May 23rd: Letting Go of Victim Mentality

May 23rd-Victim

When I was first going through my divorce, while I was still reeling from my painful loss, it was easy to get into a “Why me?” mentality.

I felt that I was being victimized, abandoned by my husband, left to all of the day-to-day responsibilities of the family, while he went off to start his fresh “new”  life.

It was horrible to feel so powerless… such a lack of control… and for me, a person who had always prided myself on being strong in emotionally trying situations, it was unsettling to suddenly feel so weak… so helpless.

But soon, with the help of trusted mentors and a lot of spiritual footwork, I began to move forward and away from victim mentality.

It started with my acceptance that I had no control over my soon-to-be ex-spouse and that the only thing I did have control over were my own actions and ideas.

And then…. I stopped waiting for things to “change” and started moving forward in my own life.

I kept my mind firmly fixed on the prize: the future well-being of myself and my children.

I did everything I could to become spiritually, physically, and mentally sound once again.

By taking on an active role in my emotional recovery, I soon left my victim mentality behind.

Today I know, that I am strong enough to allow myself to be vulnerable, and to learn and grow from the experience.

“Dear God, help me to move away from my painful past. Help me to find progress in the smallest mental shift from victim to survivor.”

May 22nd: Accepting the Way Things are Today

May 22nd

There was a line I heard once in a movie where the character said, “Banishment is hell for one who knows his rightful place.”

I remember being struck by the force of that statement when I was in the middle of my divorce: Feeling that I, the wife, had lost my rightful place in my husband’s life and was now banished from it… an outsider where I was once… the queen.

It was hell.

The character in the film ends up going through intense despair and distress until he is able to find a way to emotionally accept the changes in his situation.

It is not easy to let go of someone we love.

It is not easy to go from being married to separated, to divorced.

It is not easy to feel that you have been “demoted” from a significant other to an acquaintance.

But the only way to move through the pain and despair is to accept things the way they are today and let go.

Holding on to what is out of my control only adds to my heartache.

I must continue to put the focus back on me, my spiritual footwork, and have faith that my Higher Power has a perfect plan for me.

“Dear God, help me to accept things as they are. Help me to find peace in the moment.”

May 21st: The Bigger Picture

May 21st The Bigger Picture

When I was going through my divorce, I lost all perspective of the world outside of my world.

In hindsight, I do not blame myself for my lack of perspective. I realize that my pain, my despair, blinded me to others in need.

I was wounded… worn… unable to focus past my own obsession and see, so to speak, “The forest beyond the trees.”

But now I have learned from my experience and I choose to behave differently in the present. And today, I was reminded of the forest.

Reminded that there are many people in this world suffering their own terrible setbacks and losses and that I need to focus on the bigger picture when I find myself locked into thinking that it is “all about me” and my own despair.

When I feel overcome by the pain of my own life, if I can find it in my heart to be there for someone else who is also in pain, I lighten my own burden through the gift of compassion.

It can be so difficult to step back from my own emotional crisis but if I begin a daily practice of giving to others, I will soon regain my perspective and see the forest once again through the trees.

“Dear God, help me to see things from a higher perspective. Help me to have faith in your plan and to be compassionate other people’s needs.”

May 20th: Listening

May 20th- Listening

One of the things I have learned over the years while working with young adults is the importance of listening.

I can imagine right now some people laughing at this statement …. thinking to themselves, Young people don’t listen, but I can tell you with absolute surety… that they would be wrong.

Young people do listen.

And when I was having my most trying days: the end of my marriage, the loss of my beloved nephew, it was in their concerned, caring, and focused attention on my well-being, where I found my solace.

As an adult, we often lose this quality of living “present” in the moment.

And though I am good at saying to my students, when they are desperate to share with me, “Wait. Hang on… let me put this aside… I want to give you my full attention right now because I can see that this conversation is very important to you…” I often do not show this same kindness to those I love at home.

Driven by emotion, caught up in my own needs and wants, I sometimes fight to be heard, sure that what I have to say is absolutely the most important thing.

