All posts by constancemroz2015

About constancemroz2015

Divorced, empty nester loving my new life!

Take Your Time

I read a piece this morning about how ‘managing long-term metal health effects poses unique challenges in each town touched by tragedy, but experts agree that isolation is a red flag’ (credit to Terry Spencer, Kelli Kennedy and Colleen Slevin of the Associated Press). A mass shooting survivor talks about how she went to talk to therapists at her school after the shooting, but spoke to a different person each time she went (thus rehashing her traumatic experience) and how she was expected to “get better” a year after the experience.

Whenever we endure a traumatic experience, no matter what the circumstances, the details are seared into our psyche. A sound, a sight, a smell can trigger painful memories and we relive the incident all over again. I’ve had family members who have been in horrible car accidents. It doesn’t take much for them to relive the trauma.

When we break a bone, it has to be immobilized. After we experience trauma, we need to be immobilized – to stop and process what happened. When we break a bone, we need to have physical therapy so our muscles don’t atrophy and we can continue the use of the limb. After trauma, we need counseling to help us to continue processing and healing from the experience. When we break a bone, we may need crutches or a cane to help us move forward. After trauma, we need compassion from others to help us move forward.

Many uninjured victims of mass shootings end up later taking their own lives due to the pain they feel from the experience. Those people who have experienced any kind of trauma need: continuity in counseling, compassion in relationships and time to move on and find their new ‘normal’. If we have never experienced trauma, then we have no right to tell those who have experienced trauma to just get over it, or just move on. It’s not that easy.

We must allow trauma victims time to move through their experience. They will never be the same – we cannot expect them to be. I experienced PTSD after my divorce. The counselor I went to allowed me to cry and process what I had experienced. I am so thankful for her compassion. Be kind and allow victims of trauma to take their time to process the incident, even it takes years. Stay tuned . . .

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Post Divorce Life Hacks You Don’t Need

I recently read an article called, “Life Hacks You Don’t Need”. The author listed things like using coffee grounds to get rid of under-eye bags, hemorrhoid crème to decrease under-eye puffiness, dunking your face into a bowl of cold water to set your makeup and other interesting, albeit a tad crazy, things. I thought about some things I heard after I divorced that are similar to these “life hacks” (not at all interesting, but totally crazy):

1. “Just Get Over It!” Okay, this may not necessarily be a hack, but I heard this from sooo many people! I was married for almost 25 years. One does not just “get over it” after investing that much time in a relationship. It takes time and some good counseling.

2. “We Didn’t Like Him Anyway” Your friends and family may want to be ‘encouraging’ by saying this, but it’s far from encouraging. I may not have made the best decision, but at the time, I thought it was. Can you just keep your opinions to yourself?

3. “There Are Lots of Other Fish in The Sea” What, is there a fishing rod sticking out of my back pocket? I am not a serial dater/marry-er. What if I just want to be alone for a while? What if I just want to step back and take a look at my life and where I want to go? Getting back into the dating pool takes time and courage. Dating isn’t it used to be 30 years ago! Who even says I need to date at all?

4. “What Are You Going to do With Your Newfound Freedom?” Granted, at times it may have seemed to me like I was in a prison. However, I had three amazing children, I home schooled them, and basically had a good life. Ex didn’t beat me or try to control me. I am thankful for that. Give me time to adjust to a new ‘normal’. Let me figure out how to live as me. I can’t just run right out there and jump into a different life.

5. “He Wasn’t That Good (Nice, Handsome, etc.) Anyway” We all have our faults. I was no angel during the latter years of my marriage. Stop passing judgement. He is who he is and now we are divorced.

It has been my experience that people often don’t know what to say when they hear about a particularly rough experience in another’s life. Most people are not that good at being encouraging and tend to blurt out their first thought. The majority of people told me, “Oh, I’m sorry.” I learned to say, “Thank you” instead of “I’m not!”

We need to be compassionate toward our friends who are going through a divorce. If we don’t know what to say, be quiet or say, “I don’t know what to say.” Be there for that friend – listen, take them out for a cup of coffee or for dinner. Don’t pass judgement on them or their ex. Be kind and give grace. Stay tuned . . .

Comfortable in Your Own Skin

As I was putting my makeup on this morning, my mind began to wander. I thought, “Those photos of contouring look so silly. I would be late for work if I spent all that time in the morning contouring my face. I guess the people who swear by contouring have the time and the need for contouring. With my luck, I’d end up looking like a clown! I’m fine the way I am.”

