I called my friend Kevin the morning after I arrived in Chicago, sobbing uncontrollably.
“It gets worse before it gets better,” he said.
I was horrified. And I was grateful. Grateful to have this information. An ominous warning from one who has walked the path – so I might know what to expect and “prepare” accordingly. Although I couldn’t imagine what I might do to “get ready.” Or that I could feel any worse than I did at that moment.
Last night, more than four months since that conversation, I asked Kevin, “You told me it gets worse before it gets better. When does it get better?” It had been a particularly difficult and leaky day.
What he told me wasn’t exactly new information. Something along the lines of change is incremental. The better begins to outweigh the worse. And the worse, when it creeps in, doesn’t last as long. Until one day you realize it’s been better more than worse for a while.
It reminded me of a conversation I often have with massage clients – when I explain that healing tends to happen in dribs and drabs. So often you aren’t aware of it until you are on the other side of it. And yet it’s happening all the time. It’s what I call the Jeff Weinstein method of healing.
The name always peaks their interest.
Jeff Weinstein was the mostly unrequited love of my life in high school. I thought my heart would never heal. That I would never recover from him not choosing me. That I would always feel broken.
And then one day, I realized it had been a couple of days since I had thought about him. Then a few weeks. Eventually it didn’t hurt anymore when I would think of him. And I knew I had healed.
To be honest, I still cringe sometimes when I think of my relationship with Jeff.
My legs still buckle a little bit under my weight and my hands shake when I run into him, as I do, every couple of years. Body memory.
I remember the pain of that unrequited love distinctly. It is never too far away. How could it be? It lives inside of me. But it takes up different real estate. And while I recognize it, I really don’t feel it anymore.
This morning, as I was making my usual breakfast of oatmeal with banana, blueberries and soy milk, I realized the Jeff Weinstein method had been working on me.
I looked at a bowl on the shelf. My friend Stephanie gave it to me when I got back to town, along with some other “starter items” from her own kitchen. Things she no longer used.
She brought them to me after she heard me say, “I arrived with a spoon.” It was the only eating utensil I traveled with. It’s still in my friend Matt’s kitchen drawer – a jelly spoon with ridged edges.
The bowl is thrown pottery with a mustard-color glaze, a flocked pattern inside, and grooves at the top for resting chopsticks.
I don’t eat breakfast out of Stephanie’s bowl anymore. I use a Chococat cat bowl I found at the Salvation Army instead. It makes me giggle and feels decidedly girlie.
I thought about arriving here in September. Making oatmeal in Stephanie’s bowl and bringing it with me to my morning meetings. It was a habit I had developed in Seattle.
Lee had asked me for a divorce. And I just had a somewhat innocent intimacy with a friend. He acted differently towards me after. I was devastated. I thought I knew him. That I could trust him. But his actions betrayed his words. And I saw him all the time. Both of them.
I couldn’t eat. I had never experienced this before.
My mother put me on my first diet when I was 10, and I have done some sort of battle with my body pretty much since then. Early on, I learned to eat when I was happy. When I was sad. Scared, bored, excited. I could eat for any emotion or occasion if I let myself. And now I couldn’t choke down food.
I had heard about this phenomenon, but it seemed like urban legend to me. Like the Loch Ness Monster or Big Foot.
Every morning I would make breakfast. Write my morning pages. Pray and meditate. And then go meet others like myself for a dose of what heals us. I would bring my bowl with oatmeal, bananas, blueberries and, by the time I arrived, somewhat congealed soy milk.
My friends gently teased me about how I barely finished breakfast before lunch. And about giving new meaning to “bringing my own bowl.” They knew. I felt safe with them. And I was distracted enough so I could eat and not really notice.
I lost 12 pounds without trying. I decided the divorce diet was a gift to help me in my newly single life.
I looked at the bowl. I don’t take it, or any other one, with me in the morning. It doesn’t sit in my car while I drive. It no longer takes me literally hours to eat. My appetite has returned. It did some time ago.
And I realize I am just a little bit better than worse.