December 19th: The Journey

December 19th- The Journey

I met someone just this last summer who I had admired for years.

This person seemed to have everything I had been looking for in regards to my own writing career:

He was a successful screenwriter in Hollywood.

He had an academy award for a screenplay he had written.

He was established, respected, and living the life that accolades like that can purchase: one of status and financial security.

Yet when we were together eating lunch one day, I listened as he went on-and-on about how he hadn’t accomplished enough, hadn’t made enough money, wasn’t asked for in Hollywood like he used to be, and was worried that he would be replaced by the “new” up-and-coming writers.

I was speechless.

I couldn’t imagine anyone being unhappy with the gifts he had received, or not proud of all he had done, but he truly felt that he had failed.

I left our meeting and drove home in silence and thought about my own personal journey.

How many times had I thought, Oh if I just have that… I will be happy?

Too many.

After my divorce I said that so many times:

If I can just buy a house of my own, I’ll be happy.

If I can just achieve the highest degree in school, I’ll be happy.

If I can just become a successful writer, I’ll be happy.

If I can just find a kind and loving partner, I’ll be happy.

I was fortunate: My Higher Power granted me all of these things and yet I still struggled with my elusive ideal of total happiness.

It is good to set goals.

It is good to work towards something in life.

But to ignore the journey, set on the destination, is to lose all perspective for the present and to miss out on the daily joys of the struggle.

It is like walking on a forest path, ignoring all of the beauty around you, as you center on reaching the end of the trail.

Today, I know that I must find my happiness in the moment, that I must find my happiness in the journey. If I am walking my true spiritual path, there will be joy as I move forward towards my goals.

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“Dear God, help me to stay in the moment. Help me to see the joy in all that I do today.”

December 18th: Playing Out Old Hurts

December 18th- Playing Out Old Hurts

After my divorce, I took time to heal from my painful wounds before beginning the task of dating again.

I waited a year, sure that I had mourned the loss of my marriage a reasonable amount of time, and positive that the spiritual footwork I had completed would lead me to make good choices when looking for a new partner.

But… I found myself still unable to clearly navigate.

I tended to pick partners similar to my ex-husband… not necessarily in looks; but definitely in words and actions.

The men I gravitated towards, had character defects that felt familiar, even comfortable to me and I used my present partners to play out old hurts.

I soon realized that I was not ready for dating.

Why?

Because I was repeating old patterns and expecting different results.

I was afraid to move away from what was familiar to me even if it brought me pain, even if I knew that type of relationship would no longer work in my life.

After several more months of spiritual footwork, I felt ready to set out once again.

I had a new and different idea of what I wanted in a relationship: I was ready to look for a partner who was available, respectful, loving, and able to commit fully to me as we worked together towards a common goal.

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“Dear God, help me to move forward without repeating the past. Help me to see that I have nothing to fear by letting go of old behaviors that no longer suit my best self.”

December 17th: Being Kind to Myself

December 17th-

I can be very hard on myself at times, and was especially so while going through my divorce.

I was constantly berating myself for everything:

If only I had looked my best throughout our marriage, kept off that extra five pounds, exercised more…

If only I hadn’t nagged so much…

If only I had given in, been more understanding…

I could come up with a million reasons to tear myself down, beat myself up, sure that the end of my marriage was my fault.

Then one day, I was listening to a friend in pain, share her own doubts about her abilities. Each time she began a sentence with “If only…” I comforted her, was gentle, compassionate and reminded her that her divorce had damaged her self-esteem and once time allowed her to heal, she would be able to see again that it wasn’t all her fault, that she was a wonderful and lovable person, and that we all make mistakes in our relationships that we wish we could correct.

As I heard my words soothing her pain, I wondered why I had never been this kind to myself.

Self-criticism is a punishment I no longer want to afflict.

I have suffered enough.

I must find away to forgive myself, be kind to myself, and know in my heart that I did the best that I could.

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“Dear God, help me to be kind to myself. Help me to see that I am not perfect, that I make mistakes, but that I must learn from them and forgive myself for them.”

December 16th: Memories

December 16th-The Past

When I first went through my divorce, my feelings and my memories were so intense that they often hindered my progress in the present.

I spent so much time examining what had happened in my past, turning over each and every memory to see if it held the answer to what went wrong, that I wasn’t living in the moment.

I found myself unable to recover from my pain because I was constantly reliving it.

These memories had such a hold on me, that when friends would suggest places to go or things to do in my hometown, I would decline the invitation. Why? Because each location held a memory related to my marriage, or to my separation, or to my divorce, and each location held pain from my past.

