Monday, December 17, 2012

Things Still Aren't Right This Christmas

 
 
 

 
Beautiful carols, fine clothing, delicious food, gifts and more.  Christmas is for celebrating and enjoying God's goodness.  He sent His Son, Immanuel, God With Us, to save us and to make things right.  Try as we may, to capture the essence of this spiritual reality, it doesn't always seem so.

In spite of health, family togetherness, and other comforts, this Christmas the children are grown and the childlike wonder is gone.  This Christmas sadness lingers from breakdown of extended family ties from the aftermath of divorce and distant relationships.  This Christmas new gifts were delivered with damage and the keeping of holiday traditions caused expensive messes!

This Christmas the rain fell and roads became icy and we couldn't see the outdoor lights as we usually do.  My tooth has been sore and sensitive ( reflecting my emotions in an ironic manner) despite efforts to relieve the pain, so this Christmas I can only carefully enjoy the goodies.

This Christmas I have heard people question spiritual training and its importance. I have heard others echo my struggle to deal with lost trust in leaders and those we love.  I have had "givens" become "non-givens" and Christmas feels much different.

Things still aren't right this Christmas.  How many people over the ages since the first Christmas, have felt things aren't right?  Aren't they supposed to be, now, this side of Christmas? Things aren't right in my world this Christmas.   Not to mention world hunger, murder, catastrophic events, abuse, natural disasters, and war to name a few problems which others are experiencing.    This reminder re-focuses my selfish perspective for awhile.  It is not hard to see that Christmas has not made everything right.  There is not peace on earth as we like to sing.

BUT.... it is well with my soul.  How can that be?  I pondered that as I lay awake thinking in my bed last night.  Ecclesiastes 3:11 states that God has put "eternity in our hearts" and by now it should be clear in your life and mine, that this life is not eternity.  There are endings to things we want to last.  It is not what our hearts long for. No matter how we try to dress it up , try to make this world heaven, no matter how close it may come at times, for some of us, it will never be!!

It is still not right this Christmas, because although Jesus came and he brought hope, although he lived and healed and gave purpose, although he died to buy us back from the captivity of our sin, we are not there yet.  God has just given us a glimpse and put it in our hearts to search out.  We can only dream of it being right one day.   The longing isn't bad, nor the pain.  They teach us to let go of this world and look again to Jesus.

He came into this not-right world many years ago and although it wasnt' right then, He spoke of how He could make things right in the hearts of men and how one day things would be right with the world.  He left this not-right world, after a short earthly life, to go prepare a right place for us where we will be in Immanuel's presence. 

Now we wait.  And while we wait may we have calm confidence, like Anna and Simeon, in the promises of God.  May we enjoy the things we can at Christmas, this Christmas, but when it comes up short, may our inner peace be the thing that sustains us and gives inner joy!  As we live in between Christmas and Eternity, may what is not right keep us looking and learning and longing.  THAT actually may be exactly what IS right - this Christmas!!

written December 2009, revised December 2010

Thursday, December 6, 2012

ACOD Fathers and Mothers



Adult Children of Divorce usually have one parent who has been more influential in the breakup of the parent's marriage.  Sometimes it is mutually decided, but in my contact with many other ACODs I have found that it is very common that one parent decides to have a new life.

Many other ACODs share that the "leaving" parent has made statements about finally being able to do what they want to, or comments that now it is their time to be selfish.  It is hard work being a mother or a father, but intrinsic is the opportunity to put your children's well-being above your own.  I can't imagine doing that for multiple decades, as I have only been a parent for 23 years , but it is my goal to do nothing that will put my children's well-being in jeopardy. No matter how old they are , or I am. 

Often a part of the picture is an affair.  In my case, my father had an affair and made a choice that life apart of the family , and instead with his girlfriend, was his desired path.  I believe he had an idea of what that path would look like.  Sadly familiar , also,  is the sentiment that many "leaving" parents have that they think everyone can get along like "one big happy family".  From what I have experienced and what I have read of others' experiences, nothing could be further from the truth.  It is a deception that does not fit with reality.

I have often told people that I know my father loves me, but he just loves himself more.
Many of you ACODs out there can identify.  Maybe it is your father, or maybe your mother. The men who are having affairs are obviously having them with women , who are mothers, and grandmothers.  I can only imagine how hard it is to feel confused about the word "mother".

My conflict comes with the word "father".  No longer does it conjure up feelings and meaning of security, love, dependability, etc.  In fact, in the beginning of my acod journey, just hearing the word, or singing it in lyrics in church, etc...would bring me to tears. My identity was closely tied to my parents as a unit and my mother and father separately as well. Knowing I did not have the same father I thought I had created much despair.

Where could I find a loving, unselfish, caring father?  Was there a father I could trust?
Could the word "father" have positive meaning again?

