How Great Thou Part

I woke up yesterday with one thought.

I’m finally single.

Happy Birthday to me!

Sure, technically it happened in June but with all of the contempt charges and house sale resistance, it felt anything but liberating.


There was no time to finally feel single. 

In actuality, I’m not really sure what this means.

Or just how I will attack this new adventure.

Will I try speed dating? Or perhaps go to ‘Just Lunch?’ Play some singles kickball, sign up for Match or try a few blind dates? Buy a couple of new sassy outfits? That of course, would require losing what I now refer to as thirty pounds of ‘Ralph.’ And then there’s always matchmaking.

The possibilities are endless.

I can log onto Facebook and switch my relationship status to single.

And of course, I did just that only to realize I must have deleted my marital status when I initiated my divorce. Alas, the social media world will not hear me proclaim my new found independence. It somehow seems anti-climactic declaring myself single rather than switching from married to single.

I can sit and watch A Star is Born and ugly cry with no one shooshing me.

I can wear red lipstick while I sip pink champagne.

My birthday belongs to me again.

I get to choose my tomorrows. 

The hard-fought single world is now my oyster.

Scratch that.

The world is again my oyster.

Happy Birthday to me!

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It’s difficult to understand divorce unless you experience it.

In fact, that’s true with most aspects of life.

The deepest empathy is derived from a true understanding of walking in another’s shoes. 

Take grief for example.


When we are young it’s difficult to grasp unless it touches our lives.

We don’t necessarily attend a funeral, take the time to send a card or simply sit with a friend. As time goes on and we sustain the loss of parents and other loved ones we begin to understand the true impact of showing up at someone’s front door, sending food, a card or making a phone call. We now comprehend the first three months do not dissolve the pain and the journey will get far worse before it gets better.

Divorce is an extremely misunderstood adventure.

It too will get far worse before it gets better.

And it will mimic many aspects of grief.

It is a profound loss and a feeling of being disconnected accompanies it.

Because of this, it’s important to understand what those experiencing it crave most. 

3 Things People Crave Most While Divorcing:


This may be an emotional death but it is a death. 

It is a severe life change.

The loss of someone who once made everything in the world make sense. And it can lead to an exponential loss. The friendships which were more couple than individual, the family members who are now oddly strangers, the community which doesn’t understand and often fears divorce, the home which built your family and more.

Children suffer and are often forced into roles where they now worry about their parents instead of the reciprocal. Some may act even act out in their pain. Because this is a massive loss in their world too.

Divorcing individuals just want to be understood. They need the world and those around them to realize they are treading emotional waters and doing the very best they can.

This means the necessity of a ‘no judgment’ zone.

It’s a huge life event and those who go through it crave understanding.



This is a long journey filled with many emotional bumps and bruises.

And yes, some divorces last far too long.

The system is broken and should not allow for emotional and financial abuse throughout the divorce process but unfortunately, it does and can’t shut down a partner who behaves badly. Therefore, some may have a harder time resolving this relationship and need comfort and support even longer than most.

People who are going through a divorce can use a phone call, a cup of tea, a glass of wine, an unexpected meal, a faucet fixed, or literally anything associated with comfort. A new pair of pajamas, a comforting blanket, a manicure, or a card.

These are typically people who are experiencing financial overload and more parental responsibility.

Some people chose to divorce and others do not. Regardless, it is a temporary hardship meant to restore long-term happiness. And it can take a village at different moments. Or the village showing up with a crowd and dinner to infuse a home with joy again.

What do we know about moments of kindness and comfort? They are actually moments of love and this is a person who has lost love.

It’s a huge life event and those who go through it crave comfort. 


People who are muddling through the mud and the muck of divorce desperately need hope.

The assurance the world will be a tear-free zone again.

It is easier for some to let go of love and tougher for others.

It is initially an unimaginable thought to imagine the dissolution of a relationship and the rearranging of a once whole family. It’s excruciating the heart can be suffocating.

