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October 13th: Relief

After months of fighting to save my marriage, I was surprised to find that when the end of our relationship finally arrived, I was relieved.

I felt a soothing calm over my entire body.

My mind slowed and relaxed.

It was no different then any physical struggle: I was worn by the constant battle… the constant expenditure of energy.

I still had my moments of sadness, of melancholy… that quiet longing for what I could no longer have… but the relief filled me with a new found strength and hope. I could now see that there was a release to this painful time in my life.

There was a sense of drive again… of wanting to move forward.

I began to conquer little things I had been neglecting for months during my emotional turmoil:

Washing clothes.

Paying bills.

Cleaning the house.

Getting the car tuned-up.

Each chore that had once seemed so overwhelming to me during my pain, now seemed like a small accomplishment.

And each small accomplishment, added to my relief and soon… I felt pleased with my progress and actually happy that I was moving on.

Relief soothed my soul and brought me peace as the door to my marriage finally closed.

“Dear God, thank you for bringing me relief from my pain. Thank you for walking with me through the pain I endured.”

October 12th: The Benefit of the Doubt

I spent many years married to my husband… close to twenty.

And I often gave him the “benefit of the doubt” when things seemed out of place to me.

When my husband was in recovery, I knew that I could usually count on his word… but… when he was active in his disease… I knew I couldn’t.

While our marriage was coming to an end, his behavior led me to believe that maybe he was using again.

I couldn’t put my finger on what I felt was wrong and so I gave him the benefit of the doubt.

I didn’t find out until much later that “what was wrong” was our relationship and why things seemed “out of place” was because he hadn’t yet told me that he wanted a divorce.

When I found out, I thought about all of the times I had given him the benefit of the doubt and I was really quite angry.

But then… I took some time and thought about it calmly.

Why had I continued to give him the benefit of the doubt when I felt in my gut that something was wrong?

Where were my boundaries in this situation? My voice?

It was up to me to decide how many times I was going to give someone the benefit of the doubt before I called them out on their behavior.

I realized that I still had some boundary work ahead of me in my future.

Today, when I look back on this time period, I realize that my husband was fearful to tell me the truth, fearful to end our marriage, afraid of my reaction, and the inevitable fall-out of a twenty year marriage coming to an end.

Could he have handled his end of things differently?

Yes.

Could I have handled my end of things differently?

Yes.

I know now that we both did our best with the skill set that we had at the time.

Today… I know that I must be reasonable when I give someone the “benefit of the doubt” and be willing to address an issue as needed and not just allow it to continue on in a limbo of denial.

“Dear God, help me to be strong. Help me to express myself calmly and logically to friends and family if I feel that they may be skirting a difficult issue.”

October 11th: Surrender

When a situation seems unbearable or unchangeable I find that it is best to practice acceptance.

During my divorce, there came a time when I realized that it was inevitable that there would no longer be a chance of reconciliation with my husband.

I knew then… that I had given my all, fought hard to save my marriage, but now was the time to accept and surrender.

My surrender did not imply failure.

My surrender was just that: accepting what I could not change and embracing the outcome that my Higher Power had chosen for me.

I could no longer protest it.

I could no longer fix it.

I could no longer fight it.

I needed to submit to it.

I knew that I would find peace, strength, and serenity once I stopped resisting and accepted my Higher Power’s spiritual path for me.

“Dear God, help me to see that nothing in your world is a mistake. That you have chosen my path and I have chosen to walk it.”

October 10th: Bad Behavior

Just the other day I was with someone who means very much to me.

I was so excited to see my friend, it had been nearly two months since we had a chance to be together.

Yet, when I was there at their home… I immediately felt on my guard and began to act out of character.

I was reacting to the times we hadn’t been able to be together.

The times my friend had planned to see me but then something came up and I had felt abandoned.

