Family Guilt

IMG_0134

Any This is Us fans out there? I am talking about the kind that excitedly looks forward to Tuesday evening only to sob their way through the entire hour. I was crying extra ugly during the Season 2 finale. If you don’t follow the show, first, I recommend binge-watching the entire thing pronto. Second, bare with me and do your best to read between the lines to connect with the point I am trying to make here.

Before I go any further, I am well aware that I am comparing real life to an NBC drama. However, one of the reasons the writing of this storyline is so genius is its relatability. So even though I am comparing real-life events to that of fictional characters, I still feel strongly about connecting our stories to theirs.

As a fellow daddy’s girl, I can completely relate to Kate and the closeness she feels to her father. Now, I am fortunate enough to have my father still living, but that flashback scene to when Kate was young talking to Jack about the guy she’ll marry had me all weepy … “The guy that gets to marry you, Katie-Girl, he is one lucky guy,” 

Now, fast forward to Kate and Toby happily married and then a year in Toby deciding to up and leave. How disappointing would that be for not only Kate (of course, Kate), but her entire close-knit family. They gave Kate fully to this man, trusting with 100% of their being that this man was going to care for their dear sister/daughter. Almost like it is partially their responsibility for who she ends up with. We’ve all had friends who have dated douchebags and we’ve felt like it was our place to speak up before god forbid it goes any further. Now, magnify that feeling times a billion and that’s how a father feels about their daughter. I imagine entrusting them to someone in marriage is an unreal experience.

If you’re close to your family and you’ve been through a divorce, you know that it affects evvvvvvveryone. Each family member goes through the divorce with you. And it’s easy to take other family member’s pain on yourself. I remember thinking, I can’t believe I am putting my parents through this. I felt so much guilt for so long that I caused my family this pain.

Even though I was the victim of our divorce and did all that I could to stay married, I still felt like it was my fault that my parents and family had to go through this. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Everyone in my close circle was concerned for me, not blaming me. In hindsight, I put a lot of extra stress on myself, feeling guilty for what I had put my own family through. I know it’s natural to place blame on yourself at some point, but while the load is already heavy, let’s do what we can to make it lighter, not add to it. If you’re in this same boat I was in, remember your family cares about you and are devastated for what you are going through. Think that guilt out of your mind and focus on what will help you grieve today. Let your family experience their pain the way that helps them. Don’t take on the extra losses when you have so many as is. Your family will get through these painful times and come out stronger.

As always, please write in with any specific questions that may have come to mind from reading this article. My prayers are with you!

Celebrity Split

IMG_9214 (1)

It’s comical to me that I actually know this happened considering I am THE WORST at knowing what is going on in the lives of celebrities. I never know who is in what movie or TV show and I always seem to butcher the names of those I think I do know. Before last week, I didn’t even know these two were a celebrity couple. Thanks to the social media world, I saw this and found it interesting. So, who’s seen Channing Tatum and Jenna Dewan’s separation announcement? I had mixed emotions when I read it. I thought it was mature and wise of them to come forward with a statement that both gave glory to their union, and also gave an honest direction of where they are going present day. However, any time I hear of a couple calling it quits, I can’t help but think of the pain as well.

My personal conviction about marriage is that growing apart isn’t a reason for divorce. I know people out there disagree, and that’s fine, but for me, I think there are always ways to grow together. The grass is greenest where you water it, right? With that, it’s hard for me to wrap my mind around this process being as peaceful as they describe it. Mind you, this was their social media announcement and we all know social media just shows our life highlights, not our behind the scenes.

Which leads me to a separate (but related) tangent … We just never know what the next person is going through. However this announcement was meant to come across to the general public, we don’t know the layers behind it. And, of all the major lessons my divorce taught me, this was my favorite … Stop being so damn judgy. You don’t really know what anyone is going through. I remember looking like hell in Target because my life had just been turned upside down and the looks of pity I received didn’t help one bit. So, when I see that same despair on a stranger, I say a small prayer for them and hope their day turns up because I don’t know what their behind the scenes looks likes.

