Category Archives: Inspirational Quotes

Blue Christmas

Christmas can be hard.  I have a friend who was widowed 18 months ago, and she is struggling this year.  Although being widowed after 30+ years is different to being divorced (her husband didn’t choose to leave her) I believe the grief is similar.

‘Just get through the first year,’ people, who had never experienced loss, advised me.  “Get through that first birthday, anniversary, Christmas, whatever, and it will get easier.”

Little do they know.

That first ‘everything’ you are in shock.  It was the second one that my friend – and myself – found the hardest, because now it’s ‘real’.  This is how it’s going to be for the rest of your life.  He’s not coming back.

But let me assure you… with time it does get easier.  The holiday season is always going to be difficult with the memories it conjures up, but over time, things will get easier.

So… I have a project for you to make next Christmas a little better.

  1. Get yourself a large bowl or jar  – decorate it if you wish.
  2. Cut out 52 pieces of paper about one-and-a-half by two inches.
  3. Roll each up into a little scroll and tie it up with ribbon.
  4. Each week in 2020 write down something good that has happened to you that week and put it in the jar.
  5. On either Christmas Day or New Year’s Eve 2020 open them up and read these new happy memories.

Wishing you peace this Christmas Season and every good wish for 2020.

Take Your Time… But Persevere

I was at the beach recently.  A storm was coming in.  The clouds were dark, the waves wild, the wind blowing.

Hard.

It was exhilarating.

I found a sheltered spot, wrapped my coat tightly around me, my hair blowing wildly in all directions, the taste of salt sharp on my lips, and watched.

I watched the water, and the clouds, but mostly the seagulls.

They were an inspiration.

One tried to take off. He flew low to the beach, then was beaten by the wind and landed again, quite ungainly.  He waited a few minutes more, then tried to take off again, flying low… low… mere inches from the beach…until he got the wind beneath his wings and soared.

Another hung almost static in the air, beating her wings but also getting nowhere. She dipped down, searching for another wind, but finding none, landed on the water’s edge.  As she did so, a wave came in and knocked her off balance.  She staggered a little, then straightened herself and plodded onto the beach.  She waited a while, then like the other gull, took off again, staying low to the beach until she too caught the wind beneath her wings and rose into the air.

They weren’t the only two struggling.  All the gulls were fighting the wind… but they kept on going.

And it seemed to me the perfect metaphor for what it’s like going through those first weeks…months… years after a divorce.

Get forced down to earth again?  Take a breather.  Rest.  Don’t force yourself back up immediately.  Find your balance,  then take off.  Stay low at first.  Don’t push it.  Take your time till you feel more confident, then spread those wings.  Catch the wind.  Yes it might shove you around, but land again – even in an ungainly fashion – if you have to and start over again.

But keep going.

The storm will pass.

Courage, Persistence and Self-Belief

This video just popped up on my Facebook feed and I felt the need to share it.  The courage, persistence and self-belief of this dog is amazing.

Watching him, blindfolded, stepping out into the unknown brought me back to that first year after my husband left me.  If ever there is a visual metaphor for what it’s like walking, terrified, into a new life, blindsided and blindfolded – this is it.

I felt that dog’s fear in a visceral way.  It’s uncertainty.  But – despite near falls hear and there –  he kept putting one foot in front of the other until he got where he was going.

Just out of shot, you know his owner is there encouraging him – just as family and friends were there for me – but ultimately he was the one on the tightrope, doing it alone.

So, if you’re in the early stages of a divorce, and feel just like this dog, take heart.

In case you couldn’t watch the whole thing – he makes it to the other side.

And so can you.

So WILL you.

 

 

Trigger dates

For the last ten years of my marriage, August 5th, was a date that brought me joy. On  August 5th, 2005, after enduring four years of kidney dialysis, my husband was given the generous gift of a cadaver donor kidney.

I remember that day clearly; the lunchtime phone call from the hospital and their inability to contact my husband.  (Although he had a cell phone, he refused to carry it.)  Even though I was his wife, for reasons of patient confidentiality they couldn’t tell me the reason for their call, but they did answer my question.  “Is it time sensitive?” I asked.

The voice on the other line replied, “Yes’.

“How long does he have?” ”

“Thirty minutes.”

Thirty minutes and they’d give the kidney to someone else.

My son and I swung into action.  I phoned every person and place I could possibly think of where my husband might be. My son jumped into my car and literally cruised the streets downtown, close to his office, looking for him.

Long story short, they got to the hospital in time and he got the kidney.

I remember that night, seeing him post op, unconscious, his body swollen with all the fluid he’d received.  Honestly… he looked so white and awful I was terrified he might die.  But he survived and our lives changed. No longer were any of us – but particularly him – tied to the relentless demands of the dialysis machine.

Ten years later, on August 5th, my daughter discovered that the story my husband had fed all of us – that there was no-one else involved in his decision to break up our marriage – was an outright, and deliberate, lie.

Until that moment, I think I’d carried the illusion that our marriage might still be saved.  After that moment… after almost 40 years of loving him, I felt irrelevant and worthless. I wasn’t worth being told the truth.  What purpose did I have?  What meaning did my life have?  What meaning or purpose had I ever had?

Over the past few years, the sense of worthlessness has eased.  It’s a cliche but true – how someone treats you says nothing about you and everything about them. My meaning and purpose have started to crawl back, but August 5th is never an easy day.

And then, driving to pick up a friend from the airport today, I saw a sign by the side of the road that said, “You matter’.

It turns out it’s one of many signs displayed around our city by the woman depicted in this article. She states, “I believe that someone out there read that sign and it made their day better.”

I don’t know about anyone else, but Ann made my day better. Tomorrow – August 5th – will be much easier.

Thank you, Ann.

 

Welcome to Life!

A friend sent me this photo off the internet.  I don’t know where she found it, so I am unable to give it a correct attribution, and I also hope I’m not breaching anyone’s copyright, but it illustrates everything I have learned about life since my husband left me.

Times will be hard – often achingly so – but this picture reminds me of a lesson Fred Rogers learned as a child. “When I was a boy,” he said, “and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers.  You will always find people who are helping.'”

He might have been speaking about major disasters, but divorce is a major disaster in your life. And he is still right. Friends, family, people who support you through this time are your personal helpers. And they will be there.  Treasure them. They will lift you up.

Be. Not. Afraid.

I’m a cultural Christian rather than a practising one, but last Easter Sunday, I attended a short service, held at dawn on Easter Sunday morning, on a beach on an island off the West Coast of Scotland, with my – very happily – married friend.

It was beautiful. About thirty of us gathered in a circle. A man in shorts and t-shirt led the service, while a woman played guitar.  Various others offered prayers, readings and hymns.

And then the minister, a woman around her fifties, with more than a passing resemblance to Dawn French’s Vicar of Dibley, gave a short talk.

Someone had asked her the most common phrase in the Bible.  After some research, she discovered it was Be Not Afraid.

Fear paralyses, she warned.  So…Be Not Afraid.

Later that day, my friend and I took the ferry off the island and drove north to Inverary. En route, we drove through Kilmartin Glen and passed the ancient hill fort of Dunadd. My ex and I had driven past the site many times.  I’d always wanted to stop, climb to the top and place my foot in the ancient stone footprint… but, for various reasons, we never did.

This time…  well this time was different.  Continue reading