July 29th: In Between

I didn’t want to go on the weekend retreat.

I had planned and paid for my trip while I was still trying to work things out with my husband.

I was going with people who were trying to work things out in their lives and I felt like I was already a failure… an outcast of the group.

I was fearful to leave my children behind during this troubled time.

I felt that it was my responsibility to stay with them until things were calm again.

I almost didn’t go but… I went.

On the boat over to Catalina Island, I stood outside in the cold sea air. The sea was rough and the bow of the boat slapped hard into each of of the crests and dips as we headed toward the island. I had to hold on to the rail so that I wouldn’t fall. I had to accept that I may get cold and wet if I wanted to stand outside and enjoy the sea air. I kept looking back to my home, at the city I lived in. I thought of my husband and I wondered what he was doing with his new life.  I thought of my children and wondered what they were doing right now without me. I felt dread at the thought of my family being split up all over the city and the loss of my dreams.

I watched the mainland fade farther and farther away. I looked forward, but all I could see was the ocean… The island was nowhere in sight.

I knew it was there.

I knew that somewhere out in the ocean was the place that I would land but still… it did not appear.

Then… the ocean surrounded me… no land in any direction.

I felt fearful.

I felt that it was symbolic of my life.

I could no longer look back to the shore of my marriage, and I was unable to look ahead toward the shore of my future.

A new and different life lay ahead and like the island that I was going to, it would provide a stable landing spot once my my boat came in from sea.

I would have to trust that it was out there… even if I couldn’t see it.

The boat continued on… fighting the rough seas. It dipped and slapped and rocked and swayed and I held on.

I was a little scared.

I was also exhilarated.

I smiled and tried to find enjoyment in what I could see.

We passed sea lions swimming fast and hard… birds coasting on the ocean breeze or diving in long straight lines into the sea.

I wondered if the boat would stay afloat each time a large wave slapped up and sprayed across my face and then laughed at myself. How many times had this boat crossed this rough passage to land? Others had crossed this passage as well. I was not alone. I was not the only one who had felt scared and stuck and “in between.”

Suddenly, the island appeared out of the ocean mist ahead of me and I could once again see the shore. It wasn’t a familiar shore… It wasn’t what I was used to seeing.

I smiled to myself.

I looked back once more, still searching for the familiar outline of the mainland but… there was nothing to see.

The mainland was gone.

The island was the only place to land.

The only land in sight.

It may not be the land I wanted… I may not have wanted to go on the retreat… but that was beside the point.

It was where I now was.

“Dear God, help me to walk through the in-between times. The times when I don’t know where my life is going. Let me have faith in your plan for me. Let me believe that there is a stable shore where I will soon land.”

July 28th: Tears

When I would leave my job at lunch time, I would find myself walking somberly to my car, quietly opening the gate at work, quietly opening the door to the car… no expressions crossing my face… the perfect picture of calm yet once inside my vehicle: the tears would flow. I couldn’t stop it. I would find myself crying each time I reached the sanctity of my car. It wasn’t just a lunch time thing. I could be driving to the store, coming home from the gym, heading back from taking the kids to a water polo practice… always alone in my car when suddenly… the tears would flow. I would sob like an injured child. Sob, trying to find a way to come to terms with my loss. I would try to understand. I would try to find logic, but I just couldn’t. They were feelings and my feelings had to be released through tears. Tears are good for us. They clean our souls. They help us to heal from our wounds. They provide a much needed release from our stress and our pain. Allow yourself to cry. Allow yourself your own private place, your own sanctuary, where you will not be disturbed…where your tears can flow freely until they flow no more. Cry. Allow yourself to cry. Allow yourself to release your pain through your tears and when you are through, take a deep breath, calm your mind, and go back to the business of your day. “Dear God, help me to work through my feelings. Allow my tears to flow and clean my soul of pain. Allow me to express my sadness through the release of crying.”

July 27th: Fears

During my divorce, I would wake up in the middle of the night full of fear.
I would fear my own mortality, what my husband was doing and who he was with, being left behind without hope for the future.
The fear was so intense that my heart would pound, my body would feel the need to bolt out of the bed, and then… the grief would well up inside of me and I would cry big heaping sobs.

