Become Immune To Poison: The Card That Changed Everything

Not Talking
Love, Heartbreak

Becoming immune to the toxins in your life by embracing and absorbing it.

Become Immune to Poison. This is what the card from Don Miguel Ruiz’s cards from the Four Agreements said to me this morning as I tried to digest a recent “text grenade” — a priority my ex lobbed my way in our battle for personal rights, freedom and economic stability in the face of financial disparity. Based on one of the agreements “Don’t Take Anything Personally” it said the whole world can gossip about you, and if you don’t take it personally you are immune. Immunity to poison in the middle of hell is the gift of the second agreement. In my case “poison” is a special hot button as it was a term my ex would use whenever my style of hot emoting was too much for him.

"Stop spreading your poison around!" he’d seethe under his breath.

So staring at these words today I felt somehow vindicated. I’ll show you how I can ignore your poison! Smug but hot–somehow this wasn’t quite what I’d hoped immunity would feel like. It felt more like getting bit in the ass by a snake and not trying to get away but standing there to get bit some more as his text kept rolling around in my head and my finger sat hovering over the reply button.

But then I began to wonder about this transformation couples go through to shed their old life as a couple. I have imagined the process of transformation through divorce to be much akin to the snake shedding it’s skin. The snake ultimately has no choice but to shed it’s skin but it’s hard for the snake to know at what point the skin itself has sloughed off and the snake is healed–the letting go has taken place.

It’s not without some distance that the snake may say, "Oh, yes, that was my old skin." The same goes with the patterns that lead us towards divorce.

I had never considered that poison, also one of a snake's attributes, might actually be part of the transformation process as well. In the middle of divorce, this came as a spiritual wake up call. In every marriage there is a personal marriage– differing versions of the story- that detail each spouses become entangled with grief, sadness, despair, anger, and miscommunication often sound like two completely different marriages. Along with those “true stories” come the rally and alliances of friends, relatives all very willing to call him a prick and her a princess and defend the honor of their chosen one–the one perhaps they felt was the less evil one in this special spot in hell just for divorcees. It’s hard to tell what is gossip, what is fact and what is personal truth perhaps by the even the spouses themselves.

Depending on the day, even the idea of divorce can change from poison to antidote. When my children are home it might look like “Joint Custody with a Jerk: Raising a Child with an Uncooperative Ex by Julie A Ross and Judy Corcoran. While on my “P” days (My days when kids are with Papa and I Process, Play, Pout, Panic, Push, Pine, Pamper) it might look more like Spiritual Divorce: “Divorce as a Catalyst for an Extraordinary Life” by Debbie Ford.

The truth is my story changes constantly. This is why healing through grief is like some enormous moving target. I’m all over the map. Some days I’m so relieved, happy and free that I can hardly wonder why all families don’t live this way. On those days i think that divorce is the perfect antidote to being married with children! As a working mother with joint-custody I now work half the week and then play with kids half the week unfettered and a little less guilty that I’m not doing the “other”. But then I’ll be on the floor in a puddle letting out my heartache at the thought that I’m screwing up my kids for life because I couldn’t somehow manage to reconcile my differences with their dad. Or that I’ve heard from some well-meaning friend that so-and-so thinks such-n-such about me/him/us. Or that I receive a reactionary text in the new world of digital communication from my ex where we live and relive our impetuous angry moments at the click of a button. And it truly feels like poison.

To become immune to poison I am learning is to ingest it little by little as my own shadow self. I am building up my immunity by merging myself with the other. Feeling judged by people now for my choice I see my own fear as I inappropriately judged my divorcing friend as not “trying hard enough” a few years ago. When in reality I was just so afraid that her strong choice to divorce and become a single mom was infectious (which studies say it is) and my own marriage was at risk (which it was but not for that reason). Processing my own anger at the “text grenade” as my ex lashes out at me in anger over a financial dispute and realizing that underneath the “poisonous” triggers are really just two people uncertain about their security. Changing the dialog in my head when I think “I can’t stand the sound of his voice!!” to “I can listen to the content of the conversation and ignore the tone of his voice.” Becoming immune to poison is perhaps one of the most spiritual gifts the divorce can offer and makes us stronger for it so that we don’t poison ourselves in the process.

This article was originally published at my blog at divorce-doula.net. Reprinted with permission from the author.