Category Archives: being victorious

Facing Adversity

Cycle Dude and I like to go to the local used book store to knock around on a rainy day. You never know what you’ll find on the shelves among tons of used books. Last time we went, I found a book by Hoda Kotb, host on NBC’s The Today Show. The book is entitled, “Ten Years Later”.

Hoda writes about “six people who have faced adversity and transformed their lives”. It’s a good book that illustrates the resiliency of humans. As I was reading it today at lunch, I thought, “You know, I’ve faced adversity in the aftermath of my divorce. Here it is almost ten years later and I am still standing, a better person than I was before.” My opinion is in no way meant to discount the adversity others have faced. Adversity is a daily companion to many people.

My adversity went something like this: My credit was shot, ex-husband stopped paying alimony halfway through the court-stipulated time period, I was saddled with medical bills he didn’t pay (as stipulated in the divorce settlement), I had to declare bankruptcy, I was homeless for three weeks, I was almost evicted, and I got kicked out of my apartment for “complaining too much”.

I would agree that some of the adversity was of my own doing. But how was I supposed to pay bills when I was living paycheck to paycheck and my credit was in the toilet? There were many times when I had to make the choice of gas or groceries, electric bill or dog food, doctor visit or rent? People told me to “get rid of” the dogs. Really?! My dogs were my companions and often the only ones who listened to my broken heart at 3am. No – they are family members.

I made too much to qualify for any kind of community assistance. I once went to my church for help in paying my electric bill. The church secretary told me the church didn’t do that and to go to a community service. I went to the community service, only to find out a)  they took a month to process my application for assistance and b) I made too much to qualify. Ex didn’t beat me, so I didn’t qualify for legal assistance to collect the alimony. I didn’t make enough to hire a lawyer.

My adversity? Being invisible. Even though I was on an incredibly tight budget, I did not qualify for any kind of help. Thank God for friends and family members. I say I was invisible because no one saw me as being needy, even though I was. I guess I just asked the wrong people the wrong questions. I always thought that if I won the lottery, I would start a foundation for women like me – who were divorced, but “invisible” – not making enough to meet my monthly obligations, but making too much to qualify for any community services.

Now, almost 10 years later, I live with a wonderful man whom I deeply love, have a great job and still have the pups who were my companions at 3am. My children are near and grandbaby #3 is on the way. My life has been transformed.

Adversity comes in all shapes and sizes. One man’s adversity is another man’s setback. It all depends on how we face adversity. Will we fight it or will we silently surrender? The six people mentioned in the book I referenced earlier fought. I fought. I remember thinking, “I’ll be damned if I am going to let this divorce and ex ruin my life!” Choose to face adversity with as much strength as you can muster. It may take a while, but we can come out on the other side better people than we were before. Stay tuned. . . . .

 

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Looking in the Rear View Mirror

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. . . .

 

 

 

Who Needs an Umbrella?

Today is Cycle Dude’s birthday. I got up very early to make him cinnamon rolls (the frozen kind) as well as to make a bouquet of chocolate covered Oreos (his favorite cookie!). We are going downtown tonight to do whatever he wants to do, then tomorrow we’ll have a birthday dinner with his son. I am excited! I enjoy making Cycle Dude’s birthday special because it’s just one way to show him how much I love him.

When I got to work, my boss was not in a very good mood. He has been very critical to me all day long. He has been short and impatient with me and has been getting easily angry with me. I was a little discouraged after several hours of his behavior. (But who knows what’s going on in his world?) My day started out so well and now it was not so well.

I had a choice to make – was I going to let my boss ‘rain on my parade’ or was I going to let the rain roll off my back and enjoy a wonderful evening with the man I love? I decided to enjoy the wonderful evening, of course.

We are faced daily with choices – are we going to choose joy or pain? Freedom or chains? Light or darkness?  It’s so easy to let others affect our choices. One wrong word can cause us to deflate like a balloon. But who has power in your life? YOU are the one who makes that decision. I did not give my boss the power to determine my mood or my value. I am the one who chooses to be happy or sad. Christ is the One who gives me value.

So, go ahead, boss, go ahead and rain. It’s not affecting me. I don’t need an umbrella because I choose joy with my sweetheart tonight. Stay tuned. . .

 

Getting On In Years

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. . .

 

Learning to Walk

I am so excited that I get to see my grandbaby over Easter. I am flying to where my son lives and will spend Easter weekend with him, my daughter-in-law and my grandbaby. My sister also lives in the area, so I will spend time with her and her family as well. The fun thing about having a grandbaby is watching her grow and watching my son and his wife marvel as she reaches her developmental milestones. One of these days, my grandbaby will learn to walk. (Not quite yet, though. She was born in at the end of 2017.)

Learning to walk is a huge milestone for a child. There is so much involved – balance, gross motor skills, muscular and skeletal development, hand-eye coordination, etc. Learning to walk is no small feet (misspelling and pun intended!). Many adults have had to learn to walk again, too. They have had to progress from that infant-like state as well. One must learn to stand before one can walk. And one must learn to walk before one can run. There’s no skipping the proper physiological progression.

Life can  be difficult after a traumatic experience – divorce, an accident, etc. It is tempting to want to curl up in a ball and hide under the covers. We all know that’s not practical. In order to move forward in our lives, to heal and become stronger, we must learn to walk again. What does that look like?

