Archive | August 2017

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.”

August 26th: The Serenity Prayer

“God, grant me the serenity, to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

I had heard the Serenity prayer many times over the years but it became something that I said without thinking: More of a hum than any words with actual meaning.

While going through my divorce, I once again became more aware of its power.

I needed to accept the things I could not change.

I could not change my husband’s feelings. If he didn’t love me anymore… if he was unwilling to work on our relationship… if he was unwilling to be married… I could do nothing to change it.

I hated that I couldn’t change things.

I didn’t want to accept it.

I had to remind myself that accepting something didn’t mean that I had to like it.

It didn’t mean that I thought that what was happening was “just fine.”

It didn’t mean that I agreed with another person’s actions or decisions.

It didn’t mean that I condoned another person’s treatment of me.

It just meant that I had to accept life “as is.”

Good or bad.

Right or wrong.

Hurtful or helpful.

On that given day… on any given day… I had to accept that I could not change it.

I must accept it.

The only thing I could do was to work on myself; work on the things inside of me that kept me from being the happy, healthy, serene person that I wanted to be.

I found acceptance by fearlessly looking inside to see what I needed to work on, to be a better person not for my husband, but for myself.

I must remember, that by becoming aware of my need to accept things “as is” and by being willing to work on the one thing I can change, myself and my attitudes toward a particular situation, I can obtain the wisdom that will bring me my serenity.

“God, grant me the serenity, to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” 

August 25th: Accepting “No.”

I have always had a hard time accepting the word, “No” as an answer.

As a child, I learned that if someone told you, “No,” if you pushed and pleaded long enough, you could usually get them to change their answer to a “Yes.”

There were no set boundaries or rules.

If you couldn’t get them to change their mind, then you went to the next person in the house, and begged and pleaded with them until they said “Yes.”

This was how my family operated.

You could always find someone to say “Yes” and get your way in the end, because no one took the time to openly communicate or agree upon anything.

So when my husband first said that he wanted a divorce, I didn’t take him seriously. Over the many years we had been together, we had both been able to turn an absolute “NO!” into a “Yes” If we just pushed each other long enough or hard enough.

I believed that if I could manipulate the situation just right… once again… I could get him to change his mind because, he had changed it so many times before.

I didn’t even stop to think if it was truly the right decision for me.

I just didn’t want to hear, “No.”

I didn’t want to accept his answer.

I spent months trying to change his mind until one day, we had a phone conversation that forever changed me.

I was trying to convince my husband to come back when he said, “I’m sorry but I just don’t have the ability to get over everything we’ve both been through. I’m so sorry but I can’t. My answer is no.”

It was the first time I truly heard a “No” in my life and accepted it.

There was something in the way he said it: a resolve in his voice, the way he had spoken it kindly.

I understood.

He was not available to me at this time.

He was not capable of giving me what I wanted or needed.

If a person says, “No” I need to respect their decision.

I have to remember that for whatever reason, it isn’t working for them and therefore, it isn’t going to work for me.

No matter how hard I push to get a different answer, that person will still feel the absolute “No” inside of them.

Do I want to spend the rest of my life with someone who feels “No” when I want them to feel “Yes?”

Is that the type of relationship I want to focus all of my time and energy on?

Next time, I will accept the “No” and realize that I may be standing in the way of my true “Yes.”

“Dear God, help me to accept things as they are. If someone doesn’t want to do something, guide me away from trying to force them into doing it.”

August 24th: Courage

I was scheduled to speak at a 12-step meeting on the day that I filed the papers for my divorce.

I was to tell my story and offer the group my experience, strength, and hope.

While driving to the meeting, I started questioning why I was going. I was so down. I felt that I had nothing to offer. What could I say that would inspire anyone?

I pulled into the parking lot and mustered up the courage to go inside and tell my story.

As I stood at the podium, I noticed people listening intently. I saw people smiling and acknowledging what I was saying. Some even nodded and cried.

