Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Seasons

We have weathered a few seasons together as we have taken time for serenity amidst our sometimes chaotic lives as adult children of divorce.  I am grateful for each person who has read my perspective as an ACOD over the past few months. The seasons have changed since I began blogging and now I plan to enter a season of rest from blogging for awhile. I am not sure how long this rest will be, but while I take a season of rest , you may be finding this blog in a season of panic or shock or depression.  I encourage you to look at the subjects and titles below to find posts that may be of most help to you where you are today. Then come back and visit the site on another day when there is another need you may have.  You will find a bit of help and hope when you find time for serenity.

Feel free to contact me personally via my email  serenitytime8@gmail.com  and I will be sure to respond. 

JANUARY TOPICS  :     Help and Hope
                                         Bonds Unravel


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

APRIL TOPICS:            Postcard
                                        Photo Album

Monday, April 16, 2012

The Pathway

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.

What adult child of divorce doesn't want peace?  But who wants to go through hardship to get there?  Our pathway as adult children of divorce is rough.
The road is rugged , filled with turns and twists we could have never imagined.
And it is a road that only we can walk.  Others who have walked similar roads will be our best guides, but it is a journey for us to take ; one step at a time.

My first blogs helped us walk through the waters of grief as adult children of divorce.  The next blog theme took us on memory lane as we saw what the true meaning is of some of our dearest objects and "things" that remind us of our pasts.  The items , such as our childhood homes, photos, rings and recipes, now are reminders of our hardship.  The hardship caused by loss of the things themselves, but more so the loss of the things they represent.  The security , belonging, promises and shared life of the past has changed.  This is our hardship.

Our sense of true inner serenity or peace comes when we realize intellectually and spiritually, in the depths of our souls, that genuine security, belonging, and connectedness, comes not from the outward circumstances in which we find ourselves, nor comes from the imperfect people around us ( including ourselves).  These things are subject to change and they are temporal.  Someone or something that is greater than ourselves and is not dictated by the same limits we succumb to in our earthly existence can offer us true serenity   in this life and genuine peace in the next. 

I have held to a strong belief and spiritual experience in the God represented by Christianity for many many years , and nothing in my life has tested this as greatly as my parent's divorce.  After four long years, I can say that I am convinced even more that God is just, loving and true . His character gives me something that transcends life's hardships and helps me realize that often there is more going on in my "story" than what I perceive.

I pray that your pathway of the hardship of your parents divorce will lead you to a deeper sense of true HOPE and HELP and PEACE than you ever thought possible.

Psalm 16:11   "  You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me
                          with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your
                            right hand. "

Luke 1:78, 79  "  ...because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising
                           sun will come to us from heaven  (Jesus) to shine on those
                              living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide
                           our feet into the path of peace."  

Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Photo Album

Adult children of divorce have a hard time looking through old photo albums.
We turn the pages and find people who look familiar. We know their names and faces and they have funny hairdos and strange clothing.  As we look at the pictures and see things we remember, part of us smiles and part of us cries.
Although photos capture people at a moment in time, they represent much more.
They represent shared life.  As an adult child of divorce one of the things we have to accept is that we can share life with those we love, but in a divided way and not in a united way like the people in the photo album.

It has been said that a picture paints a thousand words,  or speaks a thousand words.  Photos must mean alot to people because we pass photos on from generation to generation.  We preserve them and we spend a lot of money capturing pictures of an event sometimes.  The person on the photo represents a thousand words and memories to us sometimes.  They serve as a part of the person at that point in time that we can capture and take with us.

When adults face their parent's divorce, we realize that often the people we see are not the people who are now.  I have read many posts by adult children of divorce on Yuku and references are made to my "old" dad and my "old" mom.  People who have changed drastically and the photos serve to remind us of a shared life that is in the past.  Even if a relationship exists between adult child of divorce and parent ,  it is a new and different shared life, that is often strained by new and different shared life experiences among the other parent and the siblings.

Michr on Yuku says  :   "...I can't go back and look at old photos of my family anymore."
Doid19 on Yuku says :  "I still can't watch my wedding video or see any photos of my family together that day without crying."

