Not partying, not smoking, not drinking, not dating, not indulging in my addictions, I am feeling raw emotions bubbling up to the surface with ferocity. Mostly guilt, sadness, shame, confusion…grief. Boatloads of grief. Trying to love myself through it all - my so human, so flawed self.

I have made so many mistakes in my life, out of my desperation for love. Always, almost always, that motivation was at the core of my missteps. I have hurt others terribly with my wounded craving but there is no one I’ve hurt more than myself…with this unquenchable longing to be loved without limit.

Today I was looking through digital photos of Sami’s life…and came across a picture of Sami’s father and I, posing behind Sami who is on a swing. He is about one years old. It is the last picture that exists of the three of us, I think.

Sami saw it today and cried. “I want Daddy to live with Mommy,” he whimpered.

“I know, honey, I know,” I said, giving my standard answer about how lucky Sami is to have two houses, Daddy’s and Mommy’s.

In that picture, I feel like we exist in a parallel universe, the three of us, looking so happy, smiling on that winter day in 2007, as our marriage was collapsing and there was no hope of saving it, something I had not yet admitted to myself. We were playing at being a family as the marriage burned away, until there was nothing left. And he left.

I didn’t think there was still more divorce grief, but there is. I suppose I postponed the grieving in travel, in the search for a new man to love me, in the next cigarette, in another drink. I ran away, went to sleep, and abandoned myself in the process. It’s been a long two years of pain I’ve put myself through.

Now I am up against a new layer, and it’s OK. I will let myself go into it fully.

I will give myself the gift of this grief, 18 months after my divorce. It has not been that long, if you think about it. And our 11th anniversary would have been on November 25.

It’s not that I want him back; I don’t. I grieve, perhaps, what could have been. I grieve the loss of a family where Sami would know many pictures of his parents together, not just a handful. This is Sami’s fate, as is mine, as is his father’s. It’s like this, says the Buddhist teacher Ajahn Sumedho. Right now, it’s like this. I seek to practice acceptance, I seek to let go, I seek to live and love more fully for doing so.

In the mornings I have been sitting in meditation and I am quite out of practice. Sometimes I get lost in thought for long stretches of time. This morning I was thinking of Rumi, of Hafiz, the devotional poets who called upon the Friend, the Beloved. I am in this place, now, seeking refuge in something beyond, something that can hold the enormity of this new layer of grief. Tara Brach calls it “Taking Refuge in Loving Presence,” or “True Refuge” as opposed to the false refuges I have turned to for most of my life…people who can’t save me, substances that can’t fix me.

These lines from Hafiz are what I will take to sleep with me, me and this broken heart that keeps on beating, so strong even in its brokenness:

Ask the Friend for love.
Ask Him again.

For I have learned that every heart will get
What it prays for