September 2nd: Gratitude Journal

Keeping a Gratitude list helped me to stay grateful during my divorce.

If I felt overwhelmed with my loss, I could take a moment and write down everything I still possessed.

I found that I had many things to be grateful for:

I had two beautiful, healthy children.

I was able to continue living in the home I loved.

I was creative and able to write and play music.

I had my job and my education.

I had my own health, and a willingness to change and grow through my present situation and…

I had the love and support of family and friends.

I was fortunate to have so much during this trying time.

My gratitude list reminded me to be thankful to my Higher Power for giving me so many wonderful gifts.

Through the course of my divorce, and still today, I write down at least ten things I am thankful for each day.

I can always tell when I’m having a bad day, when I’m refusing to embrace an “attitude of gratitude” when I look at the page of my journal and read:

I’m thankful for this pizza.

I’m thankful for being left alone.

I’m thankful that I don’t have to get out of this bed.

Instead of:

I’m thankful for being fed.

I’m thankful for this solitude.

I’m thankful that I have a bed to sleep in.

A gratitude journal is a reminder of all we may be overlooking when we are walking through a time of pain.

“Dear God, help me to find gratitude in my present situation, to look at what I still possess, and be thankful instead of dwelling on my loss.”

September 1st: Admitting My Faults

Once I looked at my part in the break-up of my marriage, I knew then that I was willing to admit my faults.

Many times during my relationship with my spouse,  I had taken on the role of “martyr” and used my husband’s flaws against him.

When my husband had been active in his addiction, I had stood by him and yes, I believed that was what a good committed spouse was supposed to do but…

When he became sober again… I often used that “loyalty” to bully him and get my way.

If I didn’t want him to go out: I brought up trust issues created by his active addiction.

If I wanted him to help more: I reminded him of how much help I had given him, how I had shouldered the responsibility for our family when he couldn’t.

I had a tendency to use his weaknesses against him.

I felt bad that I had done this and wished that I could take back my prior actions but… I could not.

All I could do, was to willingly admit my own faults to my husband: I owed him an amends.

When I spoke to him, he not only accepted my amends, but made one of his own.

Admitting my faults helped me to learn from my past mistakes and work towards not repeating the mistakes in my future relationships.

Admitting my faults brought me to a new “peace of mind.”

“Dear God, help me to admit my faults without being hard on myself. Each of us makes mistakes in life, help me to learn from them.”

August 31st: Looking at My Part

Sometimes, when we begin to look at our part in things, we can get caught up in blame.

I wanted to take a “fearless” look at my part in the break-up of my marriage, I wanted to learn from my mistakes and move forward, but I saw so many things that I wished I had done differently that all I did was blame myself.

I felt like such a horrible person.

How could I have done that?

Why didn’t I see what I had been doing to our relationship?

Why hadn’t I thought about apologizing or changing before our marriage had gone bad?

It was hard to accept that it was too late to take back any of my prior actions and change the outcome of the situation.

I knew divorce was inevitable.

The only way I could use this trying situation to my emotional and spiritual advantage, was to look at my part in the situation and assess what had worked in the marriage and what hadn’t.

What would I do differently the next time I was in a relationship?

What had caused me to take these actions to begin with?

How could I be more loving and kind, more present, in all of my future relationships?

I had to get past my own blame, and truly look at my part.

I had to remember that I had done the best I could at the time, and that I had never intentionally tried to cause problems in my marriage.

I had to be kind to myself and admit, that like every other human being in the world, I was capable of making errors in judgement and terrible mistakes.

If I could do this, I would be able to learn and grow from my experience.

If I just stepped back, looked at my part, and learned from the situation, I would be a better person for it.

“Dear God, help me to look at my part in the situation without blame. Help me to know that I did the best I could, with the skills I had, at the time.”

August 30th: Surrender

I have never liked the idea of surrender.

To me, it always sounded like I was giving up.

Even in war, to surrender, means to admit defeat.

How could I surrender?

I had spent my whole adult life working on my marriage.

How could I surrender to my divorce?

How could I give up on my relationship?

What I found was that surrender is not about giving up, it is about giving yourself over to a trying situation.

It means that you accept that this is what the situation “is.”

With surrender, comes serenity.

When you surrender, you let go.

You stop fighting.

You stop the war.

It doesn’t mean that you lose the battle.

It means that you stop struggling against what you are fighting.

Surrender doesn’t mean you stop doing “the footwork” but that you let go of the outcome.

I found if I did not surrender myself to the situation, I was only fighting a battle against myself, a battle of self will.

I was my own enemy destroying my own serenity.

“Dear God, help me to surrender my problems to you. Help me to let go of the outcome and accept that what I need, you will soon provide.”

August 29th: Believing in a Higher Power

I had always struggled with my belief in a Higher Power.

As a child, I was taught that God was always watching and that if I did something bad, that I would be punished.

I felt that I had to always be on my best behavior.

Each time I made a minor mistake, I would look up to Heaven and wait for the punishment to take place.

This vision of God scared me.

It created a God that I feared to trust.

During my divorce, this made it very hard to depend on my Higher Power to take care of me.

How was I to believe that my Higher Power would help me through this disheartening situation in my adult life when deep-down inside, I believed that I must have done something wrong to be punished like this?

