Oh the holidays

Yes, the holidays. The traditions that have brought families together for special gatherings year after year. And these are the very things that those experiencing divorce often need to avoid.

I went to see my therapist today, as so many thoughts have been bouncing around in my mind, and are almost literally driving me insane. I felt overwhelmed with sadness, thoughts that Christmas is never going to be the same. I can’t do the same things as I have always done. I feel bad for the kids, even though they are adults, but I simply can’t honestly participate.

There just has to be new traditions, and maybe none at all for a while. I’d like to simply concentrate on Christ’s birth this year. Isn’t it ironic that something so painful would strip everything down to what Christmas really is after all. It’s about Christ’s birth, and all the traditions and customs we have surrounding it have been built up over time and used by many to celebrate the great event.

I really wish I could simply go to Mass and forget everything else. No parties, no special foods, and it would be really nice if we could just forget the gifts.

But I have gone through the motions of buying the children’s and grand children’s gifts, wrapping them nicely, and putting them under the tree. (Yes, I did put up my tree. It’s my first fake tree, but I love it.)

I do wish I could just go away though and come back when everything is over. But somehow I’ll have to smile my way through this Christmas season and try to make the best of it for those around me. We are all struggling and are trying to wrap our brains around this new normal. It’s so hard. Life is hard.

One day at a time. We are being forged into new people. That process is never a fun one. And this won’t be the last time we are molded and transformed into new, stronger, more virtuous humans.

Oh, the holidays. At once, beautiful and agonizing. But in the end, after the agonizing, out comes a most beautiful child of God, molded by life, and hopefully, a compassionate light to others who are burdened in this world.

God bless you all. I hope some part of this season brings you joy and peace.

Stress management

When my husband left, I had no idea the direction in which I would be led. As a stay-at-home mom, I knew I needed to get out of the house and explore new career options. So I went to school to become a massage therapist. I figured I would get my stress management consulting certificate as well and little did I know, I would have plenty of time in which to achieve that goal.

As I neared the end of my classes and began massage clinic, I got into a minor bicycling accident, dislocated my thumb, and fractured both elbows. Surprise! Oh goodness, my life is full of surprises, of late.

Anyway, after months of some recovery and a thumb surgery on the horizon, I’m still trying to figure out what to do with my life until I can finally finish my massage therapy program and become certified.

Enter stress management consulting!

I’ve got my book and my online classes underway and, I have to admit, it’s very exciting. Of course, I handle stress very well, myself, as my therapist has told me many times, so, therefore, stress management coaching appeals to me. (handling stress well doesn’t mean that I have no stress. It simply means that I’m pretty good at devising strategies to help me get through it all😊).

Along with my massage therapy certification, I believe I will have a great thing going! I know I’ll be able to help a lot of people experiencing stress for a myriad of different reasons, and that will bring great delight in to my life.

One day at a time, one book at a time, one class at a time.

And, yes, one prayer at a time.

This is how I’m getting through these times of sadness. I’m learning a lot, loving even more, and simply trying to be present and thankful at every moment of each day.

Maybe the holidays won’t be so stressful after all.

The holidays

Well, the holidays are here again. I thought well and hard a couple months ago as the holidays approached. What would I do to not engage in any past traditions. I had to figure out how I would not be hurt again. Last year’s holidays were terribly painful as my kids and I tried to make everything exactly as it had always been…Christmas breakfast at our house with Grandma and Grandpa. Only there was no Dad. It was so painful for all of us that I swore this year would be different.

It started with Thanksgiving. There was a good plan in place. I went away with my thirteen and eighteen year olds to Plimoth Plantation in Massachusetts, for dinner, followed by Black Friday shopping in Boston. No traditions for us. This was the first time I had ever gone out to dinner on a holiday, and I’m sure it won’t be the last. We actually had a great time (albeit with the thorns in our sides) and weren’t really reminded of our past traditions at all. Just as planned.

I felt sorry for those who were left behind, but I needed to take care of me for a change. They all were with their father and my son in law’s side of the family. It was strange for them, but they made it work. It’s not what they are used to and they didn’t stay long.

Another Thanksgiving down.

My ex has the youngest, 13, for Christmas this year. Can’t we just skip over the holiday, except for Mass?

I can think about Jesus’ birth; I just can’t think of traditions our family has created over the years. And, I won’t spend the holiday alone, even once. I refuse to.

Maybe I’ll fly to Florida for a couple days. I’m sure someone will want to go with me. Someone else who’s suddenly been forced to be separated from their own family on the holiday. I don’t want to be gone, but when I am I don’t have to worry about the decisions everyone makes.

For instance, when everyone is over to my ex’s house, including my in laws, who I still love very much and am very close to, it’s just too much to handle. The feelings of sadness that wash over me nearly take me out. So what do I do instead? Leave. I don’t want to know what everyone is doing and with me out of the picture altogether, no decisions need to be made with regards to splitting up their time with me. I just figure it’s easier this way.

I’m sure the kids (remember, they are all adults except for my 13 year old) don’t like when I’m gone, but I don’t have another way to deal with this right now.

I don’t know. Maybe Christmas morning will be OK. I think. If I’m here, a few of us girls will wake up together and enjoy our stockings, and slowly come alive while still in our warm jammies, munching on creamy Christmas chocolates as we try to be happy as we open the rest of our gifts.

All this if I’m not gone, of course.

And if I’m here? What happens next? Off they go because Dad wants to see them, too. Then I’m alone. Can’t do it.

