Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Passing the Baton


The three year anniversary of me writing this blog has almost arrived! I never in my wildest imagination thought I would write one hundred posts! When I started this journey my goal was two-fold. I needed to express my thoughts which were exploding in my head every day, for my own healing. I also wanted to offer help and hope to others who were experiencing the divorce of their parents when they were adults. God has graciously allowed me to do both and I am ready to pass the baton. Read my posts, feel free to contact me via email, but my writing about being an adult child of divorce has come to an end. I think I have exhausted just about every possible topic and I am ready to follow and support others who take up the journey of running along side those of us who are on the journey.  I am grateful for all of those who have contacted me, read the blog, and I can't tell you how much of a privilege and blessing it has been to run WITH you these past three years.  I will be cheering from the sidelines and even join you here and there on the track, the baton needs to be passed.  Keep strong, keep steady, run with confidence and faith and move ahead in the journey.  All of us other ACODs are cheering you on!!
Sincerely , Serenity

Just recently I have begun writing a new blog to help us ACODS communicate and keep committed in our own relationships. Visit me as I get started at  : 
https://timeforthirtyquestions.blogspot.com/

Levels of Feeling Bad : Regret, Remorse and Repentance


It makes me feel bad that parents who have struggled in their marriages and have chosen to leave feel bad. I don't enjoy hearing about other ACOD's parents who are mourning the choices they have made and the losses they have had due to their affairs or their leaving a long-time marriage.  Feeling badly is not something any of us like to do .

ACODs feel bad because other people have made choices that are out of our control that affect us in bad, sad ways.  Older parents who are divorcing feel bad because of their own pain and because of the pain and consequences that their decisions bring.

As I have read and counseled and thought a lot about all of this. I have learned that there are at least three levels of feeling badly. Read and think and decide where you fit or where your parent fits.

The first level is Regret.  This is the feeling of being disappointed or sad about something that has happened or been done. It is related to a loss or a missed opportunity.

The second level is Remorse.  This is a feeling of deep regret or guilt for a wrong committed.  A depressed feeling can result.

The third level is Repentance.  This is deep, sincere regret and remorse.  It involves a change in the way we act and think and feel toward what we have done. It requires a change for the better as a result of contrition.

Regret means you are on the road, looking at red, knowing something has stopped the relationships you had.  Remorse means you are moving, proceeding . Repentance is the green light that enables you to move along the road to reconciliation in relationships that have been affected.

This is a partial quote from Wiersbe :

a distinction can be made between regret, remorse and repentance. Regret is that activity of the mind (intellect) that causes us to say, “Why did I do that?” Remorse touches us a little deeper causing us to feel disgust and pain (involving both the intellect and the heart), but not causing us to change our ways. True repentance brings in the third aspect of our minds – our will. To truly repent one must have a change of will.
Think about where you are in how you feel and what you are willing to do.  We all feel badly when a late-life divorce occurs. You are responsible for your own feelings , thoughts and actions towards others.  The 3 R's of feeling badly can give us insight on the sadness and hurt in our ACOD relationships.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Adult Children of Divorce Sometimes Choose Estrangement


 
I have been avoiding writing this post in my blog because I realize that many acods maintain a relationship with their parents or even the “offending” parent after a late life divorce occurs.  I want to encourage that and hope and pray that many grey divorces do not end with estrangement of parent and child.  But in my own experience and in the lives of other acods who have written to me, or whom I have met, that is not always the case. Often the adult child or the parent chooses estrangement for many reasons.

“Offense”, “sin”, “hurt” …call it what you will, but when an adult child has one parent who has made a conscious decision for months or years to betray the other parent,  the adult child learning of the situation is often in disbelief.   Hoping to understand, they talk to the “offending” parent, only to receive defensive language and behavior and the acknowledgment of hurt and pain caused is denied.  Often a lack of personal responsibility and lack of feeling family members severe grief is evident.

