Category Archives: relationships

Isolation is the Opposite of Community

My mom always says, “There is safety in numbers”. This principle is seen time and again  in nature – schools of fish, herds of zebras, flocks of birds, forests of trees, fields of sunflowers, colonies of ants. Individuals are often weak and vulnerable. The strength of the community gives strength to the individual.

I have several coworkers with whom I pray and share my daily life. There have been times recently that life has been rather challenging. We can turn to one another to share the burden of what we are going through. Galatians 6:2 says, “Share one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ.” What is ‘the law of Christ’? To love one another as you love yourself and to love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength. By bearing one another’s burdens, we love one another as Christ loved us.

One does not have to believe in God to be part of a community. I am a woman of faith, so my community is one of faith as well. Cycle Dude belongs to a group of ‘free thinkers’ who get together weekly. There have been times that I have seen “bear one another’s burdens” in action in this group as well. Caring for one another and bearing one another’s burdens is a human thing, not just a Christian thing.

It is easy to want to isolate ourselves when we experience difficult times. We may feel like we are the only one going through this and that no one else would understand. We may feel that our situation is such that no one would want to understand or want to walk with us through the trial. That is a lie. We experience healing and support in community. We are weak and vulnerable when we decide to isolate ourselves from others. Dear one, seek out friends to walk with you through your difficult time. Do not walk alone – let others share your burden. Stay tuned. . . .

 

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Independence Day

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. . . .

May My Words Be Sweet

My son and his wife had a virtual baby shower this past weekend. It was basically a video conference call with folks able to join in from all over the country. Cycle Dude and I went to my daughter’s house where we were joined by my second son and his wife. It was a bit different attending a baby shower like that. We had all mailed our gifts ahead of time so we could watch my daughter-in-law open them.

A couple of days prior to the shower, my son texted me and reminded me to “be civil” since his father would also be tuning in. Even though ex ended up not being there or tuning in, I made sure to abide by my son’s request. I would not be ugly. I wanted to honor my son, his wife and my grand baby, Sweet Pea (my nickname for her). As I read my son’s text, I was reminded me of a poster I saw once. The poster was a picture of two little prairie dogs eating dandelions with the caption, “May my words be sweet, for tomorrow I may have to eat them.”

It is so easy for me to say mean things about ex. I have to remember that he is my children’s father and my history with him is not theirs. They don’t see him as I do. And they all have a relationship with him. I have been reminded several times over the years since the divorce that I need to keep my opinions about ex to myself. Sometimes, it is really difficult for me to keep that boundary with my children – that I will not say mean things about their dad in their presence. My journal is one thing – being in public with them is another thing entirely. It takes a great deal of self-control, but I want to honor my children.

I want to be above reproach with my children regarding what I say about their dad. I want them to know that I strive to keep my words sweet or to say nothing at all. It is difficult to have sweet words about someone you do not like. Better to say nothing than to have to eat sour words. When I was young, my mom always reminded me of what Thumper’s dad (from Bambi) said; “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” Proverbs 17:28 states, “Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue.” If my words can’t be sweet, then may I be thought of as wise. Stay tuned. . .

Be Prepared

I walked into work Tuesday morning to find that a survey team from a national  healthcare accrediting organization was on campus. The people at Myjob have been preparing for this organization’s visit for the better part of a year. The organization comes every 2-3 years to inspect the hospital for re-accreditation. Even though we expected the survey team in the fall, my boss said they could come as early as late spring or early summer. My boss has been preparing his team for this visit since October.

I am glad we have been preparing for this event. I have learned a great deal more about healthcare and what it takes to run a hospital. I have learned that it is better to be proactive than not. It is better to anticipate possible scenarios than to sit back and “let it slide”.

One thing I have learned, especially through my divorce, is to be prepared. I can honestly say, I was not prepared to divorce and then to deal with all the emotional, physical and financial flotsam and jetsam that accompanied it. Sure, I knew it was coming – I knew that several years before it actually happened. But I was still not prepared.

I wrote about this subject in a post entitled, “Storm Warnings”. However, I’d like to apply a little of what I have learned in preparation for this healthcare accreditation organization visit.