Then I thought, “I guess I am comfortable in my own skin. Cool!” Yes, I could stand to lose some weight. No, my face is not one in a million. (In fact, I am the most UNphotogenic person I know.) The only reason I stand out in a crowd is that I am tall, but normally, I blend in well.

What does it mean to “be comfortable in your own skin”? For me it means to be content with who I am and not compare myself to anyone else. I am a unique person – there is no one else like me. I am on this earth for a reason  – I am not here by chance. My God does not make junk! Neither my children nor grandchildren would here without me. I have a purpose – to enrich others’ lives by showing compassion and giving grace.

I don’t want to look like a movie star or have millions of dollars in the bank. I am fine with who I am – Mom, Nonnie, daughter, sister, friend, and lover. I am comfortable in my own skin. Stay tuned . . .

Speaking to Regrets

I am a fan of “Warehouse 13”, a sci-fi show that was on the air from 2009 to 2014. The show is about a secret warehouse in the hills of South Dakota that houses ‘artifacts’ – things like Lewis Carroll’s mirror, the sharpest Samauri sword ever made, Lucretia Borgia’s comb, etc. The show follows two secret service agents (Myka Bering and Pete Lattimer) as they hunt down and ‘contain’ pesky artifacts. The artifacts eventually up in the Warehouse.

I recently watched an episode of the show entitled, “Regrets”. Sans details, Myka and Pete find themselves in a prison that has experienced a high rate of ‘suicides’. The deaths were actually due to people trying to outrun their regrets. Pete eventually realizes what’s going on. When his regret (that he didn’t tell his fireman father he had a feeling about this death before he died) shows up, Pete speaks to the regret. Pete tells the apparition of his father that his death was not Pete’s fault. Pete’s regret goes away and Pete encourages Myka to speak to her regret. She does and all’s well that ends well.

I thought that was an interesting concept – speaking to your regret. I have regrets from my marriage, my children’s childhoods, etc. I thought I would use Pete’s tactic whenever one of those regrets comes up. I tried that over the weekend. I spoke to the regret, telling it what I was feeling at the time, that I had been selfish, etc. I did not let the regret get the best of me.

As crazy at it sounds, sometimes it helps to speak to your regrets, to speak to your past. What would you tell your regrets? How did you feel at the time? Did you have any knowledge, abilities, etc. that caused what you regret? Did you not do something you should have? Pretend your regret is a person standing in front of you – apologize to the regret, clarify your actions, and acknowledge your part in the regret.

Regrets can be strong and have a great deal of power over us if we let them. In the show, the characters broke the power of their regrets by acknowledging them, speaking truth to them, and understanding their part in the regret.

There is also power in speaking aloud to those regrets. No longer are they festering in your mind, but they are out in the open. If you feel like you cannot do this alone, ask a trusted friend to sit with you as you speak to your regrets. If you have a long list of regrets, work on them slowly, not all at once. Healing comes a little bit at a time. You will be overwhelmed if you speak to all your regrets at once.

Give yourself grace as you deal with your regrets. This is not an exercise to make you feel bad about yourself, but an exercise that will set you free from those pesky “artifacts” (regrets). Stay tuned. . . .

 

The Measure of Success

If you had asked me twenty-five years ago what I needed to be successful, I would have listed the following: a large bank account, a nice house, several cars in the driveway, a vacation home somewhere, and a stellar reputation. Today, my answer is totally different. . .  and one word – peace.

Twenty-five years ago, I was in a very different place – unhappily married, still raising children and brand new to Mytown. I thought a collection of material wealth would be a sign of success. However, today my bank account is small, I live with Cycle Dude in a comfortable home, I only have one car, I don’t own a vacation home anywhere, and my reputation with most people is good. But I can truly say that I am more at peace now than I have ever been in my life.

Today I measure success by my relationships. I am in love with an amazing man, I have three wonderful children and children-in-law, two beautiful grandbabies and one on the way, great friends, siblings and their extended families I still keep up with, my mom is still alive and in good health, and my circle of friends grows larger every day.

Several years ago, a friend of mine passed away. He was the father of one of my son’s best friends and he was a pastor of a small church in town. I waited in line for three hours at his visitation to pay my respects and speak to his family. I would say that man was truly successful – he had touched so many lives and his relationships were too numerous to count.

