Archive | September 2017

September 30th: Solitude

During my divorce, people were often close by me.

Worried that I shouldn’t be alone, they wanted to fill my everyday with:

“check up” phone conversations…

or talk at the local coffee shop…

or dinner where we would discuss all the details of how the divorce was proceeding.

I appreciated all of the love and attention that my friends and family gave me.

I appreciated their show of support.

I knew I needed this wonderful group of people to get me through to the other side of my pain but… sometimes I just needed solitude… solitude to wrap my mind around the reality of the situation and “settle in” to the job at hand: getting over the loss of my husband.

Solitude allowed my mind to slow down… to mull over my trying situation… and to quietly look at it.

It wasn’t always easy to look directly at my pain… to face my darkest fears… but it was necessary so that I could move on with my past issues resolved.

“Dear God, help me find peace in solitude. Help me to allow my mind to calmly search for answers in the quiet.”

September 29th: Little Things

When going through difficult times we often overlook the little things that bring us joy:

A beautiful morning.

A walk with a friend.

Listening to music we love.

Small wonders, small joys, can bring peace during painful times.

And during painful times, it is important to find joy in these brief moments of peace.

During my divorce I worked consciously to “see” these moments:

A moment to laugh with my son.

A moment to admire my daughter in her prom dress.

The beautiful flower that had just bloomed by the front porch.

The new puppy that was running around our home.

Little things may seem just that “little” but, they can carry us through by being our daily reminder that joy still does exist in our day-to-day world even when we struggle with our own pain.

“Dear God, help me to see the joy and beauty in the smallest things.”

September 28th: Patience

Patience was never one of my strongest qualities but… over the years as a parent, a teacher, a writer… I learned that the world revolved on “God’s time” and not my own.

I began to note incidents where my impatience caused only problems.

Looking for my car keys in a panic only to find them once I calmed down enough to see that they were right on the kitchen counter.

Racing to an appointment only to be stopped by an officer for not wearing my seat belt.

Hurrying to a meeting with someone to find out that they… themselves… were running late.

Time and time again I noticed that whenever I allowed impatience to take over… the universe had a way of telling me to “slow down.”

When we are going through difficult times, it is hard to be patient.

We want the pain to end.

The situation to resolve.

Our life to move forward but…

Life is on “God’s time.”

I began to see that I was exactly where I was supposed to be.

That by trying to “hurry life” along… I was only causing myself undo stress.

You cannot force things to change.

You cannot force life to change.

You can do everything you can in the present to be healthy and happy… but you must have patience and wait for the final outcome.

“Dear God, help me to stay in the moment. Help me to see that having patience is having faith in your plan.”

September 27th: Strength

I always prided myself on my strength.

My life had been a series of so many ups and downs, that I had learned very early on to get back up and just keep going.

Strength was my salvation.

Strength was a quality that others had long admired in me.

Strength helped me to move smoothly past obstacles both great and small and make progress towards my life goals.

But when I went through my divorce, I felt that my strength had left me.

Often it seemed like I was in a vast ocean and one great wave after another was rising up, crashing over me, and trying to drag me down.

I felt unable to catch my breath, find my bearings: my foundation was rocked to the core.

Yet after my emotions finally began to calm, I realized that my strength was there all along.

I could then see that strength is not always about “being stoic.”

Strength is about having the courage to feel your emotions and to swim through your pain.

Strength is being able to admit that you are struggling, that you need help during a particular hardship, that even though you can endure pain alone, you don’t have to do so.

Strength is honesty.

Strength is being brave enough to show your vulnerability to others.

Strength is sharing your experiences, no matter how painful, so that others who suffer know they are not alone.

“Dear God, help me to be vulnerable in my strength. Help me to use my strength to bring me to an honest place on my life path.”

September 26th: Sorrow

Often when we show our emotions during trying times, those closest to us aren’t sure how to handle it.

When my husband left, I was very sad and my sorrow seemed to consume everyone around me.

They wanted me to be happy, to find joy in my life again.

It hurt them to see me so lost in my despair.

I would try to be cheerful, if only for them, but I just couldn’t do it.

I was too sad.

Yes it can be hard for others to see us suffering.

Yes it can be hard for others to see us in pain.

But part of the process of any loss is to grieve for what is no longer ours, and to mourn the loss of what will never be.

I knew that I needed time to sit with my sorrow and pain.

It was important that I acknowledged my heartache and my grief, so that when my opportunity to move on presented itself… I was ready for it.

“Dear God, help me through my grief. Help me to walk through my pain and my sorrow and move forward and into a better life.”

September 25th: Being There For Others

My divorce was a great loss… the grief felt similar to what I had felt at times when I had mourned a death.

It was palpable.

I missed my husband so much and it was hard to believe that he was no longer with me.

It was difficult not to wallow in self-pity, or lament my lot in life.

I found that by helping others, I could help myself out of my own pain.

I took great comfort in teaching.

I took great comfort in being of service at meetings.

I took great comfort in performing small random acts of kindness each day.

By being there for others, I found an escape from my own pain.

By working towards soothing another’s discomfort, I found peace from my own.