It was horrible to live in fear.

Fear overwhelms and controls you. It makes you feel that there is no hope… only despair. It keeps you out of faith. It makes you believe that you are being punished.

One night, I woke up and began the same horrible routine again. I felt the fear, I felt the need to bolt, and I felt the need to cry. But… instead of fighting it… I allowed it all to happen. I allowed myself to feel the fear… to feel my heart pounding. I allowed my body to get out of the bed, to bolt if necessary and then… I cried.

When my crying had ceased, I stopped… calmed down… and logically looked back at what happened.

Yes, I had fear about my mortality but that was a fear that I had long before my husband left home.

Yes, my body felt the need to bolt but that was just a basic animal instinct. I reminded myself that it is normal to feel the need to bolt when you are afraid. It’s your body telling you, “This is dangerous… you may be hurt… RUN!”

Yes, I had the need to cry but… who wouldn’t? I had been hurt. I had been betrayed. I had been let down by the person that I had given my love to.

Why wouldn’t I need to grieve? Why wouldn’t I need to express my sadness through my tears?

When I could calm down long enough to look at what was going on with my fear, I could see that it was really… a very logical, rational and natural reaction.

I was then able to take a deep breath, lie back down, and go back to sleep.

When I woke up the next morning, I realized that I had actually slept through the night. I had actually come to terms with my fear. I knew that I would feel these feelings again but now… I could look at the process that I was going through and come to terms with the loss of my marriage and my impending divorce.

“Dear God, help me to find strength in a moment of fear. Help me to calm my mind and find a logical and rational way to walk through the process and to become aware that it is a natural response that is helping me to overcome my recent loss.”

July 26th: Going to the Well

Sometimes we get caught up in old behaviors.
My favorite one was “going to the well.”
I had spent years trying to get what I needed emotionally from my husband and…
Sometimes… I got it.
Sometimes… I didn’t.
He was never consistent with his emotions.
I never knew from one day to the next if he would comfort me or make me feel worse.
One day, a person that I greatly respect, said something that made me become aware of what I was doing.
He said:
“Your spouse is like your drug. He is very intoxicating because you never know what you are going to get. So, you keep going to the well looking for more.”
I asked him to explain his statement.
He continued:
“When you are addicted to alcohol and drugs, you go to the “well” again-and-again to drink or use and make yourself feel better. But sometimes… you go to the well and you can’t get your “fix.” You feel horrible. You keep going back hoping that finally… your magical well will be full again and when it is, the rush is so much better because you went so long without being able to quench the thirst for your fix. The agony of not getting what you want enhances the pleasure when you finally get it.”
He was right.
I was experiencing the negative rush.
A false sense of satisfaction.
I finally understood completely.
When I went to my spouse and expected sympathy and comfort…and received it… I felt great. It felt great.
But, it felt even better if he wouldn’t give it to me… if he made me wait for his affection, wait for the slightest bit of emotional comfort and then finally gave in… it would soothe me in a way that nothing else could. It would provide me with a false sense of calm until… I needed to go back to the well again.

I realized that never knowing if I would be soothed or left behind to feel miserable made my spouse a very intoxicating drug.

I gave all my power to him.

He had the ability to make me feel good or bad with his words and actions.

I allowed him to manipulate me.

I willingly went back to the well again-and-again to get my drug.

His emotional distance only made me want him all the more.

I was willing to sacrifice my whole “well-being” just for one drink from his well.

But I learned over time that the well would not provide me with what I needed on a permanent basis and would only cause intense pain.

And now I know: Don’t go drink from the well.

I cannot continue to drink sand because I’m so thirsty for water.

The well will only give a false sense of security…a false sense of calm until I need to go there again.

I will never quench my thirst from that well.

That well is a mirage that will bring no comfort or solace.

“Dear God, help me to break my old, destructive patterns. Help me to see that going to someone to meet my emotional needs when they don’t have the ability to do so, will only hurt me. Help me to find the strength inside myself to meet my own emotional needs.”

July 25th: Calm in the Middle of the Storm


Sometimes there is a moment when you feel complete… calm and serene.

