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The starting point for this submission is that I saw the heading ‘wise woman’ and the dawning that I know some very wise women. This and the issue of marriage. Three wise women helped me through the most difficult time I’ve experienced in my 29-30 years (eh, Anna?)
Coming in at number 3: awkward pregnancy/birth.
A non-mover at number 2: death of parent.
This year we have a brand new number 1: husband is unfaithful.
So after ten years together I found out that my husband had had some fun with another – the details of which are irrelevant and mildly nauseating. The weeks that followed felt like grieving, I was beside myself – literally. Useless, blundering, watching myself blubber and crumble and it HURT. It was a physical pain that ached from my chest and stomach and there was no amount of Jack Daniels nor Nurofen Express that would help. I now know why we use the words ‘broken heart’ – my heart hurt. I was humiliated. I was effing livid.
One wise woman at the time told me: “This is crappy and it’s unfair, but you’re just going to have to go through it. You want to make a decision quickly and stop the hurting but you can’t rush it. You have to keep walking through it” – this was marvellous and made so much sense. It reassured me that there was nothing I could do to feel better yet.
A second wise woman: took herself and her caring, generous, clear head and sat down in a room with him to try and work out how this happened. She uncovered some snippets of truth which I hadn’t had the patience or strength to get to myself.
A third wise woman sent me a postcard with the words: “I don’t know what to do – look up this poem….”
So we, The Married, after time apart and help from RELATE to understand each other, how this had happened and how to avoid it again, are still together. We pulled it back.
I don’t want to sweep under the rug how much work has gone into it and still does – how much swallowing of pride on my part, to be the woman “who took him back…” for the world to know we are not flawless.
I now know that, for us, starting out so young and growing up together saw us both become very different people. We had invested all of our efforts in children, mortgages, and keeping up with friends and careers.
We’d forgotten about each other and now we didn’t know how to be together anymore.
I read the poem sent by The Third Wise Woman. I sent the poem to my husband while we were adrift, while we lived separately, with the subject: “I realise this is poetry and everything. Just read it because it’s exactly how I’m feeling.” It made sense to us both – this sounds ridiculous. It did though.
This was a moment which shifted our anger and battling against each other and brought us back to humble, open, nervous and ready to work on it.
It’s now framed in a quiet space in our house. A poem. I’m as surprised as you are.
It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for, and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing.
It doesn’t interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love, for your dream, for the adventure of being alive.
It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring your moon. I want to know if you have touched the center of your own sorrow, if you have been opened by life’s betrayals or have become shriveled and closed from fear of further pain!
I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, without moving to hide it or fade it, or fix it.
I want to know if you can be with joy, mine or your own, if you can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes without cautioning us to be careful, to be realistic, to remember the limitations of being human.
It doesn’t interest me if the story you are telling me is true. I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself; if you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul; if you can be faithless and therefore trustworthy.
I want to know if you can see beauty even when it’s not pretty, every day, and if you can source your own life from its presence.
I want to know if you can live with failure, yours and mine, and still stand on the edge of the lake and shout to the silver of the full moon, “Yes!”
It doesn’t interest me to know where you live or how much money you have. I want to know if you can get up, after the night of grief and despair, weary and bruised to the bone, and do what needs to be done to feed the children.
It doesn’t interest me who you know or how you came to be here. I want to know if you will stand in the center of the fire with me and not shrink back.
It doesn’t interest me where or what or with whom you have studied. I want to know what sustains you, from the inside, when all else falls away.
I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments.
(‘The Invitation’ by Oriah Mountain Dreamer) She must be the world’s greatest hippy with a name like that.