“Dear God, help me to see that I am not the only one who suffers. Give me guidance to bring love and hope to those that are in pain.”

September 24th: Rejection

When my husband decided to leave our marriage, it was difficult not to feel rejected.

For many years, I had depended on my husband for my validation.

At first, I thought… if he’s leaving… there must be something seriously wrong with me.

I knew, logically, that this thought pattern was ridiculous… but emotionally… it hit the center of my wounded core and I couldn’t shake my feelings of low self-worth.

I began to spiral:

What could he want that I hadn’t already tried to give him?

Would someone else be able to finally fulfill his needs?

How could he abandon me after twenty years of marriage?

Was our time together worth nothing to him?

I began to believe that if I had just acted differently, demanded less, tried harder I could have somehow changed his mind with my love and my effort but that’s not the way life works.

It took time for me to see that I needed to provide my own validation and stop seeking it from others.

If I was unable to see myself as lovable and worthy of a healthy relationship, it wouldn’t matter how much outside validation I received from anyone: It would never be enough to fill me up.

“Dear God, help me to find validation within. Help me to see that I am lovable just as I am.”

September 23rd: Knowing

There is a scene in one of my favorite movies where the characters are talking about falling in love.

The man in the scene says, “I didn’t love her because it was right. I just loved her.”

And the woman replies, “Oh, I wish it was that easy. To just know that it wasn’t right that it wasn’t meant to be and move on.”

He turns and looks at her and says, “Knowing is the easy part… saying it out loud is the hard part.”

We often know somewhere inside of ourselves that things “Just aren’t right.”

That no matter how much you love someone… it just won’t work.

Saying it out loud… is the hard part.

I loved my husband but the more I embraced my “knowing…” the more I realized how truly incompatible we were for a life together.

He wanted to live downtown in the city… I wanted to live in the suburbs.

He wanted to retire some place that was warm and tropical…. I dreamed of a home in the Northwest or Northeast.

He wanted to work a job that would keep him up late most nights, and in bed sleeping most days.

I wanted a job that would have me up early and in bed by ten.

I wanted to argue and discuss each and every problem until we “got it right.”

He wanted to “let things lie” and wait for them to pass.

In the beginning, I just thought, Well, we love each other. We will find a way to compromise. We will find a way to make it work.

But there were too many things to compromise… too many problems that left us both feeling resentful… upset that we had to compromise so much.

There came a time during my divorce when I just “knew” that our separation was right for both of us.

No matter how much I loved my husband, I knew that I would never be able to compromise enough to make him happy.

I knew that the life partner I had chosen, the man that I wanted before I even knew my own path in life, was not a good fit for me.

It didn’t mean I didn’t love him: I loved him fiercely.

It just meant that I “knew” that it wasn’t meant to be and that it was time to say the “hard part” out loud.

“Dear God, help me to find strength in my day-to-day life. To walk the path before me with quiet resolution and let my heart be sure in your guidance.”

September 22nd: Clarity

Often I would refuse to look at the reality of a situation because I was caught up in the fantasy: the projection, the image of what I wanted something to be.

It could be very addictive living in my fantasy.

It was a tantalizing distraction.

Attaching myself to the fantasy allowed me to focus my attention, my time, my passion on the object of my projection and away from myself.

Life was moving on… but I was not.

There came a time during my divorce; when I had a brief moment of clarity.

In that moment… I saw the relationship for what it was… and what it would never be.

The clarity came as a gift: a moment of calm understanding at a trying time.

As my divorce progressed, moments of clarity appeared frequently.

I began to step back from the fantasy of the situation, embrace the reality of my life, and move forward with a mind that was not clouded by distraction.

“Dear God, help me to let go of illusion and fantasy. Help me to see the reality of my day-to-day life and move forward on the path that you have chosen for me.”

September 21st: Structure and Routine

I heard once at an Al-Anon meeting that you should get up each day and immediately make your bed.

I didn’t like this idea.

My bed was my solace; the place I would fall back to throughout the day.

If it was too much for me to do a task, I would find myself retreating to the comfort of my bed, the softness of my blankets and pillows.

I didn’t want to make this a daily ritual.

But what I found out about this idea is that for me, it really had nothing to do with the bed or making it.

It had everything to do with structure and routine.

Often, during times of great stress or pain, we are so overwrought in our lives that we stop doing just about everything:

Making the bed.

Washing and folding the clothes.

Paying the bills or organizing our paperwork.

We find ourselves unable to think, overwhelmed by the surrounding mess, struggling with our daily despair.

So I made a habit of following a “To-do” list during my divorce.

Each time I accomplished the smallest goal; making the bed, sweeping the porch, watering the plants, I would cross the task off from my list and feel a small sense of accomplishment.

It was enough to get me through the day.

When we are struggling in our day-to-day moments…

When we are working to make it through one minute of time, one hour of time, one day of time…

Structure helps us to calm our minds, follow a simple routine, accomplish a task, as we work towards recovering from our grief and loss.

Structure and routine provide stability during a trying time.

“Dear God, help me through the day. Help my mind to stay focused in the moment.”