Tag Archives: lessons learned

Where Are Your Eyes?

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. . .

Advertisements

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. . . .

 

Settling In

It didn’t really hit me that I was on my own again and starting over until I moved from a 4 bd, 2 ba home into a 2 bd, 1 ba apartment. The dogs had to get used to being in a smaller place. I had to somehow cram all my junk into a much smaller space. But once I sorted through my stuff, got rid of what I didn’t want (mostly stuff I had with ex), and got used to the idea of being in a smaller space, I was fine.

I enjoyed being on my own – having the things I wanted to have (like dishes and furniture), being able to stay up late, have dinner with friends, and entertain people in my humble abode. Yes, my apartment was small compared to the homes I had lived in, but it was my apartment. It was a new beginning for me.

The first time I really felt settled in was when the dogs and I sat in my big “napping chair” (an estate sale bargain!) and just listened to the peace and quiet. When I first moved into the apartment, I had the furniture from my home with ex – it had become ratty due to dogs chewing on it. I got rid of that and finally got something I wanted. Granted, it was smaller and not brand new, but it was something that did not remind me of ex. My loveseat, napping chair and two (not matching) wingback chairs were estate sale finds. They were cheap enough that I could decorate my home the way I wanted to and not go into debt to do so. Somehow, all the pieces complemented one another.

Once I got beyond the anger and bitterness and began to heal, I began to settle in to my new life. It was scary at times and I would get irritated that I did not have enough money for what I wanted –  travel, new clothes, etc. – but I learned to be content with what I had. I was happy to finally be getting on with my life.

I have lived with Cycle Dude now for almost a year. When I moved in with him last March, I had to get rid of a lot more stuff. I still have the napping chair and the loveseat – they are now his living room furniture – and I also have my bedroom suite (it was my mom and dad’s and is over 50 years old). Cycle Dude has allowed me to settle into his home and make parts of it my own (like my bedroom). We are settled in together now.

Life does move on after a divorce – it has to. One cannot stay in that place of anger, bitterness, depression and sadness for very long. Once the dust has settled, one needs to take a deep breath, assess one’s assets and surroundings and move forward. You will eventually come to a place that feels better and you will discover the new normal for your life. You will come to that place of being comfortable and settled in. Life will once again make sense. Just don’t expect your life to be as it was. Expect it to be better! 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. . . .

Do Nothing

From December 28 to February 2, I seemed to do nothing but cough. Three weeks into whatever I had I was finally diagnosed with a sinus infection. However, the cough is still lingering. I coughed so hard for a month that I pulled muscles I never knew I had. For six weeks I basically did nothing when I got home from work. My weekends were spent vegging on the couch. I didn’t feel like doing anything, so I did nothing. It took that long for my body to heal from that nasty virus. (And yes, I was taking vitamins, getting plenty of rest and eating healthy.) For some reason, that virus took hold and didn’t want to let go!

Sometimes, it’s okay to just do nothing. When you’re sick, the best thing is rest and fluids. God created our bodies (if they are relatively healthy) to heal themselves. Those Green Beret white blood cells are truly strong little soldiers! Rest does incredible things for our bodies. Sleep allows healing to occur. I am not a scientist, but I observe.

We can also become mentally sick – depressed. I was depressed for a long time before, during and after my divorce. I went to see my doctor and was prescribed antidepressants. It’s okay to be on medication in order to feel better. If you have pneumonia, you get antibiotics to make you feel better, to heal. Antidepressants help in the same way – they allow you to heal.

I’ve had days when I did absolutely nothing. I was depressed, or tired, or battle weary from the divorce. I felt alone, abandoned, and sad. It was okay to do nothing.  When I rested, I healed. The peace and quiet I found after my divorce helped me to heal.

One cannot expect to be healthy, to be up and running full speed when one has just experienced a traumatic event like a divorce. Give yourself permission to veg, to do nothing. Allow yourself to heal. If you don’t take care of yourself, who else will? Be kind to yourself. Stay tuned. . . .

Seeing with New Eyes

I had the delightful opportunity at the end of January to visit my grand baby. She and her mom and dad live in another state. I love to travel and love even more to arrive at my destination with someone I adore waiting for me. My little Sweet Pea greeted me at the airport with her mom and dad. Of course, she was sleeping, but it was still wonderful!

I spent the weekend encouraging my son and daughter-in-law, sharing all my delights of parenthood. One of the most amazing things about being  a parent is seeing the world through the eyes of your children. To them, all things are new and exciting. Little ones are fascinated by the seemingly most mundane things – a leaf, a blade of grass, a cow, a plastic spoon – the more mundane, the better. Their curiosity knows no bounds.

As I thought about that – seeing the world through new eyes – I thought about being divorced. At first, I was angry, then relieved. But now, all things are new! I am seeing with new eyes. I no longer see the weekend as a horrible place because I have to spend it with someone I loath. I no longer dread getting the mail because of the kind of advertisements I might find. I no longer hate to check my bank balance because of the questionable charges I might find. (Someone else has to handle all that now. Ha!)

I see my children as amazing adults and parents and look forward to spending time with them. I see Cycle Dude as a treasure. I can’t wait for the weekend to come – to spend time with the man I love and my pups. I love waking up to each new day, knowing that a wondrous adventure is waiting for me. I enjoy my ride home at the end of the day, knowing that three of my favorite people are waiting at home for me – Jack, Shirley and Cycle Dude.

I know that it takes time to get past the pain and anger of a divorce – I get it. But resolve that one day soon, you will see your life and the world with new eyes and with curiosity that knows no bounds! Stay tuned. . . .

 

Ghosts of the Past

I recently watched a movie entitled, “The Awakening’. Released in 2011, it is a period piece (1921) set in England and billed as a horror movie. I found it be the furthest thing from horror. Movie summary: ‘In 1921, England is overwhelmed by the loss and grief of World War I. Hoax exposer Florence Cathcart visits a boarding school to explain sightings of a child ghost. Everything she believes unravels as the ‘missing’ begin to show themselves.’ What Florence eventually sees are the ghosts of her past.

 It is my experience that many women, and men as well, tend to dwell on the past when they experience a divorce. I did that, too. It is easy to second guess ourselves and the decisions we made surrounding the divorce. It is easy to give in to the ‘horror’ of the past, to spend our time chasing the ghosts of choice, ignorance, and fear. In the middle of the night, we may be visited upon by the dark specter of regret who leaves us wailing in the terror of disappointment and disgust. We may tremble as we explore the dark recesses of our own motives and shriek when we discover our own hard hearts.

 We cannot dwell in that creaking house of horrors of our past and expect to heal and move forward after a divorce or other traumatic incident in our lives. We must face that which we fear the most – loneliness, guilt, bitterness, victimization – and resolve to break the chains of our fears. There is no monster in the closet or under the bed. There is no evil lurking in the shadows. The monster and the evil is our own fears, our own unwillingness to resolve the past and move forward.

 A counselor I once saw had this statement written on the whiteboard in her office; “The past is the present until it’s resolved.” We will always be haunted by the ghosts of the past unless we determine to resolve that past. It may be painful, terrifying, and heart-stopping – but the past must be resolved in order to move forward.

 At the end of the movie, Florence seems lighter and happier. She has resolved her fears and conquered her ghosts. She is free to move forward and live her life unafraid. It can be difficult to conquer those ghosts of the past. But once we are free of them, we are free indeed. Stay tuned. . . .