suddenlysinglewomen

Surviving the unwanted divorce

Learning to trust again?

I was married in the 70’s, a child of parents married in the 50’s and born during the depression.  My father and mother were married almost 50 years when my Dad passed away.  He had served in WW2 and Korea.  They understood and honored their vows, they trusted that through thick and thin, they’d be there for each other.  They trusted it and they lived it.  That’s what I learned growing up, that’s what I witnessed every day.  I was lucky.  I was the first divorce in my family.  Is it any wonder why I have trouble learning how to deal with it?

Flash forward to today.  I have a new foster GSD (German Shepherd Dog) in my house as of yesterday, I own two other rescue GSD’s.  We’re quite the pack on our daily walks.  As I’m getting to know this new GSD I’m seeing her struggle on the trust issue.  She doesn’t know me, she was a stray found under the bridge of the Sam Houston Tollway who was such a survivor it took her rescuer over a month or so to grab her.  Now that’s dedication to rescue.  How long before she begins to trust me?

I trusted a lot in my life.  I trusted as a child that my parents would take care of me.  I trusted as a wife that my husband would honor our vows.  I trusted my friends to support me through the difficult days, weeks and months of the divorce.  What I’m learning now is that I need to trust myself.  I need to trust that I have the strength to survive divorce.  I need to trust that I will make good decisions when it comes to taking care of myself because I can no longer trust that anyone else is going to do that for me.  I am hoping that one day I can trust that not all men lie, not all men cheat, not all men think only of themselves.  I’m trusting that when they made men like my Dad they didn’t “break the mold” and that my sons will grow up full of honor and integrity like their Grandfather had.

They say trust is freely given – the first time.  Once broken, it has to be earned back.  As I look into the sad eyes of my foster GSD this morning I so want her to know that she CAN trust me, I will not betray her, I will see to her needs.  Maybe together, we’ll both learn to trust again.

 

 

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If I had to make a choice . . . . .

I’ve just returned from a very special weekend, one with the GF’s.  You know – the “girl friends”!  We went to a friend’s place in the country.  We arrived on Friday with time for HH – happy hour – and a lovely sunset.   My friend and her husband have restored a wonderful farmhouse, and made improvements all over the property.  And of course, my favs, they have horses!!  After settling in we wandered down to the barn to say hello to the five horses currently in residence.  Her husband rides and shows cutting horses – an amazing thing to watch if you never have.  The athleticism will amaze you.  Of course, I love anything having to do with horses.  : -)

Afterward we came back to the porch, sat in the rocking chairs and solved the problems of the world, or at least our world.  I’ve had this particular friend for almost thirty years, and there’s not much about “me” that she doesn’t know.  We snacked, and giggled and enjoyed our own version of Patsy Cline karaoke with her juke box.  There might have even been a Tom Cruise “Risky Business” sock slide across the old farmhouse wooden floor at some point.  The next day we were joined by another GF, and continued our girl talk late into the evening around the outdoor fire pit while admiring the sliver of moon, Jupiter and Venus in the clear night sky.

Sunday morning, we slept in, then gathered on the porch, once again in the rockers, and with either coffee or tea in hand, set about planning our day.  By the time I returned back to reality on Sunday evening I couldn’t quit smiling.  I thought fondly of some of our silliness, and of the way we were there for each other.  No one sat in judgment, no one criticized.  There was only support, understanding and empathy.  When I woke up Monday morning, it was with a smile on my face, something I haven’t had for a while.  I’m blessed with the love and support of my GF’s.  Somehow they make me feel like I can accomplish anything.  They build me up, they do not tear me down.  They do not pick me apart with faults, they do not blame me for the things wrong in their lives.  They love me unconditionally and for that I am grateful.

So this weekend, if I’d had to make a choice between being with an emotionally unavailable male or my GF’s, I’d pick the GF’s.  They fill my heart with gladness.

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When the Light Bulb goes off!!

Yep – when that light bulb goes off, it gets your attention.  Of course, you’re probably thinking that I’m referring to a light bulb going off in your “brain”.  You’re thinking I’m referring to one of those “AHA”  moments in life where you finally figured something out that’s been stumping you.  Well, not this time.  I’m literally referring to when that durn light bulb goes off and you have to do something about it!