For many months I felt the same. I avoided the photos albums like the plague. Finally I decided that I needed to appreciate the shared life we used to have and force myself to look through them and remember.  I don't know when things truly began to change in my father, but as I looked at each page with images of important and unimportant times I was able to appreciate times that I believe were truly happy and meaningful to all of us.  I was able to grieve photos where he was not there at an event or where his look was dull and distant....wondering if the emotional separation had begun already then.  And now I am able to look at recent photos in my photo album and realize that I still share life with those I love.  We just may not be in the same photos anymore.

So, if you are an adult child of divorce who is blessed to have pictures of the past that remind you of happier times, look at them and be thankful you had that time.   If the photos tell of times that were bad, look at them honestly, face it and move on.  Looking at a photo album from the past can be painful for an adult child of divorce, but hopefully we can be strong to face the past as well as the present, and the future and we can determine to share as much of life with as many that we love, as we are able.

NEXT POST   :     The Pathway 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Recipe

Take one type of food or a certain combination of foods. 
 Prepare in a way that a special person has prepared the food for you in the past.
 Eat it with others who knew the person or as you reminisce.
 SERVES:  to help us feel "Belonging"

Food links us to people in the past.  The stuffed mushrooms that grandma used to make or the fried chicken uncle charlie enjoyed remind us.  Just the smell , and for sure the taste, can take us back. 
Food links us to people in the present.  The caramel corn that is Dad's favorite or the way Mom tears pieces of bread and puts them in her chicken soup as she eats it, give us familiarity and a sense of understanding other people , as they understand you . 
We belong in the kitchen, we belong at the table with our memories of the past and we belong with the family members of the present. 

Flavors and memories are woven together and are part of a family's identity.  We are conditioned as children to enjoy certain tastes on our pallet.  We belong to a particular culture and family and the food links us.  As  Jennie Geisler from the Erie Times-News  said  "...mom's mashed potatoes don't just taste good, they become a comforting reminder that we belong somewhere".

So, after our parents divorce, adult children, may have to train ourselves to enjoy certain tastes on our pallets again.  Foods that had been associated with my father , or with his family, seemed distasteful to me for a few years after my parents divorced.  It was almost as if the negative feelings I was experiencing changed the taste of foods that carried memories and I began to not even WANT to eat things that reminded me of him . It brought the pain that his decisions had caused back to my mind.   Recipe cards,  of dishes his mother had made,  in my recipe box sat unused for a few years because taking them out and making the recipe made me grieve for my grandmother.  She was not here to know or feel the sadness or disappointment that I knew she would sense if she were here.  I wouldn't want her to know what had happened in our family or feel the way I did, so somehow, not making the recipe seemed to help protect her, too.

Recipes convey belonging.  And many adult children of divorce question where they belong now.
We belong in the past to a point as we do remember the good in the family and the meals, dishes, sharing that we did experience.  And we belong in the present...which means for a time, we may not be able to taste delicacies that stir memories. But eventually we realize we belong to the future, too.
As adults we have a choice to help  preserve the good in the family in many ways.  This may include making the chocolate drop cookies that mom used to make before she left the family for a new man. 
Making and eating the cookies can help you sift through memories and retain the good ones.  Maybe adding some bits of chopped cherries or some almonds will put a new twist on something old. And in the process, some healing may occur as you discover a different, but acceptable sense of belonging.

Take one type of food or a certain combination of foods.
Prepare in a way that a special person has prepared the food for you in the past.
Add a new ingredient to add a sense of newness and freshness to an old idea.
Preserve the old and enjoy the new.
Eat it with others who have experienced the love and loss of someone special.
SERVES:  to help us feel we still do "belong".

Monday, April 9, 2012

The Holiday

Often holiday traditions are consistent and ingrained in family celebrations, and you really don't think much about them until you become an Adult Child of Divorce.  There is an expected and anticipated element of how the day will be designed and of what the holiday means to us individually and collectively.  The routine behind the turkey being prepared with grandma's special dressing or the vision you have of the tree in the front yard decorated with plastic Easter eggs almost goes unnoticed until things change. 

What really is a holiday?  A time to take a break from work and responsibility to celebrate either a person's birth, or a day of religious or cultural importance.  A holiday captures meaning in the significance of the specific day , but it also symbolizes a shared consistency and connectedness that is celebrated among family members amidst a life of change and difficulty.  It brings us back to the past and makes us remember.

