How Great Thou Part

In the darkest times and the deepest pain, it is not uncommon to feel completely alone.

It seems cruel. An order of pain with a side of loneliness.

It makes one question their faith.

Why would God leave us alone?

Our faith tells us that God leaves us feeling alone so that we find him. It tells us that if the rest of the world hadn’t walked away, that we wouldn’t be pushed closer to our spirituality. We also know that God meets us in this darkness to force us to grow, adjust our path and become better people.
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God intends for these struggles to make us students of the heart and then to pass those lessons along to others. For us to send a card that we otherwise wouldn’t have, to offer a sympathetic ear, to help a person struggling through their day or make a meal. God intends us to not only grow as people in our own individual strength but to grow in love.

1. Empathy: It is simply a fact, that it is often difficult to understand another human being’s pain unless one has experienced it. Empathy allows a deep feeling of connection which eases the isolation and suffering of an individual. It produces a respect for the trials and tribulations of life and the acknowledges the support that a person in pain not only needs but craves.

2. Kindness: Kindness is the ultimate grace in life. When we are alone with God in our own suffering, we have a heightened awareness and appreciation to those who show us kindness. It is emotional currency when the pain has bankrupted us. It is a human investment that multiplies long after the darkness lifts and the light shines because we remember to extend it to the next person.

3. Generosity: The suffering grows our empathy and kindness so drastically that there is a greater generosity within us. A generosity of spirit, of time, of resources and of love. The emotional growth makes us more aware of the pain of others and makes us want to give more. To not only give back to those who gave to us but to possess the inability to simply turn the other way.

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I am watching The Bachelorette

I know, why????

It’s like not wanting to look at a horror movie, but you can’t help but peek anyway.

You know it’s going to be a bad “B Movie” scene only there’s something oddly compelling about it. We don’t try and understand this phenomenon. We just give into it. We dig into the couch, pull up the covers and are captivated.

We know they aren’t going to find true love. For Pete’s Sake, there’s only ONE ‘Ryan and Trista.’
But we hope.

We really hope because we want another ‘Ryan and Trista.’

I watch Jo Jo and I find myself screaming at the television.

“Jo Jo pick Chase! You like the other two because they are hard to get and you liked Chase because he was hard to get until now!!”

All I can think is poor Jo Jo likes the guys who seem like a challenge and she hasn’t yet figured out that equals heartbreak.

I’m secretly hoping this is leading up to Jo Jo and Chase ending up together. Because who didn’t love him after he stripped down and looked at the camera and said, “Sorry Grandma.” Come on! He’s the guy! Oops, that was Robby wasn’t it?? But still, Chase is Jo Jo’s guy.

I think it’s time for a Divorced Bachelorette – don’t you agree?
We wouldn’t spend a lot of time saying we “feel a connection” and “will you accept this rose?”

We would say, “Hey, you’re a good person and you look like you know how to treat another human being AND I’m attracted to you. Will you bring ME roses?”



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My sister and I are up late talking. I snuggle in my bed with my chocolate lab Hazel curled at my feet.

I share my sense of discouragement in divorce. I tell her that three years in to this no one should have to experience this exaggerated experience. I tell her I am tired.

I tell her the long-term bullying is inducing confusion. As if there wasn’t enough to begin with.

I tell her I am exhausted and ready to walk away. Of course, I was ready to walk away a long time ago but divorce takes two. The same two that made marriage impossible.

I am distracted by my Hazel. She’s big energy, a constant reminder of love in my life.

She wags her tail while looking at me.
I can’t help but smile back despite my emotional exhaustion.

Now I have to admit that my Hazel is a big hot mess. I mean this in the very best doggie way!

Hazel doesn’t have one doggie bad habit she has them all. She digs, she gets into the trash, she jumps on furniture, she breaks through the fence, she steals food, and she jumps on people. She’s hopped out of a car window and run through the grocery store not once, but twice.

Oddly, some shoppers do not find a dog running through the frozen food aisle very entertaining. Others, however, find it hilarious especially when it looks as though she’s stopped to shop herself in the dog food and bakery aisles.

Amazingly, none of this has ever bothered me. On the contrary, I believe it is a part of Hazel’s charm.

I feel lucky that she is mine.

It is an analogy for any relationship.

We are all big hot messes. Only some people see the glitter among the hot mess. They see the winning lottery ticket.

They understand that our biggest imperfections can be our greatest charm.

That a digger, a jumper, and an overall hot mess are one of the most lively additions to our lives. Because despite their faults, they don’t just love us, they adore us.

Isn’t that what love is?