I began to believe that my friend did not value my love and friendship…

That they were only seeing me that evening out of  “convenience…”

And suddenly…

I was acting out… being hurtful in my remarks… trying to get my friend to react in any way and show me some type of emotion in regards to our friendship.

My friend said, “Who are you to come over to my house and say such things?” Which of course, only made the situation worse.

I was “acting out” and my friend was “reacting.”

I felt horrible that evening… the way I behaved… and I told my friend exactly that… which immediately stopped our silliness.

We were then able to go on and have a lovely evening together: I felt close and soothed by my friend’s presence.

Looking back, I see now that I could have easily said, “Can I talk to you a minute? I’m feeling hurt and I need you to comfort me. It makes me sad and I feel that you don’t value me when our plans often fall through or I don’t hear from you for long periods of time.”

And my friend could have easily responded with, “I’m sorry. You must know how I feel about you. You’re my friend. I would never purposely hurt your feelings. I value you in my life. I was really looking forward to seeing you tonight.”

How things might have been different if we had both just put ego aside and let our mutual love and friendship rule the moment.

Sometimes we let our ego and our emotions drive our bad behavior.

If we can just step back when we begin to react, and ask for what we need, we do both ourselves and our friends a kind service.

We allow the relationship to move forward with lovingkindness instead of resentment and fear.

“Dear God, help me to love my friends even in my weakest moment. Help me to love my friends even in their weakest moment.”

October 9th: Love

After my divorce, I wasn’t sure if anyone would fall in love with me again.

I couldn’t imagine finding someone new.

I began negative self talk imagining the worst: that I would never find my perfect match.

I was so sure that a new person would not see the “true” me.

I was told by a friend to go out and live my best life, the life I had always wanted in my marriage… to go out and do all of the things I loved to do on my own.

And so… I did.

I walked the Nature Trail in the park.

I walked my dog around the neighborhood.

I worked on my writing, read books, traveled, visited with friends until one day…

Someone asked me out on a date.

I wasn’t looking for my “perfect match.”

I hadn’t been searching for a “new love.”

I had been going about my business, being true to myself, and then… someone on the same spiritual path, someone with the same likes as me, appeared.

Love is not elusive.

Love is right in front of us.

Love will come… when you follow your heart… and move forward with integrity and honesty.

“Dear God, help me to be true to myself, to walk bravely forward on my spiritual path and open my heart to the opportunity of love.”

October 8th: Expectations

I had many expectations during my marriage and I had many expectations during my separation and divorce.

During my marriage, I expected all of my positive actions to produce the outcome I desired: a loving and healthy marriage.

This, however, did not happen.

During my separation, I expected that all of my positive actions, particularly… marriage counseling… would lead to reconciliation.

This also… did not happen: we inevitably divorced.

I was so attached to my expectations that when things didn’t happen on my time schedule, or go in the way I imagined them to go… I would become fearful and frustrated: so afraid that my desired outcome would not manifest.

But what if my desired outcome was not in my best interest?

What if there was a bigger picture that I was unable to see while I was so bound up in fear?

Now I know that if I detach from my expectations, and move forward, with all of my heart, pure in intent, pursuing my desires, through positive actions, but letting go of the outcome, I release my fear of “results.”

I can hope for the outcome I desire… but I have to accept that it may not be the outcome my Higher Power wants for me.

A better outcome may be on my horizon if I let go and detach from expectations.

“Dear God, help me to let go of my expectations and attachment to outcomes. Help me to move forward and know that you are with me as I search for my true path.”

October 7th: Letting Go of Pain

It was hard for me to let go of my husband when we first went through our divorce.

In the beginning, I so wanted to reconcile, that I would find just about any excuse to create contact with him.

And… because I wouldn’t “let go” I ended up putting myself through a lot of unnecessary pain.

A friend once said to me, “Don’t go looking for pain” and I learned, over time that they were right.

Each time I missed my husband, I’d call him on the phone and unfortunately soon learn that he was much farther along in the “moving on” process than I was…

He would be friendly, but busy with his own life: his new friends, his new activities, and not anxious to spend his time communicating with me.