When a divorce occurs, that sense of consistency and connectedness is threatened.  What is supposed to help us deal with the reality of change and difficulty in life , instead adds to it.  I remember our first holiday as a family after my father left, was an effort of trying to hold onto the traditions of the past that we all had learned to rely upon for comfort in an uncertain world.  But now, the presence of change , difficulty and uncertainty invaded the very thing that used to give us the security of living in a connected manner.  There was no ignoring the sadness on the grandchildren's faces.  Although we attempted to keep things as normal as possible, nothing was normal about the adults leaving the room to go shed some tears or take a deep breath at times.  The traditions and security that was tied to our parents and grandparents as a unit could still be observed, but  the deeper meaning of togetherness would always be different.

Holidays help us remember. They serve as reminders and link the past to the present.  Holidays give us consistency and connectedness and that is deeper than the special ornaments on the tree that everyone remembers or the funny way grandma sings the happy birthday song. 

Grieving and moving on at holidays for the Adult Child of Divorce is similar to how a person who has lost a loved one to death may grieve at a holiday.  The extra knowledge that one person is gone due to a choice adds to the feelings of loss.   So how does an ACOD respond to the holidays?

1.  Accept the devastation.  Something that was together is now separated and some things will never be again.
2.  Sort through your memories.  Some memories are still very good and remind us of the love we did once share.  Learn to cherish those thoughts.   Don't forget the ways you came together amidst the challenges of life.  That is still an important thing to do.
3.  Move forward by keeping some traditions and also embracing the making of some new ones as well.  We do need to accept change and work with it.  It isn't always an enemy and fresh ways of being connected and celebrating togetherness can help us heal.
4. Like a death,  do not be afraid to talk about the way things were.   Speaking of  "before the divorce" is difficult to do at first, but if we allow ourselves and others to talk openly of good memories we hold of those days, it will serve to reinforce the ties that still exist among us.

As Adult Children of Divorce move ahead in healing, the great need for consistency and connectedness can continue to be strengthened in new ways as we celebrate the holidays of life.

Next Post will be The Recipe


Tuesday, April 3, 2012

On A Lighter Note

“While we may not be able to control all that happens to us, we can control what happens inside us.”    

Benjamin Franklin

Monday, April 2, 2012

The Postcard

A postcard comes in the mail or a post comes on Facebook and an adult child of divorce reacts. A postcard is just a piece of paper with a picture and a stamp and a few short sentences and similarly a post on Facebook is just a phrase or two, sometimes with a photo,  so why does an ACOD have strong feelings and reactions to them?

A postcard is the old-fashioned way and Facebook is the new-fashioned way to let someone know that you are gone and enjoying yourself someplace that they aren't.  Usually the person vacationing means well and wants to share their excitement and new experience.  And sometimes we are genuinely happy to hear from someone who is traveling in a place we have visited or hope to visit one day.   And sometimes we are not really all that happy to hear from someone who is soaking in the sun down south, while we are chilling to the bone in the north.  Sometimes we are happy , other times simply jealous and somewhat depressed.

That is kind of how I have felt as an ACOD and I know I am not alone.
As an adult child of divorce, you wonder.....Does "Wish You Were Here" really carry genuine sentiment when your parent is off with someone who is viewed as an interloper or meddler?  How can our parent(s) want freedom, yet also expect us to be happy when that freedom comes at our expense and loss?
And do we wish we WERE there?  No , not really ....not now.   We used to enjoy making memories and knowing we were priority.  Now, we feel replaced and seeing certain posts or postcards make us mad and sad.

A postcard is more than it seems. It reminds us of loyalty (and now disloyalty). It causes us to think of one parent being gone and not with us.  It draws to attention that we are weathering a cold, dark, windy snow storm and one of our parents have chosen to bring that storm upon us in a sense and then not help us weather it. 

So, if you are our mothers and fathers, please be careful if you send us any postcards in the mail , or any posts on Facebook.  We just may respond  "Dislike". 

If you are reading Time For Serenity, let me know if you have felt left out or replaced since your parents divorce , and how have you dealt with it?    Thanks. I would love to have your feedback. Hope to hear from you!!


JANUARY TOPICS : Help and Hope
Bonds Unravel


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

Photo Album

JUNE/JULY : Reflecting and Writing Again

Acods and Listening
Acods and Materialism
Acods and Identity

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

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

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