Just loving someone for who they are? My golden retriever was pretty perfect. I used to call her the ‘un-dog.’ Emma didn’t have a bad habit. She was just easy and loving. I miss her and adored her.

Hazel is so much more complicated, yet I love her just as much.

Emma and Hazel are different. Dog worlds apart, yet the world needed or should I say my world needed both of them.

Perfection isn’t always bliss and imperfection isn’t always catastrophic.

It’s the acceptance of each of the people (or dogs in this case) into our lives and how they perfectly or imperfectly complete us at the…

Perfect time.

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No Catholic wants to become a divorce statistic.

People marry because they believe they will defy the odds. Why else would they challenge not only Catholic but overall divorce rates?

They do this because they believe in true love. They believe in the Sacrament of Matrimony.

They believe that God is the author of marriage and that ‘what therefore God has joined together, let no man put asunder.’

But people are human. Marriages struggle and some work together to overcome the odds and some work solely and therefore, become the odds.

What are the current Catholic statistics on divorce?

1. 25% of American Catholics who have ever been married have been divorced
2. That is 11 million people
3. Or 1 in 4 Catholics
4. Only 15% of this 28% indicate that they have sought an annulment
5. 1 in 10 who have divorced are now remarried

Are Catholic divorce rates still lower than the general public? Yes

There is hope for divorcing Catholics.

In addition to Pope Francis and his annulment reform, a large number of Catholics seem receptive to many nontraditional relationships.

A 2015 Pew Research Center Survey of Catholic Views on Family Life found that U.S. Catholics want the church to be welcoming to people living in a variety of nontraditional arrangements.

The study found that 6 in 10 Catholics say they believe the church should allow those who are divorced and have remarried without an annulment to receive communion.

This is welcome and encouraging news for divorcing Catholics. A faith that is incredibly strong with 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. saying they are Catholic and with 45% of Americans saying that they are connected to the Catholic religion in some way.

The evolution of this modern world and faith continue to challenge many religions.

It is inspiring to know that the Catholic faith is widening the girth to include and not exclude its faithful.

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Seems like a juicy column, right? I’m guessing my high school friends are hoping it is.

The teenage years! What a ride!

I knew even back then I didn’t want to grow up. Only, even I was smart enough to realize that at least in the area of relationships – I needed to!

My high school friends and I are still close. No, not in the creepy we never let go of high school and grew up kinda way. In the normal, we went out into the world, built beautiful lives and families and stayed connected.

Somehow this huge network of people stayed together long before the Facebook thing. Not just with our best friends or close friends, but with all our people.

The ones that in many ways introduced us to life when we were just old enough to meet it.

People often ask me how I stayed close to so many of my high school friends. I usually joke and say that our high school was more like a college. It was way too big and we were way too unsupervised.

Like any other teenage melting pot, there existed the typical catty, petty moments that accompany that age. However, even then, despite the different cliques, there was a universal unity amongst us. It was unusual and I often wonder if growing up in the nation’s capital provided this underlying understanding and tolerance of individual differences.

A few years ago, I am chatting with friends at a reunion.

One of the guys asks me why I did and didn’t date a few guys?

All I could think was REALLY?? Do we have to go back to the beginning of what led me to this ending?

You know what I mean! A lot of us go on in life to shall we say – MAKE THE SAME MISTAKES!

The high school girl in me ESSENTIALLY didn’t get much wiser with age. BUT – I digress…

“I liked ‘hard to get’ back then,” I say. “Only I had no idea that ‘hard to get’ was code for difficult. Back then it just seemed like code ‘for fun!'”

“What does that mean????” He asks as they all roar with laughter.

I have definitely confused them with this riddle of self-reflection. Too deep for this late in the night.

“I didn’t date or stay with the guys I should have,” I say. “Back then I think I was a little immature or fickle.” (As a side note: A few guys reading this might agree with the latter, but I’m sticking with immature)

“BUT, in short – it just means I was young and dumb!” We all laugh. “Isn’t that what we are supposed to be at that age?”

What I am really telling them is two things:

Thing ONE:
It’s pretty high school normal to like someone until they like us back – OR – like the people who don’t like us while we are also not ready for those that do.

Thing TWO:
It’s not fun or challenging or healthy to go for ‘hard to get.’ Sure, like I always say the world’s not black and white so sometimes it works out and people mature. Only ‘hard to get’ can also mean that either this person just really isn’t that into you OR they’re too caught up in their own world to make time for you.

You have a fifty-fifty shot at them maturing in terms of relationships. As I said, a lot do. Only emotionally I was part of that fifty that did not and still gravitated towards the same relationship.

