August 2014

I’m Divorcing. What Now?

by Priscilla on August 29, 2014

Before you decide to unsubscribe to this blog, please be assured that I am not going to allow this space to be 24 Hour Divorce News Service – All Whining All the Time – Channel.  That’s not who I am.  My oldest sister reminded me that I am Tom Brown’s Daughter. For those of you who never had the privilege of meeting my father, Thomas Martin Brown, MD, in person I’ll whittle his life down to one word, Survivor. As a kid he survived the Great Depression. As an adult he survived the Battle of Iwo Jima and the death of his first spouse.  He and his three sons, my older brothers, started life anew at age 41 with my mother.  I remind myself of this fact when I get the urge to freak out and think, I’m 43 with two kids. What the heck am I going to do?

The reason I’ve decided to share some of these thoughts is because my friends who have walked this path before me have done the same with me, and their compassion and reason and love and insights overwhelm me with hope. I’ve decided to share these thoughts because while divorce can be horrific on one’s spirit, that person shouldn’t become someone’s charity project. I need help and support, not pity. I’ve decided to share these thoughts because while I’d much rather be writing humor, the stories just aren’t there…for now.  Instead of not writing at all, I’m choosing to write in the moment, knowing full well that the humor will return.  That the horribly irreverent person I am will peek through. I am Tom Brown’s Daughter, and Tom Brown was nothing if he wasn’t dry, quick, witty and yes, sometimes irreverent.  The reason I’ve decided to share some of these thoughts is to encourage others and to explain where some of us find ourselves through no fault of our own.

1.) Emotionally I’m over the place. I’ll have a few good hours, and then I’ll find something like a bottle of rose petals from one of our dates early on. The tears will flow. If the girls are home, I’ll have to find some privacy so as not to make them feel worse. It’s not that I don’t want my kids to see me grieve. They’ve seen this plenty, and I’ve tried to teach them healthy ways to grieve, but I don’t want to put my grief UPON them because they will think they need to do something or be something so Mom will get better.

2.) Taking off my wedding ring and tucking it away with the pearls I wore on my wedding day devastated me. I am very aware that I don’t have it on when I’m at the grocery store, and I go to sign for a credit card receipt (I’m left handed.). The tan line my on ring finger shrieks This woman used to be married. Or so I think. In my mind I know no one else notices or cares. I just wish my mind could get that through to my heart.

3.) Not having to shave my legs is pretty freaking awesome, though.

4.) Having to tell the adults in my children’s life what is going on is humiliating. Should it be? No. But it is, nevertheless. I feel like I should just don my Charlie Brown shirt when walking into these meetings. I’ve only been met with love and support, but that doesn’t mean I don’t feel shame. In talking with many other sweet, divorced friends, I’m finding this is a normal feeling, and that I’m not some freak of nature.

5.) I question God. When I told a friend yesterday that what’s so hard about all of this is that I really believed that marriage is forever….because that’s what I learned in church. I was always told that God’s best design for a family is a mother and father and children….and since I’m no longer that…what does that make me and my kids?  God’s second best? She responded that when we are taught these things, and they don’t pan out, it causes us to question other areas of our faith. What a relief for someone else to say that out loud. Someone who is married, who has been married for a long time, who has walked through some deep waters herself in other areas of life who encourages me by saying, It’s okay to have a wavering faith. The Bible, my book of Truth, is full of faith waverers. It’s even full of faith leavers and faith deniers. I’m thinking of changing my name to Jacob because there’s a hell of a lot of wrestling going on right now.

6.) My mind races ahead a few years, and I wonder if I will date.  Then I wonder why on earth am I going there because honestly dating is last thing on my mind, but I think the deeper question is  Will I always be alone?  Will I be okay with that? Will anyone ever love me? Will anyone ever want to have sex with me?  Will I ever want to have sex with anyone? Holy crap, I don’t ever want to get naked with another man again!  I know some of you might stop reading here, and that’s okay. Maybe it’s a bit too personal.  I get it, but I have to get it out there – part of the pushing through process. And quite frankly, some of you may need to hear it to understand what your divorced friends might be feeling. (And despite what one church I attended teaches, FEELINGS are pretty darn important and shouldn’t be shoved down in favor of intellect only.)

7.) Forget colleges, and weddings, I worry about healthcare and retirement, and how I’m going to pay for it all.

8.) I worry about my daughters’ views of marriage.  Will they see that it indeed is a good thing?

9.) I’m kinda pissed that he adopted a dog, and then moved out…leaving me to take care of it.  (She’s a great dog, though, and I know she’ll play a part in the healing process.) I’m really pissed that I’m left alone with all the kitty litter.

10.) I remind myself daily that while my situation sucks, I am not a mother in Iraq or Syria.  I don’t live in fear that my children will be prejudged by strangers based upon the color of their skin every time they leave the house. I have a roof over my head and a working vehicle. I have a job. I have a support system.

11.) I pass up invitations to parties and get togethers because right now being around married couples or “normal” families is beyond tough. I start crying, and I can’t stop. Alone is how I work through stuff mentally. It doesn’t mean I’m going to drink myself into oblivion or cry myself to sleep. Sometimes it means I just need to get work done….or watch eight hours straight of Parks and Rec…humor is the best medicine. I’ll get back to parties and get togethers, but for now I need some alone time.

12.) Attending church is extremely difficult, and quite frankly, the only reason I go right now is because I’m a mother, and I’m doing it for my daughters. Period.

