Archive | September 2017

September 10th: Setbacks

I had been placed in many difficult situations in my life but for some reason, my divorce hit me the hardest.

I was devastated by the loss and had many setbacks on my road to recovery.

I would cry uncontrollably or call my husband hoping I could convince him to come back…

I would blame myself for the end of our marriage and beg God to please change things…

I felt like I was walking on a path and every time I made a few strong steps, someone would come up behind me and knock me down to the ground.

If I tried to get back up, it felt like I was being knocked down again.

In the past, over the course of my entire life, I had always believed that no matter how many times you were knocked down, you got up and you tried again.

This time… my belief in this idea could not carry me: I just couldn’t see the light at the end of the path.

I was tired.

I was hurt.

I felt lost without my husband.

I didn’t want to get back up and try again.

A good friend had to remind me that this was a natural feeling.

That I would take a few steps forward and then feel “life” knock me back down to the ground

She related it to her own experience with divorce and promised me it would get better if I just kept moving forward and accepted that sometimes I would have setbacks.

She urged me to hold on a little while longer… she told me that she could see my progress even if I could not.

Life is full of setbacks.

Some… are more difficult than others.

I realized that this setback was a terrible one for me because my marriage had been difficult and I had fought against divorce for so long.

I had hoped it wouldn’t happen but after so many years, my worst fear came true.

I was getting a divorce.

The loss of love is a great one.

It cannot be minimized.

Walking through this loss is extremely painful but you must continue on the path, stand up, brush yourself off, and start walking again.

“Dear God, help me to accept my setbacks as a natural part of my recovery. Help me to find strength in the moment, and continue to follow the bigger path that you have planned for me.”

September 9th: Support

I was thankful for the support of my friends and family while going through my divorce.

I had several strong women in my life, who had dealt with the pain of their own divorce and had grown through the experience.

They offered their wisdom, strength, and hope on a daily basis.

I knew that I could call anyone of these women at any time and they were willing to listen patiently to my fears about my future and my regrets over my past.

They understood that I had to talk openly about my divorce, so that I could find the courage to walk through it.

They didn’t need to offer me advice… all I needed was someone to listen… to be compassionate… to understand my pain.

Knowing that others had made it through such a trying experience, gave me hope that I would come out okay, once I reached the other side.

I was so thankful to have such wonderful support.

A close network of friends and family is an invaluable asset when you are going through a traumatic situation in your life.

“Dear God, thank you for the friends and family who are able to provide me support. Their strength, kindness, and experience help me to walk through my own pain.”

September 8th: Limbo

My husband asked me for a divorce in January, we had been living apart since August, and by May of the next year, he still hadn’t filed the papers.

I didn’t want to divorce.

I had done everything in my power to work on our marriage:

I had gone to counseling.

I  had worked on my own issues.

I had maintained my health and my appearance and now…

I had to accept that no matter what I had done, we were still going to end up… divorced.

But, it was very hard for me to believe in the “truth,” that divorce was inevitable, when my husband continued to choose not to file the paperwork.

Every action on his part told me that we were going to soon be divorced, yet his hesitance to finalize the decision, would leave me with false hope.

I would believe that he must be having doubts.

That maybe… we would stay together after all.

The “not knowing” soon turned into torture for me.

It felt like our impending divorce, was always hanging over my head and that my  husband, had the power to make or break my life.

One day, we became entangled in a heated argument over the phone.

He was so terribly cruel and instead of hanging up… I listened and then I cried of course and fired back my own verbal punishment.

I was so angry at that moment that I suddenly knew exactly what I had to do:  I had to file the papers and proceed with the divorce on my own.

I hadn’t wanted a divorce.

I hadn’t wanted to file the paperwork.

But… by holding on to false hope I was living in limbo and driving myself insane.

If he really wanted a divorce, then I couldn’t stop him from getting one.

If he really wanted a divorce, then someone needed to file the paperwork.

The next day, I filed.

Emotionally, I felt better… and worse… simultaneously.

Better… because I had been hanging onto false hope and waiting for someone else to make an important decision in my life.

Worse… because I had not wanted a divorce, still did not want a divorce, and now… I was the one instigating the action.

I knew though, that living in limbo would only prolong my pain.

I could not make my husband come back.

I could not make my husband love me again.

I had to take care of myself.

Taking care of myself was choosing not to live in limbo for one more day.

“Dear God, help me to step forward when it is needed. If I am causing myself pain by living in uncertainty, grant me the strength to make a decision that may seem painful, but may ultimately bring me serenity.”

September 7th: Defining My Own Truth

I did not come easily to the conclusion that I needed to define my own truth.

I had spent my whole adult life going to my husband for “truth.”

If he said something good… or bad… I believed it… heart and soul… his words became my truth.

I never looked at the fact that this man had a pattern of lying to me throughout our relationship.

That he had slipped back into addiction, several times, and often hid his disease from me.

