Hannah Levin grew up in an artistic/health conscious family in the mountains of NC, and learned early that health has many components. She has dedicated her life to learning as much as she can to increase her own vitality and share what she knows with others. Hannah is the founder of Heartfelt Wellbeing, where she integrates her study of Yoga, Ayurveda, Nutrition, Creativity, Aromatherapy, Meditation, Mindfulness, Assisted Thai Yoga and Herbalism into working with clients as individuals on their unique path toward integration and healing. In the many incarnations Hannah moves in and out of in life she is also a potter and singer-songwriter. Give Burning a listen, and visit Hannah Levin on iTunes for more of her songs.
Divorce Day #2.... September 22, 2016
It’s 6:20am. I am awake even though I was up until almost midnight last night after dance practice, and I just started my period. I have decided to wear my wonder woman underwear today- a gift I purchased for myself to wear on days when super powers might be helpful. This morning at 9:30am I will arrive at the Clay County Court House, in front of a judge, to officially be granted a divorce.
My second divorce. A gift of total legal riddance of a man who encouraged me fall in love with his conjured stories of how we would make art and play music together, raise a family and share in community. I believed in his vision. I fell in love with this vision to the point I no longer saw reality clearly. I wanted that vision to be my life so badly, I stayed with him even as he cussed out a woman at the drive-through window at a Wendy’s in Virginia on a road trip to see my grandmother, or threw my laptop on the tiled kitchen floor and shoved me up against the wall, pinning me there with his huge, sweaty hand pressed into my neck to the point I could barely breathe because I didn't want to come to bed with him, or offered to take me to an insane asylum because I couldn’t stop yelling and crying because he lied to me (yet again) about his pot and alcohol addictions. For quite a while he successfully convinced me that all of these things were my fault and if I just worked harder on myself everything would get better. Luckily, the fog of confusion and illusion cleared, thanks to a good therapist and taking a small dose of Zoloft and I woke up to the abuse and manipulation. I was married only 10.5 months...
But I had a husband before him. I married Husband #1 on summer solstice of 2007. That marriage lasted a mere 7 months. There wasn’t the abuse or manipulation that was so toxic in my second marriage, but there were issues that made life together unbearable. There was drinking and avoidance of dealing with realities of adult life. Fortunately, with time, those intense frustrated feelings have softened, now that marriage seems like it wasn’t even part of my life as I know it now. However, I recently received news that Husband #1 has decided to transition to being a woman. This news has been hard for me to digest. I wonder: Were there signs of him feeling that he was truly a woman when we were together? There was nothing about him that seemed feminine or lost, just introverted. We haven’t been in touch for years, but initially I wanted to call him up and ask for an explanation. But, that is the last thing he needs: to explain his deepest truth to his estranged ex-wife? It does make me feel a little better about leaving that marriage when I did. It would be devastating to go through that transition in a marriage, perhaps with kids at this point...
Today I awake, peacefully alone. What will become clear about Husband #2 in the years to come? It is very clear to me that saying “truth is stranger than fiction” could easily depict the way my relationship trajectory has evolved, with an unwritten chapter awaiting completion as I am not convinced husband #2’s story has fully played out yet either.
But, waking up this morning, my mind spins into a whirlwind of unpleasant memories of my recent husband and how far I have come since the manipulation and insanity that was my life when I was with Husband #2. In the state of NC, you must be separated for a year and a day before you can even file for divorce. In the year since I left Husband #2, I’ve purchased a house, established my own business with an office space in a yoga studio in the downtown of the quaint town where I now live, reconnected to my family and friends, revived an afterschool music program for teenagers, cobbled together my first complete pottery studio of my own in my basement, and completed a year-long intensive program to become an Ayurvedic Wellness Counselor. I have healed my chronic digestive issues, fallen back in love with life, and have learned to trust myself again (mostly).