As much as I love this announcement and want to root for this couple (that I know nothing about in real life), I just remember having a social media smile with a crumbling marriage in the background. No one would have thought twice. I like the positive spin, but the thing about divorce is that it’s always sad. Even if it’s what you feel in your heart as the right route. It’s the loss of an entire life together with someone you thought would be a partner for the rest of your days.

So, do I like the peaceable and respectful way this was communicated to the general public? Yes. Do I think it sounds like separation and divorce is a walk in the park? A little bit. Do I really know where they stand and the real feelings that played into this decision? Nope, not even a little bit.

I want to know your thoughts on the matter. Write in and let me know if you think the announcement was too fluffy for the subject at hand or if you thought it was tasteful and mature or who are we to even have our two cents on the matter.  As always, my prayers are with you and I hope your week is full of peace.

 

Hello Divorce

IMG_9194

Lately, I’ve had the opportunity to work with some pretty amazing women. These ladies head up some of the best divorce recovery organizations in the field. One that I really wish was around when I was going through my divorce is Hello DivorceYou guys, I hope against hope that this is the future of the divorce process!

Now, if you’re new to my blog, I must always shout out the disclaimer that I am pro-marriage (big time). Afterall, I am VERY HAPPILY remarried. However, if divorce is the hand you’ve been dealt, then I am passionate about helping the healing and legal process be the best it can be.

If you are going through what can feel like a hellish legal battlefield, head on over to the Hello Divorce site and see how they can help you. I am confident their wealth of knowledge will help you in some capacity. Peruse their site and figure out how they can make this easier. You’re going through enough as it is. Let’s try and lighten the load a bit.

Here’s a preview of what they’re all about … “Are breakups tough? No doubt. Can they be fair and equitable? We think so. That’s why we started Hello Divorce. To take the drama out of divorce. The system wasn’t built for savvy thinkers and doers like you. So we reimagined it. Hello Divorce is a service that empowers you to manage the process with easy to follow, step-by-step guidance and affordable access to our top-notch lawyers. We break down the extremely complicated California divorce process into discrete, manageable steps.”

For inspiration on the daily, you can follow their Insta at @hellodivorce. This is the not the last you will hear about this organization from me. I am passionate to the core about helping this become the future of divorce. 

Close the Door

FullSizeRender (24)

I recently discovered a blog that I am enjoying quite a bit called, The Catholic Woman. One feature of this site showcases letters that women write in about a variety of topics. A couple weeks back I read one about the story of one woman’s annulment and how the church was her safe haven when she decided to leave her marriage.

It got me thinking a lot about when the decision is made to leave a marriage what keeps you from re-opening the door back in. The process for me was a cumulation of realizing I was worth much more than my ex’s deep disregard for our marriage, accepting the joys in my new life on my own, and through completing the annulment process.

Some may remember reading about my initial resistance to my annulment, but in the end, it provided a type of closure I didn’t know I needed until it happened. So, I am curious, what have been those nails in the coffin that have kept your door to a damaging and unhealthy marriage closed? If you are unsure of what is keeping that door closed for you, or if it’s possible to stay closed for good, I encourage you to reflect on your worth and how much more you are worth than a broken marriage, that doesn’t want fixing.

I always love hearing from my readers. Celebrating your victories or mourning your losses, please keep sharing with me! Peace and prayers to all of you on this Wednesday. ❤

Pain & Our Babies

FullSizeRender (18)

Since I am two years past my divorce, and close to five years past the beginning of the crazy downward spiral, my pain has been dealt with. The pain I feel is no longer my own personal heartbreak. Healing, time, and prayer have been there along the way to help rid that pain. However, the residual pain is different. It’s less personal and more channeled for my daughter. I feel pain that I anticipate her feeling because of our divorce. I feel pain when I think about how she was the innocent victim of two people’s choice to sin. I think about how she will feel if she finds out what I went through, what her daddy did to mommy. All of this hypothetical pain can get exhausting.