But little by little the sun peeks through and dries the tears and joy wipes them away permanently.

Additionally, there can be fears of starting over, being alone, gaining financial independence, keeping children whole and more.

This is why any glimmer of inspiration is essential. A text message with a positive quote or Bible passage, a calendar of quotes, a wooden sign with just the right inscription, an occasional card sent routinely, tea bags with messages or any other small little ‘the people who love you are rooting for you’ message.

It’s a huge life event and those who go through it crave inspiration.

These 3 things encapsulate the broader emotional needs of anyone divorcing.

Whether quiet or loud, bold or reserved, a talker or a listener, these needs are universal.

Because divorce requires the strength of grief and the resilience to do it without leaning on a partner for comfort.


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Surprisingly, we often put up with behaviors we should walk away from.


Emotional attachments are hard to break.

Therefore, what we should be doing is walking away when we initially recognize unfavorable characteristics in another person.

This doesn’t just pertain to romantic relationships. All good relationships should have core fundamentals which provide for a healthy foundation. Friendships should be held to the same value standards if we want to be treated well and treat others well.


The problem? 

The heart likes to make excuses for those we love.

We shouldn’t let it.

Especially since many of the actions we tolerate are surprisingly bad behavior. 

6 Relationship Behaviors to Avoid

People Who Talk About Their Friends

We are human so people will speak about one another to a certain degree. 

Especially with old or close friendships where there will be times of worry or concern where one friend may confide in another. There will also inevitably be moments of weakness during a conflict.

But this should be kept to a minimum.

However, there are certain things no one should ever know about another person. When a friend divulges private concerns or secrets they should stay just that. And there’s a difference between confiding in a few friends who have become like family and letting the general public hear you speak about a friend.

On the romantic side of relationships when things are breaking down it is common to speak about a partner. This should be a signal it’s either time to get counseling or move on.

People Who Lie

Lying is just not okay.

It is a supremely selfish behavior.

An individual lies to get their own way or to get away with something. Either way, it’s not a favorable quality. No, we are not talking about a little white lie to save someone’s feelings from being hurt when not included to a party. Nor are we talking about the little white lie where life may be overwhelming and thus an event can’t be made.

We are talking about self-serving lies. 

If someone routinely lies about little or large things the biggest reason to jump ship is they have demonstrated an ability to put themselves first.

Be it a friendship or romantic liaison this type of person will be unpredictable and worse you can’t entirely trust them. And this includes smaller lies such as canceling plans to do something else with another friend who has presented a better offer. Not just huge relationship cheating type lies.

In other words, people who tell little lies are capable of telling big lies.

People Who Judge

Bottom line?

We should feel great about ourselves in the company of a friend or partner.

People who routinely judge our actions personality need to be filtered out of our lives.

They don’t really like who we are anyway. If they did they wouldn’t consume so much time telling us what we did wrong and what is wrong with our personality. They have an ego which won’t allow them to see others for who they truly are.

The resounding message sent by people who judge?

“I love you, but I don’t like you.”

It’s important for self-preservation, not just the relationship to get away from individuals who routinely judge us.

People You Can’t Count On

We all know the people who consistently have the ability to be there for us.

Those are the individuals to focus on.

Not the ones who routinely forget to call back, cancel plans or a spouse who is constantly too busy at work to set aside a few minutes to call and check in.

Everyone will have difficult times in life. 

Therefore, there will be even the most reliable people who may be temporarily less reliable because of an aging parent, marital problems, job stress, etc. And that should come with a hall pass. In times of duress, individuals should put their own families first. It’s the healthiest thing to do.

But if we have a friend or spouse whose world revolves without us – let go.

People Who Cause Stress in Your Life

If a friend or spouse consistently gets mad or levies undue demands it’s time to either resolve it or move on.

Simply put we are all children of God and no one has the right to control us to the level it causes tremendous anxiety or stress in our lives.

It’s that simple.

It’s control and not healthy.

People Who Disregard Your Feelings

All people have emotions and a right to own those emotions.