Today, I am reminded that a conversation is a dialogue between two people.

That both of us have a right to be truly heard.

That sometimes… it is more important to listen than to speak.

That by only caring about my side of the conversation, only waiting for my words to have meaning… I will not learn how to build solid relationships of trust and compassion with the people I love or find out what they really want or need.

“Dear God, help me to listen. Help me to see that for me to be heard, I must be willing to listen to those who so desperately need to be heard around me.”

May 19th: Thinking before Acting Out

May 19th

My emotions during my divorce often left me sad, lonely, full of despair but, there were times… driven by high emotion… when I would inappropriately engage in an angry exchange with my soon-to-be ex-spouse.

In the moment, to scream, to yell, to say all of the horrible things I wanted to say, directly to the person causing me intense pain, felt incredibly liberating.

But of course, after the fact, when the emotions had cooled and the battle was done… I was ashamed that I would behave in such a manner.

What if my children had seen our angry exchange?

Would I want them to witness my verbal abuse towards their father?

Would I want them to behave like this with their friends and loved ones?

Would I want them to learn from me… that it is okay to break all of the rules of kindness when we are hurting?

No.

My acting out in anger went against everything I believed in the core of my spirit.

My aim should always be: to heal myself in relationships and not to inflict harm on another.

I do not have to agree with what someone has done… I do not have to accept poor behavior in my life.

But I do have to consciously choose to walk away from an altercation and put the focus where it belongs: on me.

It will do more damage to my spiritual growth, by allowing myself to become my shadow self and act out, instead of embracing life, and learning from my experience.

If I choose to engage… I am condoning this behavior and refusing to look at life from a higher perspective.

“Dear God, help me to not engage in angry outbursts. Help me to not waste energy that could be focused on my own healing, well-being, and spiritual growth.”

May 18th: Milestones and Silver Linings

May 18th-

When I was in the midst of my divorce, each moment, of each day, seemed like a struggle:

To get up without becoming physically ill from anxiety.

To make it through the work day without crying in public.

To make it through the night without waking.

To be present for my children when my mind was obsessed with the despair of my loss.

It was a never ending cycle of heartache and I had no idea when time would move me through the pain.

But time did move me through… and soon… I began to count the small milestones, the markers that gave me hope… faith that I would soon be healed:

The day that I woke up and though weary… did not become ill from nervous anxiety.

The day that I did not cry in public.

The first night of restful sleep.

The first moment with my children when I was once again truly present in mind and body.

These may seem like small milestones to someone looking in, outside of the pain, but to me… they signaled that relief was coming if I just had faith and kept moving forward.

My divorce was one of the most painful experiences of my life but today, I am thankful for the lessons I learned from it.

My silver lining is in the knowledge that I have strength beyond measure, compassion for others who now suffer what I suffered, and that I was willing to give myself whole-heartedly, committed, to someone I loved.

My divorce changed my perspective for the better: It reminded me that empathy is key to life.

“Dear God, help me to light the path for others that walk behind me. Help me to be present for those that need my experience, strength and hope today.”

May 17th: Longing for Someone

May 17th-Longing for Someone

When my husband and I divorced, I so longed for his return… for things to be different.

The people closest to me tried to be sympathetic to my feelings, but they were unable to understand my ache for him… they were all too upset… too angry at how he had ended our marriage.

And yes… it was not the best way to end things… but I found it hard to hold any anger against him when the pain, emotion, inner turmoil I felt was focused on the fact that he had chosen to leave me and share his life with someone else.

I wasn’t angry… I was profoundly sad.

I couldn’t imagine him giving up our life together.

It took time for me to adjust to life without him.

It took time for my longing to dissipate.

It took time for me to accept that I was no longer his wife and our sole contact would be related to our children.

It wasn’t easy but today… my time with my former husband is enough.

Our shared history lives in the memories of our children, and the conversations that we still have as a family.

Today, I rarely long for my past, I have perspective and work to live in the day.

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“Dear God, help me to accept change. Help me to let go with kindness.”