IF by Rudyard Kipling

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If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build ‘em up with wornout tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on”;

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings—nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run—
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

I thought you might like to read the poem in its entirety since I made reference to it the other day in this post.  I hope that this helps you with your day and inspires you as it has inspired me.

 

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Behind A Woman’s Eyes

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Behind every woman’s eyes are her history, her struggles, her weaknesses and her strengths.  Behind her eyes are her hopes, her dreams and her illusions.  Behind her eyes, you can glimpse her soul, perfect, whole and complete, just like your own.

To look into someone’s eyes for more than a glance-filled moment is to see her being.  You may call her vulnerability, weakness or her strength, coldness.  You may call her whatever you wish if you have not spent time to see who she really is inside.  You may not understand what drives her to say and to do what she does.  You may not care to know or you may misinterpret by your own standards.  It matters not to her.  She is who she is.  And you are who you are.

I have been called many names in my lifetime.  I have been judged wrongly and correctly.  In turn, I have done the same, judging myself by others’ standards and finding myself unworthy.  What occurs to me now is this, finally after many months of soul-searching.

I am me.

With all my faults that you see and with the gifts that you may not.

And I am finally at peace.

I have suffered as most strong women have, otherwise without trials and tribulations, we have no chances to grow and to explore who we are meant to be.  I have offered to dig deep into the pail of my knowledge and to share my experiences with others with whom I have connected in order to help them on their journey as I have been helped throughout my lifetime.  I have explored the depths of my soul in the darkness of lonely nights, only to be awakened by the dawn of a new day full of possibility.

I have been scorned, called weak by wearing my heart on my sleeve, by being kind and compassionate to others.  It matters not to me.  I find strength in caring, not weakness.  Perhaps I am a fool by others’ standards, but not by my own.  I place my head on my pillow every night in gratitude for the day’s events even when they are less than optimal, for I know, they are just another stepping stone for my life’s work.  It does not serve me to be angry, resentful and to remain blind to the light in others even when it is hidden in the dark recesses of their eyes.  The light remains even when hidden.  The flame may smolder, but it is still there.

Behind every strong woman’s eyes is understanding, compassion, empathy and love.  Peace may waiver in our lives, but it is our choice to remain steadfast in our pursuit of life’s blessings and to embrace the clouds with the storms so that we may feel the sunlight and experience the rainbow which often follows the tears.

I have been blessed to connect with a bevy of strong people in my life.  Souls who have given of their time, wisdom and understanding, in order to embrace my experiences with me and to hold my hand as we walk towards our ending.  I am ever grateful that they shared from their pails of knowledge, and their experiences, in order to enrich my own.  I pray that whenever I have shared, the same feeling was met.

I know not what the future holds for me.  Most of us never really do for changes can happen in an instant, blocking the path which we called our own.  So I stand here in this present moment of peace, grateful that tonight when I close my eyes and the darkness embraces me, I can still see the moon and the stars of hope knowing that the dawn will come as it always does, a new day, a new beginning, another chance to connect with others, to share experiences and to hold hands for as long as we are able.

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Do the What If’s Torture You Too?

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What If’s are one of the cruelest parts of divorce, heck, maybe just one of the cruelest parts of living in general.  I say this because I have spent many months paging through the What If’s in my memory bank of my relationship with my STBX (soon-to-be-ex) husband.  I think it’s natural that we do this especially when we are going through a divorce.  However, I don’t think What If’s are confined to the divorcing population.  I think What If’s are the nightmare of everyone when we let the What If’s spoil our present peace.

What If’s make us second guess ourselves.  They take the confidence out of everyday living and decision making and can stymie us into numbness, procrastination and lethargy.  We can get so entangled in the What If’s mentality that we can’t make a decision or we don’t make a decision because we are too wrapped up in seeing the big picture.  We worry that if we make choice A, then outcome B will happen, but What If, we make choice C and then outcome D will happen, will we be happier?

