Inspiring Gratitude and Releasing the Past

“Sorrow prepares you for joy. It violently sweeps everything out of your house, so that new joy can find space to enter. It shakes the yellow leaves from the bough of your heart, so that fresh, green leaves can grow in their place. It pulls up the rotten roots, so that new roots hidden beneath have room to grow. Whatever sorrow shakes from your heart, far better things will take their place.”


When I left my marriage two years ago, it was after considerable effort trying to make it work over a period of years. I simply came to the awareness that my ex husband and I both needed to move on. At the time, I remember telling him “There’s someone for you to love. Someone who will fill your heart with joy. I promise…you will be so much happier with someone different than me.”

As time passed over the last two years, we each moved into new phases of our lives, navigating what parts of our experiences or personalities or beliefs were authentic to our unique selves, and what parts had to be left behind during the process of dissolving the union that lived for over twenty years. We have each grown, experimented with loving other people, lived afresh the intense/joyful/aching experience of dating…this time as much older adults than the twenty-somethings that met and fell in love.

Fully anticipated, yet surprising all the same, the moment finally came when I realized that the prediction I made years ago had come true: my ex husband had fallen in love with a new woman. A range of feelings passed over me during this dawning realization, each one prompting investigation into the inner workings of my heart and mind. Anger that he had introduced this woman to my parents and children. Jealousy that she had been giving my sons hand-written notes and thoughtful gifts. Self-pity that I did not have someone to love, too. All of this emotional sludge was gunking up the works, causing uncomfortable and toxic interactions with my ex  husband.

My time spent on the spiritual path was helpful in providing me the essential awareness that prompted these questions:

What are you holding onto? And why are you holding onto it?

I dove deep into these questions, tracking the energetics that needed to be released, and then did the energetic healing to release it. I worked a sand painting, moving my ex husband out of my family circle. I had a friend perform an Illumination for me to release the marriage, to let it go—the good, the bad, the indifferent. I cut the cords–AGAIN–from my ex husband, severing the bonds between us. I burned a big beautiful photograph from our wedding, releasing the marriage with gratitude for all the love and experiences shared. I participated in a Despatcho service with a Q’ero shaman who was passing through town, and gave gratitude for the gifts of the marriage—especially my two wonderful sons, my greatest creations.

The gift of freedom from my past finally arrived in a completely unexpected way. Facebook. Someone had posted the story of Brenda Schmitz, a woman who passed away from ovarian cancer two years ago, but planned ahead at her death to give her husband permission to love again, to move forward with his life. She wrote a wish list for the local radio station, and asked a friend to send it when her husband fell in love again.  As one of her three wishes, she asked that the listeners of the radio station send her husband’s new love a day of pampering.  Brenda wanted to honor this woman’s efforts in loving her children, when she couldn’t be there.

In that moment of reading Brenda’s wishes, I realized my heart could open and embrace and appreciate my ex-husband’s girlfriend. In that moment, I remembered how much I loved this man, enough to say “I do”, and I remembered I wanted him to be happy.  In that moment, I found gratitude that my ex-husband chose to love someone who was kind, generous, and thoughtful—and who treated my children as one of her own. In that moment, I became free of my past by embracing the present.

I wrote a holiday card, addressed to Tom and Christy, thanking them for the love and nurturing they both give to my sons. My sons are fortunate—they have three adults looking out for their best interests. (Hopefully, someday, there will be one more…)

I am free from the past, eager for the future, and trusting in the beauty of this moment….that when I look back years from now, all the dots will connect.

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