It’s not okay to be talked out of how we are feeling.

In fact, to exercise those feelings and move on they often need to be acknowledged and heard. This is hard in relationships because some individuals are fixers and the impulse is to immediately fix a problem rather than just listen. Additionally, some relationships involve one or both individuals who are disrespectful communicators and won’t ‘allow’ the other person their emotions.

Instead, they might say it’s silly or stupid or some other type of dismissive comment.

Be it romantic or friendship it’s far too frustrating to remain in these types of relationships.

People Who Manipulate You

Some individuals are extremely good at getting what they want.

And manipulative personalities can make it happen before we ever knew what hit us.

Especially if we are people pleasers or fixers or rescuers.

They throw their problems out in the air and wait for them to be fixed. A manipulative person will take gross advantage. Additionally, those instincts to get what they want show they put themselves first when they want something.

Aka, essentially a spoiled individual.

It’s difficult to have a healthy two way romance or friendship with an overindulged person.


It’s time to rethink putting up with any of these types of surprisingly common yet bad behaviors.

Especially if they are the rule and not the exception. 

It’s not uncommon to tolerate some of these traits.

And sadly, they often consume the majority of our time rather than the healthier and better relationships in our lives.

Those are the ones to focus on.


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I love a story especially a great love story.

It’s hard to believe but once you discard the emotional mud and muck, it’s possible to find incredible happiness after divorce.

For that reason, I believe it’s worth ripping off the band-aid of an unhappy marriage and dealing with the unbearable yet temporary angst. Versus continuing to remain and accept a low level of happiness.

We are given only one life to live.

After everything I have endured, I would still choose to leave again.


The alternative is to have remained with someone who failed to love me

At least not in any healthy or fulfilling sense of the word.

The good news? Divorce allows a do-over.

The opportunity to wander out into the world and meet someone in the future or rekindle with someone in the past.

Of course, I love the romantic notion of falling into the arms of a first love.

I’m a writer after all.

For me, it’s not in the cards.

I have left no love unrequited.

Quite the contrary I have remained close friends with anyone I have ever dated. 

They are wonderful men who are great husbands and fathers and who have equally as great marriages. Which makes me happy. So unless the boy who grabbed my pigtails in second grade suddenly shows up there will be no long-lost boyfriends Facebooking or emailing.

But I can live vicariously through others.

One such couple met while waiting tables during their teenage years.

For whatever reason, the relationship ran its course and eventually they parted ways. Even better? Their memory is they were each, not the one to break up with the other. In other words, he thought she wanted to break up and she thought he wanted to break up. Many years and a few divorces later. One found out the other was single and reached out and before long they were married.

Another two couples fell hard for one another in high school but eventually went on to marry other people and then again by the misfortune or magic of divorce they reconnected. One of these couples is now engaged.

I have another friend whose story I love the most.

They were two smitten fourteen-year-olds who met forty-one years ago on the day Elvis Presley died.

To pull at your heartstrings and confirm this Hallmark Channelesque romance…

It was at a country fair in a small town where the girl’s grandmother lived. For the next thirty-seven years, they would lose touch. However, while attending this ‘little’ hamlet’s ‘big’ events they would scan the crowd for one another to no avail. And then when they had finally stopped looking they bumped into one another in a restaurant.

What happened next? 

The woman is now a farm girl who made her way permanently back to that small town to marry her guy.

And their smiles reflect those still beating teenage hearts.

There is something undeniable about a first love.

Especially long lost ones who are miraculously found.

So if the boy who grabbed my pigtails in second grade is reading this.

Call me.



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When my two oldest were little I read an article about how we needed to spend one on one time with our kids.

It was going to make them feel even more loved and yadda yadda.

Ever the self-help junkie I set about doing just that.

I put my oldest who was four-years-old at the time into the car. As we begin to pull out of the driveway I announce we are going to the library to read books.


“I don’t want to go without Booey,” he replies.

Of course, having just read this all-important parenting article I plead my case.