Thankfully , I already had a relationship with my Heavenly Father.  I had been spiritually reborn many years ago after realizing my need for a savior.  I had asked God to be real to me to teach me and guide me and to accept me , not on my own merits, but because of what Jesus had done for me as he took my place on the cross.   In this, I became a daughter of God.   In the aftermath of my father leaving our family the Father-hood of God took on new and precious meaning!!


Psalm 68:5    " A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling"

Even though many of our fathers ( and mothers ) are still living and may be involved in our lives at some level, we feel father-less and mother-less.  What we needed from them we did not get early in our lives , or we did not get in these later years as they have divorced.

Even as this Christmas Season approaches I am reminded that Jesus is called many names, and one is our Everlasting Father.   As you contemplate your father or mother and how your feelings have changed about the word, and their relationship to you, may you find a new security in a heavenly rebirth, into a new family , with a new Father.  I am walking hand in hand with Him.  I am praying you are too!

Isaiah 9:6    " For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace"

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

On A Lighter Note

Stick Your Neck Out and Face the Holidays as an ACOD!!

When parents divorce in our adulthood, holidays change.
Read my post called The Holiday to gain some help and hope for this challenging time of year.
Take out a piece of paper and every time you think of something that is GOOD in your life, write it down. Although adult children of divorce have pain and loss, focusing on our blessings helps keep our perspective in balance.
I am thankful for those who read, comment and email and help me not feel alone in this journey as an ACOD!!!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Serenity Prayer for Adult Children of Divorce




The Serenity Prayer for Adult Children of Divorce

God grant us adult children of divorce the serenity
to accept that things won't be the same in our families;
courage to change things for the best when we can;
and wisdom to know what is up to us, and what isn't.

Living one day at a time; and handling one situation that arises at a time;
Enjoying good past memories and enjoying each present moment as much as we are able, as we ultimately look to the future.

Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Trying to live as He did in this sinful world, accepting it as it is and not as

we wish it were.
Trusting that He will make all things right in our inner spirits and in the last chapter of our story, if we surrender to His Will;
That we may be reasonably content in this life
and supremely whole and in communion with God forever in the next.
Amen.

( taken from The Pathway post on Time For Serenity blog)

Monday, October 22, 2012

ACOD Fear


My story has nothing to do with being an adult child of divorce .  It has everything to do with real fear.   Riding a roller coaster in the dark in one of the front seats pushed me over the edge.  Not literally,  but figuratively.  Although I was in my early twenties, I came off the "fun ride" and sat on a bench where a few elderly people were sitting.  They were probably experiencing physical reactions to being flung through the air wildly and quickly.  But I was experiencing psychological fear.
And I was crying.  As embarrassing as it was, I could not control my reaction .  I was truly afraid.

What is fun for one person in an amusement park may not be fun for another person.
And as an ACOD, I don't mean to imply that any of it is fun for any of us.  But we all experience varying reactions that are common to all and some that are as different as we and our stories are!

Fear shows up in different arenas for the adult child of divorce.

Sometimes we fear the past.  Or what we do not know of the past. What we may learn of the past that will further affect our trust, our memories and our reality in the here and now.
Were there more affairs?  Are there other half siblings we don't know?  If the problems I know about now were there, what other problems existed that I still don't know about?   Do I want to know?  What do others know from my family's past that I don't know?

Fear can cripple us in the present.  What will happen if I set boundaries with either one parent or both? Or with siblings?   What words of anger and rejections will be directed at me when I express my feelings?  What is the true state of my and my parent's physical safety, given the fact that what has happened in my family was unthinkable in the past....  what is a parent or both parents capable of doing to themselves or each other ? 

Future fear makes us feel uncertain.   We fear what our holidays will look like now?  We wonder what will happen when mom and dad are in the same room at some future gathering? What if my parent or parents withdraw from me or reject my efforts to talk about the true issues?  What if my desire to see a counselor together is turned down? Can I handle any more abandonment or rejection?   How will this affect MY children?  What are they going to learn from this breakdown in our family?   And if we are not married yet,  the question looms of "are my relationships doomed?" because true love and commitment just are not possible?
And if we are married,  we wonder if betrayal, or loss of commitment could happen to us?

As adult children of divorce, we experience true fear.   We know we are on a roller coaster, not by our doing, but by others choices.   We may be adults, but as we experience the twists and turns ,  darkness and unknown path that now lies before us,  we sometimes just want to get off.  We want to sit and cry and realize it is just a "ride".    Fear is real to us ACODs.

I can't take away your fear. It may be legitimate and may need to be dealt with by the help of others such as counselors, police, people of the faith community or decisions that help eliminate the causes of the fear.

For me, a certain amount of peace and absence of fear comes from my faith in God.  I believe He will bring me to the end of the "ride"  , through the dark tunnels and the fast, crazy loops and the unknown path I am on.   I believe He is guiding,  directing, and holding me in, so even if I am crying and exhausted when I experience fear,  I can also have peace, and clear thoughts that don't immobilize me.

