Category Archives: self love

Going Gray

I colored my hair for years – blonde, auburn, dark brown. My natural hair color is a dirty dishwater blonde. Several years ago, I started going gray. In fact, I found my first gray hairs when my second son was in high school, as I knew I would. I thought I was too young to be gray. Then I met Cycle Dude. His natural hair color is a dark brown. He started going gray when he was in his late 40s. He is now 60 with a very attractive salt and pepper hair color. I thought, “If he’s not dying his hair, I won’t dye mine.” So, I didn’t.

Now, I have this dirty dishwater blonde hair with beautiful (gray) highlights. I’ve had several people ask me who does my hair color and highlights. I tell them it’s all natural. This morning when I looked in the mirror and saw my gray streaks, I thought, “My gray hair is like battle scars – I’ve earned every one of them and I am proud!”

Accepting my graying hair is accepting who I am. My hair is graying, I have scoliosis and I could stand to lose a few pounds. That’s who I am. I love Dove chocolate. If you’ve ever had Dove chocolate, you know they put little sayings inside the candy wrappers. One of my favorite sayings (that I have posted on my office bulletin board) is “Be proud of your age.” I am proud. I just turned 55. I have a good job, a man who loves me, three wonderful children and children-in law, my first grandbaby on the way, amazing siblings and mom, great friends and I live in a beautiful part of the country.

I accept that I am not perfect. I accept that I am not 25 anymore. I am looking forward to the rest of my life being who I am. I want to be a great Nonnie to my grandchildren. I want to be a wonderful companion to Cycle Dude. I want to be a loving mom to my adult children. I want to be a good daughter to my mom and a good sibling to my brothers and sisters. I want to be my best . . .  just the way I am!

Accept who you are. You are strong, you are beautiful and you are loved. . . . just the way you are! 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. . . .

 

The Number of Our Days

I found out this morning that a former boss passed away back in November. She died of a stroke. She was only 45 years old. I am still in shock. She was a great boss.

We never know when we wake up in the morning if this will be our last day on earth. We never know what’s going to happen. God numbers our days. He alone knows how many we have. How do we live our lives in such a manner that we will be prepared for ‘the day’ when it comes?

1. Banish anger and bitterness: For most of my marriage, I was a very angry person. I woke up angry, stayed angry throughout the day and went to bed angry. After my divorce, I became incredibly bitter. Were my emotions affecting ex, the person they were directed to? Heavens, no! Those negative emotions were killing me! Holding onto anger and bitterness is senseless. Let it go.

2. Practice random acts of kindness: Next time you’re at the grocery store and there is an elderly person ahead of or behind you, pay for their groceries. Donate some dog or cat food to your nearest animal shelter. Rake the leaves in your neighbor’s yard. Go out of your way to be kind to a stranger.

3. Be generous with your time, money and resources: Do you have enough to live on – to cover your needs (not necessarily your wants)? Do you find that you have several hours of free time on the weekend? Donate to a cause, volunteer, take your unwanted stuff to a local thrift store. Whatever you have you can’t take with you. You may as well use it up while you’re still living!

4. Cultivate compassion: Don’t be so quick to lose your temper or to speak out of turn. Resolve to listen to others, to hear their heart, their passion and their dreams. Be an encouragement to others. Be quick to serve others.

5. Smile more: I think if more people smiled, it would lighten the mood that so often seems to bring us down. Have you ever watched the other drivers on your way to work? Those who are not on their phone are usually scowling. Smile in rush hour traffic. Smile as you walk down the hallway at work. Smile when you answer the phone! Smile – it increases your face value and makes people wonder what you’re up to.

6. Say “I love you”: Every day before Cycle Dude goes to work, I tell him I love him. Every time I talk to one of my children, my mom or my siblings, I tell them I love them. Do not hesitate to tell those you love that you love them. Don’t worry if it sounds ‘sappy’. You may not get another chance.

Life is waaay to short to spend it ill-tempered, harboring a grudge, hoarding your stuff or looking like an old sourpuss! Make your family and friends glad to know you! Leave them with good memories. Live one day at a time because it may be the last one you have. Stay tuned . . .

There is Life

Jesus followers around the world will be celebrating His resurrection this Sunday. Even if you are not a Jesus follower, there is still celebration – for spring, for the new life that spring represents and for the time spent with family. Spring is one of my favorite seasons because of the promise of new life. I love to see the flowers bloom, watch the little fledglings make their way out of the nest, and smile as mama animals lead their babies out into the world.