1.  Categories: Organize your divorce preparations into categories – financial, household, relational, work-related, etc. Sit down and make a list of these categories, then add the following: under financial – income, budget, savings, retirement, emergency fund (even though you may get alimony, don’t count it as income because it’s not going to be around forever and you don’t want to become overly dependent on it); under household – will you sell your home? Move into a new home/apartment? Need to have a yard sale? Need to replace household items? (hint: estate sales are good places to get household items – furniture, dishes, etc. if you need to set up a home.); under relational – How soon will you tell people of your (impending) divorce? Who will you tell? How do you break the news to important people in your life (children, parents, siblings, etc.)?

2. Rank: Once you have your categories and have broken them down into sub categories, give each sub category a ranking from 1 (lowest) to 5 (highest) in order of priority. What things will you take care of first? What things can wait? Work on the #5’s first and cross them off your list when done. Number fives should be things like income (how are you going to support yourself?), housing (where are you going to live?), and debt (pay off old debts and don’t create any new ones until your are financially stable).

3. Finish: Once you have finished an item, cross it off your list. If you are really good and make a spreadsheet, hide that column/row when you’ve completed it. Once it’s done, it’s done.

4. Document, document, document: Keep a copy of all your records. Keep a phone log of your conversations with ex or of any electronic communication with ex. You may have to produce this information if it comes down to “he said – she said” in court. Be aware that unless you inform someone you are recording the conversation with them, that communication may be against the law. A good rule of thumb regarding keeping records and documents is 10 years. Instead of tons of boxes full of paper crowding up your spare bedroom, scan documents and store them on a flash drive, backup hard drive or on the ‘cloud’.

Everything we experience in our lives in a learning experience. We can take what we learn in one aspect of our lives (ex. work) and apply it to other aspects of our lives (personal). The thing is we should never stop growing and learning. And, yes, we can even learn from an unpleasant experience like a divorce. Stay tuned. . . .

Family Reunion

Next weekend, various family members will be heading to MyState for a family reunion. The last time my siblings and I got together was for my mom’s 75th birthday. She will be 80 this year. Some family members are coming that I have not seen in years! I am excited! The only bad thing is that it is supposed to rain the whole time my extended family members are here. Oh, well.

I would not be as excited about this family reunion if I hadn’t taken a bold step last October. My middle son and I were talking one evening about the family reunion and he said something that made me think about my familial relationships. There was one family member that I had not gotten along with for years. I knew she would be at the family reunion. I did not want to make everyone uncomfortable by continuing this feud with her. I prayed and I asked for prayer because making peace with this family member was not real high on my “To Do” list.  Yet, I felt that it was something I needed to do.

I flew to the state this family member lived in. I stayed at another family member’s home and made arrangements to get together with the feuding family member. I knew I needed to approach her as honestly and sincerely as I could. Long story short, we resolved our differences. I was so relieved! Now, this family member and I are going to be first time Grandmas together – her first grandbaby is due two months before my first grandbaby. Now we will be able to share in one another’s joy.

Making peace with that family member was difficult. It is not something I would have done five or even two years ago! Yet, I knew this family reunion was coming up and I wanted to honor my mom’s 80th birthday by having the focus be on her and not on my feud with the other family member. It took courage and it took the willingness to do what I knew to be right even if the family member did not reciprocate.

So what does this have to do with being divorced? Do you have family members with whom you have not talked for a while – perhaps due to your divorce? Perhaps you and another family member said angry words to each other at one time? Perhaps you had a misunderstanding? I would urge you to resolve your differences as soon as possible. Pray about it, think about it, give it some time, but resolve to move forward to make peace.

Why? A couple of reasons: we are not promised tomorrow – make your peace today; you may see your family member at a family gathering – it’s much easier to be at peace with one another than to spoil the gathering for everyone else because you are feuding; and because the Bible commands it – Romans 12:18 states, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” Be willing to live at peace with others. Stay tuned. . . .

Encouragement

One of my friends is going through a rough time at his job. Don’t get me wrong, he loves his job and does not intend to leave over the situation. However, he feels he is being unfairly singled out by some of his subordinates. We talked for a bit this morning. I reminded him that he is being singled out because he is ‘administration’ and those in authority are the most visible to employees with an axe to grind. As a fellow Jesus follower, I reminded him that other people are watching him – how is he going to handle this situation with his subordinates? If he talks the talk of being a Christian, is he going to walk the walk when the walking gets hard?