This was brought home to me recently when I had a light bulb “pop” and burn out.  I came downstairs to find a darker room than when I’d left it some five minutes earlier.  One of the recessed can’s light bulbs had blown.  No problem I thought, I can grab a ladder and a fresh bulb and change it myself . . . . . . right????

Wrong – I don’t have a ladder tall enough.  I have a ladder ALMOST tall enough.  I have those lovely tall ceilings that everyone is so fond of these days!   Remember when ceilings used to be 8 feet??  Now you go into an older home with 8 foot ceilings and you feel like you’re in a cave.  Everyone has 10 foot or 12 foot ceiling now.  Great, wonderful, how open it makes your room feel until you lose a light bulb, and you’re only 5’7″, and you don’t have a tall enough ladder and, OK – here it comes, you don’t have a man around the house who IS taller than 5′ 7″.

I stretched my reach, I thought bad thoughts, and I almost tossed the new light bulb across the room in frustration that I shouldn’t have to be doing this for myself.  I should have a help mate who can help when these things occur.  But I don’t and my neighbors next door on both sides are women and the neighbor across the street is male but shorter than me.  I’ve tried those extender pole light bulb changer thingy’s, the last time I broke the bulb off in the socket because it had been screwed in too tightly before I moved in.  So now it’s on the “next time you pay for an hour’s worth of services from the handyman service” list, and I”ll just live with a little darker kitchen for a while, in the house where I live – alone.

 

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SWF

While driving yesterday I heard a C & W song that refers to a “Single White Female”.  The personal ads list them as SWF’s.  Of course, divorce has no ethnicity boundaries so it could just as easily be SBF or SLF – the choices are endless.  However, it’s still a label.  And it’s so darned depressing at times.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s not the type of depressing that makes you wanna drive your car off the nearest cliff.   It’s the kind of depressing that sometimes makes you sound a tad desperate.  Do you know what I mean?

Have you wondered why when you fill out most applications these days that they want to know not just that you’re a “female”, they want to know your “status”.  They ask if you’re single, married, divorced, separated or widowed?  Except for that second choice, the others are pretty much “ALONE”!!!  What the heck difference does it make?

For a Dr’s office, maybe they want to make sure there is a “responsible party” – someone who can pay for their services – ok, makes some sense.  But the others?  Do we have to call attention to it?  You don’t think being divorced is bad enough but I have to let everyone else know that I’m a product of a failed marriage?  If you’re going to ask me for my status, can you at least give me a couple of blank lines to fill in that it wasn’t really my choice to be this age and single?  Don’t know why, it just rubs me the wrong way as if there’s really a big need for anyone to know why I’m NOT a married woman.

How about you??  Any thoughts??  What pushes your buttons??  Let us hear from you!

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Happy St. Patrick’s Day

The clock just crossed midnight, and I’m still awake.  Can’t sleep for some reason, no big news flash, happens alot.  But as I lay there awake, I realized that it’s now officially St. Patrick’s Day.  The mind started thinking about “green” and so there you have it – my thoughts on green.  For the Irish and St. Paddy’s day it’s the “wearin’ of the green”.   Hmmmm, well I’ll have to think about wearing green later, hopefully after I get a few hours sleep, in the mean time . . . .

How about “green with envy?”  I know, I know – envy is supposed to be a bad thing.  We all try not to be envious but we’re human and sometimes we just can’t help it.  So what are you green with envy about???   I’m envious of couples.  When you’re  a single, you seem to notice that the world is full of couples.  Couples walking hand in hand.  Couples deep in conversation.  Couples finishing each other’s sentences.  Couples on a date.  Heck, we even use the term couple to refer to time such as “I’ll be there in a couple of minutes” or “I”ll be gone a couple of days”.  Couples are everywhere.  Couples are in a relationship, they have one another to count on.  In our society there’s a feeling of being inadequate if you’re not part of a couple.  Just look at seating in restaurants – count the number of chairs around the table.  It’s two, four, six, you get my meaning.