What If’s allow for possibilities which is great!  But when we overdose on What If’s, it takes away our peace and our presence.  In striving to be everything to everyone all at the same time, we fail by consuming the What If’s mentality.

Then there’s the dreaded What If’s from the past that many times we concentrate on during a divorce.  Well, we say to ourselves, What If I had said this when he did that, or What If he had said this when I did that or What If I had been thinner or he had been more attentive or if we had gone away together more or (insert your own What Ifs).  You get the picture don’t you?

It’s not living when we live too much in the What If’s world.  It stunts our growth potential.  It damns us before we can even begin to live.  Have you felt that way?  Have you been so caught up in the What If mentality that you let the day slip by or you have been up all night in search of the eternal answer to your repetitive quest to What If?

What If’s are beneficial when we use them properly to learn from our mistakes and to think before we act.  To look on our path spherically and linearly.  My definition is such:  spherically means we look at the whole picture, we choose with the big picture in mind of how decisions we make affect ourselves, our environment, and our loved ones.  Linearly we see the path before us and we step forward.  We do what is right for ourselves and pay little attention to any waves of turbulence that might incur while we are moving forward.  We have a goal, we focus and we achieve it.  There’s a happy medium to be found between the spherical and linear thinking.  I think it’s beneficial to do both – like the perfect recipe – a little bit of this, a little bit of that, but in perfect proportion and voila – life’s successful and peaceful!

Use your What If’s wisely.  Make sure you push the stop button when the What If’s repeat on a loop.  There is no benefit to your beating yourself up over and over for what you deem as failure.  There are no gold stars for figuring out how you could have done it right.  However, you can look at past failures with forgiveness for you and for the others involved.  Yes, you can use What If’s to own up to your past mistakes and learn from them in order to choose differently next time.  You can imagine What If’s all day and night, but it won’t change the past, unless you learn from them.  Use your What If’s as a beacon for a happy, well-centered, peaceful life and for heaven’s sake, keep moving.  Don’t stunt your growth, instead open up to your growth to heal and to succeed.

What are the What If’s running in your head?

How do you stop that train of thought when it skips stations?

 

 

 

 

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Staying Centered During Divorce

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It is so hard when we are separated and divorcing a spouse.  Keeping our heads and hearts centered is a monumental job that at times feels overwhelming.  Dealing with all the emotional, mental, physical and financial stress at one time and hoping that we are making all the right decisions for ourselves, our kids and even our STBX (soon-to-be-ex) spouse can feel impossible.  Just the emotional side alone is hard to command let alone everything else.

But dear friends, you must continue to try.

We all make mistakes along the way, but when we continue to strive to stay centered, to do the right thing for everyone involved, to not get caught up in the minutia of paybacks and digs and all the ugliness that can evolve during this stressful time, we will be better for it.  Our kids, our spouse and we ourselves will benefit if we can be the one, like in Rudyard Kiplings’s poem IF:

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don’t give way to hating,

I know it’s hard.  Believe me, I do.  But I also know that there’s a way to keep life simple and peaceful by staying centered.  Don’t indulge in the garbage.  Keep on the path which is simple.  It’s staying on the path which is hard.  But this is what helped me:

My goal was to stay me, not a bitter version of me who felt awful about her loss, her grief and her circumstances and heck, the whole divorce in general.  I wanted to keep my eyes and mind on my goals which were to untie the bond of marriage in the simplest, kindest way possible for all involved so that we could move on and begin to heal.  I allowed my hurt, distrust and immense grief to be my own and I tried very hard not to affect the kids with it.  Of course, they saw me cry occasionally, I’m only human, but I made sure to not speak badly of their dad, to not throw him under the bus and to not wail in grief (you know that sob from the center of your soul) when they were nearby.  Frankly, I didn’t want to scare them because their mother’s heart was so deeply grieving and there were times when I had to let it all out.  But I saved those times for when they weren’t home or I was driving in the car by myself and could pull over for a much needed respite of sobbing.

