Monday, July 16, 2012

Martha Stewart and Other Friends for Life

What Would Jesus Do?

That's what some people ask themselves when faced with a decision.  I am an atheist so that question isn't applicable in my case. I was, however, pretty sure I knew what Martha Stewart would do in most circumstances. And in my former life, I would choose the opposite of whatever Martha would do.  Perspective has been added to my life, though, and I can no longer hold myself up to the anti-Martha measuring stick.   Getting divorced is much like I imagine it was for Martha being in a West Virginia prison, separated from her enamel coated flour sifter and sticky pots of scrap booking glue.  As a married woman, what I presented to the world was the high gloss edition of "Living."  No, I didn't have a showcase home, my life was the showcase.  I spoke so often of my wonderful husband, my funny, adorable, intelligent guy.  I told the world how wonderful he was.  Like Martha, however,  I was sprinkling glitter on the picture to make it presentable.  It was going to take a forced timeout to be able to emerge a different woman, one who could see that my husband was not a good husband for me.

When my husband,- this seems like it may be a topic of enduring nature, so let's give him a name - Earl .  When Earl, quite rightly, decided that we were not good for one another, I put the call out to the Universe for a place of refuge.  Where could I go?  How could I not see him?  How could I find myself in all this crumbling mess? I believe in the Universe - a powerful source of wisdom and connection between all of nature, time, space, and beings.  By opening my broken heart to the Universe, a bounty of friendship flooded in.  At first I stayed with a few actors I knew mostly through Facebook. They let me stay on their futon in the living room of their Hollywood apartment, and they were so amazingly kind to the poor wretch of a woman who showed up on their doorstep.  But the circumstances of my life were so far from ideal that I sought further refuge.  I was then welcomed in by total strangers who knew nothing of me other than having once had a working relationship with my sibling. And it is with these people that my journey became rooted in self knowledge and friendship.

For most of my life I acted outwardly towards the world, giving too much of myself, not even knowing myself, and asking people in the world to reciprocate by giving me my self esteem.  It didn't work out so well.  But staying as a refugee with this Los Angeles family, I found out some amazing things.  Vanessa, the mother and wife, kindly listened to my heartache day after day, and gave me such gentle support and loving insight into my life's situation.  Daniel, the husband and father, continually reminded me through his actions and words, that a husband is more than a shadow in a wife's life, he is a partner, he is a presence. Somehow the generosity of this family brought to the surface in me an understanding of my deepest sense of loss, my true sense of abandonment that came about 30 years ago when my own parents crumbled as a couple, my father abandoned me and my mother died. (Let's cover that topic on another day, shall we?)

While in California, I saw what a family could be; I saw potential in loving relationships.  I saw an example of life that is neither a lie nor is it perfection.  This window into potential made it easy for me to see that the strong mom and loving friend that I can be was needed at home.  So I left LA and returned to my daughter and my job and my many, many friends that I didn't even know were my friends.

I understand now that people are not props, that they are not disposable or to be treated lightly.  I am clear on this point - I am worthy of love, even though I sought it out in all the wrong ways, in the wrong people.  Just because I made mistakes doesn't mean I'm any less worthy of love.  I think about Vanessa and Daniel and am so grateful for their humanity. They gave me a safe place to find myself, and asked for nothing from me in return.  They showed compassion to a woman who had no compassion for herself.  They were what I would like us all to be - better people. 

I think about Martha Stewart and marvel at her resilience. The Great Martha Stewart was reduced to prison, served her time and rebuilt her world with a new found perspective. She's still not perfect and never will be, but I no longer see her as a woman trying to gloss over her imperfections.  Now I see her as a woman who wears her humanity on her sleeve and tries to bring aesthetic qualities into what can be a very dark world.  She no longer lives as a two dimensional character in my mind; Martha is a fully dimensional and flawed human being, just like me.  I can honestly say that right now I have NO IDEA What Martha Stewart Would Do in my circumstances, but after the blessings of the Universe were bestowed upon me in subtle and loving doses, I have a pretty good idea of what I am able to do.

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