The last word: He said he was leaving. She ignored him.

When Laura Munson’s husband asked for a divorce, she ducked instead of fighting. He needed to learn, she says, that his unhappiness wasn’t really about her.

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Let’s say you have what you believe to be a healthy marriage. You’re still friends and lovers after spending more than half of your lives together. The dreams you set out to achieve in your 20s—gazing into each other’s eyes in candlelit city bistros, when you were single and skinny—have for the most part come true.

Two decades later you have the 20 acres of land, the farmhouse, the children, the dogs and horses. You’re the parents you said you would be, full of love and guidance. You’ve done it all: Disneyland, camping, Hawaii, Mexico, city living, stargazing.

Sure, you have your marital issues, but on the whole you feel so self-satisfied about how things have worked out that you would never, in your wildest nightmares, think you would hear these words from your husband one fine summer day: “I don’t love you anymore. I’m not sure I ever did. I’m moving out. The kids will understand. They’ll want me to be happy.”

But wait. This isn’t the divorce story you think it is. Neither is it a begging-him-to-stay story. It’s a story about hearing your husband say, “I don’t love you anymore” and deciding not to believe him. And what can happen as a result.

Here’s a visual: Child throws a temper tantrum. Tries to hit his mother. But the mother doesn’t hit back, lecture or punish. Instead, she ducks. Then she tries to go about her business as if the tantrum isn’t happening. She doesn’t “reward” the tantrum. She simply doesn’t take the tantrum personally because, after all, it’s not about her.

Let me be clear: I’m not saying my husband was throwing a child’s tantrum. No. He was in the grip of something else—a profound and far more troubling meltdown that comes not in childhood but in midlife, when we perceive that our personal trajectory is no longer arcing reliably upward as it once did. But I decided to respond the same way I’d responded to my children’s tantrums. And I kept responding to it that way. For four months.

“I don’t love you anymore. I’m not sure I ever did.”

His words came at me like a speeding fist, like a sucker punch, yet somehow in that moment I was able to duck. And once I recovered and composed myself, I managed to say, “I don’t buy it.” Because I didn’t.

He drew back in surprise. Apparently he’d expected me to burst into tears, to rage at him, to threaten him with a custody battle. Or beg him to change his mind.

So he turned mean. “I don’t like what you’ve become.”

Gut-wrenching pause. How could he say such a thing? That’s when I really wanted to fight. To rage. To cry. But I didn’t.

Instead, a shroud of calm enveloped me, and I repeated those words: “I don’t buy it.”

You see, I’d recently committed to a non-negotiable understanding with myself. I’d committed to “the End of Suffering.” I’d finally managed to exile the voices in my head that told me my personal happiness was only as good as my outward success, rooted in things that were often outside my control. I’d seen the insanity of that equation and decided to take responsibility for my own happiness. And I mean all of it.

My husband hadn’t yet come to this understanding with himself. He had enjoyed many years of hard work, and its rewards had supported our family of four all along. But his new endeavor hadn’t been going so well, and his ability to be the breadwinner was in rapid decline. He’d been miserable about this, felt useless, was losing himself emotionally and letting himself go physically. And now he wanted out of our marriage; to be done with our family.

But I wasn’t buying it.

I said: “It’s not age-appropriate to expect children to be concerned with their parents’ happiness. Not unless you want to create co-dependents who’ll spend their lives in bad relationships and therapy. There are times in every relationship when the parties involved need a break. What can we do to give you the distance you need, without hurting the family?”

“Huh?” he said.

“Go trekking in Nepal. Build a yurt in the back meadow. Turn the garage studio into a man-cave. Get that drum set you’ve always wanted. Anything but hurting the children and me with a reckless move like the one you’re talking about.”

Then I repeated my line, “What can we do to give you the distance you need, without hurting the family?”

“Huh?”

“How can we have a responsible distance?”

“I don’t want distance,” he said. “I want to move out.”

My mind raced. Was it another woman? Drugs? Unconscionable secrets? But I stopped myself. I would not suffer.

Instead, I went to my desk, Googled “responsible separation,” and came up with a list. It included things like: Who’s allowed to use what credit cards? Who are the children allowed to see you with in town? Who’s allowed keys to what?

I looked through the list and passed it on to him.

His response: “Keys? We don’t even have keys to our house.”

I remained stoic. I could see pain in his eyes. Pain I recognized.

“Oh, I see what you’re doing,” he said. “You’re going to make me go into therapy. You’re not going to let me move out. You’re going to use the kids against me.”