But back to the reunion…

They are still laughing. Still trying to decipher exactly what I mean. In hindsight, this might have been a better conversation for the beginning of the night. I find myself smiling. These are the guys that I admire. The ones who truly love their wives and children. The ones who stay devoted to their families.

So back in high school when we were all being introduced to the world and LOVE…

Did some of us make good choices then? Yes
Did some of us end up with our high school loves? Yes
Did some of us have the one that got away? Yes
Did some of us mature and go onto to great relationships? Yes
Did some of us continue to make the same mistakes? Yes

Nothing has changed over the years. These are the same answers to anyone who grew up and out of that teenage melting pot called high school.

Though I may not have understood love back then…

I ended up with so many that I love. A group of people whose friendships matured far beyond our adolescence.

I like to say, that it is with our old friends that we once again recognize our young selves.

The kind of love that grew up together.
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My Catholic mother wanted to teach me about love.

She wanted desperately to keep her marriage together. To show me an example of beautifully, in-love parents.

When it became unabashedly clear that she could not…

My mother taught me a different lesson about love.

In some ways, an even more remarkable love.

My Mother taught me…

1. We Could Ultimately Forgive – Believe me there were many times that I saw my parents argue. A troubled marriage rarely ends without it. In those moments, it was difficult for my mother to always do the right thing. After all, she was human and struggling to keep a marriage together with someone who was a drinker. However, in the years that followed, my mother did not hold onto anger, but rather spoke gently of the man who had broken both the hearts of her and her children.

2. We Were Loved – We knew who our father was. Children of divorce are smart. They live the situation. Even if they are temporarily confused by a parent, in the long run, they understand the truth. Our mother did not teach us to live in denial. We understood our father’s drinking problem. We understood that he ultimately made choices that kept him away from us. However, our mother always reinforced that it was an illness that kept him from us and that he loved us and that we should love him. The way she used to phrase it was, “he loves you as much as he’s capable of loving.” In an era, where many women and families would have been ashamed of this and of the fact that the marriage didn’t stay together, she proudly lived her truth and taught us to as well. There was no shame. She was strong and kept us strong.

3. We Were Blessed – I do not remember a time that my mother didn’t think and express that she was a woman who was incredibly blessed. I absolutely remember her worrying about financial things and being stressed or tired. However, I do not remember her ever complaining that she had been left to physically, financially and emotionally raise five children alone. My mother made it very clear that the five of us were her greatest blessings in life and that with us she had everything.

4. We Were Who We Were Meant To Be – My mother did not spend time apologizing or making us feel bad that our father had left. Instead, she reinforced that all things are a part of God’s plan and that this was ultimately how God meant to shape us in life. Her faithful fortitude and lack of overwhelming self-inflicted guilt or pity freed us. In fact, in many ways it made us feel special and not sorry for ourselves. We were not the children of a father who left, but rather individuals who were called upon to live a different path and purpose in life. At the same time, she made us feel absolutely unconditionally loved.

I remember a counselor that we had once seen asking me which parent that I blamed for my parent’s separation. When I told him neither. He was shocked. I explained to him the way my mother had raised us. In fact, though we knew my father was the reason their marriage ended, there wasn’t any long-term anger or pain.

I say long-term, because just as my mother was human so were all of her children. There were absolutely times when we were angry, disappointed and upset with our father.

“Remarkable,” he replied. “I wish your mother were alive today so that I could meet her.”

“Why?” I asked.

“I have been a counselor for many years,” he said. “There is always someone blamed for the dissolution of the marriage, one parent or the other.”

Of course, there was one parent responsible for the end of my mom and dad’s marriage. It’s just that my Catholic mother replaced long-term blame with God having a very special plan for our lives.

I hope to emulate her. I know I attempt to teach the same lessons. I also know that I am still in the very human aspect of divorce.

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I am proud to have grown up an Irish, Catholic. I think this is how most of us feel about our heritage and our faith.

I always knew that I wanted to marry another Catholic.

I remember the first column that I wrote several years ago The 3 Things That Ended My Marriage. I realized I had married a Catholic only in troubled times we turned out to be two very different types of Catholics.

I was raised to believe that difficulty was meant to shape us. That adversity is a rubber band yanking us back towards God.

I always say that I grew up imperfectly perfect.

I was raised by a single mother of five who worked tirelessly to be all things to each of us. We had a tremendous love together and a need for each of us to be fiercely independent and chip in.

When I met my husband I was so glad that he appeared to have grown up perfectly. No, not for the reasons which you are probably thinking. I wasn’t seeking nor did I have an interest in a perfect person. It was simply because when you love someone, you are so happy to believe they have lived with few struggles and much of what they deserved.

