If something needs to leave you, you have to let it go. And you will. One way or another, that which must go will go.
I married my best friend. We met when we were fourteen years old and began dating at seventeen. In many ways, we grew up together. His family became my family and my family became his. We married and had two children. I remember congratulating myself so many times on having married someone I had such a strong connection with. There was nothing we couldn’t talk about. We didn’t get jealous. We rarely fought (except about money). We loved just being together.
And all this time I had this great relationship, but something within me was falling apart. At the age of thirty-one, I could no longer coast along looking for the ‘next thing’ to make me whole. I had done the wedding thing, had done the baby thing. And actually, at that point, all I wanted to do was stay home with my toddler son.
But something was pulling me further, urging me to tell the truth. I had been dishonest with myself about many things up until this point. I was a people-pleaser often putting the needs of others before my own. And then there was the eating disorder. I had struggled with bulimia on and off for fifteen years. My husband and I had also just been through a multi-million dollar lawsuit. We drove nice cars and lived in a lovely new home, but we were broke. Like ‘I-had-to-sell-old-DVDs-to-get-grocery-money’ broke.
I was suffering within. I was empty and no amount of food, money or external love was filling that void.
Also during this time I began to read A Course in Miracles. The Course can be described as a spiritual approach to psycho-therapy. It’s main tenet is that we have one problem and there is but one solution. The problem: we believe we have separated from Spirit (Truth, God, Love etc). The solution: to allow our Inner Teacher (Jesus, Holy Spirit, Buddha etc) to remind us we never separated at all. This is what a miracle is: a shift in perception- from thinking we are separate, to remembering we are not. From seeing with fear, to seeing with Love…with the eyes of God.
I needed to remember God. And to do this, a whole lot of shit had to fall apart. So much of what made me “Danielle” in my mind was about to unravel right before my frightened, weary eyes.
In May of 2011, I came downstairs after putting my children to bed and found my husband sitting on our chesterfield, gripped in sadness. He had been depressed for months. As I sat next to him, I got the feeling that I wasn’t alone, a loving presence surrounded us. I asked my husband what was wrong. He stared straight ahead, wordlessly. For some reason I felt incredibly calm even though the next words out of my mouth would change my life forever. I asked, “Does this have to do with your attraction to men?”
He crumbled. He crumbled and cried right there in my lap. The truth is like that. It tears down walls. It humbles us.
And the truth was, there had been a few times in our relationship where my husband’s attraction to men had come up. As I said, we talked about *everything*. The first time it came up, we laughed about it. We were young, we talked about fantasies and silly crushes. We treated it lightly. The second time it came up, I wanted clearer answers. We were about to get married and I wanted nothing between us. He assured me it was nothing to worry about. He wanted, more than anything, to be my husband.
But as I sat in our living room, cradling his head in my hands it was crystal-fucking-clear that things were changing. He was, in fact, a gay man. This bond, this connection to my husband that I had relied on so heavily since I was a girl, was breaking. I felt it as if it were a cord embedded in my gut that was being ripped out slowly, painfully. My world, as I knew it, was collapsing in on itself, but it would take two more years to actually end that marriage.
A short time after my husband’s disclosure, I had a Dark Night of the Soul. A friend and her husband came over for dinner. My husband was in Jamaica at the time. Again, I had been struggling with bulimia for a decade and a half. This night was a normal night and the thing that triggered me was so trivial. At the end of the evening, I offered my friend some leftovers to take home. I had made dinner, they brought a bottle of wine. We had only drunk half of it so I corked it and put it on the kitchen counter. As they were about to leave, my friend went back into the kitchen to fetch the bottle and then they went on their way.
It was like a blow to my gut.
As soon as I closed the door, I lost it. I broke down and cried right there in the hallway. She was taking from me. She was telling me I was wrong for keeping the wine, for assuming I could! I felt judged, unloved and so very alone. I wept for a half hour before my brain began to plan a binge. My mother-in-law had baked cupcakes for the kids. I don’t care for desserts, but when I binged, that was what I reached for. This binge was epic. Fast and furiously I devoured all the cupcakes, then found cookies, crackers and chips. I ate until I couldn’t remember why I was so upset. I filled myself until I felt I was going to explode.
And then I did. I threw it all up. And then I showered. It was my attempt at coming clean. The guilt and the shame were a thick, sticky coating on my skin. How many times had I done this before? How many times? My body was bruised, and of my own infliction. But in the shower, a loving presence rose up within me. It was strong, but silent. The love was overwhelming. I felt safe, guiltless and seen.
It was Spirit.
How was I going to see that I had never left God? How was I going to realize that I was innocent? We, each of us, has our path. Mine was to surrender a marriage and a disease. And by the way, surrender does not always mean loss. Surrender means putting trust in Something Higher than yourself. It means to allow what is to simply be.
My husband was gay. He needed to live that in his way. I needed to let go. My bulimia had gotten out of hand. I could deny it no longer. I had to face it, get help and let it go.
Five years later and the lessons still come. This world is my school. The lesson: to atone…to recall I am at one with the Holy. Every grievance goes to Him. Every judgment released. I am at the beginning and sometimes life just feels so hard. But I will tell you this, I have let go of so much of what I held dear. I have trusted in something wholly unseen. I have offered compassion when faced with unyielding change. I did not do these things alone.
And I sit here, at this laptop, typing every word in complete and utter gratitude. I have no idea what will come next in this life, but I believe in miracles. Where I see with fear, I can see with Love. I can let go of that which must leave and when I do, I welcome peace…sweet peace. And I lose nothing, absolutely nothing.