Shambhala Sun | March 2014
Awash in the pain
of betrayal and a failed marriage, LAURA MUNSON practices Pema Chödrön’s
teachings on loving-kindness. It’s hard but it helps.
I did not get
married to get divorced. I did not have children to subject them to the
confusion of split parents. I did not hold them in my arms on their day of
birth and say, “I am going to raise you to be resilient.”
No. I went into
marriage as deliberately as I went into motherhood. As deliberately as I went
into creating the house that has held us for almost fifteen years—a farmhouse
in northwestern Montana surrounded by a haven of meadows, ponds, marshes, rocky
cliffs, and thick conifer forests.
Yet now I find
myself in something called mediation. Mediation is where a professional
conflict-sherpa guides two people through—in our case—the dissolution of a
marriage. Two people who have been together for their entire adult lives. Who
know each other like old shoes. Who together have made every important decision
for the past twenty-five years.
sitting across from one another with legal forms and a middleman at the head of
a long table and a box of Kleenex, and we’re talking about things like who gets
Christmas morning, who pays for our kids’ soccer cleats, and where our children
will lay their heads at night—what pillow in what room in what house. And what
about the possibility of them losing their childhood house altogether?
To comply with
federal law we’re also going through a list of extreme parenting sins, as if we
would ever be those sinners. We’re setting rules—legal rules—about safety,
third-party interactions, and drug and alcohol consumption, all with the threat
of sheriffs arriving at the front door in the middle of the night. These aren’t
conversations that we’ve had to have before. Our focus has been along the lines
of organic baby food and whether we should go to Belize or Costa Rica for
spring break and whether or not we concur with the teaching styles of the
Suzuki method and Montessori preschool.
wonder: Is there heart language in such a trajectory? Is there a way to bring
in loving-kindness, forgiveness, surrender, and gentleness when we’re
discussing such pointed, laden subjects?
Laura Munson is the author of This Is Not the Story You Think It Is: A Season of Unlikely Happiness.