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August 5th: Getting Carried Away

When my husband and I first truly split apart, it was hard not to focus on what he was doing and who he was with.

I had been with this man for over 17 years.

I was 19 when we first got together.

I had worked so hard to put things right while we were in counseling… To find out that it wasn’t going to work sent me into a spiral. I remember my husband calling me on the phone. He was working out of state and that is when he told me that he wanted a divorce. I was devastated. I couldn’t believe that the man I had loved truly did not want to spend the rest of his life with me.

I couldn’t believe that the man I had loved would call me over the phone to tell me that he wanted a divorce. I cried and begged for him to change his mind. He grew cold and angry and defensive. I became close to hysterical. I felt such a loss of control and my mind began to spin.

Who was he with?  I thought.

Why did he want to leave?

What did this new life have to offer that a life with his family could not offer?

For the next few months, it was very hard not to live in my head and get carried away with my thoughts. It became so bad that I would look for answers to validate my fears. I caught myself looking through phone bills, credit card records, rehashing everything he had said and trying to see it in a new light.

What exactly had he meant when he said that?

Had he planned to divorce me all along and was just going through the motions of trying to make it work?

Some of my fears were validated. There were many discrepancies in what he had said and did. Did that help me? No. Did I feel any better finding these things out? No. Did it bring me to a calm, centered state of mind where I was focused on myself and my own growth instead of my husband’s? No.

The problem with getting carried away is that it only hurts me. I am the one who feels the physical pain, frustration, hurt, abuse, anger and sadness. Not my husband. He did what he did. There is nothing I can do about that today. I can not change what happened by looking for answers. I will never find logic in what he did no matter how hard I try to piece it together. I can’t take back what has happened. I can’t take back the past.

If I become carried away in real or make-believe drama about what is happening in the present, in my spouse’s new life, I am only sending myself into a state of shock, panic, and pain. I’m choosing to focus on him instead of myself. I am devaluing what I have today, who I am today, and what my new life will bring me. If I let myself get carried away… I am allowing myself to be abused. Not by my spouse.. but by myself. Do I want to spend my new life abusing myself? Do I want to spend my new life focusing on someone else? Do I want to spend my new life wasting time on thoughts that will only cause me pain? No.

“Dear God, help  me to stay in the moment. Help me not to become carried away in thoughts that will only take away my peace of mind. I can do nothing to stop my spouse from walking the path he has chosen. Help me to focus on myself and keep my mind busy with the thoughts of my every day life.”

August 4th: Hope vs. False Hope

I had hoped that this wouldn’t happen in my life.

I had hoped that my husband and I would not divorce.

I had hoped that my children would not have to go through this painful experience.

I had hoped that something would change.

I did the footwork to prevent the divorce from happening.

I went to counseling, I worked on myself, I tried to meet my husband’s needs, I gave it my best.

I was willing.

I hoped that it would work… but it didn’t.

At first, I felt that I had failed.

That my hope had been pointless.

What good was hope if it didn’t bring the desired outcome?

I found myself filling up with despair.

Letting go of all hope for my future.

I only found hope in fantasy.

I hoped that we would someday get back together.

I hoped that he would call and change his mind.

I hoped that he would come home, come back to me, and be the man I needed him to be.

This was not true hope.

This was despair.

This was “false-hope.”

A make believe hope that I was using so that I did not have to let go.

So that I did not have to look at the reality of the situation.

So that I could live in my fantasy.

The fantasy of making my marriage work.

I had spent over half of my marriage hoping that we would not divorce.

I had spent over half of my marriage hoping that I could make it work.

I hadn’t been able to see that I had been living in false hope for a long, long time.

I had been living in fantasy for over half of my marriage.

I was so caught up in my idea of hope that I hadn’t even seen the signs.

My marriage had not been working for a very long time.

It was time for me to give up my false hope and have true hope.

I know hope that my husband will someday find peace and happiness in his life.

