June 29, 2020

Finding Hope after Divorce & in the Middle of a Global Pandemic.

My life changed dramatically on January 1, 2020, the day my divorce was finalized.

While others recovered from all-night revelries, I quietly swept up the broken pieces of my life after 34 years of marriage.

I’ll admit it’s lonely at times, being single and on my own—newly divorced.

It’s hard to get excited about eating dinner on my own, or going to bed alone, night after night. There’s something comforting about having a warm body lying next to you.

The hardest day of the week for me is Sunday. It’s a family day for sharing. I often get the blues with no one to talk to, or no one to share a leisurely breakfast with. That’s when despair wells up in me. I feel a deep ache in my chest and a sadness in my heart.

Shortly after my divorce was finalized, the COVID-19 pandemic came along; sheltering in place and social distancing became the new norm. Gone were the long lunches and dinners with friends, the hours spent in conversation, and the warm hugs goodbye.

Everyone needs a hug now and then.

During COVID-19 it’s like having a double dose of loneliness—missing my ex-spouse and my friends at the same time.

The stress of the divorce and the pandemic, coupled with the more recent Black Lives Matter movement and the social unrest, has definitely derailed me. At times I feel a kind of hopeless anguish for everyone concerned. I often end up in a worried state of mind—which is deadly for anyone, least of all for a writer like me. As Anne Lamott says, “My mind is a dangerous neighborhood that I try not to go into alone.”

Yet, even in times of uncertainty and despair, there is hope.

When I look closely, I find bits of hope in my immediate surroundings and my artistic creations. I can access hope, but in order to do that during the pandemic I need an attitude adjustment and a little help from the universe.

When feeling stressed, I often find solace in nature. Just this week, I was walking through the hills on a brisk clear morning. It’s the same trail I have routinely walked for the past year. The steep, uphill climb in the beginning gets my heart going. And if I’m lucky, and the wind hasn’t blown them over, the purple lupins are there on the hillside to greet me as I make my way back down the trail.

Normally, I just keep going, that’s my mantra: heel toe, heel toe, keep on walking forward.

But for some reason, I simply stopped walking. I felt something in the far distance wanted my attention. I scanned the horizon, and there, perched on top of a tree, hardly visible to the eye, was a tiny hummingbird sitting on a branch. It’s rare to see a hummingbird at rest. I wondered if it might be guarding a nest nearby, or protecting its family. We stood there together, that hummingbird and I, motionless for at least two minutes. I felt our divine connection.

With hope as my inspiration, I began to reframe this whole pandemic situation. What if instead of defining the pandemic in terms of isolation, I began to use the term incubation? Incubation means keeping things under the right conditions so they can develop. And what better time, for a writer like me to incubate new ideas, than now during my time of solitude?

As a writer, I see myself as a healer with words. Writing allows me to break through the isolation that, at times, threatens to consume me.

I believe artistic expression is needed now more than ever. Whether it be painting, cooking, singing, dancing, or reading poetry, we can all restore a sense of hope in our lives by expressing our own creativity.

It has been six months since my divorce. The broken feeling is gone, but the sadness remains.

Whenever I sink into a dark mood, I think of that hummingbird sitting at the top of the tree.

Like a beacon of hope, it calls to me, inviting me to experience the joy that is present in my life, and to feel the divine connection, once again.


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