One of my favorite authors about all things self-help and overcoming hardship is Glennon Doyle. She was actually a huge motivator for me to finish my book. Anyhow, she wrote this recently about our fear as parents. It resonated with me and as much as I still resist the thought of my babies ever experiencing pain, I do see the beauty on the other side. And that is not all bad. Quite the opposite.    

“I always feared that my babies’ pain was my failure. But if learning to step into life’s struggle is my warrior journey, isn’t it theirs too?

More than anything, I want my kids to grow up to be brave, kind, wise, resilient humans.

So what is it in a human life that creates bravery, kindness, wisdom, and resilience?

What if it’s pain? What if it’s the struggle?

The bravest people I know are those who’ve walked through the fire and come out on the other side. They are the ones who’ve overcome again and again – not those who had nothing to overcome. They are the ones who no longer avoid the fires of life – because they have learned that they are fireproof.

What if we are trying to protect our kids from the one thing that will allow them to be the men and women we dream they’ll be?

Maybe our job as parents is not to protect them from pain, but to hold their hands and walk into their pain with them.

If we want to invite our children to be warriors, we need to look at them and say: ‘I see your pain- it’s big and it’s real. But I see your courage, too – and it’s bigger and more real. That fire won’t burn you, you’re fireproof.”

Be encouraged, friends. Don’t let fear bog you down. Walk in the pain with your children. Hold them, pray for them, hear them, and show them the beauty that can come when we let courage take over.

Light of the Broken

FullSizeRender (2)I hope this post finds you all enjoying summer and finding moments of joy wherever you can! Summer has me traveling and enjoying the sunshine with my family.  My prayers, of course, are still with you! And thank you for those of you who reach out to me for guidance. I truly love helping you through whatever stage you’re in.

I am working on a few side projects right now that I am eager to share with you. One is the much-awaited piece on co-parenting that I’ve had brewing in my mind for about a year now. That dynamic is not one to be explained simply, so it’s not surprising it’s been difficult to craft.

All that aside, I read this quote a few weeks back and it really encouraged me. I hope that you too find that there is much beauty to be seen in the pain.

“The broken will always be able to love harder than most. Once you have been in the dark, you learn to appreciate everything that shines.” -Zachary K. Douglas

My hope and prayer for you is that the darkness you’ve endured through your divorce will be the means of seeing the world in a brighter light than before. I know that I certainly appreciate the life God has blessed me with now all the more because I lived through such a season of darkness. Divorce is dark and painful, no one is denying that. However, the brightness that comes in the rebuild is beautiful. Love and prayers to all of you, my friends.

Divorce is Not Failure

FullSizeRender

I came across a really powerful article and wanted to share it with all of you. I related so closely it was as if the words were my own. It’s so easy to feel like if your marriage ended in divorce it failed. This not the case, friends. Give this article a read and be encouraged that divorce is not a failure, but an avenue for strength.

To choose divorce is not to choose failure.

To choose divorce is to sink lower than you ever thought possible. Then once you reach that abyss, when you are in your weakest hour, divorce grabs you by the scruff of your neck, slams you against the wall, and demands that you find the greatest strength and courage of all — an inner strength from somewhere deep inside — to carve out a new path. It is a strength that takes a long time to find and an even longer time to recover from.”

Find the article, To Choose Divorce is Not to Choose Failure, over at ScaryMommy. If you’re a mommy, I recommend following this blog anyhow. It’s so spot on and quite hilarious!

Have a happy Wednesday. My prayers are with you!

I Do (take two)

IMG_7423

I shared my story over on one of my favorite blogs this morning! It’s my first article where I talk about God’s gift of a second marriage and all the feels that go along with starting over. Excited to write more about this current stage of remarriage, co-parenting, and living out our blended family in the best ways we know how. Enjoy!

Tick Tock

FullSizeRender (56)

What you do with your time during the days of a divorce makes or breaks your overall well-being. Here I share some helpful time management tips on how to make the best of those sometimes long and sad days.

