In Africa w/future husband…
In 1990, my future husband and I were traveling in Africa and wanted to get off the beaten path. To do that, we decided to climb Mt Elgon, a mountain that borders Uganda and Kenya, to cross from Uganda to Kenya via the mountain.
We went to a small village in Uganda where we met local people and stayed the night. We hired guides from the village to guide us to the top of the mountain where the border lies and then we would continue into Kenya and they would return to their village in Uganda.
For 2 days we had an awesome time hiking in beautiful mountain territory. We arrived at the hot springs where the guides were going to turn around and we would continue into Kenya. Just as they were getting ready to leave, they told us that they saw poachers on the mountain and that they would kill us. We were skeptical but our guides were insistent and we followed them off the trail up the mountain.
Sure enough, as we were climbing the mountain side, the poachers shot at us. The guides took off and we were left alone on the mountain, lost and didn’t know where to go. The mountain was incredibly foggy and even snowed one morning. We were hiking in dense fog and thick mountain forest and even though we were only a few feet from each other, we often could not see each other. We were terrified.
The second night lost on the mountain, we were in our tent and I collapsed in tent. I remember distinctly deciding at that moment to move beyond fear to DETERMINATION – determination to survive.
We woke up the next morning and the fog had lifted for a short time and we could see farmland below us so we decided to walk to the farmland because we knew people would be there, even though we did not know if that was in Kenya or Uganda. We walked towards the farmland and after many hours of hiking we came to a very large logging road that crossed our path and ran perpendicular to the direction we were headed. We realized that we had to take the road because clearly people had been driving on this road. But we had to choose a direction and stick with it. So we looked at each other and chose to go right. And after many hours we came upon Kenyan park workers who took us to the local village.
After our trip, we returned home. I was working as a public defender in Seattle and he was working with another lawyer in a small firm. We had two boys and life was going quite well.
But then life took a turn downward. As we got more and more busy, as our views on parenting differed, and other things came between us, we grew further and further apart. The distance and lack of connection created resentment; even contempt grew. We came upon our own mountain – we were lost again, and could not see each other through all the pain and hurt. Unlike the mountain, we could not find our way back to each other. We became our own poachers – shooting at each other’s hearts.
Once we separated and through the divorce – things deteriorated, battles and struggles grew and the friction and tension just increased.
Anger and hurt fueled our interactions. We were unable to communicate in an effective and healthy way and the kids were often stuck in middle.
I was exhausted and worried that the kids would be another casualty of divorce.
Then one day, I collapsed on floor in kitchen (just like I had in the tent). I allowed myself to feel the depths of my grief, but did not know what to do. As I sat on the kitchen floor just being present with the depth of my sorrow, just like I had moved beyond fear on the mountain, I moved beyond grief, anger, hurt, and fear to determination. Determination to make sure that my kids would thrive and that I would heal.
As I sat there, I reflected on the compassion I had gained through my training in and teaching of Nonviolent CommunicationSM and work in self-awareness and self-growth,
The 20+ years of knowledge and experience as an attorney and mediator helping hundreds of clients,
And, the guidance and skills I have gained as a coach and trainer for mediators, parents, teachers and others in conflict resolution and communication to transform this pain into healing and love.
I was determined to find a way to navigate my divorce and post-divorce co-parenting relationship in a way that would help ensure my own sanity and well-being and the well-being of my children. I was determined to stop the blame game, to stop caring about being right and focus my energy and attention on being clear, powerful and strongly committed to what was best for my kids. I became unwavering in my persistence to ensure that my decisions, solutions, proposals and positions were grounded in what was truly best for my children and not in my own emotional turmoil.
Doing so was quite challenging at times and to help me remain committed to my highest intentions, I had someone I could rely on to compassionately and powerfully help keep me on track.
Putting their needs first drove my actions and behaviors. One of their greatest needs was for their dad and I to have more ease in our relationship. So I did everything I could in my power to change our conversations from trying to convince him that I was right to understanding what mattered most to both of us and proposing solutions that would serve those shared goals.
Now, years later – that is exactly what I have done. Using some of same skills that I share in this product and that I have shared with 100s of clients and professionals, life is flowing with greater ease and joy. I am living in alignment with my values, my relationships with my children are thriving, my kids are doing great and life is flowing with a quality of ease and grace I could not imagine possible a few years ago.
My relationship with my former husband is smoother and when things occur that are difficult, I am able to navigate those situations with grace.