Divorce can be emotionally and financially stressful, especially for those that lost sight of the friendship that brought them together in them first place. Sometimes one or both parties can let their pain body uncharacteristically lash out in lieu of non-violent communication or even a respectable argument. If that is the meter the relationship leading to divorce, things can get petty, nasty and vindictive. The supportive family members surrounding the divorcing couple have their feelings, desires, concerns and opinions too – even when they are deceased.
Meet Marilyn, an articulate, poised, warm-spirited professional woman. As she was positioning herself on the chair in my office, her deceased father was making himself known to me. His excitement for the opportunity to communicate with his daughter was intensifying by the millisecond as he waited for his moment to interject.
This was a new experience for Marilyn. She was open, relaxed and paying attention. She recognized all the symbolic and literal information that was coming through. A significant shift in energy occurred when the topic of her relationship with ex-husband and divorce proceedings presented.
At this point, her father moved in close and really put me to work. Looking out for his daughter, he expressed his concerns, especially as it pertained to his former son-in-law's behavior. Unfortunately, the ex-husband was a man that forgot he once loved the woman he wanted to spend the rest of his life with. Those close to Marilyn could see that.
While Marilyn’s father let his feelings known, my guides pulled a memory from my own life to help me connect with 'one more thing' he wanted to express to his daughter. Though still in my office, with my arse in the chair, I was also inside a living memory:
I am sitting in my junior high school social studies class. We're discussing the American Civil War (1861 to 1865). Our teacher, Mr. Dixon, warms through sharing a personal appreciation for this era. He's saying he was born and raised in a border state. As a boy, he often went hiking. One summer he happened upon a cave that contained relics from the war. The prize find therein was a sword. "I cleaned and polished it..." he's saying. As he is saying this, I'm seeing the sword, respectfully displayed in his hands…
Another shift. The classroom is gone. Mr. Dixon is 'replaced' by the deceased father. The father is holding the sword, and he is very happy. Immediately I voice to Marilyn, "Your father says he is very happy you got the sword back! He's showing me a sword from the Civil War and he says he is very happy you got the sword back!"
Marilyn became more animated and energetic than she had been. Now her personality was coming out! She explained, that her father was deeply fascinated by the American Civil War. One of his prized possessions from that period was a sword. Her ex-husband had had it and Marilyn worked very hard to get it back.
I confirmed how important it was for her to have that sword in her keeping. She may not give a hoot about war memorabilia or weapons of any kind, though it was important for her to hang on to this one... and in time it would become more evident why.
As we were winding down, Marilyn had a question about her family history. The response led her back home. "There's a diary…You have a diary that contains all of this information. It’s a diary, but not in a book... more like a collection of letters.... they were pen-pals? You have a box of letters in your closet?" Marilyn’s mind didn't take long to recognize the keepsake. I concluded: "What you are looking for is in those letters!"
After her session and visit with her father, Marilyn felt peace, validation and confidence. She said as much then, as well as the following day in an e-mail adding news she located the collection letters, in a box, in the closet – then spent the night reading them.
Within the pages of the 'diary' - an exquisite history of events meticulously constructed through the caring details of two loving pen-pals - she found, word for word, from the horse’s mouth, the information she was longing for. Closure.
At the time of this writing, I’d be hard-pressed to recite facts about General Robert E. Lee and General Ulysses S. Grant that were reiterated in Mr. Dixon’s social studies class. I can tell you that Lee and Grant had deeply conflicting ideas about how to treat people and that Grant, alongside President Lincoln, sought to abolish slavery. Beyond that, not much else.
What I do remember is how Mr. Dixon transformed before my eyes, when he recalled precious moments from his boyhood. It doesn’t mean I wasn't a 'good student' or that I wasn't paying attention, it just means I pay more attention to when people communicate what is valuable and meaningful to them.
And those values, as also communicated by Marilyn’s father, can sally forth.