I’m getting up the energy to pack my bags for Italy. We leave tomorrow and I haven’t packed a thing. This trip, while exciting to think about, has left me with a ton of resistance. I can hear the calls now- “are you crazy?! It’s Italy, go, enjoy, eat lots of pasta, enjoy the wine, drink in the views and stop complaining!” But the fact is, this trip is a stark reminder that I am divorced. Which, as someone who values family most important, makes it really hard. I decided to re-read Elizabeth Gilbert’s book Eat, Pray, Love. It seems fitting to read it for the second time and take in her delicious words describing gelato, pasta and indulgence in Italy as I get ready to travel to Italy again for the second time. The first time I arrived in the bustling energy of Rome I was newly divorced and trying to not get my heart shattered during Thanksgiving break as my three baby girls would be spending the week with their father. I was abiding to court ordered rules that my life suddenly had to adhere to. As someone who likes to control things happening in my life, this was excruciating. I could no longer control the whereabouts of my babies during the time when families were to be together. I would not be cutting up pieces of turkey on their plates sat at a beautifully adorned dining table because I wasn’t invited. Italy seemed like the best distraction. Which worked for the most part. But pain is very mobile. It can go anywhere at any time and does not need a passport. It can follow us like low fog from a fog machine follows the lead singer of a 1980s metal band in their first MTV video. In my perfect world, the divorce would have been amicable, we would have seen right away that the divorce actually fixed our family and did not break it, and I would remain friends with their father, sharing holidays and vacations and surrounding the girls with love, together, only not married, in a new relationship that was happy, highly functioning and platonic. But, in true life experience, painful growth fashion, this is not how it went. Which has lead me to the conclusion that discovering what brings us the most pain is how we discover what is of most value to us. The yin and yang of everything can really be a pain in the ass. It’s been six years since my first trip to Italy. The girls are six years older. I’m hopefully six years wiser, but begin to wonder as I don’t want to pack for this second trip to Italy. The girls will also be in Italy while I am there, only they will be with their father vacationing with him. The original plan was he would take them there and I would bring them back, but it ended up not working out that way. This is where my heartbreak comes in. We will not see each other. I will not show them the Colosseum in Rome and explain the many different uses the Colosseum has served over the 4 centuries it was in use. How gladiators fought for their lives against ravaging beasts, how the 65,000 spectators would pile in and watch sea battle reenactments and then how the venue then morphed into a place of housing, workshops and served as a place for religion. This is where surrender comes in. I can no longer resist what is, the pain is too great.
So I practice surrender. I surrender to their happiness. I surrender to the amazing, beautiful, wonderful quality time they will experience with their father and their step-mother. I surrender to the ways they will be changed and uplifted by traveling to another country and experiencing another culture. I surrender to the truth that while I may be feeling pain now, it is only showing me how much I value my relationship with my daughters and how much I love them. My faith rests in the power that this love will grant me surrender and help me to stay awake in every moment I share with my girls by showing up and being fully present to them, something I am far from mastering. Maybe our lives are like the ancient Colosseum, changing with time, morphing from a place of struggle and into a house where we acknowledge our spirit, giving way to divine experiences, the past bringing us to the perfect moment that is now. An inner shift takes place when we surrender. We stop resisting what hurts and give into it, honoring the lesson it has to show us. And with this surrender, I can surrender to what this trip to Italy can symbolize to me: a celebration of a love I share with my husband. We will be there during our 4-year anniversary, celebrating the journey we have decided to take together, raising this family together and having a son of our own – a true blessing who seals our family together like glue. The surrender leads to honor. I honor the journey my girls are on, their father, his wife, my husband, our son, and the beautiful, painful path that has lead me deeper into the very center of my heart. It’s in this place where I find more grace and love, which will become fuel when it’s time to surrender again. It always seems to work that way. With much love, honor and respect for your journey and all the many ways your life is your Colosseum,