How about “the grass is always greener” – that’s a good one.  Why does that make me think of men?  Do they really think the grass is always greener?  Mine did.  He certainly went over the fence to get to the greener grass plenty of times.  Why do they always want more, why do they think there is something else better out there?  They’re afraid to commit because they could be missing something just around the corner that’s better than what they have.  Afterall, if you tire of your car, get a new one.  If your house isn’t big enough, buy a new one.  And if your wife isn’t the cutest, thinnest, sexiest, smartest, funniest model out there anymore, why stay around if the grass is greener . . . . ?

Green – the color of money.  Money can’t buy happiness they say.  True, but it sure can make life more comfortable.  Money was very important to my ex.  Even when we didn’t have it, we lived as if we did.  Then when we did have it, he made all the decisions having anything to do with it.  Now it’s being lavished on “the new wife”.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a pauper by any means and I’m grateful that I was able to have enough to take care of myself but what I had always assumed is that we would be enjoying it together.  We worked hard in those lean years and now we were supposed to be taking those trips and enjoying the fruits of our labor.  Now another woman who didn’t earn it, is enjoying it.  When you’re a single, you worry about money.  Will you have enough to take care of yourself?  Will you be able to do for the kids when they need it?  Money – gotta have it no matter what color it is.

Spring green.  It’s March so I suppose you could say it’s spring.  If you’re in the mountains, there’s still snow on the ground and it’s freezing at night so spring hasn’t sprung for you yet.  If you live in Texas where I’m from, spring comes for about a week, then it’s all about heat, humidity and worrying about how hot the summer will be this year.  I think “spring green” refers to when the plants and trees start to leaf out, and it symbolizes new growth and new beginnings.  Will this be the spring that I grow and start afresh, will I have the strength and fortitude to have a new beginning?  Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to see into the future and know that this will be the year that what happened before can’t hurt me anymore?  Will my spring finally be green?  Will yours?

 

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Dragging the Anchor

OK – interesting title.  You’re probably wondering what in the world she’s gonna be babbling on about this time?  I know I’ve heard husbands refer to their wives as the “noose around their necks.”  (!@#$%^&*)  Whatever!  Well this will be about the anchor you’re dragging.  What is slowing you down, eventually to a dead standstill?  What is your anchor  you’re dragging around everyday?  It could be a current husband, it could be an ex husband.  Whomever it is, what we need to figure out is how to cut that anchor loose.

Letting go is hard, I know.  I often wondered if I would ever be able to let go, “move on”, make progress in recovery after my divorce.  So many years, so many memories, so many shared experiences – many of them good.  There were happy times, I’m not crazy.  There were some points in the thirty years that he was happy being my “Mr.” and having me as his “Mrs.”  I believe that with all my heart.  However, when you’re in the throes of divorce, and then after, those happy times are really hard to grab hold of.  Pain, anger, humiliation, betrayal, abandonment – the list just goes on and on.  When you’re trying to get through it, then past it, all those things add up and become the anchor slowing down your voyage through life.

Don’t let the ruminations get you down.  Don’t try to relive the married years and torture yourself with the “what if’s”.  You will drive yourself crazy trying to figure out what you could have done differently.  The self doubt sets in and you become your own worst enemy.  You rehash everything, I know, I did.  I played out whole sequences in my head (usually when I couldn’t sleep, around 3:00 a.m.) trying to figure out where I went wrong, what I could have done differently, how I could have save my marriage, changing the ending.  Well guess what???  Nothing I did, or could have done would have saved my marriage.  He was “checked out”, emotionally unavailable, he had moved on.

Quit playing the blame game.  Don’t try to assign fault.  You cannot change what has happened.  As we learned in our group last week, pain is a natural response to this VERY bad thing that has happened to you.  You are normal to feel this way.  The important thing to learn is not to be held in bondage to it.  Take an active role in the healing process that you need to survive this.  Quit dragging that anchor, cut it loose with great joy that you’ve been given the gift of a new start on a voyage of a lifetime.  Your voyage – it’s all about you!!!  God speed!!