My goal was to not turn my heart against love, even though my spouse had left.  I have had frank conversations with my kids about this because they asked.  I told them that I inherently believe in love, that I grieved the loss of our marriage, but that I wish for both of us to find happiness and love again in our lives because both their dad and I deserve it.

With the divorce agreement continuing to be negotiated, I am trying to be fair.  Of course, neither of us will be thrilled with the outcome because division of assets is a give and take and in this type of situation, nobody wants to give more than they have to at any given time.  That’s human nature.  But when you take the emotionalism out of the equation and look at your divorce papers as a business deal, you can clearly see what you will and will not accept.  I have found that I could bend on certain things that didn’t make much of a difference to me and in turn, they allowed him to bend a bit too which helped the negotiations go smoother.  Then again, there were stumbling blocks at times when we didn’t stay centered through negotiations.  It’s hard to mediate when you can feel your spouse’s emotions and you want to defend yourself or tell him off and surely he’s feeling the same way.  It was in those times that I lost my center and I knew it.  I felt off-kilter and I watched how it made the situation so much more complex and difficult all around.

Please understand that staying centered doesn’t mean letting someone walk all over you.  It’s not that.  It’s simply being peaceful and accepting in your heart and mind that this is what is happening.  Knowing that I need to go with the flow, and yet be firm in my decisions.  When I couldn’t make a decision, I asked for advice from friends, family and my lawyer.  When I was angry by his actions/inactions/words, I took myself out of the equation, vented and then came back to clearly state how I felt (but ONLY IF I thought it would make a difference in our situation or when it wasn’t treatment that I deserved).  Otherwise, silence was golden for me.

It’s a voluntary choice to remain centered during a divorce.  It’s a choice you have to make at every stage and yes, it’s hard.  But honestly, it’s well-worth the effort for all involved.

Does this make sense?  Do you have any advice on the subject?

 

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Don’t Quit – Inspirational Motivation For Your Day

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When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,
When the road you’re trudging seems all uphill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high,
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit-
Rest if you must, but don’t you quit.

Life is queer with its twists and turns,
As every one of us sometimes learns,
And many a fellow turns about
When he might have won had he stuck it out.
Don’t give up though the pace seems slow –
You may succeed with another blow.

Often the goal is nearer than
It seems to a faint and faltering man;
Often the struggler has given up
When he might have captured the victor’s cup;
And he learned too late when the night came down,
How close he was to the golden crown.

Success is failure turned inside out –
The silver tint in the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell how close you are,
It might be near when it seems afar;
So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit –
It’s when things seem worst that you must not quit.

 ~ Unknown

I always liked this poem and I needed some strength and inspiration today so I thought I’d share it with you.  I hope it helps to lift your spirits when things are tough.  Don’t forget, you have a friend in me!

Remember, the mantra, Don’t Quit!

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Is the Grass Always Greener? Are You Thinking About Getting a Divorce?

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Of course we’ve all contemplated if the grass is greener on the other side.  Hopefully before we make life changing decisions, we look at all angles before we hop into making a decision.  Sometimes, decisions are made for us though and we have no choice but to move forward.

My STBX (soon-to-be-ex) thought the grass was greener by leaving.  Maybe it is, but for the most part, he looks pretty morose.  He left me and I was devastated by his departure, but now I am settled into a routine with the kids, liking how my life is beginning again and I’m not missing him.  Ok, let me be honest.  I never wanted a divorce.  I wanted to work things out, but when he left, there was no turning back.  The only way was forward, through the grief and the bereft feelings that he left in his wake.  I had to learn how to make it on my own and I’m doing just that!

