Two months ago today, my husband asked for a divorce. I had just dropped our sixteen year old daughter at the airport in Toronto for a flight to Tanzania where she would spend three weeks doing service work. John and I sat in his truck in the parking lot of a local ski resort and he told me our marriage was over. Looking back on that conversation, I realize that I didn’t feel horror, surprise, or even sadness. In honesty, I can’t really name the emotion I felt. In retrospect, it was probably something akin to denial.
In a gentle, loving way, I explained that our relationship of 23 years was just under a lot of physical strain from nearly six months operating a coffee shop on top of financial strain from five years operating an outdoor retail store. Compounded with the stress of raising three teenagers, any marriage would struggle.
I spent the next month trying to save our marriage with an e-mail letter-writing campaign. The barrage of electronic communications culminated during a two week trip to Minnesota at the end of February where I was helping my mom recover from knee surgery. By the end of that trip, I knew with certainty, the marriage was over.
On the flight home, I was hit with a flash of insight: This divorce wasn’t happening to me. It was happening for me. I knew with absolute certainty… I ATTRACTED THIS. I used to be a vibrant, energetic, passionate, compassionate, adventurous person. I used to be surrounded by friends. I used to DO things for other people and spend time THINKING about my friends and loved ones. I had become a shallow, empty, self-centered version of myself. This wasn’t my husband’s fault. It was my fault. But the day-to-day activity of running two businesses and a house full of teens distracted me from doing anything about it.
Those words, “I ATTRACTED THIS” became my lifeline in the weeks to come. They held no blame. No guilt. No shame. Only power. If I am capable of attracting a divorce, I am capable of attracting my dream to become a writer and professional public speaker. I will attract friends who will share my journey, supporting me as I support them. I will surround myself with light and love, travel and adventure. I will set my own course on this vast, beautiful ocean of life.
In the ensuing weeks, we initiated the divorce conversation with our children, attempted to separate the tangled financial web of two businesses and a lifetime of investments, and worried with the rest of the world about the impending coronavirus threat. Throughout the uncertainty, “I attracted this” brought me back to center, restoring my feeling of control.
Then I got a call from my mother. My dad had gone into the ER with chest pains. Tests revealed that his heart was fine. But x-rays showed a tumor on his stomach and suspicious spots on his lungs. Doctors pumped a quart of fluid from his lungs, which had been the source of the chest pains. They suspected advanced stages of cancer.
I got in the car and drove to Minnesota. During my time in Minnesota, I tried to regain my footing, my sense of power and assuredness. How did “I attracted this” apply to the situation?
A long walk in the woods of northern Minnesota yielded precious insight. If it hadn’t been for the impending divorce, I never would have felt comfortable spending that amount of time with my parents in Minnesota. If it wasn’t for the uncertainty of the coronavirus threat, I would have felt pressure to find a job or figure out my next step. The divorce and coronavirus quarantine afforded the perfect “feathered nest” to savor those weeks with my parents as they went through testing at the Mayo Clinic and waited for the test results.
Yesterday afternoon, the doctor said it looks like my dad’s cancer is low grade non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Words like, “very manageable” and “non-invasive” and “not very threatening” were like healing balm to my soul.
“I attracted this.” What do those words really mean? After all, I do not have control over the events in the world around me. The coronavirus, my dad’s cancer, and even my divorce are beyond my control. But my response to those events is 100% in my control. My prayers, my words, my actions and my thoughts have power to affect those events. And more importantly, my prayers, my words, my actions and my thoughts have power to change ME.
I firmly believe that God / Source / The Universe / My Higher Self, places those events in my path FOR me, on my behalf, to teach me, to try me, to challenge me, to make me a better human being.
Recognizing “I attracted this” develops a sense of control, accountability and emotional ninja skills. Those three words provide the resilience to bounce back when life hits you in the gut. The statement “I attracted this” puts you in a position to answer the question: “Why did I attract this?” And that, my friend, is where the real magic happens.