If you are an ACOD who is experiencing true fear today, I pray you will seek the help you need to gain new trust and rest.

Philippians 4:6

New International Version (NIV)
6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

2 Timothy 1:7

New King James Version (NKJV)
7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Why Do Adult Children of Divorce Blog?


Adult Children of Divorce blog or follow a blog for many reasons.  And most of you reading this probably know what a blog is, but those of you who don't,  it is a informal site that is a web log of sorts.
A blog is an online journal which is updated with words of knowledge and experience for the world to read and respond to.  Blogs offer comment areas where readers can interact with the writer of the blog and with others who are reading the blog. A blog is a great tool for many topics, and it is a helpful resource for Adult Children of Divorce, no matter which stage we find ourselves in!!!

After several months of digesting the news of my parents'  divorce after 45 years of marriage, I looked for help in any form as I sorted through so many emotional, physical, spiritual, and mental issues.  Books , and websites were few, although the ability to read about what I was going through was a tremendous lifeline.  A Divorce Care support group and the visits with a professional counselor joined the list of helpful , if not crucial players in getting me where I am today.

If you have googled " Adult Children of Divorce Blog" today ...I think you have come to a good place.  A blog will never replace the significant counsel a professional can give when they hear the specific details of your situation, but a blog can help in many ways.

A blog can help you learn.    You may be feeling guilty about not seeing this coming.  You may be feeling anger that you never knew you could feel. You may not know how to talk to one of your parents now, since all the dynamics have changed.    This blog and others can help you learn how others have responded to guilt, anger and new roles.    You can learn.

A blog can help you think.   You may not have thought about how you will handle the emotions or scheduling that comes with new holiday routines.   You may not have thought about what your reaction would be to visiting your parents home , when one of them is not there anymore.
You may be thinking alot about God, and forgiveness and how your faith can be reconciled and lived out in these circumstances.  You can think.

A blog can help you feel support.   You may be 20 or you may be 50 ( as one of my readers is) and you probably don't know alot of people in your shoes.  You feel other people's pain and loss.  You also can feel other people's adjustments and hope.  You can feel a positive outlook for the future, while experiencing present grief.   You can be supported.

Adult Children of Divorce blog, or read blogs for many reasons.  I have been helped and encouraged by the blogs I have read.  That is why I began blogging.  I love to hear from readers via the comments section of posts or via email.  Let me know what you have learned and what you think and how you feel support.   We all would like to know!!!   

Friday, October 12, 2012

On A Lighter Note






 

As you carry the burdens that come with being an adult child of divorce, think about other "boxes" and burdens that you can get rid of to lighten the load.  And don't forget to cast your cares upon God, for he cares for you!!  1 Peter 5:7  The load is lightened when He is helping to carry it!!!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Dear Schwarzenegger Children


Dear Schwarzenegger Children,

True identity, the failure of memory, and total recall are themes of one of the movies your father was in, and I would imagine it is a theme you are dealing with as you try to figure out the truth and the lies in your family story.

I have been there too.

By nature of being children of a celebrity, politician, actor, and a man with an unbelievable personal life story,  the issues surrounding your parent’s marriage are so very public.  There are others like you, who are adults, or soon to be adults, whose parents are divorcing amidst difficult real-life drama.  You are not alone. Our situations just are not so well known to the world.

Your family name is so very recognizable, but even for those of us whose names are not, there is a sense of uneasiness now when someone asks our family name, which in my case is my maiden name.  I wonder if they know my father and what he did to contribute to my family’s breakdown.  I wonder if they know the name if they will judge me by my father’s actions. I hope they don’t know the last name I grew up with, so I can have my own identity aside from the bad decisions my father made. 

You no doubt feel pain for your mother’s hurt.  You have witnessed and are part of a very profound type of betrayal by one parent toward another. Others recognize how terrible it truly is!!

David Swanson, a psychotherapist says of your mother today, "You've gone on record saying you would vouch for his character, he was that good of a man, and yet everything you believed in, your marriage, the character of your husband, it all falls down around you. If that's not the worst sense of betrayal, I don't know what is."   ( CBS news may 18 , 2011)

And you feel your own hurt and betrayal.  In an article I read, the following made a lot of sense to me ,as a fellow adult child who felt betrayal. “... healing will take time, especially because the children are most likely experiencing a sense of anger and "betrayal," according to Philadelphia clinical psychologist Ann Rosen Spector, who specializes in marriage and families.

"They feel for their mother and for themselves," she said. "The times when their father wasn't available to them, they wonder if it was because he was engaging in the affairs -- it wasn't just that they had to work late. The children feel cheated on too. The soccer games missed, the movie nights without the full family participation."

