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How Great Thou Part

How Great Thou Part

Why Bitterness and Spirituality Can’t Co-Exist

posted by corme

I am chatting with someone and in between bites of lunch we talk about life and the future.

I can tell this persons world view has changed. If anyone can recognize the signs of bitterness it is me. Somehow we think we are self-protecting when we turn towards bitterness. The ‘I will never let another person hurt or mistreat me again’ mantra.

Quite the contrary, we are not self-protecting. We are self-sabatoging.

We are robbing the world of who we originally are. The person who God made us to be before life bruised us. We are losing sight of the fact that life is about letting those bruises heal not avoiding them.

In fact, while we indignantly believe we are sending those who hurt us a message in bitterness it is quite the contrary – we are allowing them to continue to hurt us.

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I say this often. I also say it with some embarrassment because I always considered myself a person of great faith. A quality that I attribute to my mother who was most definitely a spiritual giant in the face of many obstacles.

I was bitter.

I was bitter for nearly two years.

Two of the unhappiest years of my life.

The poor Colleen years.

The life isn’t fair why me years?

Then one day, by the grace of God I had an epiphany. I sat in my marriage counselors office and shook my head as I disclosed my realization that I had in fact not found bitterness for the past two years. I had lost spirituality.

Spirituality is grace.

A grace that crushes any type of bitterness. A truly spiritual person is certainly capable of feeling temporarily bitter or sorry for themselves. We are human after all. However, with great spirituality it is impossible to let that emotion continue. Why? Because if we really have faith then we hold onto the belief that everything in our life is happening for a reason. Both the good and the bad.

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Spirituality refuses to co-exist with bitterness.
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How Divorce Affects Children

posted by corme

I sit to write this morning with a lump in my throat.

I will honestly say that had I known what would be unleashed when I started this process a year and a half ago, I am not certain that I would have done it. My children did not deserve any of this.

They deserved two adults saying goodbye to one another while making them our number one priority.

I know intellectually and emotionally that getting out of this relationship was the best thing for them in the long run. However, the short term pain and chaos and significant feeling of loss is more than they should have to experience.

Why? All because I chose the wrong person.

I don’t like to write about my kids in this capacity. They deserve privacy throughout this. Only my outrage at adults behaving badly is what this is really about.

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I often say that “I am tired of watching children walking around masquerading as adults.”

Some time ago, I sat with a friend who was struggling in their marriage. They were at a crossroads.

“You don’t have that luxury,” I told them. “The minute you had children you gave up the right to not be mature and work hard at your marriage before you give up.”

Quitting is easy.

Living life fully and tackling our problems as adults is not. It takes confidence, maturity, and selflessness.

When all options have been exhausted and divorce is the best avenue then that also demands the same confidence, maturity, and selflessness. It takes loving our children more than we love ourselves.

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Over these years, I often turned to my husband and asked him that same thing, “When are you going to decide you love our children more than you hate me?”

When you make the decision to have children you give up the right to be selfish, childish, immature – in other words, you give up the right to continue living life as a child yourself.

You have to grow up. Life isn’t all about you anymore.

The selfish and immature games played in divorce hurt our children. They should be illegal only sadly they are not. People get away with playing these financial and emotional games in divorce every day. You can’t check out on your children because you’ve checked out of a marriage.

When you become a parent you simply no longer have the luxury of putting your own needs, pain, and immaturity first.

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I am so tired of watching children walking around masquerading as adults.
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The Dr. Seuss Mantra I Embrace Through Tough Times

posted by corme

There is a simplicity in childhood. The lessons we learn. The rate at which we are able to learn them.

How we are able to adapt so quickly.

Somehow age complicates us.

Only shouldn’t it simplify us?

The journey through the heartache and intricacies of divorce left my mind so crowded that I could barely think most days. The worries over my children, finances, and more. Not to mention the unnecessary emotion and games left over from a disgruntled relationship.

The constant tears seem to be washing away some of that pain – like water beating against a river bank…bringing me back to my core – back to a simplicity I have craved.

I stumbled upon this Dr. Seuss quote that restores my childhood moxie. It reminds me that I will be okay on this playground alone. It reminds me of the resiliency of youth. How a child runs across a playground constantly stumbling, constantly scraping their knees and constantly getting themselves back up and running with more vigor towards the next fall.

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I’m fine with falling now.

“I learned there are troubles of more than one kind. Some come from ahead, others come from behind. But I’ve bought a big bat. I’m all ready, you see. Now my troubles are going to have trouble with me” – Dr. Seuss

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Are You Finally Putting Yourself First in Divorce?

posted by corme

A friend said recently that they wondered if there were a possibility that my soon to be ex-husband and me might work things out.

