I have a client who is working her way through the process of divorce. Often as people move into alignment with their personal Truth, who they become no longer aligns with who they were. In a marriage this can look like waking up the other person and deepening the bond together, or a recognition that it is time to go separate ways.
I personally needed to leave a relationship to grow into who I was becoming as I started my business. It took me almost two years to realize it. I was silently growing this business in a room of our house, sharing nothing of my success or struggles as my partner truly didn’t care, and in fact harshly judged my desire to make money, and even to make a difference.
One of the things my client has recognized in choosing to leave her marriage is that she’s the one handling everything in the divorce, and in fact she’s really been handling everything throughout her marriage.
She’s a smart, talented, and competent woman, and she’s alone.
Have you set your life up to be alone?
Can I get a witness?
Dictionary.com defines a ‘witness’ as:
an individual who, being present, personally sees or perceives a thing; a beholder, spectator, or eyewitness.
She doesn’t need ‘help’ getting a divorce. She knows what needs to be done. What she needs is a witness.
My week alone
I dropped my beautiful fiancé off on Saturday to do a week-long bike ride called Ride the Rockies. I am in the midst of a week alone. I tend to travel a fair amount alone, but this week I’m home alone. I’ve got a ‘normal’ week with some days of calls, and a pretty good amount of free space, with a large list of things to accomplish. It’s a big content creation week. Oh, and I’m planning a wedding.
Next week I leave for 12 days of travel so I’m looking to get a lot accomplished so I have no to-do list when I travel, and my team can run the business.
By day two alone I already felt my energy drop. I had a week ahead of me with a lot of ‘doing’ and no witness. My witness is out of town, which means all that I handle/ create/ or get done goes virtually unseen. It gets seen by my team and clients, but that is not the same as having a witness. That’s just doing what has to happen.
When we need a witness
As I worked with my client this week I was struck by how she had shut down her emotions and had her list of things to do to get this divorce done. She was doing it quietly, steadily, and without fanfare.
By the way, did you know everything in our life unfolds perfectly, and that anything that may look like a problem also provides a huge opportunity for us to grow? Specifically to grow further aligned with the person we’re meant to become.
I could see there is such opportunity in moving through this experience for her to do it differently. To BE different, and use this unique experience to explore how she could show up, and what she might need.
And what she needs is a witness.
She doesn’t need help getting things done. She doesn’t need drama or conversation for processing things. She’s clear and she knows what to do. She doesn’t need to add one more thing to her plate, like having someone to do stuff with, because that involves more stuff to do. But she just might benefit from asking someone to make her stuff important enough to let her be seen.
What’s a witness and why does it matter?
A witness is someone who can be with you, see you, and hold a great space for you, without needing to fix or change anything, and without requiring anything FROM you. Having a witness can make all of the difference.
Ten years ago I got divorced. That’s for another story, but one of the many gifts in that for me was that I learned it was OK not to have it all together, and that it was OK to receive. I didn’t know how to ask for what I needed, and in fact I didn’t really know what I needed. But I had a friend who, every Friday night, would show up on my doorstep with a bottle of wine. If I was watching a movie, she watched a movie with me. If I was scrolling through online dating profiles trying to see if I would ever trust anyone again, she’d do that with me. She was an amazing witness.
Today I know I have people I can ask and how to ask them to simply witness me. I have friends who would not think I was insane if I ask them to come spend time with me while I do something that needs to get done, even if I don’t need their help, but I would love their company. And I would do the same for them.
A good witness:
- Is not judgmental of you and your need
- Doesn’t require their own support in that moment
- Won’t try to fix you or problem solve the situation
- Won’t require you to be a certain way to make them comfortable – they have the capacity to be with you no matter how you are being
- Is flexible and willing to go with the flow
- Understands that they are being generous simply by sharing a space or an experience with you, and nothing more is expected of them
How to ask for support
The tricky thing about finding witness is that it’s kind of weird. Perhaps this is why we partner up and get married in the first place, because it’s like a built in witness (if you have the right partner who can handle the things above).
In our culture it doesn’t tend to be socially acceptable to say, “Hey, I really need to work through the details of my divorce settlement on paper. It’s emotionally tough and also boring. Would you like to come over for a cup of tea and be with me while I work?” Or, “In the next month I need to clean out my closet and decide what goes with me to my new apartment. Would you be willing to help me decide what shoes I want to keep as I become the new me?”
Strange, right? But oh-how-empowering! Especially for someone who is choosing to move through a stage of their life (or all of life) as a single person!
We think we need to make up something to go DO to invite someone to be with us, rather than just inviting them to be who you’d love them to BE to show up for you.
Is this triggering your ‘burden complex?’ Exactly. We so don’t want to burden anyone so instead we trudge through it alone. But if you asked someone you trust to witness you, what might that open up for THEM in their willingness to ask for what they need?
We’re trying to get so much done these days… everyone is so ‘busy’ and busy becomes the excuse for disconnection. We don’t reach out because we assume busy-ness and we don’t want to burden someone – but what if we did?
How might the world be different it we agreed to witness one other from time to time, with no other agenda but to share connection and see and be seen. Which, by the way, is all we really want anyway.
There is power in being seen. It affirms and validates. It connects. While we’re perfectly capable of handling anything, how good it feels to know we’re not alone. How can you give yourself that gift in one area this week?
I’d love to hear! Post your comments below!