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Lessons From the End of a Marriage

A “How to Thrive” Guide After Divorce


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I’ve been feeling very vulnerable lately. Why? Who knows, but it doesn’t really matter, does it?

What matters is that I need to learn to be here when my body is screaming for to hide and bury my head beneath the covers and my mind is begging for to re-erect the barriers that once surrounded it.

I’m scared. For the first time in my entire journey, I’m truly scared of being abandoned. Again.

The feeling isn’t based on any reality. But that doesn’t matter. I was blindsided by a text after 16 years. I don’t have much faith in my view of reality.

I know I’m primed for these reactions: my dad moved across the country when I was 11, I had 13 friends die by my freshman year of college, and then there’s my ex-husband. Yeah, I’m no stranger to being left.

Early in my relationship with my fiance, I thought I worked through these issues. Adapted from the book:

It hasn’t been easy to be vulnerable again or to learn how to trust after my faith had been betrayed. It took me many months to open up again and I still find myself erecting a shield at times. My biggest challenge was not giving into to the fear of being abandoned again. This became clear about four months into my new relationship when I saw my boyfriend’s car pull up to the curb outside the airport where he was picking me up after a trip.

Relieved to see him, I reached up to give him a hug, “It’s great to see you.”

Hugging me back, “I missed you,” he replied.

Once inside the car, I admitted, “I halfway expected you not to show.”

He looked shocked, hurt. “Why would you think that?” he said, a hard edge sliding into his voice. “I told you I’d come get you.”

“I know,” I replied softly, feeling ashamed. “It’s just that last year…” I trailed off.

“I’m not him.”

Of course, I knew that on a rational level; I never consciously compared them. It was a matter of memories coursing through my bloodstream, igniting stress hormones that, in turn, sent false signals of impending doom. I also knew that this was dangerous territory; if I expected others to behave like my ex, eventually they would.

The truth? I had only worked through that because I wasn’t fully vulnerable. I don’t expect to be left anymore, but now it scares me. I’ve allowed it to scare me. I’m not holding back anything anymore and I’m only now realizing I still was. I knew that the upcoming marriage had that effect on my fiance. Now I’m realizing that it is having the same effect on me, only a few months later. I am allowing myself to fully feel the love I have for him. And, damn, that’s scary.

I’m realizing that I trust him now but that I might not yet fully trust myself. That’s a strange feeling.

So now here I am. Open and bleeding. No walls, no buried head. I need to learn to be here, to stay vulnerable, without allowing myself to panic and either hide or grasp too tightly. It’s not easy. It doesn’t feel safe.

I want reassurances. Promises. But the truth? That’s only a bandaid. I need to relax and breathe through my fear. I know I’ll be okay, I just need to do a better job of convincing myself. After all, the only true abandonment is when we abandon our true selves. And that’s one I can control.

Breathe in. Breathe out.

It will be okay.



Related posts:

Fear in the Driver’s Seat

Love After Divorce: A Reflection on a Journey

Static Cling

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30 thoughts on “Vulnerable

  1. Lisa, your vulnerability is your spirit opening to all. This is good. In that place you can finally let go of everything, including fear. Traumas as paralyzing, aren’t they? Much love and light, sweet friend. Thank you for sharing these thoughts. I know them well myself.

    1. Somehow I figured that you could relate. Trauma is paralyzing. The mind and body will do almost anything to be there again.

      I’m in your area of the world today on my -Gulp!- ski trip. It is stunning and oh so peaceful. Currently sipping coffee by the fire in a B&B built in 1911. Heaven:)

  2. Wow! It must be the idea of the new year, I am having many “flashbacks” of days gone bad with my former spouse. I have not even thought of a new relationship or attempting to think of one. I think our brains, subconcious, opens little cracks to let things slip out, little by little. We are then supposed to be aware of what we feel, feel the feelings, be mindful of it…..however long it takes. It sure sounds good on paper, much harder to practice. I agree with Millie, it is a spiritual thing –> ask God for His mercy with each breath, He is carrying you and me and Millie as well. Thanks for sharing, I too am afraid of being where you are ~ some day

    1. I fully agree with the mind only letting it through in bits and pieces. I’m just ready for the pieces to stop:)

      Don’t be afraid of being in this place someday. There are fears but they are outweighed by the joys.

  3. My freedom finally came from trusting MY SELF to be able to handle what came my way, whatever that might be, including additional loss. Your new vulnerability is a miracle of your comiing fully alive again, a sign of your heart being able to open to the double edge sword of love again. This is actually a cause to celebrate. It takes srength and courage to open and be vulnerable again.The path of staying closed is much easier and very tempting, but then one is dead while alive. I’m proud of you. Now to do it with the acceptance that life means risk and to center in a place of inner peace. I have faith that you will get to that space. The big fear was, “would you ever be able to love and trust again”. You now have the answer to the love, now you are in process of the trust–and it’s a trusting in yourself, which you do have control over. I celebrate your opening to life again, with all it’s ups and downs and ups again.

  4. My fear of abandonment or being vulnerable to trust again hits me at night. When I am trying to fall asleep… sometimes after I have just had a wonderful evening and I thought I was at peace. As I lay there haunting thoughts creep into my mind. Maybe it’s that I lay on the cusp of trusting my husband again… All the comments above were so helpful to me. I too, would like my spirit to open up and embrace the love and light I can find in my life.

  5. I had this same realization and wrote my post, “to love deeply, we must risk greatly,” about it. I realize now that I am all good and smooth sailing if I am not truly at risk of having my heart broken. Only when I allow myself to love deeply am I vulnerable and frightened. It took me an awfully long time to realize that these feelings of vulnerability and fear were not a product of my partner’s feelings or behaviors, but of my own heart. Once I accepted that, I was able to approach my relationships differently and realize that just because I felt safe, it did not mean that it was “right.” It just as often meant that I was not fully invested…. Good luck to you and thank you for being so honest and open. I am enjoying this part of your journey even more than the earlier parts… xo

  6. I find it good that you are able to talk with your fiancé and let him know your fears. I wish that I weren’t relating to this since I had hopes at my older age, that this would be finally put to rest.
    I wish for you the best and hope that this “stage” will pass and that you will not have much more time to have to deal with it! I believe you are doing great, girl!

    1. If I couldn’t talk to him, then I shouldn’t be marrying him:)

      As for age, I’m not sure if this is the kind of thing one can ever be ‘over’ or if it is something you learn to understand and mitigate and whose effects lessen over time. I know that this is born from a core wound of mine and it seems like it will always be an area I have to be aware of and work on, although I hope and expect that it will get easier. What do you think?

      1. You will overcome this and it will be an old and healed wound with much better memories and love poured around it. You have a great spirit and I believe you have strength. But it is also okay to examine it and express yourself. I have found few men patient enough to wait through to my trust level. I have to wait on it with each new start. It is not a given, it must be earned and understood. I wish I could magically erase the hurt and mistrust.

        1. I do too sometimes. I wish I could be unsullied and unscarred. But then I remember that the pain I have been through only makes me appreciate the sweetness so much more. But I still feel like screaming at the world that it’s not fair:)

          It does take so much time to build trust. Anyone who is worth it will wait.

          Thanks for all your support and kind words.

          1. You are quite welcome. It does have therapeutic value to come over to your blog and say a few things about the bad times. I hope that is okay! I am trying to be funny on mine!

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