The scared child that still lived somewhere inside of me, thought I must deserve this pain, that I was doomed, and it was terrible.

I believed that I could never live up to my Higher Power’s expectations of me.

I felt hopeless and full of despair.

I began to look at my own concept of a Higher Power.

I began to exam what I had told my own children about God.

I had told them that God was a loving, kind, and forgiving God.

That God would never leave you.

That everything would be okay if you walked your path and trusted that God was leading you to where  you were supposed to go, and that God was always watching out for them.

Had I been telling them something I myself did not believe?

I realized then that I had to let go of the God in my past and embrace the Higher Power who had been with me all along.

The one who gave me my beautiful children.

The one who led me to the rooms of Al-Anon.

The one who walked with me while I worked towards a new beginning, kept me healthy for my family during these stressful times, and surrounded me with people who loved and watched over me during and after my terrible divorce.

Was this the destructive God of my childhood?

No, this was the loving Higher Power of my life that protected me as I walked through my pain.

I now believe in my heart and my soul that today, I am exactly where my Higher Power wants me to be and that just around the turn of this path I walk, is my new beginning… the beginning my loving Higher Power has waiting for me.

“Dear God, help me to let you into my heart. If I have faith in your plans, I will find hope in my future.”

August 28th: Powerlessness

My son and I were in the car one night when he started to tell me of an argument he had with his father.

He was very hurt by his father’s actions and wanted to know why people said and did hurtful things.

I felt so bad for him.

He adored his dad and I knew that during the divorce, things might be said and done that could hurt my son.

I knew that I was powerless over my husband and his actions… that I could only work on things from my end… and so I told my son that I had never much liked the fact that we were powerless over other people.

He smiled.

I could tell that he was happy that I felt the same way that he did.

I said that I knew that his dad loved him very much but, that sometimes, people said or did things that really had nothing to do with us.

It may seem like they were directing their anger or hurtful comments our way, but really, they were dealing with their own set of issues.

I told him that didn’t mean we had to accept that type of behavior.

He could tell his father that his feelings were hurt.

He could tell his father that he didn’t like when he treated him poorly but… he could not control his father’s actions.

That night, I heard him speak to his dad on the phone.

He told his father that he had hurt his feelings earlier that day.

I couldn’t hear my husband’s response, but I didn’t need to.

I  knew then, that my son had taken the first step in admitting that he was powerless over his father’s actions, and that he did have power over his own.

He could let his father know that what he said had hurt him.

He could let his feelings be known.

He had no control over the outcome but… he could be heard.

“Dear God, help me to remember that I am powerless over others. I cannot control a loved one’s actions or attitudes but I can work on my own.” 

August 27th: Feeling Overwhelmed

One weekend, my son was walking across the living room when he tripped and broke his hand.

I took him to the emergency room, where I suddenly felt totally overwhelmed.

It was all just too much.

I felt like it had been one thing after another through my divorce and now… my poor son was hurt.

What was even worse, is that I felt myself spiral into shame when the thought, Oh no, now I’m going to have more work to do, popped into my head. My guilt, for even thinking such a thought, was unbearable.

I was spinning with the idea that yet another thing had just been “thrown” at me by the universe.

I wanted my husband to help but I knew, that I probably would not be able to get from him what I wanted.

I missed having someone who could run to the store while I did laundry.

I missed having someone to help with the homework while I cooked dinner.

I missed having someone to hold my hand, soothe me, when I worried about our children.

But my life had changed: It was now… all up to me.

I called my husband from the emergency room and told him what had happened and expressed my feelings and needs.

I was right… he couldn’t help.

He was working until 10pm and I would have to deal with this on my own.

I hung up feeling frustrated.

That evening, when I was finally calm again and lying in bed alone, I thought about my husband and all of the years we had spent together.

My husband had been out of town constantly for work.

His job took him away from our family for a couple of months at a time.

What had I done then… to make it through?

I had no one to help me during that time period so… why could I handle things then… but not now?

I realized that I was feeling overwhelmed because I “believed” that I had been left with all of the responsibilities… I “believed” that my husband was no longer part of my “team.”

When we had been together, I had picked up the slack when I needed to, and I knew that he would pick up the slack when he needed to.

How would we be a team now?

I thought about teams. When a team wasn’t working they restructured and restructuring for me would be; changing my attitude.

It was hard to know that he was in town today and unavailable for me and for our son, and would not be available to me as he had been before.

But I knew for now, that I would have to temporarily be my own team in this situation.

Sometimes my husband would have  to work and do other things and like in the past, when he was out of town, I would have to depend on myself.

He wasn’t saying no forever… he was just saying no for today.

He was at work.

Our son was not seriously injured.

I had already handled things at the hospital.

It was time for me to accept the situation and move on with my day.

Later that week, our son needed to see the orthopedic to get his splint removed and his hand casted. When I called my husband for help, he was there for me. He took our son to the doctor’s office, fed him, and played with him until I came home from work and I was grateful for his help.

By changing my attitude, and accepting the restructuring of my family team, I had let go of being overwhelmed and found a way to handled my day-to-day responsibilities with calm resolve.

“Dear God, when I find myself in a trying situation, help me to walk through it with calm resolve and see solutions instead of problems.”