Surprisingly, this is something I have heard more than once.

The answer is no.

All the kings horses and all the kings men could not put Humpty Dumpty together again. Even if they called in a second kingdom’s worth of horses and men.

What they see is me making a very strong effort to co-exist. It’s not comfortable and frankly, there are times I wish I didn’t hear my mother in my ear saying, “Do the right thing.”

I am weary of doing the right thing.

It’s not comfortable sitting across from someone who you once built a life around as the new agenda is to take that life apart. It’s not comfortable seeing laughter and social chit chat when you have felt the tears and silence.

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It’s like watching a movie of your life – only a really bad B movie or a horror flick. One that doesn’t have the ending that you wanted.

It’s funny because in many ways my own kids do not have the expectation that we co-exist, yet society seems to demand it. Or is it really that people don’t like change so we have to play parts until the expectation of us isn’t quite so high.

In divorce, often people tell us what we should do. It reminds me of grief when people tell you that you should be over it by now or moving on by now.

The answer is no.

No outside source should tell us how they need us to fit into their world while our world is falling apart.

Doing the right thing for so long actually is what got me into trouble in my marriage. I was extreme. Always doing what I believed right over my own feelings. It was not a good balance. I never chose myself. In fact, many divorces happen because one spouse was investing more of themselves than the other in the relationship.

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Divorce is me choosing myself.

I don’t need to do what’s right for everyone else anymore. I need to do what’s right for me.
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Meet Betty Lou

posted by corme

Maybe I didn’t think this whole thing out.

Sure, I knew I would be on my own. If you remember I once said dragging my Christmas tree down the driveway was my emancipation (remember I do live on two acres so it is a pretty long driveway). Well, you get where I am going with this…

It might be a bit more than I bargained for. Only truthfully – isn’t divorce in general?

So my friend Liz shows up in my driveway. A pickup truck backing into my driveway behind her.

“Look what I brought you,” she says.

At this point her buddy is drop shipping a Honda mower into my front lawn.

All I can think is, “look what you brought me?? Take it back!

I don’t want to mow these cavernous two acres! The most I want to do is watch the deer pass leisurely through while my chocolate lab Hazel jumps in unison with them. And perhaps, once a year, drag my dried out Christmas tree down the driveway in defiant feminism that I have achieved Gloria Steinam type divorce status.

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No, I don’t want a lawnmower!

It’s no use. My friend Liz and her cohort exhaust themselves (yes, quite literally) mowing my overgrown two acres for three hours and then they pass the baton to me.

I am thrown back for a moment as I grab and yank upward to start the mower.

I got this, so I think to myself only it doesn’t start.

We try a few more times. I think I have Liz a bit scared.

Finally, the engine roars. I am thrust back to my childhood. The girl who grew up in rural, Northern Virginia outside metropolitan D.C. The girl who rode horses, milked goats, collected eggs, took care of rabbits and dogs and even mowed lawns.

Liz and her friend shuffle my new mower into my garage. They are physically exhausted. Me – not so much because they did the hard labor. I am emotionally exhausted.

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Liz’s friend turns to leave. He looks wistfully at the mower he is leaving in my stead not quite ready to walk away from it.

“Should I name it?” I ask. “I feel bad. Almost like it’s too painful for you to part with it.”

“Yes,” he says. “You should name it.”

We banter back all three of us.

“Betty Lou it is,” I say.

I am not quite sure I am ready to keep company with Betty Lou alone. Though I am so grateful that she is now my co-hort on this two acre parcel. Just not sure I am prepared to party fully with her on it.

My oldest son comes home. He closes his car door and walks towards the garage.

“Meet Betty Lou,” I say.

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It is a good plan I think to get him introduced to her first.

“Yeh,” he mutters. “Not sure I want to meet her.”

Me neither. After all, my husband never actually cut this grass himself sans a few select times. So why would I want to?

Because I have this friend named Liz who thought it was important enough, empowering enough, emancipating enough, emotionally separating enough to know that I needed a new friend in my life.

Meet Betty Lou!
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The Three Words That Ended My Marriage

posted by corme

Even now, long past the decision I made to end my marriage, there are three words that still make me cringe…

“I don’t care.”

I know they sound harmless enough. Some might say it’s a good thing to not care so much about everything and everyone. Yes, I get that. I did care too much about everything and everyone.

As one of my friends once put it, “Colleen, most people care about rescuing their friends and their family. You care about everyone. You care about rescuing the world.”

This is and was true. It is the trait of a worrier and an overly empathetic individual.

