January 2, 2121 was the first anniversary of my divorce. 32 years of marriage. I left my old life as a suburban housewife to live in a small apartment with minimal belongings and embracing healing. As a PTSD survivor, my non-epileptic seizures had subsided. I was finally sleeping and losing weight. All the joys of singlehood.
Until I saw a post on Instagram entitled “Practice the Pause.” I saved the picture on my phone and found myself staring at it through the week.
In essence, before you speak - pause. Act - pause. Judge - pause. You get the picture.
I thought of the times when I lashed out at my ex-husband’s gaslighting looking like an insane, irrational woman. I should’ve practiced the pause.
The gallons of ice cream and subsequent pounds. Practiced the pause.
But then, but then, I remembered. The divorce. That is a major pause. A pause in my life. Not a do-over or reset. A pause. A plea for the world to stop a moment so I could get off this insane carousel of abuse and breathe. A real pause.
Pause. My diet plan focuses on mental health and eating. Daily exercises on my phone's diet app coached me to put away electronics and eat mindfully. I am encouraged to listen to my inner voice and wait when the desire for sweets or steak surface. Pause.
Pause. With the new year, I am reevaluating my spiritual side. Looking at my journals and the tumultuous relationship I have with organized religion. My angst and anger at the lack of female positions or respect for women at all. Then I pause. A very long prayerful pause. A pause that allows me to connect and understand my imperfection. Mankind’s imperfection. The mankind who created the rules and red tape of organized religion. I can move on and continue to pause.
Pause. The divorce created several deep cuts in the relationship I have with my adult children. Lack of understanding, anger, and frustration that is only amplified by distance and pandemic. All of it created a schism that at times seems too far to cross. Unless I get real good at pausing. If, and that is a big if, I can learn to pause while talking to my children, then perhaps we can cross that divide. We can build bridges and learn to live in this new reality. My mouth gets me in trouble so I must learn to pause.
Pause. I lived in chaos for decades. The chaos of what would come home at 5 pm every day. Up or down. In or out. Unexpected to-do lists and irrational rules. I lived in an ever-shifting environment. I never knew what the next minute, hour, or day would bring. Pausing now grants me a moment of peace. Serenity. Time. Time to think, formulate, and consider. Precious time.
Pause. Next time you watch an action movie, set a timer for ten seconds. Consider all the action that occurs in ten seconds. Worlds change and society shifts in the space of ten seconds. Now take a minute. Sit in absolute silence for a minute. Feels like forever, right? Ask a speech student how a minute feels. A lifetime would be their answer. So a pause - no set defined time - can change a life. My life.
Pause. A breath that I could breathe in and deep. A moment that gives me the time to assemble my armor and battle the anxiety, anger, and depression that comes after years of abuse. A single moment that could save a life. A pause. I stared deep into a bottle since I walked out. Stared out into space and at a pile of pills. I practiced the pause then and pulled myself back.
Pause. A lifetime in a moment.