“But it will be just the two of us and we will get some ice cream too,” I say.

“I don’t want to go without Booey,” he says once more.

Okay then. I pull back up the driveway and go into our house to get my two-year-old son. Once in the car, they smile excitedly at one another and off we go.

Of course, what do you think I do next?

You got it!

On another day I attempt to do the same thing with ‘Booey.’

I strap him into the car seat and announce we are going to the library to read some books.

“I don’t want to go without Tommy,” he says.

“But it will be just the two of us and we will get some ice cream too,” I say.

“I don’t want to go without Tommy,” he says once more.

And with that, I walk back into our house and my  Tommy and I make our way back to the car where once again they contentedly smile at one another and off we go. So much for the parenting articles. My boys had no interest in one on one time no matter the bribe. They wanted to be together.

This is one of my earliest memories of the joyful simplicity of boys.

They are exquisitely uncomplicated.

What they are is physical. 

I used to joke I didn’t understand why as a mother of boys I wasn’t a waif.

I spent years dodging basketballs in my kitchen or ducking as a football flew by my head or a skateboard was headed for my feet. And I held my breath as they flew off ramps, popped wheelies and waved from the tallest branches. I shook my head as they climbed on sofas and tables. And I worried as they rafted down dangerous rivers and got old enough to fearlessly face adolescence with stories I thankfully won’t hear anytime soon.

But emotionally boys are just easier.

Of course, at first, this scared me.

As a young mother, I went to my pediatrician’s office with my then two-year-old Tommy.

“Oh, my goodness he’s pushing kids when they take his toys,” I say. “One of my neighbors thinks he’s a bit rough.”

My pediatrician laughed and said, “Colleen, by any chance is your neighborhood all little girls?”

“Why, yes!” I exclaim. “Tommy is the only boy.”

“Colleen, little boys push and little girls cry at least for the most part,” she says.

And there you have it. 

I was destined to be the mother of boys!

Ever the worrier, there were days when my guys would come home from elementary school upset. Because someone had said something or they had been left out of a playdate or another similar type childhood malady. I would usually give them about an hour to do their own thing and then check on them.

“How are you feeling? Are you still upset?” I would ask feeling every bit of their young little angst in my own heart.

“About what?” They would routinely respond.

And just like that, I knew it was a gift for this fixer and worrier to be their mother. Boys just seem to get over things and get over them quickly.

They don’t tend to carry too much for too long.

They let the majority of it go.

I struggle with them leaving their childhood home, especially under these circumstances.

And I do believe they did need to stay throughout their high school years especially.

But it’s time to go. 

Last night, our dining room table was carried out of our house by a beautiful young couple.

I tearfully surprised myself watching the communal memories cross back over the threshold they once walked into.

It made me happy sad.

Happy the table was going to begin anew with babies once again wrapped around it.

Sad because out that door went family dinners, laughter, birthday songs, inside jokes, big family get-togethers, New Year’s goals, Valentine’s steak and lobster, Thanksgiving feasts, shared secrets, and shared dreams.

Moments later my youngest son grabs his skateboard from the garage.

“What are you doing?” I ask.

“I see wide open space in the dining room,” he says.

Of course, you do!

Not yet an hour has passed but again all is right with the world.

I peer into the dining room as he maneuvers the board.

A smile wipes away my tears.

And I think…

God knew what he was doing when he gave me boys.


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(My Own)

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It’s no secret some men have historically gone to great lengths to leave their wives with either little to no money.

It happens to strong and capable women who are guilty of just one thing – not believing the person they married would ever be capable of it.

You could say these women made themselves financially susceptible by staying at home to raise their children. And this would be true. However, lots of women make the very same choice and do not end up in this situation. Therefore, this is a tale less of a woman’s vulnerability and more of a certain type of man’s true weakness.

The tactics are as old as the legal system which supports it.

Hugely successful individuals suddenly say they have suffered a huge financial crisis, are making less or nearly nothing, have lost their jobs or declared bankruptcy. Leading this pack are the self-employed individuals who can alter more of their earnings.