In his book Bold Love, Dr. Dan Allendar and Dr. Tremper Longman III  address the issues of the lack of sadness or sorrow on the part of the one who has hurt others by their actions or words or both.  Before a meaningful conversation can occur, there needs to be signs of sadness or sorrow over what has been done. If the person in the wrong is not broken and humbled and not wanting to see his/her wrongs made right , there are choices for others to make.  If the person in the wrong is not willing to ask for forgiveness and go through the long process of rebuilding trust in the relationship, then there are decisions for others to make.

In her article  The Difference Between Estrangement and Parental Alienation Syndrome  ,

http://divorcesupport.about.com/od/childrenanddivorce/qt/The-Difference-Between-Estrangement-And-Parental-Alienation-Syndrome.htm

Cathy Meyer states The father who leaves the family for another woman, neglects time with his children and dismisses the harm done to his children is likely to become "estranged" from them. It is fair to say that no one responds positively to poor treatment, least of all children.”  “Estrangement results from a parent behaving badly toward his/her children which, in return causes the children to cut off contact.

It isn't uncommon for a parent who is estranged from his/her children to blame the other parent of PAS. It is easier to blame others for bad behavior than to accept and acknowledge bad behavior.”

When my father’s affair was first discovered and when the events and conversations of the first months after that ensued, I had to often ask myself what information I was hearing was first, true, and then what information was an attempt of one parent to sway me or influence my thinking. I doubted truth on each side, although I had to look at their “track records” and weigh that. I sought counseling on how to process the information and I also sought out information about both of my parents from friends and relatives at that time.

Phone calls and letters to different people shed some light on the information I was hearing and the secrets that were being brought to light. As an adult I began to make my own decisions as to what was truth and what was manipulation. As an adult I began to choose my boundaries very carefully.  The only thing about being an adult child of divorce that was a blessing, was that I WAS an adult. I WAS able to choose and to process with an adult mind . I was able to see more clearly and be more objective than a child may be. Still, it was excruciating to look into my parents lives in this way and to choose to make choices of how I would relate to them now separately, given the behavior and information I now had concerning them as individuals.

I had to wonder if I was being alienated by my mother, or choosing to be alienated to my father by my own choice.  Cathy Meyer explains it well in her article as she says that the parent’s behavior helps us know what is going on.

Parents who are becoming or who are estranged ( in contrast to those who are being alienated) think the child is responsible for fixing the relationship. The parent can not see things from the child’s point of view.

Things became very clear to me as I processed all of this , with the help of counselors  and clergy. I had choices to make. Boundaries to set. It was something I did NOT take lightly, and I had to examine my motives.  I had to ask myself  if it was a way to take away my pain, or limit my future hurts, and if I was slamming the door on the relationship with my father, or just leaving a crack open.  Was estrangement to some degree extending a wake up call and a warning that the continuing of this behavior and thinking on his part would only bring more hurt and distance?   Dan Allendar in his book Bold Love calls estrangement a “final good gift”.   He acknowledges that it is not always clear and is not to be done in hate, fear, or arrogance. It is serious business.

Dan also talks about tears. The tears of ours, the tears of the offender and the tears of God.  We shed tears for years after we lose a parent or both parents, but he says it is not loving to the other person to allow them to sin against us and continue to accept that with out repentance and change. ( p. 253)

At some point the “offender” may have tears. The tears can be from regret, remorse or repentance. That makes a difference ( I will be writing a future post on this!) . And then we have God’s tears.  Allendar presents a beautiful picture of all of our tears combining over the grief of living in a fallen world.  There is a necessity , he says, to apply a “radical surgery to the advanced cancer of sin”.

Dan Allendar tells of his own realization that he was estranged from God. He realized that he played a part in that. He took responsibility,  felt broken and humbled, and knew that things were not right with God. He repented, acknowledged the hurt he had caused God and was willing to do what he could to make things right with his maker.  That was his way out of estrangement with God.  It is a process, he states. For a relationship to become un-estranged, the offender needs to take responsibility and see the other person’s side.  The process of any relationship:  Communication, listening, talking, trust, love, feeling …… 

By the offender feeling the shame , and acknowledging the loss of relationship due to his/her actions/thoughts/behaviors,  a choice can be made by the offender to repent and work on a better relationship.  In our relationship with God, as with others , we can see a contrast in the deepest feelings of estrangement and the deepest feelings of relationship.  Allendar’s list of contrast is this :   Estrangement based on self-love, betrayal, lies, unhealthy communication  verses the Deep Relationship based on unselfish love, trust, truth, honesty , healthy communication. 

