Pain & Our Babies

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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

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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)

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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

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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?

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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

 

Book Teaser: The D Word

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This book teaser is the point in my book where the divorce was decided and officially happening. Up until this point in my story, I was fighting for my marriage and all in to do whatever it took. I can’t believe I have already shared now 10 book teasers with all of you and that the release date of my book is this year! As always, thank YOU for all of the support in this venture.  

  1. THE D WORD

“‘In every marriage more than a week old, there are grounds for divorce. The trick is to find and continue to find grounds for marriage.’ –Robert Anderson

If you and your spouse are still fighting FOR your marriage, keep at it! I am proud of you. Hold on to the truth that you WILL be a stronger couple because of it. I have seen many beautiful love stories come from the trials of an affair. If you come out of this, you will have a new level of closeness that only comes from overcoming something this awful. There is a way back from all of this heartache. I have seen it! I was surprised to find out all of the couples who have experienced some sort of infidelity in their marriages. When this happened to me, suddenly those amazing wives you feel like you’d never be even on your best day, were telling me about the dark and horrible periods in their marriage. What!? In those marriages that look totally perfect and all put together? Yes, in those marriages. Keep going!! It will ALL be worth it!

In my case, the choice was made for me. BD left and a divorce was what he wanted. As I said before, I was convinced this was not how our story would end. However, the cards were dealt and I am not a big fan of denying reality. My reality was the big D. We took the affordable route and actually went through mediation. Our mediator was really peppy and always misspelled our names. She was grinning ear to ear through the entire first meeting. I just wanted to scream, “Why are you smiling! There’s nothing to smile about!” At first, every time I got an email from her my stomach went to knots. Over time, the emails got easier and easier to read (not because there were less typos), but because emotionally I was healing and detaching. There’s absolutely nothing easy or pain-free about a divorce. 

Being the lover of all things self-help and personal growth, I joined a DivorceCare support group. For me, this particular group was equal parts helpful and depressing. Were there really other people in the world going through the same screwed up saga I was? What the hell was wrong with humanity?

It was helpful to commiserate with fellow victims. All of these people were left because of their spouse’s poor choices. The part of the group that was tricky for me was the self-evaluation part. What did we all contribute to our marriages that led to this. Well, for me (not to sound conceited), I did not contribute to the end of this marriage. BD would agree with this. On any day of the week. To anyone who asked him. I didn’t like that everyone in the group looked at me like I was a crazy person because I had a clear conscience about the fact I really didn’t contribute to the destruction of my marriage.

This group did help me through a lot of the shame that is tacked on with the D label. ‘Divorce is not something that defines you, it is something that happened to you.’ This is a very important point to remember even if you aren’t going through a divorce, but simply recovering from an affair. It doesn’t define you. It happened to you. It’s not who you are. It’s something you experienced. Don’t allow it too much hold on your future.

It taught me that in this shit storm you’re not just processing the loss of a marriage, but in actuality a full inventory of losses. You must grieve the loss of your spouse, your friend, your lover, your partner, your co-parent, the family you had planned, your next three kids, the bigger house, your travel plans. The list is long and each one must be grieved.

Divorce is beyond painful.

It’s painful because:

You loved your husband with all your heart.

You gave so much of yourself to him.

You worked at the relationship.

You trusted him.

You were faithful.

You thought you’d be together forever.

As you may recall, I advised the succinct response for when you’re in limbo, well same goes for when you are going through a divorce. If you are going through a divorce or are already divorced, come up with a standard and succinct response for anyone who asks, how you two are doing. It gets easier the more people you tell. The first time I said it out loud, I thought about dropping to the fetal position and sobbing. “We are actually going through a divorce right now … Yes, it is too bad, but completely out of my control, so I am doing what I can to move forward.” And scene! That covers how you’re doing and where you stand on all of it. Boom.

Breaking the news to people varies by the person, their level of friendship, the setting, and how many drinks have been had. Oh, the rants I’ve given after one too many beers. In all honesty, I felt like I always had to be ready and on guard for a run-in. That family from your old church or your next door neighbor who moved away or an acquaintance from high school or your hair stylist or the family members you kept in the dark … The list is long, but more often than not, I’ve found people to be mature and respectful. More often than not, people just give you “the best is yet to come” pep talk. Then there was the shock reaction. This always validated and depressed me all at the same time. ‘Right?! I know! We were a great couple and I was just as surprised!’ and in a different light, ‘Yes, I know… We were a great couple and I was completely shocked by it all.’

As I said before, there’s nothing easy about divorce. ‘Divorce is the ripping apart of two souls that were meant to be glued together for life. It’s never a clean tear, so the mending is not an easy road.’”

