When my wife called me on a Wednesday and told me she had filed for divorce, I didn’t know what to do.
I went into shock. My biggest fear had become realized. Even though she had not mentioned the word divorce any our past therapy sessions in hindsight there were signs she was planning an escape. I just didn’t think the prison break would come that particular Wednesday. It was cowardly to do without mentioning to me in advance, and I was angry. I was also terrified. I felt like a failure. I needed to do something fast.
For the first time ever I called my therapist and told her what happened. I thought that was probably the right move. Next I called my business partner. Lastly I called my parents and a few friends. I needed support.
Every Wednesday for the past few years I had been going to a meeting called The Experiment. It’s a support group of sorts where we actually have processes for dealing with our shit. It’s hard emotional work, but it does produce results. Over those years those of us in the group have developed strong bonds and I have come to know these people as some of my closest confidants. I’ve seen them at their most vulnerable. That day they witnessed mine.
Four the past four years Wednesdays from 6:30-8:30 have been of the most important part of my week.
Then about six months back I just stopped going. I’m not exactly sure why. In group we would have processed my unwillingness to come and probably figured out it was some fear of change. In my conscious mind I had legitimate excuses. I was traveling one week. I had to do a radio interview. I was tired from a hard day of work. All true. All which kept me from the group. And then it got easier.
Occasionally I would attend. At the end of the meeting I always felt fulfilled and promised myself that I would not forget how healthy the group was for my well-being. I’d swear I’d be back the next week. But I wouldn’t.
Well apparently I wasn’t the only one. I received an email last week saying the group was going to disband because attendance had become spotty.
I was angry and sad. How dare they close this group that I had been skipping for months? Of course I realized I had become the problem, but I knew I needed to save it.
Last night I arrived at the meeting angry. Out of the six of us there were three members that were saying their final goodbyes. No matter what happened to the group, they were leaving. These three people I cared about deeply. It was like three girlfriends you’re head over heels with telling you it’s over at the same time.
There remaining three of us that wanted the group to continue.
I relayed the story of the day of my divorce call and how the group was there for me. I became emotional talking about how they supported me through my toughest years.
I told the story about how one of the members cried years ago because she didn’t think a man would want her. Then she met her boyfriend and she cried because she realized she was worthy of love. Then she cried because he asked her to marry her. The group attended her wedding this past summer. It was beyond special. This is what happens when you’re around people every week for years.
The three that wanted to leave had legitimate reasons and they were sad, too. My anger toward them dissipated and I realized they really didn’t want to abandon the group. But they were ready to move on. I’m not.
So, we’re now down to three and basically starting over. I’m hopeful that we’ll be able to attract some new members, or at least keep the existing ones we have.
I need to remember one of the ways to subdue loneliness is to be in the presence of people who love me. Why I so easily forget this, I don’t know. Maybe I’ll work on that next week in group.