However, it amazes me how some people think that getting a divorce is easy.  I have had a few married women tell me that they envy my position and freedom.  I looked at them dumbfounded.  What do they see that makes them envy me?  My reply to one of them was that it’s not as easy as it looks and if it were possible, I would have never chosen to walk this path in my lifetime.  It was her turn to look sheepishly at me and mumble that she just meant that it would be nice to not have to deal with a husband and kids all the time.  She was thinking that she would have a bit of freedom if she divorced her husband and that they would share custody.

So let me set you all straight, those that think that the grass is greener on the divorced side of the tracks…Before you decide to go through with it, read below some of the stumbling blocks ahead.

HEARTACHE:  No matter who decides to leave, there is heartache for all involved –  for both partners (even if it doesn’t seem like it, we all grieve at some point, to some degree), for any children of the marriage, for all family involved since now the family usually takes sides with their chosen family member, for friends who may have to choose sides, for pets who now don’t see a parent much anymore, for neighbors, for friends of friends who aren’t sure what to say, for relatives of each person, etc., etc., etc.

FINANCIALLY:  There’s now a division and all the messiness that comes with separating finances, selling the family home because it’s a shared asset, and dividing up debts.  Changing names on bank accounts and getting new credit cards (if you shared them).  Changing car insurance policies, the change of car registrations (if needed) are also required.  Retirement accounts, stocks and bonds, mortgages, home equity loans, etc. all need to be figured out as well.  Not to mention with a divorce, there’s now a division of who pays for what for each child involved and no matter who you talk with, it never seems fair to anyone.  Let’s not forget the insane debt incurred by paying lawyers to negotiate the divorce.

Then there’s the divvying up of possessions, furniture, and all items acquired during a divorce.  What do you do with your silver, your crystal, and your china if you had them?  Do you really want the wedding china that was chosen with so much hopeful bliss?  Or do you sell it and get less than 1/4 of what you originally paid for it?  Will you ever be able to use it and not remember all of the meals you shared as a family?

And let’s not forget that when it comes to a divorce and finances, I’ve yet to meet anyone who didn’t have problems getting the information needed in order to sign the divorce agreement and feel comfortable knowing that they had all of the financial information at hand.  Many spouses hide money.  Like with a death sometimes, first there’s grief, then there’s greed.  Hidden accounts, credit card debts, moving of funds, etc. makes it hard to trust completely the spouse you once thought was your honest partner.

Alimony and child support are other factors to consider.  No salary is ever enough when it comes to this division and nobody ever thinks that what they are giving or getting is fair enough.

CUSTODY:  Sharing custody with a partner is tricky when you have children.  The horrendous inconvenience to the kids in having to pack up as the exchange of parental responsibilities comes and goes according to the custody agreement makes it hard.  It’s a burden on your children and a bitter sadness to hold when you know that it’s because you and your spouse couldn’t stay married.  You probably each have a place you call home, but the children are the ones who suffer the burden of packing and unpacking in order to accommodate living at mom’s for a time and then at dad’s as per the divorce agreement.

Holidays are no longer a family celebration.  In a divorce, we share the holidays with our ex’s which makes it sadder for ourselves and the kids.  I’ve spent quite a few holiday hours alone waiting for the kids to return or spending it alone because it’s his turn.  Kindness prevails here and hopefully you will both make a huge effort to make it easier on the kids.  Maybe you could try, if the divorce is amicable, to share the holidays sometimes.  We did that for a bit, but after awhile, it got to be too hard and we stopped.  It takes a commitment on both spouses to make it work and put aside all ugly feelings for the sake of the kids.  It’s also really weird to have your STBX sleeping over in order to be there when the kids wake up on Christmas morning.  Graduation parties and birthday parties can work if everyone involved works as a team, but I’ve found that most times, kids have to have 2 separate parties because the parents and their families no longer get along well.