Image by Kelli Murray

How to Vent Healthy

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When going through a divorce, it feels as though the layers of stories go on forever. Depending on how often you see your friends and/or what circles they fall in, you could have what seems like decades of stories to share. New decisions, details, and drama come after every corner. The tricky part is deciding who to tell what and when to tell it! I learned (pretty much by trial and error) how to vent healthy and let me tell you, it takes self-control!

A couple months after my ex-husband and I had filed for divorce a lot of the home we shared was still, well, shared. I was living there full time with our daughter, but he had some items stored in our garage. He also still had his key making it easier for him to spend time there with our daughter since his studio apartment wasn’t ideal for a baby. One evening he was watching her at the house and I got home earlier than expected. I didn’t send a courtesy text message informing him I was on my way because it was MY home I was coming back to. As I pulled up, I noticed my garage door was open. Someone was doing laundry in my garage without permission. Like he owned the place. As he tried to shuffle his way out of the crime scene, I noticed something. He wasn’t doing his laundry, he was doing his girlfriend’s laundry! I saw some rather risque pieces being shoved into that college dorm laundry bag.

My reaction to this situation was the most I have ever lost my cool in my entire life. I felt so violated, disgusted, bitter, angry, you name it … I felt it. I screamed every four-letter word in the book, most likely giving my neighbors a show they had never quite seen before. After he left, I texted my go-to gals telling them what had just happened. The next morning, I woke up with a stomach ache and sent out some more recap text messages. And then the retell. I told this story to probably every acquaintance I encountered for the next month. Each time, I brought myself back to the place of emotional turmoil. Yet, I kept at it. Telling and retelling. I needed to vent this one out the day after, no doubt. But not the month after. I also put post-it notes on the washer and dryer addressed to my ex, reminding him NOT to use the laundry facilities. The notes also reminded me of what had happened. Not all that necessary.

Processing life in conversations with friends is so good. It’s life-giving. It comforts, encourages, and gives your heart a beautiful hope. However, there’s a fine line between sharing with dear friends and the self-inflicted pain from too much retelling. Read on for my three steps to healthy venting.

  1. Pick Trusted Ears

Be careful who you tell what. There will be times you need someone to just straight agree with you. You need them to tell you, that whatever happened really, really sucks. You don’t need a solution or a pick me up, you just need some affirmation, that yes, the situation does in fact completely blow. Other times, you do want a solution. You want logic when you’re all emotion. You want wisdom, prayer, discernment. And then there are the times that you want silence. You want hugs, tears, and quiet. Most likely, you know what friends would fit best in the role that you need. Take some time to think about who you need before you make the initial phone call to spill.

  1. Turn off the Reruns

As I mentioned earlier, with the laundry incident, I told pretty much anyone and everyone who would listen. Sure, it’s a killer story. And each new time I told it, I got that same crazed reaction. However, each time I told the story to a new person, their reaction only fueled emotions that I had already processed and dealt with. Check your motives for the retell. Sometimes we do need that extra support. Other times, we repeat our life’s stories out of habit and it regresses our emotional state.

  1. Dwell Elsewhere

If I am not careful, I will dwell and dwell and dwell some more. And I am not talking about the good kind of dwelling, like on an exciting something that just happened. I am talking about the kind of dwelling when you’re fixating on something that needs to stay in the past. Letting every detail and word circle around your mind. It’s all consuming. I lose focus so easily and let my mind stay in moments that have already died. Don’t resurrect those moments. Think and pray your way out of this place. I will be sharing a Thought Detox series on the blog in the near future, providing you with helpful advice to control what thoughts you allow to dwell in your mind.

I hope these tips were helpful in creating healthy venting habits! It’s not easy and it’s not natural. And a whole lot of self-control is needed, but your mind and emotions will be in a happier place, no doubt!

Divorce Parties

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Happy Friday! To be quite real (because I am typically SUPER closed off. ha.), some weeks life bombards me with the 9-5, toddler parenting, emotional setbacks, and well, all of life’s day-to-day happenings. Sometimes these weeks launch me into writing, like the realllllly good and raw stuff. And then sometimes these weeks shove me into an introverted state of alone time, reading, processing, and repeat. If you catch a trend on the blog where I am sharing some good stuff that I’ve read, you can assume my week has gone that route. With that, there are simply times where my fingers can’t type the feelings in a way that I want, yet my eyes so happen to read the perfectly written words of another. It’s then that those words align with my heart as if I wrote them myself. Yet another reason why community is so incredibly rad.

My friends over at Verily wrote a piece on Divorce Parties (yes, that’s a thing). They took my introverted thoughts on the matter and beautifully composed them into this:

Are Divorce Parties a Healthy Way to Heal? This Therapist Doesn’t Think So

Praying for your hearts this weekend, whatever state they may be in. ❤

Image by Brittany Ewart