When I was learning to drive (way back in the Dark Ages), my Driver’s Ed teacher told us we should constantly be scanning the rear view and side mirrors. I thought, “How can I do that and keep my mind on what’s in front of me?”
The aftermath of a divorce is sort of like driving – you have a destination and you need to keep your mind on what’s ahead of you, not constantly what’s behind you. Every now and then, my past raises its ugly head and I can easily get distracted and not be able to focus on the here and now and what is ahead. I have to remember that a) my past is under the grace of God and b) my past is past.
Sometimes it’s easy to go down that slippery slope and want to get caught up in the past. We have regrets, we feel angry, sad or bitter. Stop that!! Just like the rear view mirror on a car, the past is a tool: learn from your past, understand your mistakes, mature past your mistakes and move on. If you are constantly looking in the rear view mirror while you are driving, you’ll smash into something ahead of you! The same thing goes with your healing journey – look ahead, not behind.
In 1989, Christian Artist Bob Bennett released, “Lord of the Past”:
Every harsh word spoken
Every promise ever broken to me
Total recall of data in the memory
Every tear that has washed my face
Every moment of disgrace that I have known
Every time I’ve ever felt alone
Lord of the here and now
Lord of the come what may
I want to believe somehow
That you can heal these wounds of yesterday
(You can redeem these things so far away)
So now I’m asking you
To do what you want to do
Be the Lord of the Past
(Be the Lord of my Past)
Oh how I want you to
Be the Lord of the Past
All the chances I let slip by
All the dreams that I let die in vain
Afraid of failure and afraid of pain
Every tear that has washed my face
Every moment of disgrace that I have known
Every time I’ve ever felt alone
Today, resolve to spend more time looking ahead than looking behind. After all, you can’t change the past. Learn from it. Let God heal it. Stay tuned. . . .
When I was getting ready to move in with Cycle Dude, I realized I had boxes and boxes of stuff I needed to sort through. I sorted and sorted and threw away and gave away stuff until I was blue in the face! Yet, I still moved into Cycle Dude’s house with what seemed like a million boxes! Now, eighteen months later, there are far fewer boxes and bins and I am still sorting and giving away stuff!
When I first started dating Cycle Dude, I was very conscious of the baggage I carried from my divorce. I did not want to take that baggage into a relationship. I was in counseling for a long time to unpack that baggage and finally get rid of it.
I held on to a lot of junk for a long time – both in the boxes and bins I carried with me every time I moved and in the emotional place in my heart. It took a while to sort it all out – to determine what stuff is worth keeping and what stuff is worth getting rid of.
What do I keep? I keep items that have sentimental or monetary value – family photos, gifts from my children, etc., and items that are part of the better me. I keep the strength I developed though the adversity of my marriage, I keep the ability to make wise decisions from the time I spent on my own.
What do I get rid of? I get rid of anything regarding ex, anything that has not or will not change my life for the better, anything I won’t use in the next 3 months. I get rid of the anger, the bitterness and the desire for vengeance. I get rid of anything that is not the better me.
It takes a while to sort it all out after a divorce – physically and emotionally. If you have been married for any length of time, it will take a while to untangle the tentacles of anger and bitterness. Give yourself grace. If you’re not quite ready to sort through that box, or talk about your experience, it’s okay. Healing and sorting take time. Learn to become a better you. Stay tuned. . .
This past weekend, Cycle Dude and I went with a group of friends to an amazing fossil site not far from Mytown. The dig site, the lab, the fossil storage and the museum were all at the same place. It was exciting to see the different steps paleontologists go through to identify and preserve fossils.
The group carpooled and Cycle Dude was one of the drivers. He had just had his car worked on a few days before the ‘field trip’. The car began acting up on the way to the fossil site and got worse on the way back. We were less than a mile from where the group met to carpool, stopped at a stoplight. Cycle Dude said, “Well, we made it home”. But as he pulled into the intersection, the car died. Thankfully, several Good Samaritans stopped and helped us push the car to the side of the road. And, thankfully, Cycle Dude has AAA.
Needless to say, Cycle Dude was not too happy about the car breaking down. I told him that at least we almost made home and didn’t get stuck several hours away. I was able to get a ride home and come back to get Cycle Dude and follow the tow truck to the car repair shop. To me, the whole situation was a minor inconvenience, but it could have been worse.
Since I divorced, I have learned there are many things in my life that are out of my control. To get angry about it only makes the situation worse. I have learned to take situations in stride, to be okay with not being in control. What good does it do to get all worked up over something or someone you cannot control?
Whenever my children experience a situation like the car breaking down, the washer dying, or an unexpected visit to the doctor, I tell them to look at the situation and ask, “What have I learned from this? What good has (or might) come out of this situation?”
Some situations in our lives we can control – others we cannot. We have to be okay with not being in control. We have to give ourselves and others grace. We have to realize the world is not perfect – things will go wrong. Begin to look at those times of not being in control as learning opportunites. . . and take it in stride. Stay tuned. . .
I recently found out that my eleven-year old Boxer/terrier mix dog named Jack has cancer. I was devastated! After surgery and consultation with Jack’s doctor, we decided to monitor the tumor since it is a low-grade, non-aggressive type of cancer. It took Jack a couple of days to recover from surgery, but he’s back to his old self. I have noticed, though, that Jack has seemed to slow down in the last year. He is getting on in years and seems quite content to live his life out in peace.