It’s hard to discern why the court system hasn’t cracked this easily deciphered code.

Clearly, aside from custody, these are the cases which monopolize the judicial calendar.

And what are they about? They are about control and money. 

And what is the net result? The individual goes to court claims they have no money or job and it works.

Hence, to detract from such unethical abuse wouldn’t it make more sense to alter the law? If it can be proven there are patterns of financial abuse the spouse would then have to pay more support. It seems logical. If these are cases where money is being used as a weapon it needs to be disarmed. And if money is that important to one spouse they would go to such extraordinary means to leave another spouse with less than the threat of potentially having to pay more support could derail a tired tactic which has been wildly permitted for far too long.

And if ever there was a time to do so it is now.


Because a band of brothers has added a plot twist to this already disturbing classic. 

They have contrived a way of making their individual poverty more believable. And at the same time making their spouse the fall girl AND further compromising her financially.


Claim individual financial distress via lowered income, lost job, or bankruptcy – TRIED AND TRUE – CHECK

Stop paying certain bills to prove financial distress – TOTALLY BELIEVABLE  – CHECK

Optional but solid for the strategy, take out credit cards or loans in wife’s name  – TOO MUCH SPENDING – CHECK

Start spreading the word socially, business is bad, huge financial collapse – SETTING UP THE STORY – CHECK

Get a PO Box for all hidden financial dealings – NO ONE WILL KNOW – CHECK

Then the Piece de Resistance…

File for divorce claiming all savings and retirement is gone because the wife is a big spender and you have lived beyond your means for many years. What marriage could survive such a financial collapse? Clearly, the divorce is an unfortunate by-product of financial strain.

Quite good storytelling if it wasn’t all so troubling.

What’s worse is it is hard to tell if this began with and is still isolated to a certain group of men who hatched the tactic or if it is spreading.

The good news – It’s possible to prove fraud on the credit cards and loans and other forgeries. And with good financial record keeping the fact there was historically no history of financial strain or living beyond means or individually being a big spender.

The not so good news – These credit cards and loans are taken out without the knowledge of the wife so the wife may or may not know they exist if they aren’t involved in regular finances or periodically running their credit reports.

The bad news – It can be difficult to find savings or retirement if it was being siphoned for too long which is entirely possible with individuals who are calculated and manipulative enough to carry out a strategy such as this.

The really bad news –  Credit has been ruined which further destroys financially any ability to get credit card limits large enough to meet any major expenses or unexpected emergencies or qualify for housing. Therefore potentially leaving the unsuspecting spouse with little to no savings, alimony or credit. A huge financial conundrum.

The really really bad news – Men who do this get away with it first and foremost because they have crafted such a devious story but more importantly because they will ruin their own credit to achieve their objective. Thus leaving the court pondering is this individual devious or dysfunctional?

But all good stories have great endings.

The strings that tie up the loose ends bringing it all together.

Somehow these financially devastated men are magically restored post-divorce.

They have both the time and money to travel, resume all their regular expenditures and buy cars when strangely they couldn’t afford to keep the repo man at bay in divorce. They seem oddly lighthearted about bad credit and not at all weighed down by the burden of having no retirement money. And for men with such burdensome financial troubles and poor earnings, they remain in their seemingly floundering industry with no complaints. Housing doesn’t seem to be an issue either.

This is a frightening tactic because there is divorcing someone and then there is destroying someone.

In any other court of law, a person who takes out credit in another person’s name forges another person’s name or hides assets would be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Unfortunately, nearly anything goes in divorce court. Partially because the laws are antiquated, partially because the courts are overwhelmed with these types of cases, partially because a judge has little to no time to distinguish which party is telling the truth, partially because the self-employed can abuse this process and not get caught, and partially because people who are willing to be this manipulative are quite frankly good at it.

But mostly, because this type of emotional and financial abuse has been permitted in divorce for too long.