I blame all the firefighters and cops in my family (I mean this as a compliment : )). After all, this is who I was raised around. People who stop on a crowded New York street to help a stranger, rescue a dog, you name it (and this would be in their off the clock hours).

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Oh, and let’s not forget the priest. My uncle was stopped in hospitals, restaurants, on the street. I have vivid memories of watching strangers approach him and ask for help or prayers and he was always there for them.

So their you have it. It’s in my Irish, Catholic, New York City meets Virginia blood.

What I will tell you is that I married my opposite.

I actually loved every time he said the words, “Why do you care?” How liberating I thought. I have married someone who isn’t a neurotic worrier like me. I am saved!

Little did I know that years later those three words were code for “There is nothing that is important to you that I will ever find remotely important to me.” AKA – “I don’t care.”

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These three little words carried the power to end my marriage.

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Happy Mother’s Day…to…Single Mothers

posted by corme

The sun is starting to warm the morning sky. I am walking with my friends “Cookie” and “Candy.” Our conversation turns towards Mother’s Day.

We chat about the influence mothers have on their children. I am reminded of the day my friend “Rosalita” said goodbye to her mother.

“I wish you knew my mother,” says Rosalita

“But I do know your mother,” I say. “Because I know you and to know you is to know your mom.”

When I was growing up I found myself caught between two holidays. There was Father’s Day that I could not celebrate and Mother’s Day that I couldn’t celebrate enough. I always wanted to be a daddy’s girl – probably because for the first five years of my life I was. Then he left and I wasn’t. I don’t know why no one ever says, “I was a mommy’s girl,” but they should and I was.

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After all, she was the one who never left me.
She never forgot that she was a mother.
She never forgot that she loved me.
She never forgot that I needed her.
She never let me down.

She taught us to love our father despite his shortcomings and to know that he loved us.

That being said my mother was a firecracker. She was strong and confident with unyielding opinions. If she liked you then you knew it and if she didn’t you were well aware of it. She was a difficult and not so subtle communicator.

My mother was also overly empathetic, ridiculously loving, kind, thoughtful, caring, charitable, responsible and steadfast. A fighter whose great faith never allowed her to feel sorry for herself though I am certain there were times that she did.

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In my younger years I could be critical of my mom. In my infinite wisdom I would assess her choices and her less than subtle and strong personality.

I am now older and wiser. I am frightened and unsure. I can’t believe I am now living in her shadow. A soon to be single mom.

My judgements have subsided.

I am no longer critical of my outspoken mom. I now pray to God that I am like her. I now pray that I possess what my youthful self found to be her more challenging qualities.

I pray that I am my mother’s daughter.

More specifically I pray I am Rosemarie’s daughter. Rosemarie the outspoken northerner who didn’t let anyone mess with her, yet felt the pain of everyone. Rosemarie who was difficult enough to not give up and loving enough to be all things to her children.

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Rosemarie who picked herself up when left alone to raise five children. Rosemarie who more than likely put her head on her pillow some nights frightened like me though I never knew it.

How I hope to God I am like her.
How I hope to God I have that beautiful, confident, outspoken, New Yorker inside of me.

Why?

Because if I do then I know my children will be okay.

They will find their way – through joy and hope and sadness and despair and love and loss and beginnings and endings and laughter and silence and friendship and estrangement and confusion and clarity.

I will know that though ‘single’ I will be enough for them.

I don’t know why no one ever says, “I was a mommy’s girl,” but they should and I was.

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How to Make Your Unhappy Marriage Last as Long as Possible

posted by corme

“So when IS this divorce finalizing anyway?” asks my friend Rosalita.

I want to answer her.

The truth is I dragged this out for so long (the not leaving part – not the actual getting the divorce part) that I am like a dinosaur – the AOL of divorce.

The poster girl for “how not to get divorced.” The author of “How to Make Your Unhappy Marriage Last as Long as Possible.”

To continue the rant I could be considered the frequent flyer of emotional baggage or perhaps the viral video for enablers.

A woman who stayed in an unhappy marriage for so long that I could conceivably have an endurance term named after me: The Iron Woman of Divorce or maybe a whole event, the Triathlete of Misery.

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Whatever! Until you are in these shoes you just don’t know the lengths you will go to kid yourself until you finally rid yourself of the need to keep the relationship together.

Of course, I try and remind myself that through great personal challenges we ultimately become better people. Though I have to say in my case it is particularly challenging to try and be the best of me right now.

No, my marriage has not yet dissolved into the ugly antonym called divorce.

