Archive | September 2017

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.”

September 20th: Forgiveness

I had often heard that forgiving someone was the answer to releasing your own pain… but forgiving… was not always easy.

Some of us have suffered physical and emotional abuse: an event so large, so debilitating, that our resentment builds until it consumes us.

We start acting differently; maybe choosing to stay home instead of going out, fearing that we may run into the perpetrator of our pain.

But the truth is… we become our own perpetrator of pain.

In the first months of my divorce, I was so hurt, so lost in my despair, so angry that my marriage had failed, that I could barely contain my anguish.

I would try not to lose self-control with my soon-to-be ex-husband, my children, my friends, but I was like a wounded animal, ready to bite, at any word, any action, I perceived as causing “more injury.”

The truth though… was that I was sad for my loss and angry at my spouse for causing me pain when I still held him so dear.

I was heartbroken.

Over time, as the “newness” of my pain began to cool, I was able to look at my situation, and work towards making it a better one.

One of the keys to accepting my divorce and moving through my pain, was finding forgiveness.

Finding forgiveness does not mean that we accept another’s wrong doing, it means that we accept that we cannot change what has happened.

To move forward in life, I had to let go of my anger and focus on what I could do to make the immediate future better for me and for my children.

Today, I am thankful for these painful experiences.

By walking through a difficult time I learned:

to show compassion to others in similar situations…

to let go of resentment so that I can heal myself…

and that giving it over to God… asking God to heal the wounds of my pain, led me to my true life path; one that now brings me peace and serenity.

“Dear God, help me to forgive. Help me to express loving-kindness and compassion in my day-to-day life.”

September 19th: Breaking the Habit

Over the course of my divorce there were several times I believed that a reconciliation was inevitable.

Part of it… was my own fantasy… my own belief… that suddenly something would magically “change” from the way it was in the past… and it would all work out.

Part of it… was my husband’s ambivalent behavior related to our relationship.

One day, he would be flirtatious, attentive, almost hinting that he was up for a second chance on our marriage.

On other days, he would be moody, sullen, almost as if he wanted to punish me for some relationship sin he felt I must have committed.

Each time he was kind and loving, I would get my hopes up and have several days where I would soar with joy.

Each time he was angry and hurtful, my world would topple down around me.

As time went on… and I witnessed this pattern replay over and over again… I realized that it was a bad habit: a habit that I would have to break.

We were both addicted to the drama of our relationship.

I began to listen to his words as if I were a quiet observer; noting them… but not reacting to them.

The more I became a witness to the moment, instead of a participant, I learned to step back from my behavior, and breakaway from our pattern.

I wasn’t able to change my bad habit “over night” but by practicing my new behavior, I learned to change it over time.

“Dear God, help me to breakaway from my past by practicing new behaviors for my future.”

September 18th: Letting Go

Letting go of someone or something was always difficult for me.

I would grow attached to a person, an outcome, and believe that if I just kept pushing… just kept working on it… I could make it right.

Even when I knew the person, or the situation was not in my “best interest,” I ¬†would still push forward.

I just couldn’t let go.

I would fixate on all of the time I put into a relationship.

Or all of the time I put into a goal.

All of the time I put into “fixing things,” or “getting it right” and it seemed to “Let go” would mean that all of that time was somehow now wasted.

No matter how tired, worn-out, absolutely exhausted I found myself: I wouldn’t “Let go.”

One day, my sponsor said, “You remind me of a bull-terrier when they won’t let go during a tug of war with a rope.” Then she rested her hand on my arm and said, “Let go. It’s time… just let it go.”

Letting go doesn’t mean that you “give up.”

Letting go means that you stop fighting for your outcome… you “let go” and leave the outcome to God.

I would have spent my whole life trying to make things work with my husband.

I would have spent all of my precious time trying to fix something that couldn’t be fixed.

I needed to mourn the loss of my relationship, accept that I had learned many valuable lessons along the way but, when the time came to put down the “rope,” I had to be ready to move on… and let go.

“Dear God, help me to let go of what is not working for me. Help me to accept that sometimes I don’t know what is best for me… that you do… and if I stop fighting your will, I will find a new and better way to learn, love, and live.”

September 17th: Perspective

Often when I was dealing with my own trying situation I found it hard to keep perspective.

It was so easy to get caught up in my own pain and despair.

One day, my sponsor said to me, “I see that you are suffering, but the quality of your problems are so much better today.”

At first, I felt angry that someone seemed to be minimizing what I was going through but as the day moved on, and my thoughts grew calm, I realized that my sponsor was right.

In the days when my husband was living in his addiction my problems were significantly worse:

Would my husband survive the night?

Would my husband find recovery and be there for our family?

Would my husband be able to work through his guilt, shame, and pain and continue to abstain in his sobriety?

Today I was dealing with our divorce.

Yes, it was a horrible problem to have but I had to look at the reality of the situation: things could be much worse.

We were going through an inevitable break-up but my soon-to-be ex-husband was clean and sober, working a 12-step program, and providing support for our children as he walked through this difficult time.

I was fortunate as well:

I had my health, my children, my home, and a job that brought me joy and financial security, as well as my Al-Anon program to offer me experience, strength, and hope.

Perspective makes all the difference when you are struggling with what “is.”

If you can find a foundation amidst the chaos…

If you can find perspective when you are full of despair…

Then you can focus on what needs to be done to move your life forward.

“Dear God, help me to keep perspective during this trying time. Let me look honestly at how far I have come and how much I have learned as I have walked my path.”