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Margaret Manning of Author of *Life After Divorce*, invites you to reprint this article in your print publication, ezine, or on your website. This is a Free-Reprint article. The only requirements for publishing this article are:

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    Thank you for adhering to these four very simple rules.
    Life After Divorce
    Copyright 2004, Margaret Manning

    Sometimes I wake up and try to remember how I used to feel. Back 
    when life had a shape, love had a focus, dreams a reality. I try 
    to remember the feeling of my skin being touched, my heart being 
    ignited like a fire catching the wind on a barren desert night. 
    The electricity of a kiss. Storms of passion circle in my mind. 
    I feel the pain rising to the surface and I sob bitter tears of 
    regret, strong waves of shuddering emotion pulverize my shaking 
    heart as I try to be a warrior in the face of negation. Grace 
    under pressure. The courage to be is a lifeboat I cling to as 
    the dark clouds swirl around my soul tearing away at the 
    structures I have called home for years. The comforts of home, 
    the basic necessities of heart and mind are turned inside out 
    and I look at my world turned upside down.
    The roof drips with the foundation I used to walk on, the dreams 
    that had spread like glue through four individual lives, together
    called a family, is suddenly dripping down the walls like some 
    ugly massive explosion in a microwave. That mess will take years 
    to clean. Memories stuck to the glass door that has slammed shut 
    between now and then. Yellowed with time, it is antique already. 
    Itís been less than a year. Years of love, the moments of joy 
    crash upon the shore of my definition of who I am. Huddled in 
    front of a campfire my energy is fueled by my fear of a cold 
    void. I feed the fire, throwing in the chunks of memory that 
    defined my life for the past 20 years. The pile of memory wood 
    is never ending, it in fact seems to grow by my selfish focus 
    on grief. The crackling embers, the firewood still wet from 
    tears. The rhythm of every single day, every single minute, 
    every single second pound inside my head, like the sound of 
    the water lapping on the shore. Constant, annoyingly cadenced, 
    reassuringly present. I try to gain warmth and sustenance from 
    the flames that lap around my eyes. My skin is pierced by pieces 
    of flying debris, burning at an atomic level into my soul.
    The wind is blue, dark and wet, and despite the knowledge that 
    all this will pass, all we be well, the platitudes of recovery 
    just bounce off the wall of my healing heart digging away at the 
    shallow reassurance that wisdom comes from pain. I feel cold, 
    empty daggers of ice shoving their way into the depth of my 
    soul. All this will pass they all say, but the dark teal clouds 
    that are rolling towards me, purple like a deep bruise, followed 
    by black and only a glimmer of light in the very distant moon 
    that dances in a playful teasing way. Come find me, its tiny 
    annoying, yet all powerful voice calls out in a mocking way. 
    Laughing at my feeble attempt to rebuild, restart and redefine. 
    ĎI dare you to come searchí it says, (teasing) for release, jump 
    into your future feet first, heart last, but first you have to 
    create your vehicle of transformation, the suicide car that will 
    drive me from the old world where I live today and the carefree, 
    sparkling world of dreams. Tuscan dreams at the movies speak of 
    a fantasy rebirth, an illusion of Hollywood.
    The world where I used to feel is running in a parallel universe 
    to me. Colored by the reality that the man I called my husband 
    for years is living a new life of passion, kisses and dreams 
    with a woman he may love for another 18 years. Or 18 months. 
    Who knows. The gods have other plans for him I say to myself, 
    but the love I felt so deeply refuses to let me hate. It all 
    comes back to love. The fire catches a gust of wind and my hair 
    is caught in a shimmering explosion of multi colored light that 
    I frantically reach out to capture. Instead, my hands are burned 
    and the blood is sticky and warm with sharp glass fragments 
    sticking out. The tears gush out of my heart and the fire is 
    suddenly a cold and blue grey ash. The moment is one of clarity 
    and death. I look into the sky and see a trail of sparkling 
    colors from emerald to purple bliss, like a comet that comes 
    once a century, I feel I have experienced a moment of true 
    understanding and been blessed with a unique chance to view my 
    life actually taking shape Ėpast and future captured in a spark 
    of hope. Just a tiny spark, but I take it to be a sign, a gift 
    of possibility.
    The world where I used to question the tiny moments of my life 
    as if I were icing a cake. We had everything, everything sweet 
    and light. The nourishing creation of my childrenís lives, 
    adding the ingredients of unconditional love and patience, 
    hope and the magic of forgetfulness. The pain and mistakes are 
    transmuted in the depth of a sequence of memories that, at the 
    time, seemed so incredibly important, so amazingly real. The 
    decisions, the day to day vision of a bigger, grander world. My 
    children who will find joy in their moments, find blessings in 