I remember the dark days of my divorce when I thought life would never be again, not just that it would never be the same, but that it would just never be. I was angry, hurt, and depressed. By God’s grace, I had some amazing people in my life to help me walk out of that darkness.

Dear one, if you are facing that darkness during this season of Easter, know that there is LIFE! It may not feel like it, you may be so angry and hurt that you don’t know what to do, but take heart. Sit down, take a deep breath, cry if you must. Know that the God of the universe sees and hears your pain. He knows how to bring you out of this. He is the God of the impossible. The same force that raised Christ from the dead cares about every hair on your head. (Didn’t intentionally rhyme that!) Know that there are also many women who have been where you are, so you are not alone. Look out your window at the flowers, the birds, the bees buzzing around. Notice how blue the sky is and how warm the sun is. All around you, there is life. Breathe a prayer of thanksgiving for the life you have been given. Stay tuned. . . .

You Can’t Please Everyone

Years ago, as a young Christian mother and wife, I allowed others to tell me how I should act, parent and be a partner to my (ex) husband. I let others’ interpretation of the Bible, others’ opinion of what it meant to be a “Christian” parent and spouse, and others’ opinion of me guide the decisions I made in my life. Looking back, I can see where that led me to making wrong decisions. I did not trust my own discernment, my “gut” feeling, but I made a decision based on what others told me was best for me.

Tomorrow, I will be moving in with Cycle Dude. That decision has caused quite a ruckus in a certain group of people in my life. I understand why. I also understand that I will never please everyone. I tried that once and it had dire consequences. I am the only one who knows my history – with ex-husband, with “well-meaning” friends and with Cycle Dude. I can honestly say that in the last six years, Cycle Dude has shown me more unconditional love than any community of faith I have been in.

Does that mean I walk away from my faith? No. It means I explore my faith even further. Now, I can hear some say, “You will never find a perfect community of faith”, and “By being part of a community of faith, you subject yourself to their ‘rules’.” I agree.  However, at this point in my life, I feel like I need to make decisions based on what is best for me and Cycle Dude. Not sure what that will look like going forward, but I am looking forward to finding out.

All my life I have made decisions based on the good of others – which is how it should be when one has a family. But now that I am an empty nester, I need to make decisions based on what is good for me. In 1985, Rick Nelson sang a song entitled, “Garden Party”. The chorus is; But it’s alright now, I learned my lesson well. You see, you can’t please everyone, so ya got to please yourself.

At the end of the day, I have to be able to put my head down on the pillow and know that I did my best, showed God’s love and grace to others, and loved well. Stay tuned. . . .

 

Divorce and the ‘M’ Word

Divorce is difficult enough to go through without throwing something else in the mix over which you have no control – namely, menopause. Menopause is nothing to be ashamed of – countless women have gone through it for centuries. It’s just something that is part of being a woman. But it doesn’t make things any easier when you’re already facing a difficult time.

What can you do to make this time in your life a little easier while you are also going through a divorce? Much of what I’ve learned is in hindsight.

1.  Visit your healthcare provider: Talk to your doctor about hormone replacement therapy. For many women, HRT is not an option. This is something I stayed away from because of the high incidence of cancer in my family. If you are concerned about a link between HRT and the occurrence of cancer, talk to your doctor. Your doctor can also provide antidepressants to deal with the mood swings.

2. Explore different options to deal with mood swings and stress: Physical exercise has been shown to release endorphins, those ‘feel good’ hormones. WebMD states, “When you exercise, your body releases chemicals called endorphins. These endorphins interact with the receptors in your brain that reduce your perception of pain. Endorphins also trigger a positive feeling in the body, similar to that of morphine.” Walking is the cheapest form of exercise and can be done just about anywhere. Yoga is also an exercise that relieves stress and provides a feeling of peace. There are many different herbal supplements to try as well. This website is a good resource:  https://www.womentowomen.com/menopause-perimenopause/five-steps-for-natural-menopause-relief-2/

3. Talk to someone: Many employers have EAP benefits (employee assistance programs) that provide a predetermined number of free visits to a mental health professional. If your employer does not provide that, seek out a trusted friend or speak to your pastor or clergy member. It seems to me that our thoughts lose their negative effect once we voice them. When left alone, our negative thoughts can rattle around in our heads and grow bigger and bigger and do more harm. For me, it helps to journal.

4. Be accountable to someone: Whether it’s a friend, therapist or clergy member, someone needs to walk with you through this time. There needs to be another person who will help you put things into perspective. You will need someone to help you work through some big decisions. You can’t and shouldn’t do this alone. Find a support group to help you through this time.