“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” -Anne Dillard

  A life well lived does not just happen. It takes time, intention, discipline, and commitment. How we invest our time defines much of our lives. Thinking about the very idea of time sometimes has my head spinning. Every facet of it. How it can go by both ridiculously fast and painfully slow.  The art of managing it well. How easily it can be wasted. How immeasurable its value is. The directions in which it can pull us. How important it is to balance. And how so many outlets rob us of it altogether. Lately, my world has been taken over by all things time.

Summer typically does this to me. The six weeks off of work (teacher perk) and the long days of sunshine have my mind wandering to all of the ways I could spend this time. I welcomed summer with the start of a new writing course (nerd alert). In one of the very first lectures, the professor simply said, make every word count. Now, more often than not, I have moments where simplicity blows me away and I am left like a deer in the headlights. This was one of those experiences. A simple message took me from making every word of my writing count to making every (fill in the blank) of my life count. Every relationship, conversation, text message, gift, prayer, trip to the grocery store … you name it. The habits we develop to make our time count are life-giving. In pondering what routines result in fruitful time management, I give you my favorite four.

But First, the Soul. Rise and shine and tend to your soul. I need Jesus the very second I open my eyes to start a new day. From the tone I have with my daughter, to the judgemental thought about the person next to me, to what feels like an endless amount of scenarios my sinful nature can get me into, I need Jesus. And I desire to give Him my first. If you think of the time in your day divvied up by minutes, let your first minutes reflect that your priorities are in line. God first. Everything else next. Spend time preparing your soul for what the Lord has for you in the day to come.

“O Lord, in the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch.” Psalm 5:3

“But I will sing of your strength; I will sing aloud of your steadfast love in the morning. For you have been to me a fortress and a refuge in the day of my distress.” Psalm 59:16

“Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love, for in you I trust. Make me know the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.” Psalm 143:8

Prioritize Your Purpose. Go through a mental breakdown of what the day holds. Prioritize what will move you closer to sanctification. And this doesn’t mean spending the entire day at church or in silent prayer. I mean, if your life allows that time, great! However, holiness needs to come in the day-to-day. If you know that you’ll be interacting with a co-worker you clash with, pray for that extra dose of patience and decide early on to put on a big smile. Allow the spirit to work in your best laid plans. Where we can try our darndest to plan out how we would react and respond in the moments that make up our day, sometimes God has other plans. There’s purpose in everything. Yield to Him. Prioritize what God has given you in the order of His glory.

In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.” Matthew 5:16

For everything, there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.” Ecclesiastes 3:1

Invest in People. I am embarrassed to admit how often I spend time with people, but am not fully present. It’s quite disappointing. Our society has created this culture where we must be available to anyone and everyone at all times, including the times we are physically spending time with other people. The phone-checking pressure is real. It seems silly, but I have made a point not to look at my cell phone when I am spending time with friends.  As I work toward investing more genuinely in others, this small practice has been helpful. I yearn for my life to be full of conversations that emulate devotion and wisdom, not the status update of someone I went to college with. The time we spend with others builds community, nurtures innate parts of who we are, and is God’s design for us here on earth. Our investment in others reflects the most authentic type of love.

“So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11

“A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. The tongue of the wise commends knowledge, but the mouths of fools pour out folly.” Proverbs 15:1-2

The White Space. White space is defined as life’s breathing room. I find that the more time I give myself to stop and take a breath, the more focused and clear I am with the tasks at hand. Depending on your personality, it can be very difficult not to over-commit yourself. Learning to carve out white space, is a very beneficial practice. It may feel selfish at first, but it helps ensure that you are not simply going through life’s motions. On the flip side, be intentional with the idle time. Using it to fixate on the sorrow of our lives or the world around us, defeats the point. White space is meant to free you up, not bring you down. Use this time to reflect, regroup, and make sure you are where you should be, closely in line with God’s will.

“And he said to them, ‘Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.’ For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat.” Mark 6:31

My prayer is that these practical tips will direct your time toward holiness and help guard the moments of your days.