1. Don’t be afraid: When a child is afraid to walk, she will sit down and cry. A child who is eager to walk will pull herself up and walk around the coffee table, then walk as you hold her hands, then she’ll walk to you and then with you. Yes, she will fall, but she keeps trying. Fear kills dreams, adventure and even life. Fear not. Move forward.

2. Don’t look back: The past is the past for a reason – because it’s done and over with. Look forward. Set and achieve goals. Dream big dreams. Laugh at your own silly jokes. Experience the freedom that comes with moving forward.

3. Don’t dwell on it: Whatever “it” is – a divorce, an accident, a death – let it go. We will grieve for that which is lost, but the grief cannot and should not last forever. Grief, despair, depression, anger and bitterness – these are all soul-destroyers. Don’t let the negative emotions and thoughts destroy you. If you are stuck here, seek out professional help.

4. Do stop and take a deep breath: Trauma – whatever it is – saps your energy. From days spent in court to days spent in the hospital or in counseling – you feel drained. Stop. Take a deep breath and know that you will be okay. Give yourself the grace and the time to heal – to renew your energy.

5. Do have a grateful heart: There is always something to be grateful for. Your support group, the medical personnel, your friends – these are all the ‘scaffolding’, if you will, who held you together during the trauma. Be grateful for them. Be grateful for your life.

Sometimes, it hurts to walk. Your muscles may be sore. You may have a misshapen limb. You may have fallen and bruised your knee. Walking is a milestone in your healing journey. It represents months of hard work. Soon, you will be running and will never look back. Life is an adventure! Live it! Stay tuned. . . .

 

Early Spring

It’s been rather warm and rainy here in Mytown. That means that anything that can bloom will bloom. And that means allergies are beginning to act up! This has happened in Mytown before – early spring. We’ll have a warm February, then a cold snap comes along in March (or even a blizzard in 1993) and everything that has bloomed ends up freezing.

I’ve discovered that my post divorce life is sometimes like that. A couple of years ago, ex moved out of Mytown. I was so glad I no longer had to worry about running into him and his girlfriend when Cycle Dude and I went downtown for anything. Ah, spring! But then, I found out he had gotten remarried to a woman with a young son – five years old at the time. Drat – cold snap. I didn’t care so much except that one of my children was upset by the marriage and stepson.

We can often find ourselves in places like this – life seems to be going great and we seem to be doing well on our healing journey, but then something happens that stops us dead in our tracks. How do we react? We can be like the wisteria that freezes and looks like it has died. Or we can fight our way back and bloom again.

One of my favorite photos is of a dandelion pushing up between a crack in the sidewalk. That’s how I often felt in the years following my divorce. Ex would flaunt his girlfriend in my face. I would stand strong and show him that I really didn’t care what he did or who he hung out with.  I am my responsibility and I choose to continue to bloom, no matter what life throws at me. Bloom where you are planted, dear one – in spite of the cold snap! Stay tuned. . .

Learning to Love Yourself Again

Valentine’s Day is approaching, or as some folks refer to it, Singles’ Awareness Day. I am fortunate to have an incredible man in my life and I am keenly aware that not every divorced woman has the same. After a divorce, it is difficult to love and to find someone to love. But that is the perfect time to concentrate on learning to love yourself.

After we’ve been through the shipwreck of divorce, we often feel beat up, unworthy, ashamed, etc. It’s as though we ourselves have been bashed against the rocks and there’s just flotsam and jetsam left. May I suggest the following as you learn to love yourself again:

1. Don’t make any hasty decisions: You’ve made enough life-changing decisions during the divorce proceedings, paperwork, etc. Give yourself a break and don’t make any life-changing decisions, like dating, purchasing a new car or home, moving from on side end of the country to the other, etc. Give yourself a little time to begin to settle into the new normal.

2. Don’t rebound date: Very bad idea. You just got out of one possibly abusive relationship and you want to get into another? But how do you fill that void, that need for human companionship? Volunteer, find a new hobby, foster a cat or a dog, plant a garden – do something that uses your time and talents for good.

3. Get your finances in order: Your bank is more than happy to help you balance your checkbook, work out a budget, etc. If you have a good bank, they value your business and they will assist you in any way they can in order to keep your business. A good business knows that word of mouth speaks far louder than any advertising dollar.

4. Reward yourself: Divorce is a long, hard struggle. You feel battle weary. You probably don’t have a great deal of money. Reward yourself for enduring the storm: Have a movie night with yourself – watching something you have always wanted to watch or want to watch again (the two movies I watch over and over again are Princess Bride and The Muppets Christmas Carol), take a long walk in the park, visit your local arboretum, have a glass of wine on your deck at sunset or a cup of coffee on your deck at sunrise, buy yourself some flowers or a good book (good books can always be found at your second-hand bookstore for cheap!), buy a quarter of a yard of pretty fabric and use it as a table runner. There are all sorts of ways you can reward yourself without having to spend a great deal of money.

5. Live the adventure! Each day is a new day full of new adventures. Thank God when you wake up in the morning and take your first steps out of bed. Praise God for the warm shower. Be thankful for food in your tummy and a roof over your head. Look in the mirror and tell that lovely lady, “You got this, girl!”

Sometimes, it takes a while to learn to love ourselves again, especially if we have been the victim of an abusive or addicted spouse. There will be people in our lives who will feel free to voice their opinions about the divorce. Don’t listen to them. This is a new start, a new normal, a new life that will get better with each passing day. Trust God and trust yourself as you learn to love yourself again. Hugs! Stay tuned. . . .