 

It does not feel good to hear people talk about a father that you love , no matter how upset you may be with that parent,  in a way that is derogatory.  You realize there is truth though in some of the things people say, but it is still hard to hear.  Someone who didn’t know my father and heard about his affair and the circumstances concerning it, called him a “slut”.  That is a lot for a child , adult or not, to digest.    Cal Thomas wrote an article begging the question as to your father’s care for you and the message he is sending you and then he calls your father a total reprobate.  “ Lesley Stahl asked him why he didn't tell Maria about the affair. "I didn't know how," he said. Sure he did. It's something like Lauren Bacall telling Humphrey Bogart how to whistle in "To Have and Have Not." He simply had to open his mouth and tell her. Was it political expediency that kept him quiet? What other explanation could there be?

Does he care nothing about his children and the message he has sent them? Apparently not, or he would have behaved more responsibly.  Cal Thomas Oct 7 2012 article....he’s a total reprobate”

 

That hurts to hear, even though you may believe it to be true as well…

In closing, I want to encourage you that you are not alone.  Your last name is recognizable , as is the last name Edwards, or other names the public recognizes.

But there are many of us adults whose parents are divorcing, who feel your pain.

May you find help and hope as you try to figure out truth from lies, set appropriate boundaries and get the counsel you need at this time.

Someone’s true identity and total recall of an affair is life-altering to adult children or minor children in a family. May you determine to make a different name for yourself!!!

 
Sincerely,

Serenity

Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Serenity Prayer : Expanded Version




A prayer of perspective for Adult Children of Divorce:



God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.
Amen.

--Reinhold Niebuhr

A New Look for my ACOD Blog

A blog for Adult Children of Divorce is an ever changing thing.  It is  like the lives of ACODs everywhere.  Some things stay the same, other things change with time.

After realizing that a new format will give you readers a chance to access the drop down tab on the top left where it says "side bar"   ,   the blog has a new look!!  I am hoping you will use the drop down the side bar choices and choose a page that shows all the post titles ( I think there are 48 now?) .  That will give you a chance to see all that you can read about at one time.  I hope this is helpful.

There are all the other features, but you may need to  hover your mouse over the categories vertically showing icons on the right side of the page. Explore the new format and hopefully you will find all the old things you liked and some new things that help you navigate the site too!  :)

Don't forget to use the white search box in the upper right corner, too!!

A new look, a fresh perspective is good for us all.  May you enjoy and better access the posts as you look for help and hope as an adult child of divorce. I appreciate you readers. It helps to know we are not alone!!

Sincerely,
Serenity

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

ACOD's and Simplicity


Profound statements come from the mouths of adult children of divorce.

Just recently while talking with someone going through the beginning stages of a parental separation the statement was made  
" What used to be simple, isn't simple anymore".

I couldn't help but think how profound and deep that statement is to those whose lives have changed drastically in the aftermath of our parents divorce. Planning a family gathering,  making a phone call,  sending a card, looking through photos, just to name a few things,  aren't ever the same again.

Today I don't have alot to add to that thought.  Just that what used to take little thought or effort, now takes alot of insight and work.  Maybe you are feeling overwhelmed by the perseverance needed now.  Take heart,  it becomes easier as time goes on , in some ways.   We also can treat our relationships in a way that helps them become more simple again , as we define our own convictions and boundaries . 

Simplicity in the life of an ACOD takes on a different reality , but it is possible to regain a sense of it through hard work and time. 

If you have heard any profound statements that you would like to share in how it related to Adult Children of Divorce,  I would LOVE to hear from you.  Feel free to comment below so any readers can take part together.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Being A Male Adult Child Of Divorce



I don't know what it is like to be a man and also an adult child of divorce.

Much of what I have read and many of those to whom I have spoken have been women.
Maybe we feel more comfortable in sharing our feelings or seeking help and support.
I don't know. But today I am wondering what it is like to be a man , who has seen , as an adult, the breakdown of his parents marriage. 

Years ago there was a train of thought that implied it was not divorce in itself that affected children, but instead HOW a divorce was handled.  It is certain that the way in which a divorce plays out can be more negative or more positive, but divorce in itself, in the best of circumstances, with the most mature individuals, still has great effects on the children , no matter what the age.

In the Journal Of Marriage and Family from Nov. 1985 ,  there was an article entitled  The Psychological Well-being of Adult Children of Divorce by Norval D. Glenn and Kathryn B. Kramer of the University of Texas at Austin.    The article was referencing persons who were adults now , but their parents divorced in their childhood. 
Several statements struck me, but two important ones stood out.

Their article stated that  "inferences of no important long term effects.....should be viewed with caution and skepticism". 

And it also stated that there were  "several statistically significant , estimated negative effects....especially for females".....

 That made me think that males and females must handle the divorce of their parents differently. My question today is for those males out there who have experienced the divorce of their parents while adults.   How has it affected you?    How have you felt?   What have you done for help/support?   Do you feel as devastated?  How do you deal with your mother and your father?  How do you feel about relationships now?   If any men are reading this blog, I would be interested in knowing how you are doing. Or if any women with brothers want to weigh in, we'd appreciate an understanding of what it is like to be a male adult child of divorce . Feel free to comment in the section below .