“Every time you make a choice you are turning the central part of you, the part of you that chooses, into something a little different than it was before. And taking your life as a whole, with all your innumerable choices, all your life long you are slowly turning this central thing into a heavenly creature or a hellish creature: either into a creature that is in harmony with God, and with other creatures, and with itself, or else into one that is in a state of war and hatred with God, and with its fellow creatures, and with itself. To be the one kind of creature is heaven: that is, it is joy and peace and knowledge and power. To be the other means madness, horror, idiocy, rage, impotence, and eternal loneliness. Each of us at each moment is progressing to the one state of the other.” ― C.S. Lewis

Image by Kayla Ewell

Watch by Larsson & Jennings

 

Annul What?

FullSizeRender (52)

Annulment. A foreign and often misunderstood word to most of the non-Catholic friends out there. Actually, I think it’s safe to say it’s even misunderstood by some of the Catholic community as well. I am going to share my take on the process and what I learned from my experience. If this topic interests you or you are thinking of starting the process, I would encourage you to read this article. It does a real good job of explaining all that the process entails in layman’s terms.

When my divorce was looking more and more final, I thought to myself, what more can I possibly handle? I knew because I was married in the Catholic church I also needed an annulment and I selfishly thought that it was asking a lot of me. Divorce and annulment? I was not on board. Initially, my reaction to all things annulment was a very emotional one. If I was the victim, why did I have to go through this long-winded process to erase my marriage from the Church. It wasn’t my fault my marriage ended. Shouldn’t I get to skip ahead to the auto annul stamp? And how will my baby feel when she finds out that the church erased the very union that brought her into this world. At one point I remember thinking, I won’t do that to her, I’d rather not get married in the church to prove my point. Crazed thoughts all over the place.

When the emotions were somewhat removed and I was able to wrap my mind around this idea, I met with many priests, nuns, and strong Catholic influences. I would be visiting a parish or at a retreat or at confession and I would just ask and ask. I wanted to hear different perspectives from different circles. I wanted to talk with and find out everything there was to know about why this was necessary. I also wanted to talk with children whose parents had gone through a divorce and annulment. I wanted to hear their take on it and how it made them feel. Turns out the folks I spoke with all said that an annulment is a second chance at the way God intended my marriage to be. It’s the church’s blessing on your future, especially if that includes remarrying in the church. It’s declaring that, sadly, one party in the marriage did not enter their life-long vows with permanence in mind. I understand how heartbreaking this is, but in reality, there is a level of truth. Did your spouse say their vows in hopes of the marriage falling apart? Probably not. But in my case, my ex did feel that he had the freedom to be unfaithful only three years into our marriage. That doesn’t exactly scream permanence. And from a child’s perspective? Not one of the adult children I spoke with had any ill feelings about the fact that their parents had an annulment.

If you are Catholic and are debating this process, do your research! As I said, I read A LOT, listened to many respected people, and prayed for an open heart. Don’t rush this process. It took me a good year before I saw the beauty that this process had to offer. Please contact ME too. I would be happy to walk you through any misconceptions or details you’d like to know about.

Once the emotional exhaustion lessened and I understood the goodness this could bring, I decided to embark on my petition for the annulment. As I was starting the extensive packet of questions and recaps, I couldn’t help but respect how the church views marriage. These questions were thorough to say the very least. There was a set of questions for myself, my ex (who chose not to participate), our family members, our friends, and the deacon who married us. The questions explored many elements of the marriage and at all different points of the relationship. They asked questions of people who knew us before we met, while were dating, while engaged, in our marriage, and in our separation. The feel I got was that they weren’t just handing out annulments like candy. There needed to be REAL reasons for the marriage ending in order for the annulment to be granted. I liked this. After all the questionnaires were submitted by myself, friends, and family members, we waited. The case was reviewed by the diocesan tribunal ( a group of respected priests and deacons in the church).

Right around a year later, the annulment was granted (just last week. yay!). This was an exciting time as it meant, if it’s God’s will, I was now able to remarry in the church. It felt as if the scarlet letter I had been holding on to had been removed. It also felt like one more final nail in the coffin. Those moments of further finality help in the healing of your heart. A process that once brought me emotions of annoyance suddenly brought me peace and assurance. A sacred blessing over moving forward with what the future holds.

Image by The Hipster Housewife