I hope that he finds everything that he could not find within our marriage.

I hope that I will find peace and happiness and everything that I could not find within our marriage.

Hope is believing, trusting that something good will come my way.

Hope is relying on my Higher Power to bring me the happiness.

Hope is trying your hardest, doing your best, and accepting the outcome of the situation.

You know that you hoped for the best.

Why would you hope for the worst?

Accept what has happened and find hope again.

Hope is trust in your Higher Power to bring you what you need in life.

To bring you to true peace and happiness, not the fantasy that was created by having false hope over something that was not to be.

“Dear God, fill me with true hope. Let me trust that things are exactly as you want them to be. Lead me out of despair and into reliance that you will provide for me what I need.”

August 3rd: Longing

Waking up in the morning while I was going through my divorce was very difficult for me.

I would have a moment of quiet peace before the reality of my life once again hit me.

My husband had left me.

He wanted a divorce.

There was nothing I could do to change that fact.

It was what I believed to be the worst moment of my day.

It was like waking from a gentle sleep to a true nightmare.

I would lie in bed for several moments after my realization and long for what was no longer mine.

Listening in anticipation that his footsteps might once again come down the hall.

Waiting for a phone call to come where he would take back his decision and we would once again unite.

Longing was tearing me apart.

Longing was keeping me living in the fantasy.

These things were no longer a part of my life.

I would have to mourn the loss and move on.

I would have to find something else to long for, something in my present, or something in my future.

But, longing for something in my past would do me no good.

It would not bring what I once had back.

If I allowed myself to continually dwell on what was no longer mine, I was then only causing myself more pain.

From then on, I allowed myself a moment each morning to accept the reality.

My husband was gone and I was getting a divorce.

Then, a moment to mourn and long for the life that I once had.

And then… a moment to look forward to the new life that lay before me.

“Dear God, help me to let go of my longing for what I had in the past. Longing for something will not bring it back. Longing for someone lost will only cause pain. Help me to look towards my future and the happiness it will bring.”

August 2nd: Gratitude

I used to keep a gratitude journal on a nightly basis. I could always see, when looking back through the pages, when I had had a good day and been in a calm, spiritual place… and when it had been a bad day and I was withdrawn and dismissive.

On the good days, my gratitude list would include things like: my healthy children, my Higher Power, my home, my job, my intelligence, and my strength.

On a bad day, my list would say: pizza, this bed, being left alone.

I used to thumb through the pages and see how many days I had been truly grateful and how many days I had gone without gratitude.

I had to laugh at the days when all I could list was a piece of pizza but, at least it was something.

When I began to go through a really trying time during my divorce, I stopped keeping my gratitude journal.

I neglected my daily practice and I became more and more obsessed with my husband and what he was doing.

I was sure that his “new” life was so much better than mine… that he had everything that he had ever dreamed of and I had nothing.

I could not believe my lack of gratitude.

My sister reminded me one day that my situation could have been so much worse.

I snapped back, “Oh I see, life gives me lemons so I should make lemonade right?”

She paused a moment and then said, “No, that isn’t what I am saying. I am saying that you are a young, beautiful, talented woman. A woman who has an education and a job. A woman who has two beautiful children who love her and want to be with her. A woman who has a home, a car, and food on the table. A woman who has friends and family to support her in this troubled time. I’m just reminding you, that many people who walk through divorce, do not have these things. They lose their homes. They lose their children. They have no job, no education, no friends or family to help them through. You have a lot to be grateful for today.”

She was right.

I was so busy worrying about what my husband might have that I could not even see what I did have.

That night, I began to keep my gratitude journal again. It is a daily reminder of how much I have to be grateful for and it keeps me from losing sight of the miracles in my day-to-day life.

“Dear God, help me to keep an “attitude of gratitude.” When I feel that I have nothing to be grateful for, help me to take an inventory of my life and find the good in all that I do have.”

