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beyond the comfort zoneUnlike the desire to get married, very few people actually think, “…wow, I’d like to have the experience of getting divorced…”  It’s complicated and painful and expensive and takes a toll on pretty much every aspect of your life.  (Actually it sounds a lot like getting married, now that I think about it…!)  But attached to the expectation of getting married comes a “happily ever after” vibe which is clearly lacking in the throes of dissolving a marriage.  Most women, even those who initiate or want the divorce, go through a prolonged phase of,“How am I ever going to survive this?” and, “Will I ever be happy or find peace again in my life?”  When I was in the thick of it, and even sometimes to this day, I would awaken with a feeling that I was so far out of my comfort zone that normal behaviors and responses were inaccessible.  Feeling like you are trapped in a bad episode of The Twilight Zone can make you unrecognizable, even to yourself…and then the frightening thing is, this becomes your normal.

It’s at times like this, that a trip to the liquor store or a little pharmaceutical relief seems like a good choice.  And believe me, I’ve been there.  I still keep an emergency bottle of Ambien (slow release) on my bedside table.  One night (which I actually remember…) I went to a wine festival event and tried to numb my pain by having long pours of every single sample.  And went back for seconds.  And thirds.  How I managed to not poison myself that evening is beyond me, but several days later, clawing my way out of a grizzly hangover, I knew that I had to baseline a new comfort zone to handle my emotions.  Coming from a long line of people with addictive behaviors was not working in my favor, and fearing that I would take a conditionally predetermined path, I began to seek out alternative forms of “healthy” escape.

Yoga had been a source of solace and inspiration for me, so I practiced frequently and signed up for Chakra Cleanses – a more structured and choreographed type of yoga that would realign my internal energies.  I went to an acupuncturist and asked if he could cure a broken heart.  He wasn’t sure, but gave it his best shot.  I tried Reiki, and aromatherapy massage, and needlepoint.  I consulted a naturopath who prescribed minerals and adrenal supplements and other potions that smelled awful but actually seemed to relieve some of my “symptoms.”  If it was non-traditional healing and non-Western therapy, I tried it.  My parents were medical people, and I grew up with the dogma that Western medicine and pharmaceuticals were the answer.  For me to venture into the realm of non-traditional, non-Western, non-taught at Harvard Medical School therapies was as far from my known mental and emotional resources as I could go.  But it worked.  Or at least it provided relief.

All of the remedies I sought out required a fair amount of self reflection and self awareness.  Popping a small blue pill can quell the anxiety and panic brought on by a relationship in a tailspin, but learning how to sit quietly with the feeling and breathing through it takes you to a different dimension.  It forces you to find your edge, and then retreat or advance beyond what is familiar and comfortable to find a new place of ease.  And oddly enough, once you find your capabilities in your new zone, you become stronger and more capable and better able to deal with whatever the universe has in store for you.  My alternative sources have helped me manage my emotions while managing my relationship with my Ex; helped me find moments of calm and clarity in times of heartbreak and turmoil; and even helped rehabilitate a chronic knee injury.

Would I advocate the demise of a relationship to break out of your comfort zone to find a new place of strength…hell no…but I would suggest trying new things and allowing yourself to go to a new mental and emotional space.  Along the way you may discover a new you – and even pick up a new hobby….

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