When I was done, many of the people I had just spoken to came over to hug me and thank me for sharing. Each one told me warmly that I had helped them with a problem that was going on in their lives at the time.

As the members of the meeting left to go home, I noticed one woman hanging back, waiting to talk to me privately.

I walked over to her and took her hand in mine. She smiled at me and said, “You are so courageous. I am so thankful I was able to hear you speak tonight. You inspired me to be strong. I know that I can get through this.”

As I walked back out to my car and started to drive home, I realized that my story didn’t have to be a pretty one or a perfect one to inspire another.

All I needed was the courage to tell it.

The courage to walk through it.

The courage to share it.

Courage means, “Strength of mind to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty.”

I had done that.

I was courageous.

“Dear God, help me to have courage in trying situations. Help me to withstand my problems and triumph over them by having strength of mind.”

August 23rd: Prioritites

Even though things hadn’t been great for me and my husband for quite awhile, I still missed having him around.

I didn’t have him to help the kids with their homework while I cooked.

Or pick my son up from music lessons while I folded the clothes.

I missed being able to call out to my husband for help and unfortunately, during our separation and divorce, we didn’t have the type of relationship where I could ask for his help.

I had heard of people being a better team after a break-up, but that wasn’t what was happening with us. We couldn’t even communicate at a civil level.

I felt so overwhelmed.

I felt so trapped.

I was left taking on the day-to-day responsibilities of our family and the strain was catching up to me. I didn’t know what to do. I had to let go of something or I knew I would end up in ill health.

I had to learn to reschedule and re-prioritize what was truly important.

For now, I might have to do a fast food dinner instead of cooking. If ordering out freed up my time so that I could get a task done that was weighing heavy on me, then it was worth it.

For now, I might have to let the house be messy so that I could help my son with his homework. What was a messy house compared to helping my child?

Once I started to prioritize, figuring out what I really wanted and needed to spend time on and what I could let go of for today, I started to feel better.

Maybe there would come a day when I could ask my husband for more help.

But for now, I could look at what needed to be done and decide what was truly important to accomplish. I could look at what could be left, and what needed to be tended to, and if I could separate the two, I would find peace in my decisions.

“Dear God, help me to see what is truly important. When I am feeling that there is too much to do and too little time, guide me to see what really needs to be done and what can be left until later.”

August 22nd: Maybe You’re Right

I once heard if you really don’t want to get into it with someone there are ways to stop the argument before it starts.

I first started practicing the “Maybe you’re right” rule at work. If I thought someone was trying to pick a fight with me, I would stop myself from reacting and say, “Maybe you’re right.”

If someone said something to me that I felt was a dig at my personality, I would calmly say, “Maybe you’re right.”

If they questioned my judgement in a certain situation, I said, “Maybe you’re right.”

By not reacting, and by taking a step back, I could look at what this person had said with a rational mind. I could see if what they said had any truth in it. If it did, I could approach the person later, in a better state of mind, and discuss their concerns.

If what they said didn’t “hold water,” if it was truly meant to just cause a reaction then, I had removed myself from the situation before it escalated into an argument.

I liked knowing that a person was unable to get the rise they may have expected from me and that I could choose not to lose my peace of mind, or my serenity by just saying a few simple words: Maybe you’re right.

After practicing this technique for awhile, I noticed that people at work, who had tried to get a reaction from me before, stopped baiting me because they were unable to get the “hoped for” result.

I also found, that the people who had honest concerns, respected me for the way I was able to keep a cool head, my calm way of thinking, and my ability to take a step back, and look at myself and my actions.

By using this phrase, “Maybe you’re right,” I took my personal feelings out of the situation and stayed rational.

I was able to bring an emotional situation a step down, instead of reacting and causing it to “step up.”

“Dear God, help me to take a step back when provoked. If I can calmly and rationally, distance myself from the situation, I can then see if I have a part in it. Taking a step back will give me time to see what I truly need to do.”