By Kristi Trader
My day started fairly normally.
My alarm went off, I moaned and groaned in bed, checked my social media for any important things I should respond to, threw myself together at the last minute, rushed out the door on a phone call, grabbed a coffee, and got to the office. That’s when the messages started coming in…
I used to facilitate a co-ed group of individuals that met regularly to discuss life, love, and other mysteries. The group eventually established a subgroup of women. I tend to be the glue that holds the group together. Suddenly, the women started sending me Liz Gilbert’s Facebook post to her followers, announcing her separation from the man we all came to know and love from her best seller, Eat, Pray, Love.
I sat, confused at the first message. The next message was from a woman similar to myself in emotional competencies. We can seem standoffish, uninterested, even bothered at times by the mere presence of other beings. Yet, if you get to know either one of us, we’re actually quite warm and lovable.
The messages continued and I agreed to just sit with them. Here’s what came up for me and these other women:
1. A marriage is not only a success if it lasts forever, but if it changes both partners into more loving, free, wise, brave, kind, whole beings.
From that perspective, my marriage—even though it ended—was a success, because my ex and I are undoubtedly more loving, free, wise, brave, kind and whole! As a bonus, our kids are witnessing this amazing growth in both of us and have solid foundations for managing the uncomfortable truths that life deals us every day.
2. Please let the world offer Liz no advice, no platitudes and no criticism, rather nothing but love and gratitude for living and loving and hurting aloud, so that we can see how it’s done.
People have always considered me to be a live out loud kind of person. The funny thing is I really only started living out loud in the last couple of years and, even then, only in safe company. Well, I have written an article here or there putting myself out there and hoping certain people in my life would never read it. I fear judgment and rejection and yet, anytime I have put myself out there, I have only heard resounding praise from the people that matter most. And to those that don’t, I say, if you’re not in the arena getting your butt kicked too, I’m not interested in your feedback.
People want to hear us live and love aloud. People want us to feel familiar and as if they’re not alone because as C.S. Lewis said, “Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, ‘What? You too? I thought I was the only one.’”
3. We move toward one another with The Celtic Prayer of Approach:
I Honor your Gods
I drink at your well
I bring an undefended heart to our meeting places
I have no cherished outcomes
I will not negotiate by withholding, and
I am not subject to disappointment
4. But, dammit, I’m disoriented and disappointed.
I looked to Liz and her journey as proof that love might be real, and forever might be possible. And yet, here it is, ending the same as so many and I am left with the same questions. Is love real? Can it last forever? How can we dissolve a relationship of love? How can we not continue fighting? What happens in the in between that leads to dissolution? These are all just questions I continue to wrestle with. But, the biggest question right now is: if Liz Gilbert can’t do it how could I?
5. I’m devastated, too.
There’s a chance that someone I love could leave me. That is excruciating to even consider. We didn’t see their relationship decline so it’s as if they left while still loving each other (Liz: When you heal, please consider writing the rest of the story).
6. But, alas, Liz is human. And we are all amazingly better for having known those parts of her that she chooses to share with us.
It’s unfair to assume that because she is THE Liz Gilbert that her story would be any different than ours. It makes us wonder though if “living the life” and having a companion along for the journey is possible. And, is a committed, monogamous relationship that spans the remainder of our lives the end goal? Or, is it possible that each relationship is a mirror that simply reveals the next part of ourselves that we need to come to know and love. Perhaps we are the beloved we are seeking and all of the pieces are merely falling into place in their own space and time. Perhaps our fairy tale ending is an encounter with ourselves?
So, what comes up for you? Join the conversation with us. Live aloud!
Kristi Trader founded Feel Be Do Good, a consulting firm that integrates technical skill and personal development to build a culture that is happy, healthy, and whole. To set an example and achieve her mission, Kristi accepts personal responsibility to stretch the boundaries of what it means to live an authentic life. Her writing shares thoughts on a wide range of topics that make her relevant to real people: art, community, ecology, education, health and wellness, parenting, relationships, sexuality, and spirituality. She graduated summa cum laude from Concordia University with a Master of Science in Organizational Leadership and Administration. She also holds a Bachelor of Arts in Organizational Management from Spring Arbor University, and an Associate of Arts from North Central University.
Editor: Peter Schaller