Or if you are the primary parent, you are the full-time responsible parent alone as your spouse gets an occasional weekend.  You don’t have freedom because you are parenting alone, 24/7.  There’s no passing the baton and sleeping late in the morning or not staying up until your child comes home or if there’s a problem, it’s on you – even if you have a decent relationship with your spouse.  The kids are in your care and so it’s you who disciplines them in that moment.  Maybe your spouse will back you up and maybe not.  It depends on the circumstances and the relationship.

TIME OFF:  Here’s the part that you may believe the grass is greener for divorcees.  You think that if we have weekends off, we are out partying and enjoying ourselves because we’re not parents on our time off.  Wrong.  We are sad when our kids leave to go to their dad’s home, as much as we are happy to have a little peace and quiet.  It’s a strange trade-off.  On one hand, yes, we have a few hours or days alone.  On the other, we are probably still getting calls from the kids from time to time and when you’re used to having your kids at home, it feels empty when they are gone for a long period of time.  Yes, we get to enjoy a little downtime, but as soon as we can begin to relax in it, the kids come home.  Because as soon as they return, you’re on again 24/7, full-time parenting alone.  There’s little happy medium no matter what the custody agreement says.  You worry when they’re gone.  And then when they return, they may come home to complain about the situation at their other parent’s home or they gossip about how the other parent is dating or tattle on what that parent said about you.

Sure we can hog the remote, watch every chick-flick we ever loved repeatedly and even eat yodels and wine for dinner if we choose when the kids are away.  We can leave the bed unmade for weeks if we choose and sleep in the middle with every single pillow in the house surrounding us.  We can do whatever we please without worry.  Those are pluses that I can agree on with you for sure.  I will unabashedly admit to enjoying each of those listed above with glee.

But remember, you are now all alone at home.  There’s nobody to go out to have a couple’s dinner to celebrate alone or with your kids.  You attend school functions alone.  There’s nobody to hold you when you are crying and need comfort.  There’s nobody to check what that noise was downstairs at night when you hear an unfamiliar sound and of course, you are thinking immediately that there’s a stranger in the house!  There’s nobody to sit on the couch with you to watch television.  There’s no partner now to understand when you want to vent about a problem – you know, when your family drives you crazy and you need someone who just ‘gets it’ because he knows them and he knows you.  There’s nobody to cuddle in the middle of the night.  There’s nobody to help you carry the heavy stuff.  You are in charge of making sure the garbage and recycling go out on time or you have to get the kids to do it.

There aren’t couple dinners with friends anymore.  There’s a bunch of missed parties because you are the odd woman out (and even if they invite you, it feels weird to be alone when you used to be part of an established couple and everyone knows it).

You can’t turn to your partner when there’s something going on with yourself.  Your health is your problem and you can’t share when you’re scared because something hurts or you have to have tests or there’s something not quite right with you.

You are always the DD (Designated Driver) because you’re driving yourself (or sometimes a friend will drive you somewhere).  There’s nobody when the kids are out to make sure you made it home safely.  When the kids are out, you are up waiting by yourself to make sure they are home safely.  You try to forget your wedding anniversary since there’s nothing to celebrate anymore.  Wedding anniversaries are harder now because they are stark reminders of the marriage failure.  The final divorce signing is yours alone to handle, unless you have family and friends to be with you.

Still thinking the grass is greener?  Read on!

NAME CHANGES:  As ex-wives, we have the opportunity to change our names back to our maiden names if we choose.  I have been on the fence about this one for awhile, but I finally decided to stick with my married name because I’ve been that name for more than 2 decades and it feels strange to write my maiden name.  It’s not natural.  Part of me would like to go back to my maiden name since I will be Ms. Leeds now and not Mrs. Leeds which feels strange as well.  But on the other hand, I don’t want to have a different last name than my children.  All of their friends call me Mrs. Leeds and I doubt that will change since they won’t remember to say MS. now that they have for years, called me MRS.  Also, it’s a huge pain in the neck to change every single document to a new name after a divorce.  The magnitude of changing my license, my bank accounts, my credit cards, and all of the paperwork that comes to me in my married name feels like too much work to me.  So I’m sticking with Leeds.

