She had read an article about trust and the marble jar. The author quoted Brene Brown:
«Whenever someone supports you, or is kind to you, or sticks up for you, or honors what you share with them as private, you put marbles in the jar. When people are mean, or disrespectful, or share your secrets, marbles come out.»
She liked this analogy. This week she had really good days and she had some downright sad days where she was barely able to function, although she did, it required a lot of effort and there was a lot of crying.
On the great day, Monday, she woke up feeling awesome. She had a good night sleep, 8 hours. A first for her in the longest time. She was so grateful she was thanking life, her mom, the Universe, any spirit that would listen. She was thrilled. Ironically Monday was the day she read the article – that morning. The marble jar.
She reflected on how she had managed her marble jar. Over the last 9 years, she had filled up this jar and then smashed it (quite literally) many times. Whenever she would feel hurt, ignored or betrayed by her boyfriend, She too could be downright cruel with her words. Over time she had worked on this aspect of herself, but last November, as she was burning out and denying that, the flaw was coming back in force. She wanted to hurt the person in her life that she believed should be there for her but was instead hurting her. She was getting tired of losing her marbles so she would deliberately hurt the person responsible. Using this analogy, in November there were little marbles and she just smashed the jar. However, personal events caused her to change her mind, and put that jar back together, to «help» the person she no longer trusted, but did not know how to leave.
She realized that she was in a vulnerable state herself. She was afraid to be alone during a period where she knew she was burning out, had severe anxiety, but she wanted to manage it herself and not admit weakness to anyone. She prided herself on being positive so depression made no sense to her. It could not be possible for her to be depressed. So, instead of turning to drugs, as she had done in the past, she turned to her security blanket, the boyfriend. The one who could fill up a jar of marbles and then empty it just as quickly. No wonder she was losing her marbles.
Today there is no more jar. It had been smashed so many times, she could no longer put it back together. On the bad day, Tuesday, she was filled with deep grief. The numbing, overwhelming grief. Panic over the finality of the relationship, she started to doubt herself. Thank God she had an appointment with her doctor. She went in, a crying mess and told him that over the last month, she had made progress although she did not feel or appear that way at the moment. She had done all of this without any prescribed medication. Her doctor was an angel to her. He gave her this perspective on grieving the end of a relationship:
« The end of a relationship is painful, even if you end it. To grieve is human and normal. It is healthy to feel your feelings and cry. This is the healing process. »
She was reminded of the saying «You have to feel it to heal it. »
Then she asked him why it hurt more when she realized that her ex had found someone else, in a nano second and was now getting clean. She felt happy he was clean and then inadequate and not good enough to have deserved that when he was with her. He offered up this perspective:
«It is part of the process for an addict to get clean when they lose something precious to them. The term rock bottom stems from this. In addition, the person will tend to fill the void with another addiction, someone or something. This is called rebound in the case of relationships. »
Then he looked her straight in the eyes and told her there was nothing wrong with her. None of this was a reflection of herself. Instead, he told her that she had made significant progress since February and that she had taken a huge step in ending a toxic relationship. She had stopped trying to fix the marble jar. He also informed her that when in depression, a person’s self-esteem is low. She was making progress by sticking up for herself.
She left that day feeling better. She was also looking forward to her therapist appointment the following morning. In being completely honest with herself, she realized she had stayed in a relationship out of fear. She thought she was being forgiving and loving to her boyfriend but she was not being loving to herself. She was afraid and stayed in it. She knew her therapist would have some valuable insight. She had been right and guided her so well since the very beginning. She opened up, was vulnerable and honest with her. She told her she felt ashamed for being sad over something that was supposed to be for the best. Her therapist re-iterated her doctor’s words and then gave her three things to do (if this helps even one person going through a break up then this would be wonderful):
- On a good day, write a letter to the sad self. There will be days of sadness and in that moment, a letter to her sad self from her happy strong self would be a loving thing to do and read.
- Given she had no appetite and was not eating, she suggested eating small things, like nuts, yogurt, smoothies, a banana. Anything small and healthy. Despite her ups and downs, she was still working out every day so she reminded her to be kind to my body and feed it.
- Stop all contact with the ex. She could not heal her wounds by keeping contact with the person that helped hurt her (she replied that she took full responsibility for allowing this to happen but…..). This, she said would be entirely up to her. However, if she chose to continue contact she risked prolonging the hurt, the healing process would take longer or she could end up back in the relationship.
Upon hearing point number 3, she paused. She admitted that they were in contact. He would text her asking if she could talk. There were still things of his in her house. The therapist replied that she had finally ripped the band aid off, smashed the marble jar and was at risk of leaving a wound fresh and ripe to stay open.
She was honest, again, and told her therapist that she realized that when his mom passed away, she may have changed her mind and forgiven him again out of pity or guilt as she had done in November and December. But this time, his decision to be with someone else had removed that self-doubt from her. She felt gratitude in that moment. This is what we call getting a different perspective from fear to love. Instead of feeling betrayed, she felt that the Universe did have her back. She felt loved and supported.
So what of this marble jar? Well as she was working out today, she felt pretty good. Her reflection for today was gratitude. She was grateful for the gym, the time to work out, and her body for allowing her to do so, on and on she went with all that she was grateful for. As she was working out, this song came on. It was a song that had played in a bar they had gone to while in Amsterdam. It was a really good day that day. She felt a wave of sadness, and like she had been punched in the gut. She kept on doing her reps, and then suddenly thought « MARBLE!!!! »
Those good memories were marbles that she would stumble upon every now and again. All she had to do was remind herself when she stepped on one to say to herself «marbles» and remember that the jar may be gone but those marbles were still rolling around out there. If she ran into one and recognized it, she may slip but she would not fall.
She left the gym and treated herself to an Americano coffee. She loved the lady that served it. She was grateful for her too. As she was crossing the street to get into her car, and felt like she was going to have a good cry, someone called her name. It was her ex-husband. The man she had left 9 years ago to be with the one she was now currently grieving. He had always been kind and graceful during the the whole marriage, even at the end. He asked if she had time to talk. She did. She was honest with him about her current situation.
He was kind and replied «9 years ago I told you one thing and I promised I would never say it again. »
She asked, «What was that? »
He replied «I told you I did not think he was good for you. You deserved better. I think you were afraid of being alone. »
She thanked him for that and told him many people had said that to her over the years. Maybe she needed to figure that out for herself. Maybe now, because she was given the time to focus on herself, she finally realized that it was time for her to fill up her own marble jar. The urge to cry was gone as he left her at her car. The urge to write was strong. So she followed her gut. In the 12 step community they say « you can only keep what you have by giving it away. » So she did. Marbles………