It is a moment of clarity in the middle of the storm you are walking through.

Feel the calm.

Enjoy the release.

Take that moment and fully explore it.

Breathe deep.

Doesn’t it feel wonderful to exhale and be relaxed and serene?

Feel the release wash over your entire body.

Relish the feeling of calm.

Allow yourself to sink into the moment of serenity.

Take the time to curl up into a cool, clean bed.

To bathe in a warm, soothing tub.

To walk through a quiet, green park.

Take that moment and rest within it.

Find a way to enjoy the calm to its fullest before the storm rises again.

We all walk through storms… unsure when serenity will come to us again.

We may wake to constant feelings of fear, anger, resentment, humiliation, and sorrow.

We may lose our center, our balance and feel lost.

It is difficult to feel calm as we walk through difficult feelings.

Accept when the calm sneaks up on you.

We don’t know how long it will last.

Enjoy it now for what it is.

Know that life will always have struggles, but at times of great stress, we can still take the calm when it comes.

“Dear God, help me to accept the calm when it comes. To enjoy the feelings of serenity that my body has long forgotten. Let me breath deep in the moment and enjoy the power of the calm. Help me to hold the peace of this moment while I am walking through the storm.”

Photo courtesy of: Bill Thompson

July 24th: Holding On

Sometimes in life it is good to hold on.
Sometimes, by holding on you can make it through to the end of a project, finish a class, make it until the end of the day… Just by holding on.
Hold on… and you’ve accomplished a positive goal.
But there are times in life when you feel you can’t hold on… but trust me… you have to.
Sometimes you feel like you can’t even get out of bed.
Sometimes you feel like you can’t even get the simplest chores done.
Sometimes it feels like the pain you are walking through will never end.
Hold on.
It will get better…
It will.
Just hold on.
Get up and get yourself going.
Take one step at a time, one day at a time, one minute or one second at a time if necessary and hold on.
If you can keep going… It will get better.
Hold on.
When you feel that you are coming apart and you can’t take one more minute of one more day…
Hold on.
You can do it… just a little longer… You can hold on.
“Dear God, help me to hold on during this time of great stress. Help me to hold on and get through my day-to-day activities. Help me to hold on  and stay in the moment, to accomplish one thing at a time by putting one foot in front of the other and moving forward. Help me to hold on.”

July 23rd: Begging

Sometimes we end up doing things we never thought we would do.

As my husband and I worked through our divorce, I sometimes caught myself saying things that I thought I would never say.

I never believed going into my marriage that our relationship would come to this point.

I had lost all trust in my husband.

I had lost all respect and yet… I would call him on the phone and beg him to come back.

I would take on all of the blame of the marriage.

I would pour out my heartfelt feelings to him, hoping to get him to see how hurt I was and then sit there and listen as he responded with verbal abuse and angry words and yet…

I would still beg him to come back.

I could hear myself saying, “If you come back I will do this. If you come back I will do that. If you come back I will never act that way again.”

I will look the way you want.

Be the way you want.

Think the way you want.

I couldn’t believe that these words were coming out of my mouth.

What happened to the competent woman who had held a family together and had proven time and time again that she could make it on her own?

She was lost.

She was hurt.

She was in fear… afraid of the unknown.

She was begging for a man to come back who had never truly been there for her and probably… never could.

She was hanging on to the fantasy.

Believing if she just said the right thing, did the right thing, looked the right way, that the fantasy would come true.

She was begging for her own happiness, something this man was not able to provide her.

She was begging for this man to stop her pain, the same pain that he had in part… caused.

She was begging for this man to stand by her, when he had already left her behind.

Don’t beg.

It will not help.

It leaves you feeling less than and it gives away your power.

If you have to beg for something… it is not worth getting.

What you want should be given to you freely.

You should not have to grovel for love and attention.

You did not beg your spouse to marry you.

Do not beg to stop the divorce.

Do not sell yourself short because of fear.

Do not beg for the good life that you deserve.

“Dear God, help me to stand strong on my own. To know that when the time is right you will provide me with someone who will give their love freely to me. Someone who will never make me feel it necessary to beg for their love. Someone who knows the value of my love.”