This month at Ziva, we’re focusing on relationships. It felt inauthentic to lead you through this work without sharing about how my life has changed over the past two years while going through a divorce.
So I am sharing about it below. I hope some of the lessons I’ve learned can help you wherever you are in your journey.
Thank you for witnessing.
“Oh, this marriage has been over for 3 years.”
My whole body shook. But not from shock. From truth. I knew it was true. I didn’t want it to be true. I kept frantically reaching out to more healers, more coaches, another therapist, another psychic. Anyone who would help me to feel justified in making the safe choice. The choice I wanted to make — to stay — but that ultimately was not the truest choice. This gut punch of hard truth was delivered by my last ditch effort to stay. A tarot card reader.
Now judge all you want. I certainly would have. But some of my most trusted advisors looked to this woman for guidance when they needed a little postcard from the future when making decisions. And after about 1.5 hrs of talking about my career, child, and creative pursuits I finally asked her, “Can we talk about my marriage?”
She said, “What marriage?”
I said, “The one I am in.“
And she said, “Oh honey, that has been over for 3 years.”
Now please know that I did not end a ten year relationship with an amazing man, the fun, brilliant father of my son and CTO of this amazing company based on a tarot card reading.
The thing that was significant is what happened in my body when I heard those words. It felt true to my core. Hard, scary, heartbreakingly sad… but true. The reading was on a Thursday. We had “the conversation” that Sunday.
This was in fact after about 3 years of “doing the work.” We really left it all on the stage. Individual therapy, couples therapy, couples coaching, another therapist, psychedelic assisted therapy, Vedic astrological readings. You name it, if I had access to it, I tried it. And the thing is… things were getting better. We were growing. Individually and together. And I am so thankful for the crash course in relating and healing that Nature gave both of us as we prepared to transition from being romantic partners to awesome co-parents.
Oh how I wish I could say that I had the Gooptastic, conscious uncoupling of my dreams, but that is not the truth either. I made mistakes, I got triggered, I got scared. I avoided conflict through the process and I hurt the person I least wanted to hurt in the world. The person who helped me most in the world. And one of the hard lessons I learned is that the longer you avoid the truth, the more difficult you make it for all involved.
One of the miracles that happened along the way is that in our couples coaching with Laurie Gerber from Handel Group, I was given an assignment to write down any “hauntings” from my life. A haunting is something that still has a strong emotional charge from your past. A breakup, a lie, a betrayal, a mystery. Once you make the list you start doing research and conducting interviews to try to get closer to the truth.
I ended up having a life-altering conversation with my mom. Some of the truth she revealed helped me heal my lifelong fear of conflict which turns out… was based on a lie. Not a deliberate lie someone told me but a childhood distortion of truth I had taken to be fact. This distortion was secretly responsible for almost every decision in my life. Certainly any decision involving conflict or difficult conversations. I had come to equate conflict with death. No, I am not being hyperbolic. Any time I would get into a potential conflict, even over seemingly small things, my body felt like it was being threatened, as if I was going to die.
Once I had this conversation with my mom, she reassured me and helped me see more of the truth. I was able to quickly rewrite the story that conflict = death, and instead see the reality that conflict, when done with love and compassion, can actually lead to greater intimacy.
This realization and rewiring helped me to take the leap, to tell the hard truth and be willing to step into the unknown. Since then I have been living proof of the Glennon Doyle quote: “The braver you are, the luckier you become.”
So why am I sharing all this now? Two years into the journey? A few reasons:
1. I didn’t want to be dishing out relationship advice without being honest about my current status.
2. There are so many powerful lessons that I earned with a lot of tears and fears and if I can pay these forward to make your journey smoother it would be an honor.
3. There is outrageous magic I want to share about this new chapter of my life and my current relationship. It feels important that this community is up to date on this significant shift.
4. I waited until now so that I could honor a principle of mine, to teach from the scar and not the wound. I won’t say it’s all perfectly healed, but I am so much closer to a scar that I am to an open wound.
There are a thousand chapters of this book that will be shared at the appropriate and most respectful time. But for now, the lessons that feel important to underline are these.
1. None of the work you do on the relationship is wasted, even if you don’t stay together until the grave.
So what if we let go of the old paradigm that the success of a relationship is determined exclusively by its length and instead look at what you learned, what you healed, what you created together? Then perhaps we can collectively dissolve some of the shame and guilt about divorce. What if instead of seeing the end of a marriage as a failure, we see it as a graduation? Some relationships are rich enough to have a lifelong curriculum. Amazing. Some relationships burn big and bright and fast.
The current societal marker of a successful marriage is one that lasts forever. Regardless of how happy or true to yourself you are.
To quote Dr Shefali, “The key indicator is currently longevity. If that is your definition of success then divorce creates terror, failure, despair, devastation. If you have that paradigm you can’t approach divorce in a healthy, abundant way. So in order to change the way we see divorce we have to redefine how we see marriage in terms of growth, authenticity, freedom. Can I be my most authentic self? If not it is ok to change the relationship. Why are we so afraid of the unknown? Divorce is simply the end of a phase. What if it can be a beautiful release? A completion.”
I consider my marriage to be a wild success. I weep tears of gratitude regularly for everything we learned, created and went through and all the ways my life is better because of our time together.
All of the work you do on the relationship is valuable. None of it is wasted even if the relationship ends. You are either evolving yourself, upleveling the relationship or investing in your next relationship by doing this deep inner work. So give it all you’ve got.
2. Trust yourself.
If I had to do it all again the only note I would give myself is listen harder to yourself, trust yourself more.
Everyone has an opinion about your relationship. Everyone has advice to share that is colored by their own experience. You can learn from all of it, but only YOU can hear your own whispers from Nature.
And to quote my very wise friend Randall, “There are very few situations where more love is not the answer.” This to me is the great lesson for all of us. Can we get still enough to hear our own truth, brave enough to act on it and compassionate enough to take that action with love. If I had to do it again I would have chosen more love. To see the highest and best in all involved, including the scared little girl version of me.
Once we start to make progress on these powerful lessons, the world of magic, delight and presence that opens up is seemingly limitless. At the end of the day, our relationships are all we have. So let’s get really good at loving each other and ourselves, shall we?
I am not here to tell you what is right for you. I am here to cheerlead for your inner truth teller.
And if you have a hard time hearing that still, small voice inside, trust me when I say my Ziva Practice is the thing that has turned the volume up on that intuition, so I can truly live my truth.
Thanks for receiving my story. It is good (and scary) to be witnessed.