It’s not rocket science.

It’s the same old story.

Let’s rewrite it.

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The past few months since the finalization of my divorce haven’t worked out quite the way I expected.

It honestly, has left me at a loss for words. 

Not because I didn’t still have a story to tell but because it was no longer the way I wanted to present it.

And not because it’s not relevant.


All of the divorce obstacles and issues I have faced are still very relevant and it’s a conversation I will continue. But I had hoped this would now be dispersed over the tellings of my next great adventure and the optimism eventually found in times of once resisted life transitions.

I guess what I am trying to say is I am ready to become an advocate rather than appear as if forward motion somehow repels me. 

So I tried to wait it out. I tried to see if what I once referred to as a post-divorce hiccup would soon correct itself and I could visit the column notes I have been eagerly compiling for this next phase of life.

I held my breath. I had a few people try and scare me. I held my breath some more. 

But to no avail…The hiccup remains.

So let me catch you up as best I can.

My divorce finalized June 12th. YAY!

The next month all of the provisions in the court order were ignored. BOO!

So we (My lawyer and I) set about enforcing those provisions.

Turns out the law is the law but it takes time to get it enforced and some things are black and white and some things are loosey-goosey.

For instance, you’re in contempt and don’t pay support. You leave someone with no ability to fully pay their bills and take their credit score down even further impacting their ability to find a rental. Sounds wrong, doesn’t it? And the whole court order thing makes it sound illegal, right?

Yes and no.

If they are a month or more late but finally make a payment right before the threat of court – you don’t go to court.

And here’s the crazy thing, the really crazy thing.

THEY know this.

This is the type of cat and mouse game which oddly makes divorce FAR more exciting to some. And FAR less exciting to those of us who have been trying to same GAME OVER for five years.

Add to that contempt you were supposed to take reasonable steps to sell a home amongst several other things and you don’t. Also, oddly sounds like this could be enforced. But here’s where it gets less black and white and more loosey-goosey again.

It costs a lot to go to court so initially, you try and come to some middle ground. 

Even though it is contempt which should be enough to make it fairly certain this is probably someone who won’t find their way to that middle ground. Instead, they will leave you treading in the water. While you pack up a house which you now fear the bank can take because contempt of prior agreement has several mortgage payments unpaid. So you spend several weeks in a frenzy cleaning out the house and frantically trying to find potential places to live. Oh, but that’s right – you left with no savings to put down on a rental to make up for the credit an individual ruined once you said you retained an attorney to leave.

A huge potential snafu. 

Then, the welcome relief. 

Court order enforced and mortgage payments brought up to date. At last, reasonable steps to sell the house can be taken. Or can they? Nope, stalling is a particularly effective tactic – call it running out the clock so they use up two-plus months and now finally they agree to sell the house.

Oopsy. They’ve waited so long a bank can now soon take the house again among other things.

Their bad. They didn’t mean to do so. 

So I’ve brought you up to date in my life.

With what many out there already know. The divorce system is fraught with abuse and unfortunately, it works in their favor. And it’s a game they have perfected and know how to play well as many of these individuals are concerned about winning not ethics.

The scorched earth strategy.

Remove anything and destroy anything which could be of benefit to the enemy.

Aka, a potential profit on a house.

So I am finally doing what any good soldier would do when they finally understand what they are up against.

I am surrendering. 

Walking away from our home.

Is it the legacy I wanted for my children?

Absolutely not.

They should have seen two parents work together to sell their childhood home responsibly. Especially months ago when inventory was low and the potential looked good. But how many times can I let them witness the inability of their parents to resolve situations together? And how much longer can I keep them in a position of conflict?

Five years ago when I retained an attorney, I thought it would be enough to leave without savings or retirement which somehow had miraculously vanished.

And then again, I thought it would be enough to leave on a curiously reduced income of a business I left my job years ago to help build full-time. As well as investment properties which I initially took a part-time job to begin saving part of the deposit for.