“I never said that. I just asked: What can we do to give you the distance you need … ”

“Stop saying that!”

Well, he didn’t move out.

Instead, he spent the summer being unreliable. He stopped coming home at his usual 6 o’clock. He would stay out late and not call. He blew off our entire Fourth of July—the parade, the barbecue, the fireworks—to go to someone else’s party. When he was at home, he was distant. He wouldn’t look me in the eye. He didn’t even wish me “Happy Birthday.”

But I didn’t play into it. I walked my line. I told the kids: “Daddy’s having a hard time, as adults often do. But we’re a family, no matter what.” I was not going to suffer. And neither were they.

My trusted friends were irate on my behalf. “How can you just stand by and accept this behavior? Kick him out! Get a lawyer!”

I walked my line with them, too. This man was hurting, yet his problem wasn’t mine to solve. In fact, I needed to get out of his way so he could solve it.

I know what you’re thinking: I’m a pushover. I’m weak and scared and would put up with anything to keep the family together. I’m probably one of those women who would endure physical abuse. But I can assure you, I’m not. I load 1,500-pound horses into trailers and gallop through the high country of Montana all summer. I went through Pitocin-induced natural childbirth. And a Caesarean section without follow-up drugs. I am handy with a chain saw.

I simply had come to understand that I was not at the root of my husband’s problem. He was. If he could turn his problem into a marital fight, he could make it about us. I needed to get out of the way so that wouldn’t happen.

Privately, I decided to give him time. Six months.

I had good days and I had bad days. On the good days, I took the high road. I ignored his lashing out, his merciless jabs. On bad days, I would fester in the August sun while the kids ran through sprinklers, raging at him in my mind. But I never wavered. Although it may sound ridiculous to say, “Don’t take it personally” when your husband tells you he no longer loves you, sometimes that’s exactly what you have to do.

Instead of issuing ultimatums, yelling, crying, or begging, I presented him with options. I created a summer of fun for our family and welcomed him to share in it, or not—it was up to him. If he chose not to come along, we would miss him, but we would be just fine, thank you very much. And we were.

And, yeah, you can bet I wanted to sit him down and persuade him to stay. To love me. To fight for what we’ve created. You can bet I wanted to.

But I didn’t.

I barbecued. Made lemonade. Set the table for four. Loved him from afar.

And one day, there he was, home from work early, mowing the lawn. A man doesn’t mow his lawn if he’s going to leave it. Not this man. Then he fixed a door that had been broken for eight years. He made a comment about our front porch needing paint. Our front porch. He mentioned needing wood for next winter. The future. Little by little, he started talking about the future.

It was Thanksgiving dinner that sealed it. My husband bowed his head humbly and said, “I’m thankful for my family.”

He was back.

And I saw what had been missing: pride. He’d lost pride in himself. Maybe that’s what happens when our egos take a hit in midlife and we realize we’re not as young and golden anymore.

When life’s knocked us around. And our childhood myths reveal themselves to be just that. The truth feels like the biggest sucker-punch of them all: It’s not a spouse, or land, or a job, or money that brings us happiness. Those achievements, those relationships, can enhance our happiness, yes, but happiness has to start from within. Relying on any other equation can be lethal.

My husband had become lost in the myth. But he found his way out. We’ve since had the hard conversations. In fact, he encouraged me to write about our ordeal. To help other couples who arrive at this juncture in life. People who feel scared and stuck. Who believe their temporary feelings are permanent. Who see an easy out and think they can escape.

My husband tried to strike a deal. Blame me for his pain. Unload his feelings of personal disgrace onto me.

But I ducked. And I waited. And it worked.

This essay originally appeared in The New York Times. Used with permission. All rights reserved.

This post comes from Theweek.com August 13, 2009

 

Door # 1 or Door # 2 ?

” Reality 1: Hang on to Old Reality consciousness and becom immersed in its crumbling facade and deepening devastation. This reality will be filled with mounting evidence that the old ways of seeing the world are no longer functional.

Reality 2: Align yourself with the uplifting grace of New Reality consciousness and its inherent sense of the new, the hopeful and the inspired. Align yourself with its enormous potential to build a new and better world.

These two realities are like two ships waiting to leave port. Both ships have raised steam; their propulsion turbines are at rest, yet poised with potential and ready to push the massive ships forward.

For now, you are still able to move from one ship to the other, making your choice while they remain in port, but time is running short. The two ships, Reality 1 and Reality 2, are about to leave port and go their separate ways.

