Fly with the Phoenix


Building and tearing down fences

My neighbor has torn down a rotted fence between our yards to replace with a new structure. The challenge is the weather forecast calls for rain all weekend, so it’s quite likely at least for three days–maybe more–I will slog through my swampy, muddy yard with two confused dogs on leashes listening to me say “please go potty” in the rain. Honestly, I feel like I’m in a Nora Ephron movie.

I guess because I’m at the mercy of my neighbor to wait for the new fence–which for such a headstrong person like me is not a comfortable place to be–and because of the rain, it’s going to be easy to slip into a pool of tears and feel blue all weekend. The loneliness of separation from my husband feels especially acute, as I continue to work through the grief. But after drying my eyes and pouring the second cup of coffee, the symbolism of a fence in our lives becomes very clear to me.

We were sitting on two opposite sides of a fence, one very big issue, never figuring out how to build a bridge to the middle. He might identify another fence–or challenge–but I think the truth remains, and that is there has to be a certain amount of sacrifice by both partners to do the big problem solving. I think couples that can do that weather their storms, and those who can’t, well, separate.

The old fence in my yard is down, but what about the fences from the marriage? You may be thinking, “Who cares? There IS no marriage, so why worry about your problems that were a part of it?”

Working out the sticking points from an old relationship helps you to move beyond the past. Understanding your role in these “fences” will help you to build a new life in the hope of a better future. Mine may or may not include the man I once was married to; I have no way of knowing. My task right now is to learn how to feel comfortable on my own. I know it’s possible for me to live independently, but my challenge is being emotionally OK with this. Like many women, we are almost brainwashed by society to believe we need to be part of a relationship to be whole. Growing comfortable living alone will take time, but I will get there. I feel I’m being called to do this.

So this weekend, I’ll tramp through the mud and rain with my wet dogs, knowing the new fence is coming in a week or so. The inconvenience will pass and I will have a new fence. As I continue recovering from separation and divorce, I’ll continue to work through the grief, fear and occasional loneliness knowing there is a season for everything, and sunny days are coming.

Tasks for mending old “fences:”

  • Examine your role in the problem or situation and be honest with yourself. Write in a private journal about ways the situation repeated itself through the relationship and how your reacted. Then think about and write how you could have done anything differently. You may identify something or you may see there was nothing else you could have done. Either way, it’s a cause to feel good about the work you’ve done in this area.
  • When you are comfortable that this old problem has been taken care of in your heart and mind, write it boldly on a piece of paper then get rid of it. Burn it in your fireplace, shred it into tiny pieces or tie it on a balloon and release it to God.  This physical letting go will assist you in letting go emotionally so you can move ahead into the new light.
  • Meditate/pray about doing it better next time. If necessary, contact the person whom you may have hurt or disappointed to ask for forgiveness (really hard, but so important). If you can’t speak to them or you think they won’t take the call, then write a note and mail it. Any other ideas from readers are welcome; feel free to post them below.

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