I have been asked what might have made my marriage survive. I believe that a spiritual commitment to faith and not a ritualistic commitment to faith would be the answer to that question.

Actually, I think if I was just meeting someone today, I wouldn’t just look at them as a registered Catholic. Think registered politician. What does that mean? Sure, you belong to a party, but what do you really believe? What do you really stand for?

I stand for the rubber band of adversity which yanks me back towards God.

Often, an initially unwelcome call to grow as human beings and to do so with purpose.

I made my world smaller and walked closer to my faith and family.

My husband and I were both Catholics, but we were not the same type of Catholics.

He did not find his way towards faith and family. Had he, we would still be together because according to the way that I was raised…

When you have God and family, you have everything.

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I chose to believe that my dad didn’t really have that large of an influence in my life. After all, he left when I was only five years old.

The good news? A really great dad improves a girl’s chance of succeeding at a good relationship.

The bad news? A not so great dad decreases a girl’s chance of succeeding at a good relationship.

Here’s the saddest aspect of this unfortunate reality.

There are plenty of men who love their daughters and treat them like princesses. Men who want the very best for their daughters. They devote their time to them, spoil them and tell them they deserve the very best.

It doesn’t matter.

It only matters if they treat their wife with that same loving devotion.

Children do not go out into the world and duplicate the love their parents made them feel. They duplicate the love they witnessed between their parents.

So a dad who cheats on his wife is setting his daughter up to attract herself to the same type of man.

A dad who is an alcoholic and turns his spouse into the enabler is setting his daughter up to attract herself to the same type of man.

Of course, there are the daughters who have a heightened awareness to their father’s bad behavior. Some are able to steer clear of repeating history since they are determined to. And sadly, others either don’t have the awareness or believe they can avoid duplicating it, yet they still do.

My dad was an alcoholic.

He behaved badly, blamed my mother and then abandoned the family.

I knew from an extremely young age that I did not want to and would not marry a man who abused alcohol. I was the daughter who thought she had awareness. In fact, I did avoid marrying an alcoholic. I thought I had conquered my childhood fears.

Imagine my surprise when I realized that I had married a man who…

Behaved badly, blamed me and then abandoned his family.

Each time my husband did the wrong thing he told it was my fault.

When I begged him to get counseling he walked out while I held my small children’s hands and they cried. He did this three separate times. I know what you are thinking. I am the idiot who let him have the chance to leave me three times. What can I say? That is love.

Even sadder and more telling about our own individual family histories? My husband who has absolutely no history of alcohol abuse, did in fact, abuse alcohol during the years I attempted to voice my concerns and leave him. No one is more distressed than I am that I have repeated not only my history but a footprint that my father put in place that I thought I could avoid.

I simply attracted myself to a different extreme and unpredictable personality rather than an alcoholic.

I still attracted myself to a man who behaved badly, blamed me and then abandoned his family.

What should have happened?

When an individual behaves badly it is up to them to have the awareness and self-responsibility to correct their own behavior.

They should not behave badly and say that their wife made them do it. I remember my dad telling me once that he knew he drank too much, but that my mother shouldn’t have yelled at him. It’s the false reality of a misbehaving individual. To convince themselves that the stable parent, who does not behave badly and yells in fear is the one to blame. And then, like my dad had done several times before, he abandoned our family.

He played the role of victim. The victim who claimed he had to leave the oppressive woman who was yelling at him.

The reality? She had already given a man she loved far too many chances.

And his daughters would be thrown out into the world to try and have the skills to find men who would not behave badly, blame them and abandon them.
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Divorce a cheater and society will hate them.

Divorce an addict and society will beg you to leave them.

Divorce an abuser and society will tell you that you should have left long ago.

Divorce a narcissist and society will tell you that you are crazy.

One of the additional angsts of leaving a narcissist is that they present well to the world.

Friends and strangers alike will see the overt behavior of a cheater, a liar, an abuser or an addict. There will be a public outcry. A demand that one must be treated better. There will be an obvious enabler and a more obvious individual who is behaving badly.

However, the individual who dares divorce a narcissist will meet quite a different societal response. There will be no public outcry. No demand that one must be treated better. There will be no clear vision that one spouse is actually an enabler and that the other is behaving badly.


A narcissist is two people. They are attractive, charming and successful. They are also cold, cruel and ruthless.

The inherent lack of empathy, something which is a development trait learned in childhood – results in a Jekyll to a Hyde personality.

Society will try and understand what you are saying and what you are going through. However, they will question you because their logic will tell them that if there was truly both a Jekyll and Hyde then why haven’t they met them both?