STARTING OVER:  Dating after divorce feels funny.  Being with the same spouse for decades makes the thought of having a new partner, physically, mentally and emotionally and learning to trust someone else feels daunting.  Being intimate with someone new can be exciting and feel adventurous, but it can also feel strange.  You knew the rhythm of your spouse and what each of you liked and now it’s a new body to learn.

In addition, if you haven’t dated since you married your spouse eons ago, you may be hesitant to get out there via online dating.  Fact is, if you’re like me, you’re probably hoping that Mr. Wonderful Part 2 is going to suddenly show up on your front doorstep with flowers, candy and the perfect personality, ready to sweep you off of your feet and take care of you.  Please know that this only happens in Disney movies and not in real life.

Dating after divorce and at age 50 is more difficult as every single one of us now has baggage.  We aren’t youngsters anymore filled with hope.  We’ve been hurt.  We’ve survived marriage’s ups and downs.  We’ve developed into adults with a divorce behind us and all the pain that comes with it.  Sure it’ll be fun to date again.  But we’re not 22 anymore, thin, with baby soft and wrinkle free skin and no grey hairs.  We are adults who have aged, maybe some better than others, but we don’t look like we did back in the day.  Also, back then, we were probably more fearless in meeting people.  We didn’t have the heartache burden.   We probably didn’t have kids who throw a monkey wrench into the dating scene at times.  We were free and only responsible for ourselves.  If things didn’t work out with a date, we moved onto the next one and there was always a next one.  But now we wonder if we had that one chance at a soul mate and now it’s gone?  Did we use up our quota?  Will we ever find love again?

For those of you who may have thought the grass was greener and in a moment’s ecstasy let your mind wander to the benefits of a divorce, I hope that my reality check made you think twice.  And if you are still thinking you want to do it, then please do it for the right reasons.  Don’t do it on a whim.  Do it the right way.  Be kind.  Be thoughtful.  Have a plan and make sure that you get a good lawyer whom you can trust.

If you can mediate the divorce with your partner, you’ll find it may go smoother with less financial burdens paid to lawyers.  Try to do the right thing by your spouse.  Be respectful.  Once he was the man you loved and perhaps even had children with so remember that please.  It will only help all of you in the end.  You went into the marriage with kindness.  Leave the marriage with your integrity, kindness and respect intact.

It’s your choice.  Choose wisely.

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He’s Left, Now What Happens To Me?

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It’s hard when you’ve been left by a spouse or significant other.  Let’s be honest here.  Nobody likes to hear that their loved one is leaving them.  That’s just hard to deal with in any circumstance, no matter what age you are.  But to have a long time marriage fall apart and end in divorce with kids and pets and family in the middle, well, as you may know, it’s heart-breaking at best.

I asked this question a thousand times – Now What Happens To Me?

At first I had no answer.  I sat and cried copious tears, alone, afraid and indecisive.  But then, I began to heal and to work on myself.  Slowly at first, sharing my story with others whom I trusted.  I began to realize that I could breathe when he wasn’t around.  That was a shocker, but I realized also at the same time that I had been holding myself back, staying silent because things were difficult at home between us and I didn’t want to upset the children.

Once he moved out and the grieving lessened, I realized that I should concentrate on me now.  Sure, I am primary parent of the kids so they are here all the time, but I found bits of time to carve out as mine in order to put myself back together.  Because he moved out, I took over his side of the closet and made it mine.  I rearranged the dresser drawers and spread out my clothing.  I started to do little things to make the home feel more like mine and to find a little bit of power in myself.  I kept his photos up in the kids’ rooms, but I took down the family photos with him after a time.  I didn’t want any reminders of him here for me to see.  It was a slow process for sure, as I needed us to get used to him being gone and I didn’t want the kids to grieve him too much, too quickly.  Heck, I was still grieving the loss of my husband.