Because all I was asking for was several years to have enough monthly to start over after staying home for many years and needing time to rebuild. 

I mean, come on.

It seems like winning the divorce lottery.

One spouse leaves with absolutely none of the savings or retirement and the support is based on an income which was less than what was earned twenty years ago.

Sure seems like a pretty good win.

Of course, one thing couldn’t be mysteriously misplaced. A business buyout in the future but even that was again miraculously lower than nearly thirty years ago.

This would be the magic of the self-employed or independent agent in the divorce process. 

Money can disappear.

But I digress.

I am going to continue to share a few post-divorce hiccups but don’t think for a minute the future doesn’t look bright. Because it does. As I always say, I believe I fell down farther than most so I can help others get up. This is a part of my story. The good, the bad, and the ugly.

And I knew this was going to happen.

I am not naive after all I have experienced. As someone close to me intuitively says this is someone who is predictably unpredictable. I just thought I would have a year or maybe two before contempt or sans any support at all. It simply came sooner than I expected.

And I have now made peace with this being the way my children and I leave what is now a house to me but will forever be their home. 

Would it have been easier for them to know a young family moved in to recreate the happy times they once knew? Sure. Is a bank eventually taking a house ugly? Yes.


Back to the Scorched Earth Strategy.

They don’t leave a house standing.

So I am walking away.

I am surrendering. 

My children and I won’t be here to see it proverbially burn.

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I remember memorizing my childhood steps.

My mom was sadly unaware this day had come.

As the memories left her – they came towards us.

I felt my foundation crumbling. The door to this emotional sanctuary slamming shut and forever exiling a part of me. Scratch that. Banishing a part of my family lost forever.


More importantly, this was not and I repeat not the way I wished to part with the place I called HOME.

There would be no great reminiscing of late night conversations, family feasts or the ordinary yet extraordinary love these four walls housed.

There would be no time to reflect upon the imperfections which made us all feel the perfection of home.

Instead, we would walk from room to room and pack up the mementos which built us.

The Waterford we shifted as we dusted our way through Sunday chores, the box of a mother’s love filled with cherished notes, and more importantly…just what emotional relic captured a slice of each of our hearts.

Had Alzheimer’s not stolen this melancholy yet love-filled adventure from our mother I wonder what she might have said.

Would she have walked us from room to room, nic nack to nic nack and shared a neglected memory?

I will never know.

But I hold onto knowing she would have been happy we retraced those room the best we could.

We entered with care and discarded nothing without reflection and funny or sentimental remarks.

I now find myself on the other side of goodbye.

It’s time for my children to leave the only home they remember.

The clock winding towards difficult decisions of what will stay and what will go.

Of how they will each capture the essence of what their childhood represents to them.

Will, they chose to keep a sentimental picture, a silly kitchen gadget, a table, a dresser, dishes or some other seemingly random part of their creation?

But of course, none of it is random.

These are the pieces which shaped them.

Does a part of me break internally? Watching them extricate themselves with the world they safely retreated to each day. The little slice of where they alone belonged?


And Yes.

And Yes!

Because each of us has but one home.

The place where the world feels at once sacred and safe.

It may not look the same.

But it feels the same.

And leaving it makes our foundation feel as if it’s crumbling.

As if we will never survive the way we were accustomed to.

Goodbyes are never easy and some are not chosen.

But unlike my mother, I get the luxury of shared reflection.

The great reminiscing of late night conversations, family feasts and the ordinary yet extraordinary love these four walls housed.

The time to reflect upon the imperfections which made us all feel the perfection of home.

Do I wish my children got to say goodbye under different circumstances?


Much the same way I wish Alzheimer’s hadn’t stolen the last few steps my heart would take in my childhood home.

But I find peace knowing as my siblings and I retraced that impossible journey begging to capture it all…

Our foundation was not crumbling.

It was only shifting.

Walls don’t create love.

They simply house it.

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I am listening to one of my favorite speakers.

I hang on every word.

My body wilts with relief as stress exits and a sense of optimism bubbles to the surface.