Hmmm. Time to search the internet for cheap tickets to FL.

Can pain run through veins like blood?

Today was a busy day, first a baby shower in the morning (that filled up about three hours), then a short break at home.  At 4:00 I met a new, super-nice friend for a Meet-Up at a nearby chic restaurant.  That filled up another two and a half hours.  Good.  I got through another day on a weekend when my youngest, 13, goes to her dad’s house which is in the next town over.

Sharing the kids:  what the hell.

Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I would be among the divorced, living in two different homes, sharing children (I had my youngest at age 41, and if you read “Meet me” you learned that I have 7…yes, 7), operating separate lives.  After 30 years of marriage, the pain of this is immeasurable.

My kids also never thought of divorce as a possibility for our family.  Divorce was happening to other families, but couldn’t, wouldn’t ever effect OUR family.  We were all so confident of this…until the unthinkable happened…dad left.

This sent shock waves through our family like a wild-fire spreading through the forest.  It was a swift, burning-hot reality that cut through me and the kids (aged 27 down to 13) like that fire, tragically extinguishing our happiness in one fell swoop. It nearly killed us, the pain being so deep and extremely unfamiliar (for us, but not for my ex) and we didn’t even know what to do with ourselves.  It is no exaggeration to say that we were in agony.

One thing I knew, however, after watching our longtime friends go through the most awful divorce just a couple of years before, was that I wasn’t going to talk trash about my then husband, John, to our children, my in-laws (my parents are deceased) or anyone else for that matter.  I insisted that my children all continue to love their father and try not to be angry with him, although we couldn’t understand what was happening.

At the time I thought that this was going to be a temporary thing, that somehow we’d get through it and things could go back to normal. There would be counseling and healing and we would wind up back together as a cohesive family again.

It didn’t end up that way, so here I am on an abnormally frigid, Saturday night in November

…alone

…divorced

writing a blog while all of my kids and two beautiful grandchildren have pizza at their dad’s.

Meanwhile, all the adult children try not to feel guilty for being there while mom is alone at home.  They know that none of this is their fault, but feel bad for both of us as we struggle with all of the ramifications of divorce (and, wow, are there so many!)

…and no one knows the inconceivably deep pain that I, and I’ll assume you, feel inside.  Did you ever feel like pain was literally running through your veins like blood?  Never in my life have I ever experienced pain like this before…the sensation that my blood IS pain.  Have you ever tried to explain this to someone else but haven’t had the words to describe it?  Well, pain coursing through my veins was how I described it to my therapist.  She just listened…I wondered if she’d ever knew pain this intense.

I hope not.

She gave me a book called Broken Open, about the transformative process of these exceedingly painful periods in our lives.  It was good to read stories of how others have walked through their own wild fires, and have come out as burnished, new people

…transformed.

Although I would never have ordered up this cup of pain for myself, I can, in all honesty, say that…

my heart has transformed into a new creation, one that is more lovely…more sensitive…a beautiful thing.

I am less judgemental, more compassionate and caring, and I believe I have the biggest listening ears on the planet!

I tried right from the beginning to try to see my ex just as the Lord sees him…as a child of God seeking happiness.  This kept me from being bitter, as the Lord’s ways are always better than my ways…His thoughts better than my thoughts.

So, pain traveling through my veins and all, I keep walking forward day by day, trying to love much, smile more, cry it out when needed, and continually strive to be in the light and maybe be that light to others.  It’s hard, but march on, I will.

I truly hope that you can do the same.  Pray, hope, love and march forward.  Tomorrow is a new day and another page in our book of life.

Please enter your thoughts in the comment section below if you’ve got something on your mind that you want (or need) to share.  I really believe that more heads are better than one and I look forward to hearing from you.

We understand each other and that just feels good.

 

Until next time my friends,

Dawna

P.S.  Like all of you, I have a very busy life.  I may respond to some of your comments, but they are really going to be there simply for all of us to read and share for moral support.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meet me!

Hello, friend!  Welcome to my blog!  Come on in to my blog living room, have a seat, relax and let me pour you a cup of heartfelt thoughts from my coffee pot of heartache. My name is Dawna (just say Donna like you’re from Boston and you’ll get it right😊). I am a 54 year old, newly divorced (my husband left after 30 years of marriage!) mother of seven (gasp now),  with two beautiful grandchildren and one on the way.

I wholeheartedly love life, my faith, and family life.  I am an enthusiastic learner, currently studying Massage Therapy at my local college and thoroughly enjoying every aspect of this soon-to-be career.

I will tell you right up front that I am not a polished writer who passionately loves to write, but I have a LOT to share. If one thinks of a blog as a conversation with the reader, then that is exactly what I intend to do in this blog:  have a conversation with you, my readers and confidants.

I want this to be a place where we can share with one another the utterly devestating, painful reality which divorce has wrought in us.

I care greatly for each and every one of you out there who is struggling. My hope is that by sharing with one another in this safe, non-judgmental, loving space, we can obtain a bit of comfort knowing that others share our feelings, which are misunderstood by most.

So come in, read, share. I like to think you are sitting here in my living room on the couch nearby, a box of tissues resting on the table at your side. So put your feet up, grab your coffee and stay a while.

Relax, read, cry.

The sun will be shining one day soon for all of us. In the mean time, let us rest in the knowledge that someone understands us and that God loves us deeply, down to the innermost core of our being.

Lots of love to you, my friend,

Dawna