I was worried that when I went out, people would ask me questions like, Where is your husband? Or… What happened? You two seemed so happy?

I was living in fear and soon, I was in a prison of my own making: I was trapped emotionally and physically in my mind and I knew, that I must stop ruminating and find the courage to move forward.

It took a lot of spiritual footwork but I was able to make it through to the other side.

Today, if I catch myself dwelling on my past, I look at the moment, exam it, allow myself to feel the emotions it brings, and then I turn it over to my Higher Power.

If someone asks me about my relationship, I am kind in my response and simply state the truth: We are no longer together.

If I am asked out to events at locations that may hold past memories, I willingly accept the invitation and choose to create new, wonderful memories there with friends and loved ones that want to be part of my life, that invite me to share time with them.

The past is the past.

Yes, it often holds the answers to our choices, our behaviors, what we need to work on in the present, but I cannot be a prisoner to it for if I am, I have lost my way on my spiritual journey.

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“Dear God, help me to let go of my painful past. I have learned the lessons you have wanted me to learn now let me walk bravely into my future.”

December 15th: Unacceptable Behavior

December 15th-Unacceptable Behavior

In my marriage, I often tolerated a great deal of unacceptable behavior.

I thought that by tolerating it, I was showing how willing I was to work on the relationship, how much I loved my husband, how I was always ready to “suffer” to prove my loyalty.

But what I was really proving was that I had no boundaries: That I would willingly take anything and still participate in a relationship that was not in my best interest.

Today I know, that I cannot sit idly by and allow someone to walk all over me.

That does not prove my unconditional love to that person… that only teaches another human being that they can basically act without any responsibility or consequence for their choices in our relationship.

No matter how I may love and want another human being in my life, if I catch myself allowing all behaviors, even those that are unacceptable to me, or finding myself feeling victimized each time I try to give my all, then it is time for me to look at my own unacceptable behavior: my behavior of people-pleasing at the detriment to my health, emotional, and spiritual well-being.

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“Dear God, help me to keep fair boundaries in all of my relationships. Help me to love myself enough to make changes in my own behavior and the strength to be responsible in all of my choices.”

December 14th: Courage

December 14th

Today I heard someone say, “We don’t know how strong our faith is until it is tested.”

I immediately felt myself tune into the moment. It felt like my Higher Power had specifically placed this conversation in front of me, as if trying to get my attention.

It worked.

I have learned that each time I walk through a trial, a test, and come out the other side, my courage builds and my faith strengthens.

I have suffered many painful losses in my life, and yet I have been able to make it through each crisis and move forward.

It takes courage to walk through despair…

It takes courage to make decisions that are difficult to make…

It takes courage to stand up and keep walking on a spiritual path when it feels like the Universe is knocking us down.

But each time I rise, strong in my faith, full of courage, I am reminded once again that life will always be full of hardship and pain and that I must stay my spiritual course, and let faith and courage guide me through troubled times, so that I will find peace and happiness, once again, on my spiritual path.

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“Dear God, help me to remain strong in my faith. Help me to have strength when I feel lost and alone.”

December 13th: Old Behaviors

December 13th-Old Behaviors

It has been many years since my divorce but still, there are people that come into my life, similar to my husband in behavior, that bring out my old ways of “bending to make myself fit” into the relationship.

The first time this happened, I was quite surprised at how quickly I fell back into my old patterns.

I was amazed at how easy it was for me to spiral into my past, pivot from my direction, and suddenly work myself around this new person’s needs.

After awhile, I became worn of being this shadow version of myself.

I was so busy trying to make myself likable and lovable to this new friend that I hadn’t even looked at the relationship to see if it was really working for me: it wasn’t.

I was becoming frustrated, upset, disheartened that no matter how much I bent to this person’s needs, I was still left feeling that I hadn’t done it right… or I hadn’t done enough… or I was somehow lacking and therefore… unlovable.

Soon, I was beyond miserable and I knew that I had lost my way on my spiritual path. I had slipped into my old behaviors using the similarities between my new friend and my ex-husband to recreate a past that hadn’t worked for me then, and certainly wouldn’t work for me now after so many years of growth and spiritual footwork.

I had to step back from the relationship and let time and distance put my actions and my life back into perspective.

It isn’t easy letting go of someone we love, or someone that feels familiar to us… but if I am unable to be my best self when I am with this person… if no matter how hard I try I still fall into my old and destructive behaviors when I am near them… then I must take time apart to complete more spiritual footwork in hopes that I can revisit the relationship again as my true self… not my shadow self.

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“Dear God, help me to let go of my old ways. Help me to move forward on my spiritual path in all of my relationships, showing my true and best self to those I love and care for.”