It didn’t seem to matter that he had proven time and time again that he struggled with the character defect of lying: I still hung on every word, as if his words defined everything about me.

During our divorce, I could see his dishonesty. I knew it was happening yet… I still caught myself looking for him to validate my reality.

I would call him, expecting him to be honest with me, to comfort me and tell me: You were a good and loving wife.

Or… I’m sorry it didn’t work out, I know how hard you tried.

And on a good day, sometimes I got lucky and… he would say exactly what I felt I needed him to say.

But on a bad day, my worst fears would be confirmed.

You could never make me happy.

You never supported me when I needed you.

He could create my elation or drive my despair with his words.

It didn’t matter what he said, good or bad, I took it as the truth and it ruled my every thought and action and controlled my emotions.

I realized that I needed to work on finding my own truth and not letting another person rock my foundation so easily.

I thought about my own truth:

Was I the type of person that I had wanted to be in our relationship?

Did I feel that I had been a good, supportive wife?

Had I been a committed spouse?

Only I knew the true answers to that and if I knew who I truly was inside, that I had done my best with the tools that I had, then there wasn’t anything anyone could say, good or bad, that would have power over me again.

I had spent years allowing someone else to dictate what was real in my own life.

It was time for me to find what was real inside of myself.

“Dear God, help me to find what is real inside of myself. Help me not to seek confirmation of the person I truly am from another. Their opinions and thoughts have no hold over who I really am.”

September 6th: My Husband as My Higher Power

I never realized how much power my husband had over me until we began our divorce.

I started to understand that he was like a “God” to me.

I believed that if I made my God happy… I would be rewarded. If I made my God angry… I would be punished.

I had put him up on a pedestal and because of this, I could not look at things clearly during our divorce.

My perception of what he was had caused my thinking to become skewed and clouded.

I started to believe that he had not been at fault in any way. I started doubting his part in the downfall of our marriage.

It didn’t seem to matter that he had become unwilling to work on our relationship…

that he had moved out and left me with our children…

that his behavior towards me after our separation had been “less than kind.”

I couldn’t seem to remember how bad things had been before our break-up.

I started to believe that if I had behaved differently, none of this would have happened…

If I had worked harder, initiated counseling sooner, given him more space, anything, we would still be together and things would be fine.

People outside of our marriage, who were close to us, couldn’t understand where I was coming from.

Friends who were mutual to us kept reminding me of everything that had gone wrong.

No one can truly know for sure what transpires between two people in a relationship except for those two people, but often, people outside of the emotional turmoil can lead a “clearer” perspective.

They kept asking me, “Why do you take every word he says as the gospel truth?”

“Why do you give him so much power over you?”

“Have you forgotten that he has a part in this? Have you forgotten that?”

I started to see that we both had contributed to the downfall of our marriage and that a lot of my part in it had been putting my husband in the position of my Higher Power.

I had sacrificed myself believing it would make him happy and when it didn’t… I felt betrayed and used.

I had made him into a punishing God and I bought into believing that I should be punished.

I allowed him to punish me but now, I didn’t want to be punished anymore.

I had to remind myself that I did the best that I could in our relationship.

I had to remind myself that I had been willing to work on our relationship up until the day he said that he was unwilling.

I had to remember that I had allowed myself to believe that by worshipping his needs that I would be loved and cared for in return.

Putting my husband in a the position of Higher Power over my life had left me feeling powerless.

I had to look to a new Higher Power, one that was not human, one that could lift me spiritually and protect me from harm:

A kind and loving Higher Power instead of a punishing, benevolent, human one.

“Dear God, help me to walk with you. Help me to see that we are all equals on this Earth. No man or woman has power over another.”

September 5th: Emotional Outbursts

I was at work one day when I suddenly felt overwhelmed with emotion.
I missed my husband so much.
I still wanted him back and I was mourning the loss of my dream.
I was passing papers back to my students when one of them noticed that I was beginning to cry.
He asked me what was wrong and my tears started to fall.
I tried to stop, but the kindness of his asking, left me vulnerable.
I was worried that my students would be upset. Here, their role model, was breaking down inappropriately at work.
They all looked to me for an answer and so, I decided that I could use this as a “teaching” moment.
I reached for a tissue and began my story.
I told them I was very sad about my divorce and that sometimes, the emotions just came out whether I wanted them to or not.
I asked them if they had ever been so sad, that they had experienced an emotional outburst.
Most of my students had some type of experience that had carried emotion over into their everyday lives.
We talked a bit and they said they were sorry I was sad.
Emotional outbursts do not have to be embarrassing.
They do not have to be made into a “big deal.”
Emotions are natural during times of sadness, change, and stress.
By calmly walking through the experience, and being honest with others, I could come back to a place of serenity.
I had been fighting to hold everything in yet… by letting it out and letting it go… I was able to move on.
I was able to regain my footing.

