When men approach the threshold of marital change, be it considering separation, divorce, or reinvention, I immediately acknowledge the immensity of where they are. That place of big change, the cracking open of new life.
They often do not see it.
How could they? It is not in our cultural language.
I emphasize the importance of taking it slowly, one step at a time. Not trying to figure out what’s going to happen or how things will look in six months.
Too many individuals terrorize themselves with the unknown.
Where will I live?
How will I land?
What will happen?
This wreaks even further havoc on them, during such a fragile time of life change.
Often their sleep bottoms out, they can barely function at work, and even breathing can be hard. Instead of seeking certainty with elusive details, I coach my male clients to be present with all that is happening.
In this way, they may build trust with themselves. In crisis, the difference between devastating pain and manageable suffering is presence.
With presence, you are with the enormity of the moment. You learn to conserve the precious energy you have. when all the wind has been sucked out of you. You get done only what you have to, at work or at home.
You do only what’s essential and applaud yourself for showing up as you can. You set your sights on being half as productive as normal, or even less.
Look at your task list and cross out what you don’t have to do today, grateful that you are getting anything done at all. This is called self-care. It is critical.
In a go-go culture, we don’t know what self-care is. Instead, we seek to battle our way through everything.
Our inner wisdom knows we’d be better served to put self-care at a premium during such times. In its absence, we crash and burn, often damaging our nervous systems and health in general.
Self-care enables presence; and presence enables one to fully meet crisis. This is where you have the opportunity to take massive leaps in your own growth.
Where you can actually listen and understand what is happening to you. Why you ended up where you are.
Change was needed. And big change is painful.
Step in, knowing that at any time you can only take one step at a time. And trust each step along the way, releasing the unknown of tomorrow, next week, or the months to follow.
This is where you learn to come home to yourself. You stay in the moment and take it day by day, minute by minute even.
Presence is a great gift to one at the precipice. It is how I got through my darkest hours, when losing my wife, family, and home felt like utter desolation (even though I had initiated it).
It is how time and again I have seen clients walk out of my office, lighter, more able to make it through their day.
Furthermore, when we’re at the edge, we may create boundaries and agreements with our partner, to honor one another, knowing this is hard on both of you.
Give yourselves time and space apart, knowing you each must tend to yourselves, like never before.
On your own, sit quietly and breathe consciously and intentionally at least several times per day. Speak a simple affirmation to meet fear and breathe new life into your system.
In my most vulnerable hours in the terror of the deep night, a simple affirmation saved me, when I was uncertain what I still had to live for, when the pain was so great that I was grateful I did not own a firearm.
I feared all that I could lose but I knew I had to step forward.
I said to myself, repeating over and over, fifty to a hundred times until I fell back asleep.
“I love you.
I know this is hard.
We will get through this.”
Do you know a man in crisis?
Is that man you?
Get help today.
Previously Published on stuartmotala.com