Pete is getting married on Saturday.
When Natasha asked how I was feeling about the wedding, for a moment I went blank and couldn’t figure out whose wedding she was talking about. When I realized she was talking about Pete, my conclusion was that I must be feeling just fine about the wedding.
That night, I dreamed that I was trying to run away with two cats that I believed were mine and Pete believed were his. Pete’s friend Ethan was helping him chase me down. As they started catching up with me, I realized with great surprise that I could simply let the cats go. I understood that they didn’t need my protection as I’d thought they had. That maybe they weren’t even mine.
This morning, I woke up with an interpretation of the dream. I understood it to mean that I could surrender my point of view — my lingering stories (that I no longer tell and haven’t for a long time admitted to myself that I still believe) of how Pete wronged me, hurt me, betrayed me — all of it. Those stories don’t need me, and I don’t need them.
I said out loud to my empty kitchen, “I release Pete and I release myself. We did our best, and we are done.” Then I said it again.
An hour later, I was sitting at my desk, trying to work, feeling like I was coming down with the flu. All shaky and achey. Because a client of mine wants to create a customer experience like Dutch Brothers and requested that I experience buying a coffee there, and because I wasn’t getting much done at my desk, anyway, I got in my car and headed to the Dutch Brothers drive through.
Two beautiful young women were in the little stand. The one taking my order leaned out practically into my car and asked me a number of sincere questions about how I’m doing and what’s ahead for my day. She saw Teddy’s car seat and asked me how old he is and where he’s in school. Though I was specifically at this drive-through on a mission to check out the customer service, this woman’s level of engagement and empathy caught me off guard.
I drove out of there crying. The kind stranger’s listening had dislodged something deep in me.
As the tears kept coming, I understood that my “flu” was not an actual illness, but grief surfacing about the “failure” and “finality” of my marriage. Despite the fact that we were nearly four years deep into our divorce, I still had some unmarrying of Pete left to do.
As I drove, I told my body (I said it out loud, several times) that it didn’t need to get sick for me to grieve this loss completely. That I’d let it feel whatever it needed to feel to move the grief on through.
And I cried and cried. While driving. Between client calls. While talking to friends.
The body is a wonderland. And so is the heart. They let us know what needs our attention. What needs to be fully felt to be completed.
I grieved. I said goodbye to the cats I am no longer responsible for–and maybe never was. And then I let the story of Pete and me go.