“When the students are ready, the teacher will appear.” ~ Laozi
This Laozi quote may sound familiar, but I recently learned that the second part of the quote is often omitted.
“When the students are really ready … the teacher disappears.”
The first part of this quote was what I call 13, or a healing anchor for me when I experienced the storm of God.
During the year, I experienced a catastrophic divorce, was robbed, had two car accidents, and lost my dear friend in a heart attack. I felt like I was watching everything in my life burn out, including my deep desire for a family. And he was kneeling down to ask for help, something he had never done before.
I realized that my way of life wasn’t working and I needed to learn, so I became a student and turned my palm to the sky and asked for guidance.
Many teachers have come. I found a therapist to heal my divorce, found spiritual guidance after getting lost, met other divorces, and found a loving meditation on a broken heart. Now that I’m ready, the teacher has appeared.
Each of the teachers who came out earlier taught me the importance and effectiveness of correct support. When faced with all the challenges of building a new life, I kept asking for help. What I have learned has made it possible to find a partner in my life who wants to have a family like me.
When my life changed and I opened my heart to love again, I thought the first part of this quote was a complete lesson.
Until recently, when you encountered the second part on the quote website.
I stared at the words on the screen and my whole body stopped. She was talking about the teacher who came in the face of divorce for years, but she realized she wasn’t talking much about the teacher who left, and her tears spilled.
Specifically, my ex, the biggest teacher. For the purposes of this post, we call him John.
When John dropped the bomb on Thanksgiving Day 2012 and said he didn’t love me anymore, I honestly thought I could stop it. I thought I could save my marriage. But nothing worked. Instead of counseling the couple, he is trapped in the bedroom and refuses to eat, or crawls under the bed he was sleeping in the living room, not begging him to stay.
John’s refusal to engage in marriage left me something I hadn’t spent in real time for 37 years. His refusal left me to me.
And the truth is, I’ve been lying to everyone around me for years. I had an affair over and over again and shook violently between shame on my actions and complete confusion about why I kept returning to the guy I really didn’t love.
I didn’t know what I was doing or why.
I concealed shame and confusion by drinking too much, listening to lots of TV, and constant music. I was crying in the shower, so I was worried that I could be found. I was convinced that my friends and whole family would stop loving me.
But something was alive for a long time. In fact, it was alive when John and I were in college.
I majored in musicals, but when I was planning a wedding in the last year of school, I threw myself into two men doing a show together. Nothing happened to the first man, but he kissed the second man and was immediately embarrassed and appalled. What was i doing?
So I told John, and he asked me a strong question, “Are you postponing the wedding?” I told him no. I told him I love him. I apologized and promised that this would never happen again.
So the wedding went on, but except a week before I walked down the aisle, I was scared again and asked my mother if this was a good idea. She thought it was just nervous and she told me to get married.
The first year of our marriage was exciting and noisy. We are both actors and very passionate, and often there was a fierce battle to fill our little Queens apartment with our voice. My parents visited and my mother pushed me aside, worried about how we were talking to each other.
I told her that this was like real communication, not just as silent as she did with my dad.
So the screams continued, as was all the excitement of our career, and we spent a lot of time away while working in various theaters. It’s been many years since I thought I was on the same page about having a family.
Until my 36th birthday, I finally got off the pill. I was scared. I never thought I would have a family for such a long time, but I’ve heard many times that John was scared as menstruation and menstruation continued. What I said makes no difference, and the fight has become more and more ugly.
I felt very lonely.
And I was in a panic. Panic that he didn’t want to have a family. He married a man who didn’t want to be a father.
A year later, he knelt in front of me and confirmed my panic. After all, everything I felt was really true.
“When the students are really ready … the teacher disappears.”
John has been my teacher for 19 years. I met him when I was 18 years old. He was in love with his eyes rounded and crazy. But now was the time. It’s time to learn how it looked and felt to be with a partner who shared my deepest aspirations.
It’s time to learn what a healthy relationship is and how healthy and loving communication sounds.
It’s time to respect my instincts and learn how to handle strong emotions, especially the anger of being in my late thirties without children.
He didn’t have to be there anymore. Because I was finally awake and ready to learn the lessons he taught in my life.
He was able to leave, and I had to actually leave to grow.
Laozi spoke to one of the most profound teachings we have, the changes are constant. People go in and out of our lives for a variety of purposes. When we try to control all the consequences, our deepest suffering arises. We are trying to control relationships, friendships, and those who believe they must always be there.
But what if each teacher was here for the required time and when they left, it really reflected that you were ready?
What if people are gone and relationships are over, and it really reflects your readiness for change?
What if your broken heart, romantic or personal, is a sacred alchemical moment?
Take some time today to honor the teachers who have left. Perhaps write this question in your diary: what did you learn when they were gone?
For me, I sat on the floor and cried. As I was ready, I felt a big wave of relief admitting that John had left.
And I didn’t know in any other way.
You are much stronger than you know, and your greatest learning comes when you claim the wisdom of those teachers who have left.