I also reminded him that he is not in his position of authority by chance. Like Mordecai told Esther (in the Old Testament Book of Esther), “You are here for such a time as this”. Why is my friend in a position of authority at his job? He told me that one of his sons knows how stressful his job can be, so his son is watching how his father deals with the job stress. One of my friend’s subordinates is also watching him for the same reason as his son – how is my friend going to handle the rough situations that come his way? I told my friend that stressful situations give us an opportunity to run to God, to lay down our fears and anxieties before Him and let Him take care of them.

As I was talking to my friend, I remembered the two friends who helped me through my divorce and the years following. One of them was an encourager – she would read scripture to me, remind me of God’s grace, and listen to my wounded soul. She has a wonderful gift for encouraging others – in word and in deed.

If you are recently divorced, you may not feel like reaching into someone else’s life and encouraging them. You may wonder if you will ever be able to heal to the point of being able to encourage another person. I took a few moments this morning to pray with my friend. It was a small, sixty-second prayer, but he said it meant the world to him. Did I start my day knowing or asking that I would have the opportunity to encourage my friend? No. But I did know that as a follower of Jesus, I can pray for and encourage others, no matter how small my part might be. Take heart, dear one. You may never know the value that your few encouraging words may have in another’s life. Stay tuned . . . .

Everyone is Different

After ex’s initial foray into adultery, I began seeing a counselor. I saw her on and off for the next 10 years plus and into my divorce. When I finally divorced, she told me that on average it takes women two-and-a-half to three years to get over a divorce. It took me the better part of five years before I was finally able to let go of the pain of the divorce. It wasn’t until I saw another counselor for help with PTSD that I finally felt free of ex.

I remembered what the first counselor told me and I kept thinking, “Why can’t I get over this? Why is it taking me so long? She said between two and three years!” Sometimes, I felt hopeless. Then I realized that everyone is different.

For some women it may take less time to get over a divorce. For others, it will take longer. Why? I think your healing time depends on the size of your wound. One is able to recover from a paper cut much quicker than one is able to recover from a broken leg or major surgery. What happened in your marriage determines the amount of time it will take to heal from the divorce. If you experienced any kind of abuse – physical, mental, emotional, financial, verbal – it will take you longer to heal because abuse not only hurts your body, it hurts your soul. If you were in a co-dependent relationship, as I was, it will take a while to heal because you have to cut the chords that bind you to ex. You have to figure out a new ‘normal’. If you were betrayed through infidelity, it will take you some time to learn to trust again.

How long it takes you to heal from your divorce is up to you – no one else. There are three ways that I experienced (and continue to experience) healing from my divorce:

1. Support: I had two amazing friends who walked with me through the yucky years after my divorce. Cycle Dude was also there, but I kept as much of the yuck from him as I could. I did not burden him with how I was feeling. That was my baggage to get rid of before we got serious. I encourage you to find a support group or a couple of close friends who will be encouragers, accountability partners, and prayer warriors for you and with you.

2. Professional Help: Sometimes I just needed someone to tell me I was not crazy and would not run off the edge of the world. Sometimes I just needed someone to be objective, someone who didn’t really know me, to let me know it would be okay. Divorced women do indeed fight PTSD. Get help to heal.

3. An outlet: I journaled, I wrote poetry, I walked my dogs, I listened to music. If you keep everything that you are feeling bottled up inside of you, you will make yourself sick. He is not worth the price of your health. Physical activity is a good way to work off stress and anger. Getting your thoughts down on paper is a good way to decrease their negative power over you. Find something constructive to do with all that negative energy bound up inside of you. Let it out – but in good ways. You don’t want to hurt yourself (drugs, alcohol, overeating, not eating, etc.) or someone else because of those negative emotions. (Blogging in one of my outlets!) However, if you do find yourself in destructive behavior, please seek professional help immediately!

Remember that your healing journey is very personal – don’t let anyone put a timeline on your recovery. YOU are the one who is walking through this dark time. Dear one, know that you will come out on the other side of this a changed women (and hopefully for the better!). Hugs! Stay tuned. . . .