There is nothing like a dose of ‘positivity’ to water down the fears.

Yet this particular moment in time, I am struck by the power of this person’s words yet the absence of true suffering. He has not experienced significant loss and there have been a few career roadblocks not necessarily career setbacks.

I am a motivational junkie.

I love all things inspirational. 

The kitschy little signs, the books, quotes, speakers – all of it.

In fact, I always joke my overt dream was to be a writer and my covert dream, a motivational speaker. 

Yet, I always knew I did not have the street cred to be an actual motivational speaker.


Because in my life I had known disappointment, not true suffering.

Some would disagree.

How could your father leave when you were just five years old? An alcoholic who would reappear a few times in our lives but abandon his family physically, emotionally, and financially. And then at the young age of twenty-eight, you would lose not only him but the single mother who raised you? And to anyone raised by a single mother and absentee father that loss represented both your parents.

Yet, I never viewed that as true suffering.

Perhaps because my mother never presented it that way.

And because as children we chose to focus on the extraordinary blessing and love of each other and the one parent who never left us.

I am not candy coating an unfortunate outcome. The mess and muck of my dad leaving did impact us and my mother (as I would later do) made her fair share of mistakes. But we tended to dwell on our blessings.

I have written before about recounting an instance in my twenties where a woman turned to me and said, “I feel sorry for you having grown up without your father.”

“Don’t” I replied with a smile. “I never have.”

As I listen to this particular motivational speaker I arrive at an epiphany.

The profound difference between disappointment and suffering. 

Sure, others have probably arrived here before me.

But there is a difference between not getting a coveted job offer and unimaginable loss.

There is a difference between not being able to afford a vacation and not having money to feed your children.

There is a difference between not getting a promotion and losing your job. 

There is a difference between not getting into a certain college and a child suffering devastating illness.

All these years later I do know the difference between disappointment and suffering.

A father I couldn’t count on was excruciatingly painful and it certainly shaped my life. But it was a disappointment. I still had one parent. A mother who filled my life with love, security, and faith. I was not orphaned.

Too much has happened throughout these past years to recount as well as some which will remain personal. Meaning I speak not only of divorce because that one can recover from.

I do now understand suffering.

And the profound difference between that and disappointment.

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Do you remember the first time your mom dropped you off at school?

You cling to her leg with tears streaming down your face.

And whimper…


Please don’t leave me?

This place looks scary?

Why can’t I stay with you?

But your mom promises if you just stick it out it will be worth it.

You are going to learn all of these new things and have all these great new experiences.

She pries your fingers away from her leg.

And then she utters the proverbial mom catchphrase…

“I’ll be back. I promise.”

You spend most of the day peering out the window wondering when she will be back. It seems like forever. You know she’s out there somewhere. If only you see or talk to her the rest of the day would seem bearable.

Just the reassurance she really hasn’t forgotten you.

And finally, when it seems all is lost and you are exhausted from way too many teachers and starving since lunch was ages ago – she pulls up. You scramble to get into the safety of that car and back beside the woman who makes your whole world make sense.

All is right with the world again.

Five years ago, God dropped me off.

I clung to Him with tears streaming down my face.

And I whimpered…

Please don’t leave me?

This place looks scary?

Why can’t I stay with you?

But He promised if I would just stick it out it would be worth it.

I was going to learn all of these new things and have all these great new experiences.

Not unlike elementary school, I didn’t love all of my lessons and I spent a fair amount of time looking out the window wondering where God was.

I just wanted the reassurance He hadn’t forgotten me. 

All these years later, new experiences still seemed scary.

And finally when all seemed lost God pulled up.

And all was right with the world again.

Follow me on Facebook @Colleen Orme National Columnist

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on Twitter @colleenorme
on Pinterest @colleensheehyorme



Follow me on Facebook @Colleen Orme National Columnist

Photo courtesy of Pexels

on Twitter @colleenorme
on Pinterest @colleensheehyorme