I know much more about love now than I used to.
I once had a good marriage, but it went bad. Now, after a four-year wait, I’m divorced.
It’s not a marital status I ever thought I’d have but here it is.
Here I am.
There’s no reason to be ashamed, because it’s been the greatest teacher I’ve ever had. Dealing with the aftermath of separation in a foreign country, abandoning my art studio, relocating and rebuilding my life in Italy was no plain sailing.
I’m in a happy place now. While this wasn’t an instant feeling, I found a great tool to help me.
I took a long hard look at myself and started to take responsibility for my experiences.
It wasn’t easy—admitting my wrongs. But it was the only way I could grow and learn, instead of repeating the lessons and the pain that comes with them. By taking ownership of events, I’ve been able to etch new, more positive pathways in my life.
I believed in karma from a young age, but it’s only later in life that I’ve really seen the importance of dharma too.
What’s the difference?
Well, with karma we react passively to our lot but with dharma we’re deliberately doing what we need to do to progress spiritually. Going inwards is tough. Starting and doing the work of finding out where we as an individual go or went wrong is tougher, but it helps us to grow.
So besides finding a new love that is so much more suitable for me, here are some other profound life lessons I’ve picked up along the way:
1. Rebuild from the inside:
When life rocks our basic infrastructure and takes important things away from us, we are forced to rebuild ourselves. We can choose what we put into ourselves again as we reinvent who we are. And in this process of breathing new life into ourselves, we realise how resilient we really are and this is very empowering.
2. Self-respect first:
We understand that we can only gain respect from people if we respect ourselves first. we admire ourselves more. We realise that in order to not be in the situation where we are disrespected in any way, we need to respect ourselves first. At first we may need to make changes to our lives so that we can earn our own admiration, and the rest will follow.
3. Have a (healthy) pain tool-kit:
Turning to vices only delays the healing process, the real work starts when you start looking inwards not outwards. Sit down, write it down, meditate, lie in the bath and think about what happened, we can go to a place inside that is away from distractions and where we can listen to our own inner wisdom.
4. Go solo:
Be single for a good long while after the breakup. We need to learn how to be our own and to work on being independently happy. By immersing ourselves in someone else again, it is almost impossible to genuinely reflect on our prior mistakes and in that way we risk making them all over again.
5. Friendship first (after self-respect of course):
Build and maintain a network of friends (and don’t forget them when you meet another partner). It’s been proved that the invisible thread in society is friendship and no love should jeopardise this.
6. Plant carefully:
Plant and nurture your own inner garden. By looking back at our lives and asking ourselves what some of the ingredients were that gave us satisfaction—like being active or creative or working with people— we will probably find that these essentially don’t change much over the years. These ingredients can keep our inner spark going no matter who or what is happening in our life.
7. Value time:
It’s precious. In no way is a failed marriage a waste of time, but it teaches us the value of time and the importance of filling it with people and situations that serve our higher good.
8. Mind the glass windows:
When we’ve been a situation where we could never imagine ourselves being in one day, we tend to be more open-minded and less judgemental of the plight of other people. There’s a lot of truth to the saying “people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.”
9. Choose courage:
When our heart’s been broken, we can choose to not be afraid of pain. In making this decision, we make ourselves vulnerable by opening ourselves up to people again. We do this because we know our own worth and that we are worthy of being loved and in this way we let new love in again.
10. Look for the teacher:
If we’ve been through a hard life lesson, seeing lessons in every situation becomes a habitual way of thinking. We understand that every experience is for our dharma (our lifelong learning process).
Author: Khara Burgess
Editor: Khara-Jade Warren
Image: Jake Stimpson/ Flickr