The reality that you subscribe to – the one to which you give the most energy – is the one that you will see manifest more and more in your perception of the world.

When storms pass by, they affect all ships. As world crises pass by, they affect all people. The difference is that those in the New Reality community will sense the emerging love and the new hope for a better world that emerges with each crisis, while those who subscribe to the Old Reality consciousness will fall deeper into a fear-filled view of reality.

Here are the rules of Reality 1: Watch the television, especially the news. Be afraid, very afraid. Do what you are told.

Here are the rules of Reality 2: Notice the ever-increasing frequency of consciousness that fills the air. Notice how each day makes it easier to access the unconditional love of heart-centered consciousness. Notice how you can join with others of like mind and work for a better reality, a future filled with community and support, while helping each other to realize more spiritual unfoldment.

For a time, the people of Reality 1 and Reality 2 will keep sharing the same world. The difference is the lens through which they will perceive reality.

The lens that looks at a material world sees one reality, while the lens that looks through the heart sees a totally different picture, even though they are looking at the same world. The lens that you choose determines how you experience your reality.

The time has come to make a firm decision to join the good ship, “Reality 2,” with its New Reality consciousness, and to see the world through a lens that encourages your purpose in life.

It is a time to expand your awareness through an increased focus on spiritual consciousness, through the study and practice of the universal laws, and through reaching out to others who can be helped in turbulent times that are filled with both great change and great opportunity.

It is time to make that crucial decision, to join your ship and set your course directly into the dawn of the emerging New Reality.

The single most powerful opportunity for spiritual advancement in 26,000 years is coming and it is just a month away!

In order to best prepare for the 2012 cosmic gateway which occurs on December 21st, we are running a 2012 Transformation course, starting on December 1st.

Prepare now to pass through the 2012 gateway in the best possible way. Join the many souls of like mind on this course who will be learning about the emerging new standard in spiritual growth. Tune in with the ascended masters who will be assisting us during this course to reach the new level of spiritual consciousness.”

–Owen Waters

Bobcat Under the Dancing Stars

starbrightThe night air was warm and muggy, my flesh felt moist to the touch as the breeze blew across the grasses that lay beside my body.  Starring up into the heavens, begging something in this vast expression of god’s touch to speak to me, to guide me, to make the pain of my heart chakra stop and in the same moment tears of gratitude flooded my eyes and rolled down my cheeks.  As the tears caused distortion to my sight I latched onto one single star in the heavens. It seemed so alone in the night sky.  Alone and yet surrounded by billions of other energy bodies all dancing and flickering happily. This one solo star though radiated stronger then the majority of it relations.  My tears made the stars gleam blur and swim in colors. A beautiful solo dance had manifested itself just for me as I lay there. The universe was speaking as it always does if we are willing to listen. Just like the ocean that carries many stories and yet holds on to none, so was the message of love for me this night.  Love is meant to be ever expanding yet we try and control it, we try and box it up, protect the one’s we love and ourselves from the pain of the beauty of the light of love. When instead what we should be doing is embracing the moments and realizing that each soul that comes into our lives changes us. Quantum physics is discovering that our capacity of our energies to blend with other energies is never ending. As a result we all become a composite of EVERY soul we have ever encountered.  Showing us the importance to surround ourselves with people whose souls will nurture our own.  No man or woman is an island. We have no choice but to absorb the energies of others. It is natural and automatic. Weather you believe in quantum physics or not, just like breathing air.  It leaves us changed forever. OUR personalities are ALWAYS changing depending on who we choose to be around. We are never the same person from moment to moment!

If we were to except our love relationships as larger deposits of energy then a soul that we meet at the gas station or even our next door neighbor we would experience a deeper sense of gratitude for each soul that we chose to open our hearts too. It is these chosen few or many that emboss a new sense of self onto our hearts and souls. Impressions that may last life times.

As we look at the star from my midnight meditation, we see that even stars share energy (light) with one another. No matter how distant apart they are or how solo they may seem. Depending on where we are when we look up into the heavens, their dance speaks to us in different ways, ALWAYS. This universe is alive and conscious.  Our consciousness creates the material world making the universe self-aware. If we open up, as many ancient civilizations did to the Omens that is spirit speaking then we can adjust our consciousness, expand it and learn to be in love with what is instead of trying to dictate what we want. Through embracing our souls, our hearts and the divine flow of life we nurture ourselves, discover a more gentle understanding and can see that in everything there is pain and pleasure.  When we elevate to a point that we are loving the beauty of death and the pain of birth then we can simply breathe and be present in the moment.  This does not mean that we will not experience pain, grief, upset. It does not mean that we will only have bliss in every moment. It just means that we accept and realize that life is always flowing, ever changing, like a river.