“Dear God, help me to be easy on myself. During times of sorrow, help me to express my feelings, pray for release of my pain, and move on with hope into my future.”

September 4th: Opposite Action

We are trained, in relationships, to play our part.

My husband and I had been together for many years. I had been with him since I was very young.

When he took an action in an argument, I knew where it would lead and of course, I would take my usual course of reaction.

We had established our patterns very early on and they were patterns that were not easy to break.

I had a very hard time learning to take opposite action in my relationship with him.

In fact, looking back, I wish that this was something I had worked harder on.

Taking an opposite action can defuse a heated situation.

If my husband yells in an argument, do I have to yell back?

Will that really make the situation any better?

If he drives off down the road in anger, and I choose to follow him, chase him down to get the “final say,” is that going to solve all of the problems in our relationship?

Our divorce was causing our emotions and tempers to run hotter than it ever had in our marriage.

This was the time to put opposite action into practice.

So…

If I wanted to call him… I didn’t.

If I wanted to see him when he was scheduled to come and pick up our son… I left.

If I wanted to help him, “fix him” in some area of his life… I stopped myself from jumping in.

I had spent years doing the same thing and expecting it to yield different results. It hadn’t.

Our marriage had failed and continuing on with this same type of behavior during our divorce wouldn’t “magically” make it all work now.

I had to take opposite action.

It was one of the most difficult things I ever had to do.

Many times, I slipped. I would revert back to my old ways, the same actions that caused me pain in the first place but, I became aware of what I was doing and my awareness lead to the realization that if I didn’t want to put myself in painful situations any more, than I was the one who had to stop. I had to change my actions.

“Dear God, help me to learn from my past actions. If I continue to do the same thing and expect different results, I will only hurt myself again and again. Help me to take opposite action in a difficult situation.”

September 3rd: Being of Service

I found that to be of service to others helped me through my divorce.

When I was working with someone whose situation might be worse than my own, I could put my own problems in perspective.

If I could offer comfort to someone when I felt the need for comfort, it helped not only to soothe them… but to soothe me.

By giving of myself, I could let go of my own problems and step outside of a situation that might become disheartening.

By sharing my compassion with others, I was able to share in their experience instead of dwelling on my own.

In some cases, I had walked such a similar path to the person I was caring for, that I was able to offer my own experience, strength, and hope and help them through their own trying time.

Helping others… helps me.

“Dear God, help me to give freely to others. By bringing comfort to them, I bring comfort to myself.”

September 2nd: Gratitude Journal

Keeping a Gratitude list helped me to stay grateful during my divorce.

If I felt overwhelmed with my loss, I could take a moment and write down everything I still possessed.

I found that I had many things to be grateful for:

I had two beautiful, healthy children.

I was able to continue living in the home I loved.

I was creative and able to write and play music.

I had my job and my education.

I had my own health, and a willingness to change and grow through my present situation and…

I had the love and support of family and friends.

I was fortunate to have so much during this trying time.

My gratitude list reminded me to be thankful to my Higher Power for giving me so many wonderful gifts.

Through the course of my divorce, and still today, I write down at least ten things I am thankful for each day.

I can always tell when I’m having a bad day, when I’m refusing to embrace an “attitude of gratitude” when I look at the page of my journal and read:

I’m thankful for this pizza.

I’m thankful for being left alone.

I’m thankful that I don’t have to get out of this bed.

Instead of:

I’m thankful for being fed.

I’m thankful for this solitude.

I’m thankful that I have a bed to sleep in.

A gratitude journal is a reminder of all we may be overlooking when we are walking through a time of pain.

“Dear God, help me to find gratitude in my present situation, to look at what I still possess, and be thankful instead of dwelling on my loss.”

September 1st: Admitting My Faults

Once I looked at my part in the break-up of my marriage, I knew then that I was willing to admit my faults.

Many times during my relationship with my spouse,  I had taken on the role of “martyr” and used my husband’s flaws against him.

When my husband had been active in his addiction, I had stood by him and yes, I believed that was what a good committed spouse was supposed to do but…

When he became sober again… I often used that “loyalty” to bully him and get my way.

If I didn’t want him to go out: I brought up trust issues created by his active addiction.

If I wanted him to help more: I reminded him of how much help I had given him, how I had shouldered the responsibility for our family when he couldn’t.

I had a tendency to use his weaknesses against him.

I felt bad that I had done this and wished that I could take back my prior actions but… I could not.

All I could do, was to willingly admit my own faults to my husband: I owed him an amends.

When I spoke to him, he not only accepted my amends, but made one of his own.

Admitting my faults helped me to learn from my past mistakes and work towards not repeating the mistakes in my future relationships.

Admitting my faults brought me to a new “peace of mind.”

“Dear God, help me to admit my faults without being hard on myself. Each of us makes mistakes in life, help me to learn from them.”