I would be left hurt and feeling abandoned.

This is when I truly began to understand my friends’ phrase: Don’t go looking for pain.

I needed to let go of my soon-to-be-ex-husband and focus on my own life.

I needed to begin accepting the inevitable: that we would no longer be a couple and I could not find happiness through contact with my former spouse.

I needed to let go of the pain, and walk towards my new future where I would, over time, find happiness and joy.

“Dear God, help me to let go. Help me to see this trying situation as a blessing in disguise: A fresh start to a new and better life.”

October 5th: Isolation

It’s easy to feel isolated when in the midst of a break-up.

It often seems that everyone is “coupled-up.”

That each pair seems happy and content.

That you will never find someone of your own to love; who will be a part of a new healthy relationship with you.

When everyone around you seems satisfied and at ease with life, it can leave you feeling isolated and alone.

When I felt isolated in my divorce, it was difficult for me to reach out and make social connections.

I felt like every bit of joy and kindness I witnessed when watching another couple “in-love” seemed like a slap in the face.

Where was my special person?

Where was I to find someone who wanted me?

I knew that isolating during a trying situation would do nothing more than drive my own sadness and despair so… I made a conscience effort to do the things I loved; solitary things… where I could still have some sort of minimal social connection to help me make it through to the other side… like:

Walking in the park…

Playing with my dog…

Going to the bookstore…

Exercising at the gym…

And during those times, I found that their were other people, strangers usually, also on their own, who would wave hello as I walked, stop to pet my dog as we played, ask me about a specific book at the store, or share a joke or a story as we worked our circuit through the gym.

And it was enough.

Enough to keep my bitterness and gloom at bay.

Enough to keep me smiling… even if for just one minute of that one day.

Solitude is good for the soul but isolation… leaves us lonely.

“Dear God, help me to step out of my own way and search to find compassion and connection in other human beings.”

October 4th: Anger

During my divorce, I often felt angry.

There were days when it seemed everyone was given the privileged to enjoy the “gift” of my wrath.

I would snap at my children, my friends, my students, my co-workers only to be mortified after my outburst: humiliated that I had “acted out.”

At first I thought that this displaced anger was really an emotion that should be directed at my soon to be ex-husband but then, I realized, the person I was most angry with was myself.

I was angry that I had not expressed my anger in a healthy way to my spouse: during our marriage… or during our divorce.

We would often fall into battles of blaming, judging, yelling, and that did nothing more than increase our anger.

It is not healthy to hold anger in… but it is not healthy to be abusive when letting anger out.

I learned during this trying time that I had to express my anger by emphasizing my needs and by not engaging in another battle.

If I could not be mature enough to express my anger in a constructive way… then maybe I needed to step back from the situation and wait until I could.

It did not mean that I had to hold my anger forever… It just meant that I had to hold my anger until I could express it safely.

“Dear God, help me to remain calm when expressing my needs and wants from another human being. Help me to see that they are doing the best they can on the path you have chosen for them.”

October 3rd: Time

When I was going through my divorce a friend said to me, “All you need is time. Time heals all pain.”

Besides thinking… at that moment… that this sentiment was totally cliche, I was also incensed that my friend thought that I would just be able to “hold” my pain until the passage of time “removed it.”

But then… time did pass.

And my friend was right.

Time removed my pain.

And since that day, I have shared my story with others.

I listen to their pain, I understand where they are at… because I have been there too.

And I say, “Once a friend told me something that seemed so cliche, so unacceptable, but it was the truth… and I’m about to share it with you.”

Time does have a way of putting life into perspective: putting pain and strife in their rightful place.

Time does move us through.

We may not always be ready to listen… to hear “All you need is time.”

But, time calms the worried mind and allows reason to see the truth of each trying situation.

“Dear God, help me to accept that the passage of time will bring me comfort from my pain.”