Friday, September 14, 2012

The Serenity Prayer Worksheet




Serenity Prayer Worksheet

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.
Amen.

--Reinhold Niebuhr

of

ACT                                                 ACCEPT

What I can influence                                               What I cannot influence

 

 

 

 

                      ABDICATE

                               What only God can influence

 

 

 

 

The Serenity prayer causes us to seek the wisdom of discernment in circumstances and time…we have today…and the future….Today we plan activity and purpose, look for blessings and surrender our will to His.  In the future we look for peace and supreme joy! 

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

ACODs and Identity : The Family Tree


Adult children of divorce can become discouraged when looking at our family trees. Our identity is a part of those relatives who have come before us and those coming after us, and we realize , if we have not known before, that our tree has missing leaves and broken branches.  Adult children of divorce have unique damage to their family trees, but we are not alone in the fact that many trees have unusual growth patterns, strange and unwelcome fungi, results of outside or inner infection and disease.  We are not alone in the world of unhealthy family trees, but we do need to consider how our trees got this way, what damage has been done and now what we can do to make the tree as healthy as possible.

For adult children of divorce our family tree suffers when our parents divorce. I was reminded of this as I recently looked through a photo album of several generations past.
The people had normal problems and had tragedies , illness and hardship that sometimes is evident in the expressions on their faces.  Other pictures show them expressing humor, togetherness and enjoyment of life. It is a good reminder that life is wonderful and messy in the course of generations for most of us.   As with a death, a divorce brings not only the expected winds and storms of life that do some damage to our family trees, but it brings a greater blow that resonates in the whole tree.

Not only have I looked at old photos and imagined the lives of my ancestors lately, but we also had a tree specialist come to check the health of the trees on our property.  He had a wealth of information and advised us on a few procedures we could take to insure the health of our trees.  A few were suffering from insect infestation and a few had not been attended to as young saplings so there were unique issues with growth.  And a couple other trees had small scars where our tree specialist said they must have been injured as young trees, but the tree had overcome and grown well despite a small scar or two.

This thinking about family trees, and the trees in our yard caused me to do a little research. I am not a tree expert, nor is this a perfect analogy, but I was amazed by the things that I read in relating it to us ACODS.  The article was from planetamnesty.org and the article was concerning the stopping of a procedure called "topping".
Topping is the drastic removal of large branches from a mature tree.  This sounds like what has happened to many of us older acods. The larger ,more established , older people have become removed or separated from our lives and those of our children due to our parents divorce.  The article explained that this upsets the ability to produce enough food to support all branches , trunk and roots when a 30 year old tree loses much of its 30 years worth of canopy.  Topping makes the bark vulnerable to scalding from the sun and branch stubs rarely close or develop calluses, making them more susceptible to decay. This is discouraging to hear how unhealthy a tree , or a family, can become after a devestating loss of important branches!  Can a damaged tree survive?

One of my dear blog readers shared with me the story of the Survivor Tree in New York City.  The tree was found in the rubble after 9/11 with blackened trunk and snapped roots, but was nursed back to health and now is four times its size and sprouting blossoms!  She described her impression in the following quote:

"The tree is beautiful... it is being held by chords that are currently helping it gain strength. You can still see many traces of what it has been through, but you see as well, very clearly, new growth. The tree will never be the same, but it is still a tree which, although assisted, stands strong. ( deleted sentence here). I realized, our family tree has been through devastation, but it has not died. We are hurting, but we are still standing; we are breathing and we are fighting for survival. And we are being "held up" like those chords that hold the 9/11 survivor tree. Those chords are helping us regain strength in our roots... those chords are our sweet Jesus and the many people who have brought us comfort and support, reminding us of a hope for the future."

Her words brought tears to my eyes when I first read them and also today as I share them with you!!  We all want a healthy family tree , yet trees get damaged and need help sometimes.   As our tree specialist explained that the best policy is nurturing, careful planning and early training when it comes to the long term health of trees,  he also gave us recommendations for future health and healing for those trees that had suffered damage beyond our control.

As an adult child of divorce who could become discouraged by what I see now in my family tree, , I am  instead trying to take the measures needed to regain the best health I can , for the future life and growth of the family tree.  This involves taking care of my own "leaf" , so to speak.  I can not control all the limbs and branches and the outside forces that will cause weakness to the family tree.  All I can do is try to make sure my leaf is healthy, nurtured, and cared for when wilting.  I can try to influence the branches to which I am in close proximity for good .  We can hope future generations will look back at our family trees and while recognizing that they are not completely whole, they are still standing.  The people overcame, they endured and the tree survives.


