all my tack and things safely and conveniently inside it
  • Being able to see the stars so clearly at night
  • And something difficult to describe – rootedness, peace, familiarity

I’m not saying I can never have any of those things again, although, currently, it feels like that might be the case. What I’m trying to say is that I need to say goodbye for now and the immediate future. I need to acknowledge some of it is gone for good.

A lot of tears have been shed in this effort. I guess grief is like that. You don’t necessarily grieve once and it’s done. Hopefully, it gets easier and less painful as time goes by and my life continues to fill up with other places, people, and experiences. But in order to let anything else in, I need to open my fingers, wrapped so tightly around the loss, and bid adieu.

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  1. ~pat~
    Nothing of substance to say really. You’ve said so much so eloquently. Just know there are a lot of us out here thinking of you, and rooting for you. You’re not alone.

    I’m glad to hear you conceding this is grieving for that capsule of time, for what that contained, and not saying you’ll never have those things in your future. I think your future will be even brighter.

    Hang on kiddo.

  2. You’ve really given me a lot to think about in my own life about saying goodbyes and how easily things you love can be lost.

    Thank you for that…and for sharing your heart.

    Sending a hug and sorrow for all that you have lost. I am sure you have moments when you see what you have gained, but I also understand the need to acknowledge and grieve for the things that are gone.


  3. I suppose by stating these losses it gets them ‘out there’ so you can grieve and deal with them, and also, eventually find some peace and maybe even some new and even better experiences, observations, and people in your life. And then all of this will be a memory and you will be able to rejoice in your new life, different with some obvious losses, but maybe even better and more exciting.
    At least one can hope, right?

    I wish that for you…and more. I wish a life filled with happiness, joy and promise.

    Gentle Hugs,

  4. Oh. And this thoughtfully written post of yours makes me think of my recent farewell to my dear horse, Baby Doll. I thought she and I were going to ‘forever’, too. Buw I finally realized that we were not a good match and we were doing each other no favors staying together. But still, I love her.
    And now I’m excited, but also very afraid of choosing another horse to be my companion. How will I know she/he is the right fit? How will I be sure that I won’t end up in the same situation, or worse than I was with my previous horse?

    I think I know just a little bit of what you are going through. It’s scary starting over, I agree.

    Gentle hugs for you,

  5. hmmm..maybe if I had done something similar it wouldn’t have taken me 10 years to recover from my divorce.

    I think this is a good plan. Moving 2500 miles away didn’t help!

  6. I’m glad that you have the support of the Divorce Care group to help you through all this. I guess sometimes it is important to openly aknowlege a loss before you can truly accept it.

    On a lighter note, about the Goodbye Song, an old friend of mine once told me that when he was younger, he thought that instead of “auf weidersehen goodbye” they were singing “My feet are sayin’ goodbye.” To this day we say goodbye to each other by waving our feet.

  7. Thanks for sharing such a personal thing with us, Maery. I ascribe to some Buddhist principles (that shocks some people – because I don’t seem like the ‘type’). One principle is trying to be in touch with what’s going on right now, both in the world around me as well as inside me. The second part has helped immensely. If I identify exactly what’s hurting me emotionally, then I can, for some bizarre reason, deal with it much better even if there’s no ‘solution’ to it.

    That sounds an awful lot like your list-making undertaking. Painful but necessary.

    I, too, am glad that you’ve found the help of such a good group to help you through this.

  8. I know about the farewell’s…and then turning around and seeing that the person I was grieving for didn’t deserve my grief…and in fact was not what the biblw calls “a true husband”, which sadly, made me just mad at myself. Either way, it’s loss and it SO sucks. There is just no way to do this just right so it doesn’t hurt.

  9. Sue – Many hugs back to you. Thanks for your understanding.

    Lisa – It’s always helped me to get thing out of my head and down where I can deal with them.

    Anonymous – Hmmm… I’ve also considered the moving but the economy isn’t cooperating.

    Dog Geek – Funny how we can get song words so mixed up but I like what you and your friend have done with it.

    KB – It seems like what you practice works very well for you and I’m also trying to incorporate that living in the moment practice into my life. It’s easier on weekends than during the work week.

    Julie – Thanks for stopping by. I wish people would define “better”. The divorce isn’t finalized and even when it is, there’s the house to keep us linked together. It makes it really tough to just move on and start making a new life. He just keeps re-hurting me, over and over and over again.

    Lynn – Yeah I knew what you meant. It’s been another tough day but I’m looking forward to going out tomorrow.

  10. divorce can really suck. and tied in with the loss of your home and horses, it is just all the worse.

    all i can tell you is that life on the other side is always better. it just sometimes takes a while. hang in there.

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