I know one thing for sure. I wish I hadn’t emotionally authored, “How to Make Your Unhappy Marriage Last as Long as Possible.” I wish I had gotten out sooner. I wish I hadn’t tricked myself into believing things would get better.
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A Divorce Acronym – WISI

posted by corme

I was chatting with a few women who are experiencing the growing pains of divorce. Perhaps I should call them the ‘firsts’ of divorce.

I wish someone had given me the following advice. I wish I had known not to internalize every comment. The fact that I didn’t made me go from being a waterfall with only my husband to turning into a big, hot crying, mess with others.

So here goes…

Our family and some of our best friends are going to worry about us enough to cross boundaries. We aren’t going to like it, but we understand it and we are going to take it. The stress and worry of seeing us suffer is more than they can bare.

However, if someone you are just friendly with – not close with, has too much to say – Walk away, don’t internalize it, don’t perseverate over it, don’t sit in your car and cry over it – don’t anything ‘it.’

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Instead, ask yourself what I now ask myself when a somewhat good intentioned individual oversteps.

WISI – WOULD I SAY IT?

If the answer is no, not on your life, would I have the nerve, lack of respect, gall, lack of boundaries, etc. to say it? Then I know I don’t deserve it nor do I have to answer it or stay for it.

Just move on – don’t anything ‘it.’
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6 Things You Shouldn’t Do to a Friend Who’s Divorcing

posted by corme

So there are just some things you shouldn’t do to someone in the middle of a divorce.

Just across the board whether it’s a fairly good divorce, middle of the road divorce or bad divorce – whether it’s a quiet person or a loud person, a sensitive person or a tough person.

Do not ask them to share anything more than they are ready to share. No, really it’s none of your business unless they want it to be. Divorce is undignified, painful, and embarrassing at times. It makes one alternate from wanting to share to wanting to self-protect.

Do not judge them, believe me they are already judging themselves harshly enough. Divorce already feels like one is under a microscope. Like the red-headed stepchild showing up to the party.

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Do not tease or make fun of their personality traits – even jokingly. This is not a normal time. A typically, self-depricating person won’t find laughing at themselves funny when it feels like nothing is going right in their life. It is hard to feel proud of one’s life when divorce is causing those they love to suffer. Even the most confident will be hard on themselves during this time.

Do not question what they are sharing with you. Life and relationships are complicated. This is stress. This is loss. Do not make them feel as if they could have done something differently. No one arrives at this decision lightly. Most have labored for years before coming to this crossroad.

Do not make them feel the need to defend themselves. Even the least defensive personality will at their weakest feel like a dog backed into a corner – afraid of what is coming at them. Divorce is not a time when a person has excess strength and any strength they do have is reserved for themselves and their family. Don’t absorb the energy they so desperately need.

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Don’t tell them that you miss the ‘old them.’ They miss them too and if they could get themselves back more quickly they would.

Here is somewhat of an analogy.

When I lost my parents I was young. Most people didn’t know what to do or say. They simply hadn’t experienced it. I am grateful that the majority of people did not understand my experience – for their sake.

When you’re in the middle of a divorce you are often surrounded by people who don’t understand it. They haven’t experienced it. I am grateful they haven’t experienced it – for their sake.
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Previous Posts

Why Bitterness and Spirituality Can't Co-Exist
I am chatting with someone and in between bites of lunch we talk about life and the future. I can tell this persons world view has changed. If anyone can recognize the signs of bitterness it is me. Somehow we think we are self-protecting when ...

posted 12:43:23pm May. 27, 2015 | read full post »

How Divorce Affects Children
I sit to write this morning with a lump in my throat. I will honestly say that had I known what would be unleashed when I started this process a year and a half ago, I am not certain that I would have done it. My children did not deserve any ...

posted 12:35:51pm May. 22, 2015 | read full post »

The Dr. Seuss Mantra I Embrace Through Tough Times
There is a simplicity in childhood. The lessons we learn. The rate at which we are able to learn them. How we are able to adapt so quickly. Somehow age complicates us. Only shouldn't it simplify us? The journey through the heartache ...

posted 12:23:16pm May. 20, 2015 | read full post »

Are You Finally Putting Yourself First in Divorce?
A friend said recently that they wondered if there were a possibility that my soon to be ex-husband and me might work things out. Surprisingly, this is something I have heard more than once. The answer is no. All the kings horses and ...

posted 12:22:28pm May. 18, 2015 | read full post »

Meet Betty Lou
Maybe I didn't think this whole thing out. Sure, I knew I would be on my own. If you remember I once said dragging my Christmas tree down the driveway was my emancipation (remember I do live on two acres so it is a pretty long driveway). ...

posted 12:07:26pm May. 15, 2015 | read full post »

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