    the small things while focused on the big things in the world.
    Like a birthday cake with the candles blown out, there is a 
    sense of hopefulness, that somehow the wish that rushed from 
    the heart as the candles were blown out, flickering in the winds 
    of change, defying the fact that dreams donít come true all the 
    time, that the chance that wish will come true is as remote as 
    the distant vista of their past successes. As the icing starts 
    to melt in the sun of time passing, grace under pressure allows 
    an ignorance of the fact that the moment is passed, the wish 
    has been declared, now the hope for just a small response from 
    the god of dreams. My grief could devour an entire cake of 
    dreams in a single setting. I am hungry so I consume the 
    memories in a panic, as if they will dissolve and disappear if 
    I take my attention off of them. I panic that eighteen years 
    will vanish in a moment of cosmic negation if I donít watch 
    them every minute. A mantra of hope. I cling to the shapes, 
    the words that nourished my soul, the places my body traveled 
    in time seem an illusion, so I eat and eat and eat and eat. 
    Still hungry for that one combination of thoughts that will 
    secure something permanent. The wind is picking up again and I 
    reach out for something to hold on to. The desert sand stings 
    my face. The sky is churning, the darkness is overwhelming. I 
    drink the poison of my anger in violent and bitter, sad and 
    manic passion. One gulp of pain that fills my heart with a 
    thousand painful calories. I feel heavy, overweight with grief. 
    It is time to stop eating and start breathing again.
    Where do I walk? How do I dream? I just donít know anymore. 
    Spinning in circles, I can hardly breathe. My life is a 
    contradiction between the world of life that I know must 
    be courageously declared and the inner pain of defeat and 
    withdrawal that shouts priority. And so each day, one step 
    after the other. One moment in time. Exhale.
    Every act of kindness is heartbreaking. A lady call Felice, 
    responds to my online auction for a treasured watch. I need the 
    money but I also need the memory. She tells me that she would 
    love to buy my watch, has always wanted one like it (just like 
    I did years ago) but she understands the sentimental value. 
    Reaching out across an anonymous online void, we connect. She 
    understands. I cry.
    Every memory now is like an overwhelming weight of emotion. I 
    want to be lighter, to float over some of this drama. My heart 
    is breaking. My head is hollow. I try to go on each day, making 
    a cup of tea the water sizzles and steams and I go away somewhere
    in my head, remembering balconies with private mornings, Indian 
    tea at the Raj Vilas in Jaipur, green tea in Shanghai, white tea 
    at our favorite Thai restaurant. Coffee from a thermos on the 
    beach. I get dressed and the memories of beaches and flowing 
    saris and jeans on our summer trip to Yellowstone, the soft pink 
    suit I wore for my wedding, the stark and sacred nakedness of 
    our lovemaking. I wash my face, remembering the parties, the 
    operas, the secrets and the nights where streaks of lipstick 
    told of a wild kiss.
    I hear my toothbrush like a drill reverberating in a void. My 
    mind is empty of depth, I skim the surface, afraid to go towards 
    the center of my grief. I circle it like a person gazing at a 
    dead body, carefully waiting for it to jump back into life. 
    Poking at it with fear and dread. Is it really dead? I look at 
    my relationship with a morbid curiosity. Lifeless. I want to 
    shake it, hug it, kiss it back to life. The scream is pounding 
    in my chest and I almost can't bear it. I want to go back in 
    time and erase all the hurtful words, dilute the pain with the 
    wisdom of time and understanding. I see it all so clearly now 
    but itís just too late. I have gained so much wisdom but at 
    such a price. Then there is the loss of trust, the memory of 
    love.  I am tangled up in the mind numbing intimacy, the 
    inexplicable contradiction of marriage.
    They say all things will pass and of course this is true. Each 
    day, my ex husband shrinks a little more. I have carefully 
    placed him inside a little coffin, inside a tiny cage in a 
    remote corner of my heart. He lives there in a kind of dream, 
    quietly watching me spin in the memories of our time together. 
     Most of the time he is quiet and the pulse of memories bounce 
    off the painproof walls I have built. He watches me cry but 
    doesn't hear the pain.  Some days he breaks out and gets into 
    my blood, circulating through my body like a virus he infects 
    every moment with his presence. I take the medicine of hope and 
    like a lion tamer guide the screaming beast forcefully back 
    inside his cage.  Every time he shrinks a little more until I 
    hardly feel him breathing anymore.

    Margaret Manning is the author of *Life After Divorce,* a weblog offering resources, links and articles for women who find themselves in a 'state of ex' after the breakup of a relationship. Her articles are designed to empower newly single women to rebuild their lives with grace and passion. Dumped, deserted, divorced divas join the excitement at http://margaretmanning.typepad.com/

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