I started reading some self-help books to get myself back on track.  His leaving took some of my self-esteem and I had to find myself again.  I had to put myself back together and mend my broken heart.  I read a lot of blogs and articles online which helped as it made me feel less alone when I read about other people’s experiences which were similar to my own.

I began to take a walk every day.  Alone.  I noticed the trees when I walked the neighborhood.  I walked by the beach when there weren’t a lot of people there.  I sat on the bench at times, just smelling the sea air, feeling the sun on my face and listening to the calming waves which are like music to my soul.  Exercise helped me to clear my head and concentrate on gratitude.  I blessed every little gift I could think of in my life.  Sometimes, as I walked, I stomped in anger, releasing the frustration that ebbed and flowed depending on how he was acting towards me.  Sometimes I listened to music on my headphones and tears poured down my cheeks.  Some days a friend would accompany me and she would let me talk and she would listen with her kind heart, offering suggestions or just a hug and friendship.

I also wrote in my journal, sitting out in the backyard.  Feeling at home in nature, it helped me to heal.  I watched the wildlife play in my yard, giggling at the squirrels who scampered all over the place and the chipmunks who darted around me.  I listened to the birds call to each other.  I wrote letters to him, never to be sent, but releasing all the pent up emotions that were weighing me down.  I wrote poetry which I had never really done before too.  I just let my pen and paper be my guide to spiritual healing.

Although it may feel selfish to you, this is the time in your life when you take charge again of you and your children to make a family unit of your own.  For now, you are the matriarch of your family and the kids are depending on you to forge a new family unit.  I gathered my children daily, hugged them and reminded them that both of their parents loved them.  Because I am primary parent (he has since moved many states away), we are a special family unit.  I remind them that we are only as strong as our bonds are and that the bonds that hold us together are strong.  I let the bonds with their dad grow as well and I tried to help keep them strong too.  It is important that they have their dad in their lives and it is important for him to stay a dad as well.

My kids and I are very close.  We speak honestly with one another.  I do not bad-mouth their dad because his inconsistency in parenting and lack of communication has shown them who he now has become.  Yes, they are saddened by the loss of the man who was at one time, a very hands on, involved dad to them.  But as time has passed, they have learned to rely less on him.  They are trying to accept this new version, not better version, of their dad, but it is hard on them.  I let them vent their frustrations to me.  I understand how they feel for I feel similarly – having a STBX husband who has disconnected.  I work hard to be there for them at all times, but I also allow them freedom.  We talk a lot these days.  The younger one was very quiet for a long time before he began to share how he felt.  I never forced them to share their feelings, but I always kept an open ear for whatever they wanted to share.  I gave them time to process and the freedom to talk it out when they wanted to and when they didn’t, I would just give them a little nudge and remind them that I am here with an open heart and a big hug when needed.  Sometimes they shared.  Other times, it took awhile.  I offered counseling to which they declined.  So I went to counseling myself in order to help myself and to help them by being the best mom I could be.

The road is bumpy for sure after a spouse leaves.  But it’s also littered with little unexpected gifts that may be hidden from plain view, but are always there.  You just have to look for the gifts – special bonds with your kids, deeper connections with family and friends who are supportive, carving out time for yourself, reading self-help books to bolster your self-esteem, being free to be you, doing less laundry, hogging the TV remote control when you want – and tons more!  You just have to be open to seeing the gifts.

What happens to you now is your choice dear friends – it’s honestly YOUR CHOICE!  Choose wisely.  You can make mistakes and choose again so don’t be afraid.  Decisions are now yours and you can make all the decisions needed.  Listen to advice from others who have been there, but ultimately, remember, this is your life to do as you wish.

Start over.  Choose to enjoy the newfound freedom.  Don’t look back.  Be present.  Look forward.  You are blazing your own path.  You can do it!

I’m rooting for you all the way and I know you’ll get to where you want someday!

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