When I pass away, all that I have will either be given away, sold or trashed. My material “wealth” will be gone. I am comforted in knowing that I will live on in the memories of my family and friends. Now that is success! Stay tuned. . .

I’ve Got Sunshine

We’ve had so much rain in Mytown this winter that when we see sunshine, everyone makes a mad dash to be outside. I work on a college campus. It’s warm today and the sun is out. Students, faculty and staff are taking advantage of the beautiful, albeit windy, weather. There are tables and benches throughout campus where folks are eating lunch, studying or just enjoying the nice day before we get another round of bad weather tonight.

I remember the first few months after I got divorced. It felt like months of very bad weather – no sun, rainy, windy and cold. There were days I really didn’t want to get out of bed. Sometimes it seemed like those dark days would never end. I clung to my faith and wrote a great deal in my journal. Thank goodness for my dogs, my friends and Cycle Dude. They all kept me from slipping into a very deep and dark depression. I am grateful for those little rays of sunshine in my early post-divorce days.

Today is glorious! I went outside at lunch and wanted to do a Maria Von Trapp (The Sound of Music) – twirl around on a hilltop and burst out, “The hills are alive!!!”  I remember feeling this way when the bad post-divorce months and years eventually passed. Monday, March 18, will mark two years since I moved in with Cycle Dude.

Sometimes I miss living by myself in the apartment – just me and the dogs. I miss the quiet intimacy of sitting alone in the dark, listening to the sound of my own heartbeat, praying and reflecting on my day. Then I remember the nights of loud music and even louder neighbors’ arguments and I am thankful that I live with Cycle Dude!

I am thankful that those dark post-divorce days are gone. I am thankful for the sunshine that is so prevalent in my life now – the laughter of my oldest grandbaby, the smiles of my children when I spend time with them, the hugs and kisses from the man I love, snuggles from my pups and the warm friendship of old and new friends. The dark days don’t last forever – sunshine is on the way!! Stay tuned . . . .

The Big Lie

What do you need to make you happy – a new car, new home, a boyfriend/girlfriend, spouse, children, college education, new job, vacation, to lose weight, etc.? All of those things are fleeting. But no one will tell you that. Just watch the commercials during your favorite TV program.

That new Ford F-150, the sale at Macy’s, that cloud-like mattress, the new superhero movie coming out, that new hair color or mascara – those are just some of the things we are told will make us happy. Big NOPE! Yet, we tend to believe that Big Lie – that stuff, relationships, etc. will make us happy. Happiness is fleeting because happiness is circumstantial. Life is constantly changing and those things we think will bring us happiness are constantly changing as well.

The new Ford F-150 will depreciate and you won’t be able to sell it for what you paid for it. Bummer. The sale at Macy’s only lasts one day and your internet just went down. Too bad. The mattress ends up getting lumpy. Ouch! The new superhero movie wasn’t as great as you thought it was going to be. Darn. And neither the hair color nor the mascara looks good on you. Golly. Happiness is down the drain. There is no way to live in perpetual happiness – it’s just not possible when happiness is circumstantial.

I am a woman of faith and in the Bible I read about a ‘joy’ that surpasses happiness. This joy is akin to an underlying contentment that says, “No matter what happens, all is well with me.” Even if you are not a person of faith, you may be familiar with this joy. Joy is often mistaken for happiness. I believe joy is not contingent on circumstances. Joy says, “I may not have enough money to go to dinner with my friends (which would make me really happy), but my electric bill is paid and there is gas in my car.”

I love to go to estate sales because I can get some great stuff at incredible bargains. So many of the estate sales I go to are chock full of stuff, stuff and more stuff. It’s amazing to see the amount of stuff people have that they think will make them happy. No one else values the stuff except as a bargain. No one buying the stuff knows or cares about the sentimental value the owner once attached to that stuff. An estate sale is just a house full of someone else’s happiness.

My stuff makes me happy, but those things that bring me joy are intangible: the love of my family, my grandbabies’ kisses, Cycle Dude’s thoughtfulness, snuggling with my pups, sharing laughter with my friends. Those things warm my heart and make me smile. If my house burned down tomorrow and I lost all my stuff, I’d still have joy in knowing Cycle Dude and my family love me.

The Big Lie is that getting and having everything we want will make us happy. The truth is that it won’t because happiness is circumstantial and fleeting. Joy is the steady, underlying assurance that in spite of the circumstances of life, all is well. Stay tuned . . .