catharsis and emergence (through ritual)


For a long time I’ve wondered what to do with my wedding dress. It had severe mildew stains so it was unwearable. And certainly since the divorce it seemed like something that I would never want to wear again. I kept pulling it out of the closet and looking at it, wondering if I should simply toss it. But I kept thinking that it would work far better to do some sort of art project with it. I loved the dress and its simple lace–a reproduction of an Edwardian garden party dress. The ‘romantic’ within me knew that I couldn’t simply cast it into a trash bin.

At the same time, I’ve been yearning for some sort of ritual to bring closure to my marriage. I had planned some spectacular way to throw my wedding rings into the Back Bay, but it just didn’t feel right. So it seemed more apropos to use the dress for my ritual. And I also knew that it needed to involve the ocean. My ocean. My beach. Near where John proposed and where we created all of our family memories of the Balboa FunZone, kayaking, and bonfires. As these ideas percolated around in my brain, a plan came together. And a photographer-friend was as delighted to be a part of this ritual as I was to perform it.

That we did this the day after the tsunami, when the ocean water was still roiling with storm, was coincidence that turned into something meaningful. The currents came from Japan and touched our shores–just as in my cross-cultural marriage to a Japanese-American man. All of that connecting, all tugging at each of us, all testifying to the sometimes-destructive tide of relationships pulling us towards each other and then apart again…

I thought this might be a somber occasion.  I thought I might cry, or even feel loss and anger.  Instead, I was ebullient. Emerging feeling washed clean of the ugliness that came from the end of my relationship.  Stepping out of the sea alone and full of joy, flower petals scattered along my path…

[flickrslideshow acct_name=”pilgrimgirl” id=”72157626352812872″]

11 thoughts on “catharsis and emergence (through ritual)

  1. Ingrid

    thanks for sharing, the ritual and your smiles were good to see. Your resilience is inspiring. Saw some rowers in the drizzle off Balboa Island this morning and hoped you were doing well. Take care.

  2. Shana

    While I never figured out what to do with my wedding dress. Its still in the closet in a box.
    I did figure out what to do with my wedding jewelry, which was very expensive and not worth wasting.

    I had my wedding band engraved on the outside with a line from one of my favorite poems by Alice Walker.
    “The Nature of This Flower is to Bloom”
    Before I put it one burned some sage over it and sat in semi-slience listening to music I find inspirational. I then said a silent prayer to remind myself that I am more than okay on my own and that I can be happiest by being true to myself.

    Oddly I did this all in the parking lot of a mall. But location has never mattered much to me. Now I have something uniquely personal to me that reminds me of something positive.
    I will eventually have my engagement ring resized for the other hand and cleanse it with sage as well.

    1. janaremy Post author

      I love it! I still don’t know what to do with my rings. My wedding band has the words “You and no other” inscribed on it (my ex wore a matching band, too). The irony…


      They remain in a goblet sitting on my dresser with my other jewelry. I suppose that they will just stay there for awhile…maybe until I melt them down into something new and pretty to match my new life.

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