5. Realize that there are many changes occurring all at the same time and be gentle to yourself: You will be dealing with lawyers (both his and yours), court dates, discovery, time off of work, property division, etc. There is a great deal of stress involved in a divorce. It’s easy to let things go – eating properly, sleeping, etc. Take time to be gentle to yourself. Take a walk in the park, bake a batch of cookies, read a good book, take a nap. You are not expected to be Superwoman when you are going through two major life changes at the same time! Allow yourself to have a day of doing absolutely nothing. Need to stay in bed and cry? Do it. Need a day of purging your home of all ex’s stuff? Do it.

6. Lower your expectations: Don’t expect ex or his lawyer to be kind to you. Don’t expect yourself to have all the answers. Don’t expect the judge to understand your emotions. There will be many rotten days as you walk through the divorce. Don’t expect every day to be sunshine and puppies. Your body is changing and your life is changing. Give yourself grace.

7. Do Your Homework: You know that your body is changing. Do your homework – talk to your doctor, research on the internet, talk to friends who have experienced menopause. I just signed up for a series of lectures through Myjob presented by Red Hot Mamas (http://redhotmamas.org/).  Find out as much as you can about menopause, its symptoms and how to deal with these changes (http://redhotmamas.org/menopause-a-z/survival-tips/). The more you know about how menopause affects you, the more you can control how you are feeling.

You cannot control your ex, his lawyer, the justice system, etc. Pay attention to what you can control and let those things be one less distraction as you walk through the divorce. Stay tuned . . . .

 

Be Kind to Yourself

You’ve just come through the most difficult and painful event in your life – a divorce. The dust has settled from the lawyers, the custody (if applicable), the moving, the crying, and the despair. You feel like you’ve been run over by a Mack truck. You’re not sure if you’ll ever love again or are even lovable. Your self-esteem has taken a huge hit, your bank account looks like a toddler’s piggy bank, and you can’t seem to get out of bed. How do you kick-start yourself into your new life? How do find the “new normal”?

1.  Get out of bed: It all starts with putting your feet on the floor, standing up and moving forward. It’s okay to move slowly at first. It’s okay to go stand and look out the window. It’s okay to cry. But don’t just lay there. Get up and move. Move to the window and open the curtains or blinds. Move to the kitchen and get a glass of water. Move to the bathroom and take a soothing shower. Just move.

2. Take the day off: It’s okay to call in sick to work. You need the time today to pull yourself together. Be kind to yourself and give yourself permission to do nothing at all. Sure, dishes may need to be done, the bed needs to be made, the bathroom needs to be cleaned – but forget about all that today. Take the dogs out on a walk. Or go for a walk around your neighborhood or apartment complex by yourself. Call a close friend and meet for coffee or lunch.

3. Take stock: Look around you. What kinds of things are filling your life, your home? Sort and purge. Get rid of anything that reminds you of ex. If it makes you cry, get rid of it. Anything you don’t need, haven’t used or worn in a year, or will never use or wear again is fair game. Take it all to Goodwill.

4. Take charge: This is your life, now. You are in charge. What do you want to do, to be, etc? Your bank has resources to help you get your bank account in order. The Better Business Bureau has resources to help you find a good mechanic for your car. Home Depot and Lowe’s have classes to teach you home improvement skills. Your local community college offers evening classes so you can brush up on your skills or gain new skills for a better job. You have the choice of where you want your life to go now.

5. Take care: Many women experience PTSD after a divorce. The stress of a divorce can also have profound physical effects. Don’t hesitate to speak to your doctor about depression. Your doctor may also be able to recommend a good mental health professional. If not, many employers now have an Employee Assistance Program that you can take advantage of. The EAP offers many different services, like a certain number of free visits to a mental healthcare professional. Make use of that benefit.

6. Seek out help for big decisions: Now that you are on your own, you will need to make some big decisions (Which healthcare plan to choose at work? How much to put into a retirement account? How do I make a budget and stick to it?) Seek help in making those big decisions. Talk to a trusted friend or to your pastor. Your HR department at work will also be able to help with the healthcare plan and the retirement account. Don’t go it alone when making big decisions.

7. Be kind to yourself: It will take some time to heal from the divorce. Allow yourself that time. Don’t get angry if you seem to be taking longer than you thought you would on your healing journey. Everyone recovers differently. Give yourself permission to take your time, to heal slowly, to become whole again.

Divorce is a major, life-altering event. You will go through many different emotions as you walk forward and begin your healing journey. Your life will never be the same – don’t expect it to be. Take your time in figuring out the new normal. Take your time in getting healthy so you can feel like you again. Stay tuned . . .