Monday, August 27, 2012

On A Lighter Note



The song  "Forgive" has been on my heart and mind almost constantly lately!!  It kind of gets stuck in your head and you can't get it out!   Maybe that is a good thing in this case .  Check out Sara Renner's website at sararenner.com and listen to her song that reminds us that if we want to live, we need to forgive. Powerful and beautiful,  from one ACOD to others like us!!  Thanks Sara!!!!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

ACODs and Identity : Part 1


Even though I became an adult child of divorce at the age of 43, I thought my identity was quite established and secure by that time in my life. A strong sense of self had been developed apart from my roots of childhood, and I had my share of personal accomplishments from which to gain a positive self concept.  Tasting some of life's painful experiences had given me an amount of maturity and perspective I would not have had at a younger age.  BUT.....  as the reality of my parents divorce set in , the realization that I saw myself as a part of "them" couldn't be ignored.  Seeing myself even more separately became a new exercise. 

"Mom and Dad" had become  "mom" and "dad".  "They" had become "he" and "she" , "hers" and "his".  The language I used now spoke of it.  The way their lives became independent and compartmentalized made me see everything in a new, unwelcome, way.
When my 44th birthday rolled around, I was surprised that it felt somehow less significant and important to celebrate my birth , my life and my identity.

I began to ponder the relationship that had caused the creation of my life.  If I was conceived in love and togetherness, I reasoned,  then, if the love and togetherness was gone now, did this somehow "un-conceive" me?  Was my life less of a miracle and thing to celebrate ?    I wondered if I were the only one who had thoughts like that.  But in Christianity Today magazine in the July/August 2012 issue,  Andrew Root , discusses how the divorce of his parents involved a questioning of his core identity.  http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2012/july-august/why-divorce-calls-childrens-existence-into-question.html

As Christians, Andrew Root and I believe and embrace the truth that God is able to take us into a relationship with Him, where there is deep communion between His being and ours.  It is a place where God becomes our Father and our identity "in Him" can not be threatened or destroyed the way the relationship with our earthly fathers ( or mothers) can be.   Andrew calls the Christian church to minister to those whose parents have divorced.  I agree that is a need.  But the church is also called to show us that our identity is most full, complete and purposeful when we see ourselves as God's creation and child, more than we see ourselves as the creation or child of earthly parents.

This truth helps not only children of divorce, but also children of rape, children of abuse, and adults who have a compromised identity for a variety of reasons!!!   That is the truth of the Gospel, that the "old" is gone and the "new" has come.  Our identity is with Christ , and because of that , we live in a different way, with a different hope and purpose.

I am reminded on each birthday now, that it doesn't really matter how my life got here, who helped bring it about , and what the circumstances were....what matters is that God created me and sustains me , and I am .....  what I do with that reality does give me a reason to celebrate when my birthday rolls around!!!    I hope on your next birthday, your sense of significance, self worth and purpose is renewed,  not because your identity is wrapped up in being an adult child of divorce, but because you recognize the part God plays in who you are , and who you can become!!!



Look up  Romans 8: 38 and 39,    Acts 17: 28 ,   Psalm 139  and be encouraged!!
 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

On a Lighter Note

On A Lighter Note         is a little break from the serious posts and is sometimes just a funny photo or a thought that is lighter and more hopeful than some of the ideas that surround us adult children of divorce.   We all need a little laugh once in a while, or a different perspective while we go through the grieving process.  Enjoy  the On A Lighter Note feature !!   :)






Hopefully you won't make this mistake!!     Talk to someone , face to face today, about how things are going as an ACOD.   Find a good listener,  and unbottle the emotions!!     It will be good for your soul!!!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Are ACODs More Materialistic????

Materialism is an issue that everyone has to face...not only adult children of divorce, but is the tendency stronger for us?  And if that is true , what do we do about it??

According to research conducted and compiled by Tim Kasser, author of The High Price of Materialism there is a correlation between children who grew up in homes of divorce and the need for security which is manifested often in a higher degree of consumerism.
His book covers a wealth of information challenging the idea that greater wealth leads to greater happiness. He proposes, in fact, that the opposite is true.  As an adult child of divorce, I realize that the statistics that relate to children whose parents divorced are different than the statistics that relate to children who are adults when their parents divorce. But my ears perk up now whenever I hear the word divorce, and I was interested in this theory and how it may relate to us ACODs.

Kasser's reasoning seemed to go something like this: When a divorce occurs there is less interpersonal "capital" such as warmth, affection, etc. so in an effort to fill this deep need even years later, children of divorce turn to materialism and consumerism to try to create a more secure , fulfilling environment for themselves.

I am not sure how all this plays out in the life of an adult child of divorce, but I do know from personal experience that soon after I found out my parents were divorcing , when I was in my early 40's,  I felt a strong desire to go out and buy things to help each room of my house be a little updated or changed for good.   I am not a big shopper, nor do I usually buy things that I do not truly need, but I remember going to the store with a list that would acquire something for every room of my house.....a new shower curtain, a new pillow, a new rug, a new candle, etc..... something small, but a materialistic , consumeristic purchase in order to bring some sense of comfort , security, beauty, newness to my personal living space. It was a one-time spending spree that did meet some immediate needs. In its place , it did help, in a temporary manner.  Other than that, I do not know if I am more materialistic than before my parents divorced, but I do know that my feeling of security and connectedness was severely challenged, especially in the beginning of this journey.