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Lonely vs. Alone

Today was session #2 in our new Divorce Recovery Series.  One of the things touched upon was something that has long plagued me with doubt.  That is:  knowing and understanding the difference between being “alone” and being “lonely”.  Does this ever bother you?

I enjoy people, I enjoy activity.  I loved being a wife, I loved being a Mom.  I thrived on the hustle and bustle of everyday living and I was pretty good at it.  Don’t get me wrong, there were plenty of times that I longed for some solitude just to rest, to reflect and to recharge.  But I got to do that on my own terms and always knew that when I was ready, I could jump back into the crazy fray of daily chaos.  I was happy being busy.

Do you understand the difference between being along and being lonely?  If you’re younger and still have kids at home, you’re not alone – but you can still be lonely.  There’s no spouse to have the “how was your day” conversation with.  You don’t get to sit down and plan this year’s vacation.  There’s no discussion of who’s parents house you’re going to for Christmas or any of the holidays.  No one helps you figure out whether you’re fixing the roof first, or replacing the old washer and dryer.  All those decisions you used to share are now up to you.  Should make you feel independent, should make you feel capable, accomplished, intelligent.  But nope, just makes you realize how alone you are.

Last year I spent several months on crutches after a bad fall.  You want to realize how alone you are??  Try being hurt and unable to drive.  You can’t walk the dogs, you can’t get to the grocery store, you can’t get up the stairs to your bedroom.  That’s alone . . .

Going to the movies by yourself, ordering a pizza delivery – size small, watching old videos because you’ve cleared out all recorded programs on your DVR, remembering when there was a warm body next to you.  That’s lonely . . .

You can have one without the other, but too many times divorced women have to deal with both at the same time and it can be overwhelming.  You feel so sad for what “used to be” and wonder what you did to deserve this.  You used to be so important in other’s lives and now the others are gone and you’re left to learn to live by yourself.  Wish there were an easy fix, but it’s like dragging an anchor.  So tomorrow I’m going to start working on the lonely part, and just maybe someday I won’t be alone anymore.

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When they just don’t “get it” . . . .

Friends, I have quite a few.  They come in all shapes and sizes, from all walks of life, and our lives cross paths for a multitude of reasons.  Some of these friends I hear from or talk to almost daily, some weekly, many only on special occasions – but I know they’re there.  I truly believe that if I really needed any one of them in a crisis, they would be there for me if at all possible.  Isn’t that what the words in Dionne Warwick’s song really mean??  “That’s what friends are for?”  Or how about “Friends in need are friends in deed?”

Now, what to do when you start receiving all that unsolicited advice from those same wonderful friends?  Do you listen politely?  Do you argue back that they don’t know what they’re talking about?  Do you try to make them see your point of view, try to explain to them why you feel the way you do?  Do they listen or do they really even care?  Hard questions for sure, and touchy to answer.

When I was going through my divorce, I received plenty of input from people.  But for the most part, unless you really wanna air your dirty laundry, these same people don’t know what specifically is going on in your situation.  Every relationship is different, every break up is different.   In my case, it was all about adultery.  Promises to stop, promises to seek therapy, promises promises promises.  Along with those promises came advice from his friends, and my friends – mostly just to “hang in there”.  I tried, he didn’t.

When he filed for divorce, a new round of unsolicited advice started pouring in.  Everything from what attorney to hire to how to take him to the cleaners.  I didn’t stop any of the advice because I was in shock and felt like I needed all the help I could get.  After the divorce the advice increased ten-fold.  Everyone had an opinion.  If I started to do something someone disagreed with, nothing kept them from letting me know what they thought I was doing wrong.  For the most part, this advice was coming from people who had never been through this same situation.  So I wondered, who are they to be telling me how to live my life?  How could they possibly know how I feel?  Didn’t they understand that I’d just left a relationship (30 year marriage) with someone that was always telling me what I was doing wrong, what to do to be correct, and how to live my life?  Had I jumped from the frying pan into the fire?