I have also fallen in love with the most amazing man. This was absolutely unexpected! We connected through Tinder (thanks to my friend Arrington who put the app on my phone in late February, while I looked on skeptically) at the beginning of March. We met in-person on pi day (March 14) and ate pie under a pavilion at Vogel State Park on a drizzly spring evening. Since then, being with him has been the most healing, fun and inspiring gift. He is aligned in living the same lifestyle as me. He has his own home, a good paying job, and friends. He doesn’t like to drink or smoke. He is an avid biker and is in excellent shape, eats really well and enjoys outdoor adventures with me. He can talk through issues when they arise and owns his baggage. I am surprised at how easily days flow with him, even amidst my unpredictable schedule of several jobs. We delight in each other and he is a wonderful lover. We just celebrated our 6-monthiversary. In honor of the occasion, he bought me a vitamix (an appliance I have been lusting over for a long time) so we can make more inspired and nutritious concoctions and we went camping and hiking to waterfalls. Why did it take me until I was 37 years old to find this kind of love? No bullshit. No drama.
We have recently talked about having a kid- we gotta be honest about getting to the point since I am 38 and he is 44. It dawned on me that if we do this, he probably wants to be married, since his family is more traditional and that commitment would be important to the foundation of starting our own family. (This is an unsettling realization for me!) When asked, he confirmed this connection of events. My stomach tightened. Marriage hasn’t been such a good experience for me. Why would I want to do it a third time?
My dear friend Jessica and her fiancee Nick recently asked me if I would do the honor of performing their wedding ceremony next year. My first thought was, “Why would they ask someone who has not been successful in marriage to marry them?” Jessica explained to me that I was the person who first introduced her to meaningful ritual to honor the rites of passage in life. We have seen each other through a lot over the years, and my presence was the one she most dearly wanted to facilitate her marriage. This invitation helps me feel more expansive than the label of divorced, more capable in the world and still connected to the meaning of marriage despite my less than admirable track record.
This morning as I prepare to appear in court (with a lawyer I have paid handsomely with my saved-up yoga teaching money), I recognize that in a few hours I will be legally free to marry again. Honestly, this fact is terrifying to me. I don’t want to be married to husband #2 (hell no!) but I am not sure I am comfortable, or trust myself now, with the freedom I am about to be granted either. Is there a way to shift my association with marriage before my biological clock stops ticking? I no longer have the luxury of time on my side in healing the correlation between fear, unhappiness and marriage inside me.
And, what of these ways we try to connect with others in this world of constant drive for personal fulfillment and relationships that come in all shapes and colors? To live a dream of a life shared with another person, is that what I still believe I am capable of? If I could go back in time and share some words of wisdom with myself, what would those words be? “Don’t let anyone suffocate your sparkle? If they do, it is okay to leave?” Its okay to leave. There are so many relationships I have stayed in simply for the reason that I didn't feel like it was okay to leave...
Lines from two of my favorite poets also come to mind:
“Anything or anyone that does not bring you alive is too small for you.” - David Whyte
“Love yourself. Then forget it. Then, love the world.” - Mary Oliver
But, haven’t I known those words without being able to fully embody and live them out? Yes! YES!! So, somehow, I trust, I have needed to live out what I have experienced with these two “failed” marriages to really live the truth of those words now.
When I was younger I would have judged someone like me. I believed that divorce was something that weak, confused, and unhealthy people experienced, not ME. I am from a stable, loving family. My parents have been married almost 45 years and still delight in each other. My identical twin sister has been married for 11 years and has a beautiful family. I believed there was something flawed in me for not being able to manifest the same thing I witnessed my bloodline around me creating. My path is unusual in my lineage. Yet, perhaps I am just a little too stubborn sometimes.
But, after 9:30am this morning, divorce will be something I have experienced twice and the humility that brings me is perhaps a great gift for this life path. The hope that we learn from our experiences and make better choices as we grow is still alive in me. I have more compassion now for myself and others. My judgments have softened. I still believe in the ideal of marriage and deep down hope that one day I can successfully fulfill that ideal. But, not today. Today I am getting divorced, again.
This story is part of the Human Becomings Story Series. Please consider sharing your own story of becoming with the wider world. Submissions to this series will be posted as available. Visit "Your Story" for instructions and details.