Most people won’t meet the flip side of a narcissist. That seems to be reserved for those closest to them and perhaps periodically, a few people who work too closely with them.

It can be in part because narcissists do not tend to form deep attachments and therefore have an improved ability to remain ‘surface’ charming. It can also be because a narcissist lives in their own world. As long as you do not complicate or injure their world they will remain charming.

However, if in the narcissist’s eyes one dares to anger, offend, hurt them or interfere with their world – they will stop at almost nothing to punish this person.

This is just one more of the reasons that divorcing a narcissist is impossible. They aren’t interested in a divorce. They are interested in control, retribution, and punishment.

Society will continue to see this seemingly light-hearted and charming person. How could this affable personality actually be inflicting bullying, emotional and financial abuse on their spouse and possibly their children?

Society will convince themselves that they are missing something. Perhaps the other spouse is exaggerating? Perhaps there is more to the relationship story? Perhaps the spouse is just more uptight than this charming person and bringing it on themselves? Perhaps there are two sides to this story?

There are not two sides. There is only an enabler and an abusive personality.

It is sadly the acceptance and confusion of an acceptable mental health disorder due to the fact that narcissists are attractive, charming and successful.

So society accepts these bullies as mainstream. There is no outcry. There is no real ability for the courts to help.

In some ways, even the people divorcing them understand this.

Why? Because they were habitually confused as well. The narcissist kept telling them who they were only they refused to believe it. That’s why they stayed in the relationship for so long. They kept seeing the good in the narcissist and brushing away the bad. They kept making excuses for the bad behavior. They kept enabling.

Society needs to understand the ruthlessness of a narcissist and the lack of support systems in place to divorce them.
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When we believe people love us it stands to reason that we believe they care about us.

Sadly, there are numerous ways that people who SAY they love us, SHOW us that they do not care about us.

The question begs, how is that possible? How could someone who loves us not care about us?

It is possible in what could be described as one-sided relationships.

A relationship where a person loves another person who needs to be in control, is selfish, self-absorbed, demanding, insecure, unhappy, lacks empathy and a variety of other variables.

5 Indicators that someone you love doesn’t care about you:

1. You talk, beg and they still don’t listen – You exhaust yourself verbally, yet your significant other either ignores you, says you never shut up, walks away from you, or implies that you don’t get over things.

Wake-Up Call – You are in a relationship with a person who finds your feelings (worry, stress, happiness, sadness, etc.) irrelevant.

The Truth: If you have to beg to be heard – Recognize this person does not care about you or your feelings.

2. When arguing, only you add love – You argue and like most say horrible things that you absolutely don’t mean. However, either in between that argument or later, you double back and explain how much you love this person despite the disagreement. You may even go so far as to tell this person that despite the trouble and insurmountable odds that you can’t live without them and that you are sorry. They do not, even in quiet moments add love.

Wake-Up Call – You are in a relationship with a person who has an ego bigger than any love they will ever hold for you.

The Truth: If love is never added either during or after an argument then you are in a relationship with a person who cares less about you than the beauty of love.

3. They are willing to leave you – If you are in a relationship with an individual who will leave the relationship for a few days, a week, a month or more – get out while you can. A person who truly loves another in the most healthy and confident manner will not regularly choose walking away from them. In fact, if a person leaves more than once, absolutely expect them to leave a third and fourth and continual time.

Wake-Up Call – You are in a relationship with someone who is self-absorbed enough to not miss your absence or confused enough to not value you enough.

The Truth: People who genuinely love one another do not want to abandon one another in good times or in bad. They see one another as what sustains them and not what is expendable to them.

4. They ignore your phone calls & texts – If you are in a relationship with an individual who has a million excuses why they can’t respond to you – SERIOUSLY, do not kid yourself. They have to respond to people they work with, their own family and friends, don’t they? Oh, and unless you are a serial texter, don’t believe it when they tell you that you are just too demanding.

Wake-Up Call – You are in a relationship with someone who finds you unimportant and does not have time for you.

The Truth – People who care about one another – WORRY ABOUT ONE ANOTHER. Write this down. People who really care feel worried, terrible, responsible, etc. about leaving another person hanging on the other end of a text or phone.

5. Their life is more important than yours – If you are in a relationship with someone who constantly references everything they have going on in their work or personal life as a reason for not having time for you – RUN! They are too preoccupied with themselves to care about your work or personal life or your combined relationship.

Wake-Up Call – You are in a relationship with someone who lives strictly in their own world and they will not find room for you.

The Truth – People who care – oddly care about not just themselves. They actually care about the people they love and are in a relationship with. They believe love means the beauty of experiencing more than one world.

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