The reality is that many of us turn to "things" to meet deep needs, whether or not our parents are divorced.   But it is important for us as ACODs to look at how we attempt to fill the deep needs created in the breakdown of our families and re-evaluate what will truly BEST meet our deepest needs.   The book by Kasser gives us more proof that people do not become happier as they become more affluent, by that association alone.

  Our intimacy and closeness to others grows out of more costly and valuable resources than money...it is the product of investment in people...in treating people like the creations they are, and not like things.  As adult children of divorce , who have had our share of loss of security and connectedness, let us not shy away from the greatest investment of "spending" time with people we love, "spending" energy on loving better, "spending" even our money on experiences rather than things.  That may be the best kind of "spending" of all!!!

NEXT time:   The issue of our 'very being' as an adult child of divorce

Monday, August 6, 2012

Why Should ACODs Listen??


When our parents divorce, we have alot to say!!!  We are angry , we are hurt, we feel justified in telling our side of the "story"!! 

Is anyone listening to us???  Are our parents listening to us??
Often talking to a trusted friend, a counselor or pastor is helpful because in those relationships we are heard.  Not only by the ears, but also the heart.

When we are heard, it makes it easier for us to listen.
But why should we listen???
In his letter, James said:

James 1:19-20
19 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.

and Paul , writing to the Romans, said:




Romans 5:3-5
3 Not only so, but we[a] also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

Being quick to listen  and  being patient in our suffering are not things that come easily or naturally.  We have to work at it and receive supernatural help to do it.
But listening can have great rewards in all of life and also in the life of an adult child of divorce.

It has been said that we have 2 ears and one mouth for a reason.  And there is truth in the phrase "knowledge speaks , but wisdom listens".   In our anger, grief and suffering if we listen,   we learn.
We learn about others, we learn about ourselves and we gain wisdom and character.  This gives us hope!!

TODAY:   Try to listen better to all of those people with whom you come into contact.

                 TRY to be completely silent for 5 mintues in the car, or at coffee, or while sitting with a friend or family member.  They don't have to know what you are up to, but just respond to them with a listening ear and a listening eye.  Yes,  our ears hear, our eyes focus our hearing on the person we are with, and our hearts do the real hearing.

               TRY to think of more questions to ask the other person.  That way you won't be thinking of what you are going to say next, but what you can learn from the other person.

                TRY to pay attention and listen to expressions, nonverbal actions and feelings as you talk with others.  Sometimes these things say different things than their words and often they say more!!!

As adult children of divorce, there are good reasons for us to listen, no matter if we are in the initial stages of shock and anger,  or in the later stages of acceptance.  Listening always is a wise action that we can practice more and more. 

I would love to hear about how your listening has helped you in dealing with being an adult child of divorce.

Next post will be considering whether children of divorce are more materialistic than others.......stay tuned.....

Friday, July 27, 2012

Adult Children of Divorce Listen


Adult Children of Divorce listen.  They listen to their parents tell each ones side of the story. They listen to the friends and relatives who have opinions and questions. They listen to their counselors and the wisdom that others who have walked this road share.
Adult Children of Divorce listen to their siblings and  their children share their own hurts and feelings.  And we listen to the voices in our own heads as we move in and out from anger, grief, acceptance , denial, and all the stages we go through!!

I have been listening , too.   While I have taken some months to refrain from writing , I have listened to those of you who have emailed me.  I have listened to what others are saying and writing about late-life divorce.  I have listened to the statistics from those of you reading my blog : My stats page shows me that most of you are reading the posts I have written about grief, anger and the hurt that is felt as an Adult Child of Divorce.

I have always known that listening is a valuable skill to fine-tune in my life.  I am just like anyone else, in the fact that listening is much harder to do than talking.  I need to work at it. I need to prepare for it and I need to provide time to do it.  Taking time from writing my blog has helped me to not only figuratively "listen" to others in the same situation, but I hope I have not only listened, but truly heard and understood,as well. 

What I feel I understand better now, is that we need most of our help as Adult Children of Divorce when the initial shock or change begins.  That is my assumption as many of you are reading the grief series more than other posts I wrote.
 I  also have concluded that we need a good deal of help and support as adult children of divorce in our new roles and relationships going forward. This has been clear to me as I communicate with those of us who have been on our journey for a longer time period and are grappling with what the acceptance stage looks like.

In my next few posts I will be addressing a few issues that others brought to my attention by their books or articles.  The issue of materialism may affect those who have been touched by divorce as children.  And the topic of our own self-worth and significance related to the dissolution of our parents marriage will be something to talk about and listen to.