I, too, am getting on in years – but not how you may think. When I refer to “getting on in years”, I refer to the years that have passed since I got divorced. The years immediately preceding and immediately after my divorce were raw and angry – kind of like a cancerous tumor. It took a few years for me to work through the pain and anger.
I am now eight years on this side of the divorce. Life is good again. I have an amazing wonderful man in my life who I love like crazy and who loves me. My pups keep me laughing. I am going to be a grandma for the second time in January. My children and first grand baby are all doing well. My job is good. I have a wonderful church family. I am blessed beyond measure.
I still think about the past at times and remember the pain, the anger and the mess that my marriage had become. Those years were difficult, but they are getting further and further away. Like Jack, I am quite content to live out my life in peace – surrounded by those I love and blessed more than I deserve! Stay tuned. . .
I was the Queen of the Pity Party when I was a child. I was always upset that my older sister (by 10 months) got to do things before me. I was upset when life didn’t go my way and I had a strong tendency to wallow in self-pity. My mom would often tell me, “Get your eyes off yourself and go do something for someone else!” Why are moms always so wise?
I remembered that advice when I first got divorced and tended to muck around in the mud puddle of self-pity. I looked for ways to “do something for someone else”. I eventually volunteered with a local refugee resettlement service in teaching those refugees English.
Where are your eyes? Are they on yourself? Are you stuck in the muck of the mud puddle of self-pity? Get your eyes off yourself!
1. Volunteer: There are so many opportunities in one’s community to volunteer – at the local humane society, at the Boys and Girls Club, at a local after school program, etc. Go to https://www.volunteermatch.org to see what’s going on in your community and how you can get involved.
2. Join a local philanthropic organization: There are plenty of philanthropic organizations in your community – Lions Club, Rotary, etc. Google those in your area. Volunteer your time and talents for a cause you believe in.
3. Give: Being newly divorced will most likely leave you with fewer financial resources. That’s okay. Do you sew? Can you teach others a new skill (music, etc.)? Use your talents to help others. There are many people in your community who can benefit from your talents and experience.
It’s okay to feel sorry for yourself. After all, divorce is a painful situation to have to endure. However, it is not okay to stay in that place of self-pity! Stand up, dust yourself off and move on! Getting your eyes off yourself and giving to others is one step in your healing journey. One step at a time! Stay tuned. . .
I remember when I was first divorced. Even though I knew for several years that my marriage was over, it was still difficult to sort through the emotions, the finances, and all the stuff from my marriage. It wasn’t until I moved into an apartment almost two years after the divorce that I finally felt independent – totally separated from my marriage and the pain it represented.
I learned a great deal by truly being on my own and being financially, physically and mentally responsible for just me (and my pups, of course!). I enjoyed being on my own. It never got very lonely because I had Jack and Shirley. Cycle Dude would come for dinner once a week and I’d drive out to his place, too. I remember sitting in my napping chair with the canine children and either watching a movie, listening to the rain or taking a nice nap. Those things brought me great joy.
I moved in with Cycle Dude almost two years ago, but I have still retained my independence. However, this independence is a bit different. Cycle Dude and I are different people, yet we enjoy those differences and love each other. We give each other space, but encourage one another in our different pursuits. He bikes, I quilt. He reads, I binge-watch. I am there to cheer him on when he does bike marathons. He gives his approval to my quilt designs. We both love working with our hands – he builds stuff, I sew stuff.
My divorce represented my independence from a painful relationship. That is a day I will never forget. The day I moved in with Cycle Dude represented my independence in a loving relationship. That is a day I will never forget, either. Cycle Dude is kind, loving and respects me for who I am and I am grateful that he encourages my independence and doesn’t stifle it. I do the same for him.
When was your independence day? Celebrate the unique person you are and encourage that uniqueness in others. Stay tuned. . . .
After my divorce, I was scared, anxious and distrustful. I wanted to be alone, but then I didn’t want to be alone. I was angry, bitter and reckless- almost to the point of self destruction. I am thankful for my two steadfast friends who kept me grounded during that time.
This morning, I was eating my breakfast out on the front porch, enjoying the morning – listening to the birds sing, smelling the forest after the rain, and watching critters come and go. Cycle Dude recently hung a hummingbird feeder for me. For a long time, no one visited the feeder. However, this morning, I heard a beautiful male hummingbird buzz up to the feeder. I watched in amazement as he darted around the feeder and landed to enjoy some of the nectar. He came back several times.
As I watched him, I thought of a word – appreciation. It seems to me that I have a greater appreciation of life after the divorce. I enjoy spending time with my children. I like cuddling with my dogs. I enjoy being out in nature. I love spending time with Cycle Dude. The new beginning of the divorce has given me the opportunity to start over in more ways than one.
I know that it is difficult to appreciate much after one has been through a traumatic event like a divorce. Yet, there is so much to appreciate and to be thankful for. When you wake up tomorrow morning, look out your window. Is the sun rising? Or is it raining? Appreciate either one. What will you have for breakfast? Savor the taste of coffee, appreciate the lingering smell of bacon and eggs, meditate on the sweetness of the pancakes and syrup on your tongue.
Life is tough, but there is a great deal to appreciate. Stop, take a deep breath, and take in all that surrounds you. Life is an adventure. Live it!! Stay tuned. . .
(I took the accompanying photo in Cycle Dude’s yard. He has a tree beside the driveway that looks like it could be a hobbit house. These mushrooms were growing inside the little ‘doorway’.)