August 1st: Wanting What Others Have

I was coming home from a trip. It would be the first time that my husband wouldn’t be there to pick me up. I hadn’t really thought about it until we pulled into the dock. I saw women on the boat start waving to their significant others. I saw their lovers, boyfriends, husbands smile and wave back.

I was so hurt.

Where was my husband?

Why had he chosen to leave?

Why couldn’t I have him here to pick me up?

My heart hurt just to think of it.

I was so terribly sad.

I started to pick up my luggage and walk down the ramp to the terminal. I hated that I felt so alone. I hated that I didn’t have a husband to pick me up anymore. I watched the other couples and then, I started to think…

I didn’t know what was going on in their marriages. Yes, they had husbands to pick them up. Yes, they might be a couple but that didn’t mean that they were happy. How many times had my husband come to pick me up and been angry that he had to do it? How many times had he been upset when the boat I was on was late? Or the plane?

We looked happy to everyone else who saw us but I knew, as soon as he had me alone, he would let me know how I had put him out by having him come to pick me up.

How many times had we argued in the car all the way home?

I was missing something I never truly had.

I was wanting what the other couples I saw had… not even knowing if they were truly happy.

Who knows what goes on in another person’s life?

Who knows what goes on in another couple’s marriage?

They have their own problems to work out and their own happiness to find.

I was feeling sorry for myself.

So I didn’t have a husband to pick me up. So I didn’t have something that someone else had. That didn’t mean that I was worse off for it. It wasn’t better or worse… It just was.

I needed to stop wanting what other people had and be happy with what I did have. Someday, maybe I would have a husband to pick me up from the boat, to wave and smile, and maybe we would be truly happy.

Today though, it is just me. I can choose to be miserable… to wallow in self-pity for what I don’t have… to believe that if I just had what others had that I would be truly happy or… I can choose to smile, to wave, to walk the ramp from the boat… alone… and be happy with what I do have; myself.

“Dear God, help me to appreciate what I have, instead of longing for what I want. Help me to remember that what I want may not be what I truly need.”

Photo Credit: Paul Bradley

https://www.flickr.com/photos/pcbradley/

July 31st: Unexpected Conversations

You never know where you will hear words of wisdom.

You never know where your story will be told.

I am reminded time and time again to stay open to conversations that present themselves.

I was sitting on a bench, looking out towards the ocean.

I had been camping all weekend and the boat skipper of the camp was preparing his boat to head into town.

I noticed him walking my way but believed that he would walk past, leaving me to look out over the sea alone. I really didn’t want to talk. I really wanted to be left alone. He walked up to me though, and sat on the bench next to me.

We both looked out at the ocean.

He waited a moment before he spoke. He pointed to a group of students who were out in the cove, tipping their kayaks and laughing as they fell into the water.

He said, “Look, their lives are full of endless possibilities.”

I thought to myself, Yes… you are right… their lives are full of endless possibilities but I have lived my life and it hasn’t turned out the way I thought it would.”

I felt I had no endless possibilities left.

He seemed to pick up on what I was thinking and said:

“A year ago I was retired from the Coast Guard, living in Virginia, running a power plant. I believed that my life was what it would be. That there were no more endless possibilities. Next thing I knew, I received a call from a friend in the Coast Guard who told me that the boat skipper of his camp was retiring and  they were looking for someone to take his place. My wife and I sold our home, grabbed our kids, and now… we live on this beautiful island in a house by the ocean. So you see, there are always endless possibilities.”

He smiled…said that he had to get back to work… and left never knowing that he had just said exactly what I needed to hear.

Had I turned my back on that moment, had I chosen to get up and walk away, I wouldn’t have heard it.

He was right.

My life was full of endless possibilities.

Age had nothing to do with it.

Being open to the experience is what it’s about.

Stay open to the unexpected conversations.

They provide a wealth of wisdom if you just stop and listen.

“Dear God, help me to hear your voice in the words that other’s speak.”

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

NH BILL THOMPSON

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.”