I am grateful to those who have listened to me in my writing.  I am thankful for those who have written , commented and talked with me and allowed me to listen to their stories.
Now , let's continue to listen and to understand and learn from each other.

Today , think about   who you have listened to?   Think about who has listened to you
Think about what it means to REALLY listen ( to understand).   As an Adult Child of Divorce, I am listening ( or trying to, at least) . ... . Are you ???

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Reflections of Our Stories


Similarities abound as ACODs begin to share their stories with each other.  Never did I realize when I began this blog that I would find so many people with stories similar to mine. 
Those who have emailed me or commented on the blog have encouraged me as much , if not more , than I hope I have done for my readers.  Thank you to those who have shared their stories with me and those who have read this site.  Unfortunately, we are not alone and if recent statistics are correct, our situation will be shared by many more in the future.

Below is an excerpt from the last paragraph of a paper I ran across online.


“Since 1990 the divorce rate has doubled among persons ages 50 and older. One-quarter of those who divorced in 2009 were ages 50 and older. Future research should address the predictors and consequences of divorce that occurs during middle and older adulthood. As the U.S. population ages, the number of persons ages 50 and older that experience divorce will continue to climb by one-third even if the divorce rate remains unchanged. The rise in divorce among middle-aged and older adults is not only likely to shape the health and well-being of those who experience it directly, but also to have ramifications for the well-being of family members (e.g., children and grandchildren) and intensify the demands placed on the broader institutional support systems available to middle-aged and older adults.”


http://ncfmr.bgsu.edu/pdf/working_papers/file108701.pdf

 National Center for Family and Marriage Research  

Bowling Green State University

 March 2012

Working Paper Series

The Gray Divorce Revolution : Rising Divorce Among Middle-aged and

Older Adults , 1990-2009

 Researched and written by Susan L. Brown and I-Fen Lin



Today my challenge is for us to think of how we can continue to heal personally, but also that we would think of ways we can tell our stories for the good of others.

Just telling someone what has happened to us can bring us a sense of shame or embarrassment,  but it is good that others know late life divorce is a possibility.  Many people are shocked by it (as many of our parents were) and it is good to help people of all ages, especially those married for a long time, to have a reality check.  Long marriages need to be tended to and evaluated regularly.  If you work in the area of counseling or conflict resolution, or spiritual guidance,   will you  keep the needs of older people in mind as you do your work and not forget that they may need marriage seminars or suggestions that relate to their stage in life?

Those who work in the area of our legal system as it relates to divorce,  may think of how they will advise older people who come to them seeking legal help.   Will you suggest a doctor's visit, just in case there is something else going on??   Will you suggest counseling before the papers are drawn up?  What will you suggest for all family members?

If you work in the financial segment of our population, will you help couples be aware that divorce later in life is a possibility?  Will the needs older people have be considered when helping a divorcing couple?

Those who work with medical issues in our older population would be wise to admit that many medical issues contribute to depression and anxiety .  Will you suggest to your patient that unhappiness in older life may need to be addressed medically? 

You get my point.   Wherever we work or live our lives, we need to realize that older adults have marriage issues just like younger people , and we need to realize that maybe we can make a difference as we relate to the older adults in our lives and professions. 

 We need to continue this discussion even if it is difficult.  We are not alone ,and our stories reflect others stories, as adult children of divorce.  The discussion has been immensely helpful to the ACODs I have communicated with.   Let's keep talking, praying and hoping that many late life divorces can be avoided.   And the ones that occur, may we keep talking, and praying and hoping that they can be handled as best as possible , for the sake of the parents, for the adult children and grandchildren , and for everyone affected.

Topics

JANUARY TOPICS : Help and Hope
Grief
Bonds Unravel
Pain
Anger

FEBRUARY TOPICS: Anger
Counseling
Bargaining
Triangles
Honesty
Depression
Waiting
Boundaries

MARCH TOPICS: Accepting Change
Forgiving Parents
Time For Serenity
Things/Objects of Meaning
House
Rings

APRIL TOPICS: Postcard
Holidays
Recipe
Photo Album
Pathway

JUNE/JULY : Reflecting and Writing Again

AUGUST:
Acods and Listening
Acods and Materialism
Acods and Identity

SEPTEMBER:
Serenity Prayer Worksheet
ACODs and Simplicity
A New Look to the Blog!!
Serenity Prayer Extended Version/Worksheet
Simplicity
Why do we Blog???

NOV/DEC:
ACOD Serenity Prayer
ACOD Fathers and Mothers
Things Still Aren't Right This Christmas

Grandchildren of Divorce
ACODs and Affairs
Keep Going
ACOD Forward and Back
Lord' Prayer ACOD version
Ripple Effect
Grief Revisited
Too Many Choices
ACOD Times To Remember
Telling the Truth
Behind the Curtain

Popular Posts