Books, tv programs, blogs, websites, therapy. All terrific resources to help us through the grieving process. I’ve been personally helped by all of them, but what has helped me the most: finding my people. When I say “my people”, I’m not referring to my dear friends or my family. “My People” are those that are walking my path, right now. Those dear souls who are struggling with my specific form of grieving. The gnarly, messy kind that has taken our loves away in spirit, but leaves them in their bodies as shells of their former selves.
As I came out of my fog (which for me was around month 4), I felt an incredible urge to find these people. On-line resources were helpful, but having just had my TRUST shredded to pieces, I was cautious of the (very few) people sharing their ambiguous grief experiences online. On the recommendation of a friend, I looked into The Meadows, a substance abuse treatment facility in Arizona. She wasn’t sure if they would offer something for betrayed, grieving spouses, but she thought if anyone did, it would be The Meadows. She was right and I registered for the next session of “Healing Intimate Treason“. It’s not cheap, but for me, it was worth every penny. This five-day intensive did so much for me, most important among them, it gave me My People.
Meeting and hearing the stories of 8 other women, all wounded by betrayal and lost in various stages of grief, is both painful and healing all at once. Holding space for another as she shares her devastating discovery, and having them do the same for me was a gift. For so many deeply betrayed women, there is much shame and embarrassment in their loved one’s addiction/actions. Speaking them aloud is SCARY. But together, we began healing our wounds, and seeing ourselves in one another, began to believe the addiction/actions/betrayals had nothing to do with us, and everything to do with them, the men we were grieving.
These women are smart, strong, beautiful, successful and loving. They are all loyal and kind. I would be lucky to call any ONE of them “friend”, but now they are so much more. We are sisters of grief. Born of parents, Trauma and Betrayal. There is no judgement of one another, or of our sick and sad partners whose actions brought us together. We cry together, cheer one another on, listen, support, care, and mostly, but most importantly, we UNDERSTAND. A good therapist or a trusted friend can prove a helpful resource and listen, care, and offer insight. However, they likely won’t come close to UNDERSTANDING the multi-leveled experience of ambiguous grief, especially grief through sacred sexual betrayal. Utilizing a daily text loop and weekly phone calls, we support one another. We remind each other “YOU ARE NOT ALONE”. On this painful, bewildering journey, they are a nothing less than a gift to me. We are a gift to one another. As we work to put our broken pieces back together again, we know we have been deeply fractured. We will never be the same. Not. Ever.
But together, we are working to embrace our broken pieces and look to the ancient Japanese art of Kintsukuroi for inspiration. As a nod to this ancient practice, we’ve named little broken, golden group “The Golden Girls”. Together we Golden Girls cry and bemoan our lost lives and the men who brought so much grief to us all. One day, I hope we celebrate a hard-fought feeling of hope and finally, happiness. We aren’t there yet, nor do we even know one another as happy or joyful. In fact, we haven’t once laughed together. We just aren’t there yet. The grief is too thick and our wounds too freshly inflicted. We are meeting in grief and grieving the loss of a loved one still living.
We grieve for what was lost and what will not come to be. Shining with endless tears we hold each other up and there is beauty in that, somehow.
If you’re healing, or helping someone you care about to heal, find YOUR PEOPLE. Those that are traveling through the Dark Night of the Soul with you. Look to on-line support groups, treatment facilities, or ask a friend for a referral or introduction if they know someone who is in struggle now too. Keep looking for YOUR PEOPLE, once you find them you will know. Once you know, don’t let go.
Looking for YOUR PEOPLE? Here are a list of my favorite resources.
- Check out the website based on the book “Option B” by Sheryl Sandberg & Adam Grant. Here you can read excerpts from the book of the same name, as well as stories of people building resiliency. The best part? You can connect with a community of others grieving a variety of losses. www.optionB.org
- The Meadows. If you’re grief is a result of a loss due to addiction, The Meadows may be a good investment in your healing. As one of the premier drug rehab and psychological trauma treatment center in the country, they help change the lives of individuals through The Meadows Model, 12-step practices, and the holistic healing of mind, body and spirit. With 40 years of treating addicts and those suffering from trauma, The Meadows also provides support to the families and loved ones of those affected by the addict.
- Ted– The famous “talks” have far more to offer than TechnologyEducationDesign. Here, I have found a portal into new ideas, ways of thinking, and perspective on life. Talks on grief, love, loss, shame, empathy, vulnerability are but a few great topics covered.
- The Omega InstituteWith a robust selection of classes and workshops, along with R+R opportunities, I found the Omega Institute for Holistic Studies to be like “sleepaway camp for grown ups”. It is a non-profit educational retreat center located in Rhinebeck, New York. Founded in 1977 by Elizabeth Lesser and Stephan Rechtschaffen, inspired by Sufi mystic, Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan and his ecumenical spirituality, today it offers classes to over 25,000 people a year, at the 190-acre campus. Sleep in dorms or cabins, nourish your body with incredible meals, and your spirit by connecting to beautiful natural setting. The institute’s stated mission is to “provide hope and healing for individuals and society through innovative educational experiences that awaken the best in the human spirit”. Omega’s workshops, conferences, and retreats aim to create dialogues on the integration of modern medicine and natural healing; connect science, spirituality, and creativity; and build the groundwork for new traditions and lifestyles.