I wish I could tell you that it’ll ease, it’ll go away, it’ll get better eventually – but I can’t.  People are always going to have opinions, they are always going to share them even if you don’t want to hear it.  You will just have to determine the best way you can handle it to not hurt anyone’s feelings.  After all they mean well, they hopefully have your best interest at heart.  So even “when they just don’t get it,” just try to smile and say . . . . . . AHHHH!!!!!!!

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Alone again . . . . .

The night – it follows the day.  It’s the time to relax after a full day.  It’s the time for dinner, maybe a bit of housekeeping.  It’s the time for TV and the DVR.  It’s the time to walk the dogs who have been alone all day.  It’s the time to deal with all the personal things that you don’t have time for during the working hours of the day.  It’s the time you feel  .  .  .  alone.

When married we had an active social life.  When the kids were little we had an active “kid’s activities” life.  We followed their soccer, baseball, basketball, lacrosse.  You always had things to do when you were a parent.  In our case we had kids early – by choice – so that we would have quality of life while young enough to still enjoy it after the kids were grown.  Who’s enjoying that life now????  My ex and his younger wife.  

Yep – all those things you give up when you’re younger???  All those trips you wait to take, those things you didn’t spend your hard earned money on so that the kids had all the things in life you wanted to provide them??  Everything you sacrificed for, good times just waiting to be shared when you were an empty nester?  They’re all being enjoyed right now – just not by you.

The new spouse.  What can I say??  They didn’t earn it, they weren’t there in the beginning when you had nothing.  But they’re darned sure enjoying it now.  You’ve been replaced – how simple is that?  You were a piece of the puzzle that’s been removed and another piece has taken your place.  You are history.  You’re a “has been”.  Life has moved on without you.  No one is looking back and saying, “Hey, what happened to the good ol’ girl?”  You’re saying – “What the heck happened?”

Alone again – that’s me.  It’s 11:00 p.m. and what do I have to look forward to but another day tomorrow, alone.  I hate it, it sucks, but it is now my life.  I’m a “single” whether I wanted it or not.  My “significant other” is my computer.  but at least it doesn’t steal the remote control . . . . .

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Moving on Down the Road

I recently started attending a “Divorce Recovery Series” offered through a local church.  While I don’t believe recovery per se needs to necessarily be “faith based”, a good friend had attended this once, and was going again and invited me along.  I figure anything you can do as a positive step forward is better than taking steps backward, right??  So why not?

There were about a dozen of us there and altho’ it’s offered to “all”, the enrollees were all female.  The one man there attends these as a lay ministry he and his wife offer – nice to have a male point of view, and since he has gone through divorce himself he does gain/offer his own insight and perspective.  During a chance to introduce ourselves and give our reasons for attending, sharing what we hope to achieve, I was struck by the many different stages of recovery we are all in.  One had been divorced for decades, most within the last ten years, and several having recently started the process.  Afterward our leader – a licensed therapist – summed it up in a way that so resonated with me that I had to share it with you all.  She allowed as that your recovery is not linear.  Hmmmmm, think about it.  That is so true!

Our society is all about linear.  We’re goal oriented, we try to not only get to the end of the race, but win it.  We start at point A and try to get to point B as fast as we can.  We race to win.  We talk the talk to walk the walk.  We are driven to get there.  It’s so black and white but is it possible?  Are we setting ourselves up for failure by always needing to get to the end as quickly as humanly possible??  Is it even achievable?

That’s why it’s called recovery – and it’s not linear.  It’s so clear to those of us in the process that we have to move at our own pace.  You heal in your own way, and you would be wise to take your time and do it right.  We might not be convenient (to our family and our friends) in our process of “getting over it”.  For anyone else looking from the outside in, there’s something wrong with you wallowing in negativity, holding onto your anger and regret.  I’m sure you’ve received as much advice about “moving on” as I have.  Sounds easy.  You want to do it, but how do you “move on” from something that was a part of your life for 20, 30 or 40 years in a matter of months or just a few years?

Divorce is like a scab trying to form on an open wound.  You can put a bandage on it, but the wound is still there.  You can hide it from the world, but you know it’s still there.   It needs to heal, it takes time and it’s not linear.  Give yourself permission to feel, and permission to heal.  Good luck on your journey.

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