A few short weeks ago, a relationship that had been very important to me ended. It had to end, and with full knowledge that it had to end, I took a deep breath when it came time for me to disconnect parts of my heart.
I was not prepared for the extremely drastic switch that got flipped on the other side.
For the other person, it was important that we go instantly from being best friends of several years to business associates who barely tolerate one another.
I was jolted, and for a while, I lost my ground.
Sleep eluded me, my mind became foggy, and food became an inconvenience.
I reached for my tools.
I meditated, I moved my body, I talked, I got quiet. I wrote. I created daily mantras - and these seem to help a lot, like aloe vera on a sunburn.
Of course, I grabbed my magic wand: GRATITUDE.
As I went about my day, I made sure to remember to feel the Gratitude for what had been. As my mentor, Alice Herz-Sommer suggests, "I looked where it's good." After all, it is the obvious right thing to do, isn't it?
Except that it did not work.
Whereas everything else seemed to nudge me (albeit not always directly) in the direction of healing, I could tell that my gratitude practice was wreaking havoc on me.
How could that be? I KNOW that Gratitude is the way, and even as it "was not working," I so strongly trust in its power that I knew it had to be something else.
Operator error. Yes, it had to be operator error.
The second I opened up to where or how I might be using the healing power of Gratitude in a wonky way - the second I asked - the answer came:
Connect with your Gratitude for where you are now.
In other words: What are the Gifts of having been brave enough to walk away?
Whew. Game changer.
Within seconds, I was able to allow myself to feel the Gratitude for this new chapter. In precise, small, and possibly petty details. I let the words flood my sore heart and mind like a warm wave of all that's good.
It worked. It worked so well.
Every night, or even in the middle of the night, when I still wake up with a raw heart and a bit of panic, I pick up my slightly altered Gratitude wand, and I gently shake it around. I do if first thing in the morning, too. Occasionally in the daytime, when I hit a little sharp edge.
What are the Gifts of the choice I made? Independently of how the other person needs to live this, what are the Gifts?
Little by little, I am getting there. And I know that eventually, when Life and Time have done their sacred work, I will be able to pull out the other list. The one that tells me of all the good things, the things that no amount of instant switch flipping can erase. That time will come.
In the process, I have learned that while I still believe that Gratitude will always lead us to our highest, most beautiful place, the area where we orient its wand is crucial to its power. Like most everything in being a human, this is a co-creation process. Life says: "Here, take this. It works so very well. And YOU get to decide how to use it."
Today, I invite you to look at the precious helpers of your life, the tools you have amassed, the things you know "work." And I invite you to use your beautiful goodwill in deciding how and where you want to use them. I invite you to look past "the obvious right thing to do," and tweak things as needed, often just a little notch.
And I also invite us, in times of painful transitions, to stay close to us, to our own language. To the place where things feel right in our gut, even if our ego has a little tantrum.
I wish you lots and lots of Gratitude in just the right places.
My new book