Thanks for listening,

TIS

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And then there were three.

by Priscilla on August 22, 2014

Mom, said Twin B as I backed out of the garage down our narrow driveway bordered by our home on one side and the neighbor’s yard on the other. Its been two and a half years, and I still haven’t got the hang of such a small space to maneuver. This is a good day.

My stomach dropped. I knew she wouldn’t repeat those words again at the end of the day.

My stomach dropped again not less than two hours later when she and Mr. TIS and I rode our bikes the mile and a half to school to pick up Twin A from track practice. Tears flooded my eyes, and I couldn’t see as I rode the mile and half back to our home.

Our. Home.

I just watched the girls weave from side to side, loving this daily routine as my husband brought up the rear. I wiped the snot on my shoulder and brushed tears out of my eyes. I knew what was coming when we got home, and for my daughters’ sake I wanted to stop time.

Mr. TIS has decided to leave. For good. No changing his mind, thinking he will work things out. No begging from me for him to stay. Our marriage is irretrievably broken, and I needed to grow up, face facts, and move forward. Yes, December 23rd marks our 20th anniversary, but if I were honest with myself I’d have to ask the hard question of “Twenty years of what?”

I’m not going to bear secrets or tell tales, but it’s been 20 hard years. Why did I stay? Because that’s what nice little girls who grow up in churches that tell them they need to submit to their husbands grow up to do. That’s what happens when you hear that God’s design for the family is for a mother and father and 2.3 kids, over and over and over from pulpit to pulpit. That’s what you fight for when you are told to stay together for the sake of the children….

…and you lose yourself…and you no longer know what happened to the young woman who said I do, by candlelight 20 years before….and you worry about what kind of faith are you modeling for your young daughters. Not the faith of Esther or Deborah or Jael. Not the Take no prisoners I’m a child of Yaweh, and I was not made by the Creator to put  up with your nonsense; I will survive, faith. But a wimpy, whiny, wussy wallflower faith.

No more.

Please understand I am not blaming the church for my divorce. There are plenty of perfectly lovely couples in churches all over the world whose faith is real and right and good. They treat each other with love and respect and kindness. These people are my friends, and what they have is genuine love. But what you have to understand is that from an early age I heard from the pulpit and in the classroom that divorce is a sin. I knew wonderful saints who weren’t allowed to teach in the church because they were divorced. I watched deacons walk out on their wives, and no one give a damn about what happened to these women much less tried to help them. So, whether as a 43 year old woman, I actually believed those lies, and false teachings, I don’t know, but I do know this, the shame of divorce was laid out bare on my psyche. What would happen to my children? How would I come back from such a destructive experience? Why wasn’t God answering my prayers for a new start to my marriage. Why wasn’t my husband willing to work on things? What was I doing wrong? I must be doing something wrong, because I had been doing everything right for years, and years, or so I thought because I did what all the books about nice Christian wives said I should do,  and yet, somehow, my marriage failed.

We sat on the stairs, and Twin A looked in my eyes, and she knew even before her dad started speaking. Twin B looked down through all of the You are the most important things to us’s and the We will never stop loving you’s. Because really, when you are a 10 year old girl, and the most important man in your life says, I’m moving out, and I’m going to divorce your mother, where are you going to look?

We cried. We answered questions. We talked. We cried some more. We hugged….

…and then I asked something of them that I can only explain as a God thing.

I know this is going to sound funny,  I began, But can we all come together one last time? I want to pray a prayer of blessing over this divorce.

I had been thinking it over for a few hours. We pray blessings over marriages all the time, and despite the fact mine is ending, it has been blessed. It’s been blessed by my children and my in-laws, who are like parents to me. It’s been blessed by all the friends and neighbors we’ve shared over the years with each move. It’s been blessed by the churches we’ve attended together and the Bible study groups we’ve learned from. It’s been blessed by so much laughter and many wonderful memories. Most definitely God blessed our marriage…

…and I have no doubt God will bless our divorce.

Make no mistake. God grieves. Divorce is a great death borne out of life in a sin cursed earth. But divorce isn’t the end. Jesus came to give us life more abundantly, and his sacrifice paved the way for me to show grace in all circumstances. So I sat their with my little -soon- to- be- split up family, and I asked, Lord, bless this divorce. Keep us from anger and bitterness and hatefulness that can spring up at times like this. Watch over each of our hearts and minds and mouths,  and help us not fall into Depression or Despair. Thank you for meeting us in the middle of our hardest times and deepest need. Thank you for bringing us all together for the time you gave us. Amen.

More tears. More hugs. More assurances.

Then my husband was gone.

Looking at the divorce rate in our world, and the subsequent mistakes people make AFTER divorcing, maybe asking God to be in our divorces isn’t such a bad idea. All I was asking God for was for a little more mercy not to let my emotions get the best of me and hurt my daughters anymore than they already were. God is not only the God of the Alpha, but also the Omega which tells me He cares not only about how and where things start, He is deeply mindful of their endings…even heartbreaking ones.

I wish I were the bearer of good news, but I can’t be this time. All I can share is that God is in the midst of it all. All the time. He is in the Beginnings AND the Endings. He delights in reconciliations, and grieves in the torn asunders.

God is ever present at the happiest of weddings and the most heartbreaking of divorces.

And if we open our hearts and minds to His blessings, He is sure to shine His face upon us.

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