As I stared up at this solo star with a smile on my face, tears were cascading down my cheek, my heart pounding as though I had just run a marathon and my hands feeling the beat of mother earth beneath them I remembered a warm summer day when Bobcat appeared to me.

image_BobcatSitting at a park bench with a young man that I had just recently met and found myself connected to instantly, my heart in that moment beating as though I had run a marathon, a smile on my face and the feel of mother earths pulse beneath my bare feet, I breathed in the energies that dance around the two of us. The moment was perfect. And the universe wanted to speak. There upon her flesh she sent a messenger.  In the distance I saw something walking our direction. It was a cat. I pointed to it because it seemed to be too large to be your average house cat but was shocked it could be much else since we were in a large community park just outside of Dallas. He approached confidently and before getting to close yet close enough for us to see the messengers name; he turned to the side revealing that he was Bobcat. ‘OMG! Is that a bobcat?” I said. “Let’s follow him, see where he takes us, what message he has.” This daring man agreed although I am certain he was convinced in this moment I was crazy. Bobcat walked the trail not far in front of us, occasionally stopping to look over his shoulder to see if we were following.  He slinked his swaying body along the tree lined path with us in step. Guiding us back to the car we had come in. Looking back at this Omen I can see now Bobcat’s message.  Similar to the dancing star.  Bobcats are animals of solitude; they walk between the veils of this world and the mystical. They trust their instincts, are willing to take risks, and are quiet and sensitive to their environments. They are mostly isolated but know that they need at times of life companionship. On this day Bobcat was sharing his message. It was time to allow someone into our hearts. Into our energy, our world.

funvidandegopicsfeb11 024Later that day I was surprised by yet another Omen. My beloved house cat of 10 years whom had disappeared almost a year before had suddenly returned home, safe and well.  Ecstatic I shared this message with the man from the park. It was a birth of a new cycle in life. My heart danced at the opportunity and the bliss I felt. Happy in the moment. My being glowed as though I was pregnant and in a way I was. My heart was opening; my soul was healing, my spirit dancing with the stars.  Yet all cycles have a transition point or what we call a death, an end.  Bobcat’s message is a two part one. It is a message of cycles. The acceptance that when the time of companionship is done blossoming, the petals of the flower will wilt and fall back to the earth.  Solitude will again reinstate itself and like the bobcat even though we may feel overwhelmed and sensitive to our new found world and the death of the cycle we must find the courage to do what soul requests. Discovering the beauty in death is the message and still being able to dance under the same starry night sky and be grateful for each breath, the energies exchanged and the love that was embossed upon our hearts.

The Universe speaks. The final Omen of this tale is my beloved house cat. When the dance was over he too parted ways yet again. Sharing the message” Letting go and loving what is is all we can do”.

In the expansion of love, of feeling pleasure, joy and happiness we expand our whole being. Meaning that our vessel will “feel more” of everything. This can be scary for many of us. As whom wants to feel more pain, grief, suffering, anger, etc.  We want to choose what we feel more of. In some ways we can. We do this through our thinking and paying attention to our consciousness and what we are feeling. Inquiry of our thoughts is important.  Discovering what is true in our thinking and what is false.  For example, “He/she does not love me or they would not do this.” Is that true? Can you be certain that they do not love you because they are not acting a certain way? No you cannot.  90% of our thoughts are not even real. They are assumptions based on our programming. They are our ego causing doubt, fear, and distortion of the truth. If we can learn to separate our thoughts from our feelings (which they are VERY separate, we just bulk them together) then we can  have greater certainty in what we are to do in life and what will make us happy.

At the end of your days when we are breathing in your final moments here on this planet, in this body what will you wish for? Will you be full of regrets? Will you look back at your life, your loved ones, all that you accomplished or did not accomplish and have peace in your soul? Will your soul say I lived this life, I loved deeply in this life, and I risked everything and cherished every breath taking moment? I expanded and pushed my boundaries, saw my divinity and danced openly in moments of bliss and pain. I allowed my heart to be revealed my spirit to speak and I listened to the wisdom of my body, the feelings of my heart and the Omens of the Universe. I have no regrets.

What will your soul song be on your last day?