I've spent much of 2008 picking up the pieces of my heart and mind while recovering from the divorce. I could write at length about the drunken, sobbing nights I endured this year, but those don't much interest me now. Toward the end of the winter and the beginning of Spring, I began to feel better. I've written about this turn of the road before, but some elaboration is in order.
My therapist recommended that I construct a timeline of my marriage. Major events, changes in mood or circumstance, things that may seem minor and/or important. I approached this assignment with a fair amount of dread, because who wants to see their failed marriage arranged on a spreadsheet or a table? But I decided to attack this as another Technical Writing project: document what happened in order to produce a better Test Case for future releases. So I began the task. Took me about two months to complete, but by the time I was done I did see some patterns of behavior. Patterns that during the marriage I considered essential to its survival. Patterns that I have exhibited my whole life.
I sat on these discoveries for a while, not knowing what to do with them. Typical guy thing to do, I guess: ignore the problem and it will go away! I wrote in my journal without reviewing its contents as I went along (a former habit of mine). I also used the VoiceNotes program on my iPhone to record my thoughts and feelings, mostly while porching ("Porch Thoughts"). And after a while the problem revealed itself. The best way to sum it up is in a maxim I have often said to people over the years: "If you can't take care of yourself, then how can you take care of another?"
The cruise was a wonderful kickoff to my latest project: Taking Care of My Emotional Life. Making small changes, asking myself if this choice or that one will be beneficial to me as well as to another, for example, has done wonders. And all during the hectic production process at work I felt calm and centered. Unlike last year when I was at wits end, spending 12+ hours at work because I loathed returning to my new home to be alone with my demons.
This Holiday Season has been one of the best I've ever had. My family has been a real source of strength and I wept when we exchanged gifts, saying that they had already give me the best gift of all: their love. I had Dad, Sister, and her dog over for dinner last night, and we all had a wonderful time chatting and marveling in the sixty-degree weather! We sat on the porch before dinner and reveled in it.
So, this peace. I like it. I'm still working hard at welcoming it into my life, and I still have much work on myself to do. But I feel that I've been given a headlamp while still spelunking my mental caverns. I can find my way out of this; I believe this now.