In God’s estrangement from us, based on our “offense”, he waits for us to respond and desire to have a “new” relationship with Him.  In Adult Children of Divorce’s estrangement from our parent(s) , based on their “offense”, we often wait for the parent to respond and desire a “new” relationship with us.

Feelings and evidence of estrangement with our parents, as adult children of divorce, is common.  It is a vivid reminder that things are not right between us. We are not willing to settle for “fake”.  That is not the way of true , loving relationships.  Let’s examine our hearts, and motives, when we enter into the withholding of relationship.  May it be for the good of all. May it be for the restoring of a better, real relationship.  May the effect of distance and loss of relationship produce a great examination of self , that possibly can lead to restoration of the relationships at some time in the future. This may or may not possible, but may it be our continued prayer as we consider estrangement from a parent or parents,  as adult children of divorce.

 

Wisdom From A Cheater





Many adult children of divorce have a parent or parents who have had an affair that ended the marriage. How we wish our parent had considered their choices more carefully and weighed the consequences more accurately BEFORE they entered into the affair!!

Author Rod Arters writes an article of truth and warning about the affects on the person cheating and the family of the cheater.  It should serve as a reality check to those who think that an affair or divorce will not change anything.

http://www.crosswalk.com/family/marriage/divorce-and-remarriage/14-things-to-know-before-you-cheat.html

Thursday, November 13, 2014

ACODS Need Courage


I cried a lion's share of tears a few days ago. It has been a long time since the pain of my parents divorce has brought me to gut wrenching tears, but they came with fierce force.
It felt good to face the pain that still is there and to let it out and stand in the face of it.

As an adult child of divorce I have written about the sadness, the pain, the anger , the healing, and the moving ahead of being adults when our parents divorce.  My focus on the blog has been to face the issues with strength and honesty. I have tried to view my experience as an adult child of divorce within the greater context of my adult life, which is very much separate from my family of origin, in many ways and relationships.

In an attempt to deal with the many and varied issues that stare us in the face and roar loudly in our ears over and over again, I don't want to magnify our experience over other challenges that we and others face.

There are many people that need courage. We are just one of those groups of people.
I have observed single parents work overtime at home and away from their home, to put food on tables and provide security for their children , on their own. 

 I have known people in the military who have given precious time away from their loved ones to fulfill a purpose greater than themselves in service to many people they will never meet or know, but because they want to ensure safety and security to others. 

I have seen the ravages of disease take over a person's body and cause aches , pain and loss of dignity. The courage to be positive or to solely endure seemingly endless hours of agony takes immense courage!

These are just a few of the examples that I have seen where courage is required.
We are just one group as adult children of divorce. And many of us may also be a part of one of the other groups, as well, which may demand more stamina and bravery than we ever thought possible!

I used to ask "Why Me?"  when I thought about my parents divorce.  I often ask "Why NOT Me?"  now.  I am not immune to the pain and hurt that others experience. God often entrusts it to us to do amazing things in our lives and to help us see Him in a new light in the future.   I try not to ask as many questions about my situation as I used to .

To be ready and prepared for unexpected things that are hard is something I strive to do better and more, just as the lions I watch on nature shows.  They are calm, confident and always aware of what may be lying in wait on the other side of the tree line.  When unexpectantly attacked, they respond. They may fight, or run , but they are ready.  They roar and make themselves heard and somehow "take it in stride".  They have learned to prepare for battles, not to be surprised by them and yet to have courage in the face of an enemy.

People with courage ( single parents, military people, ill people) often look to faith, and self-sacrifice in the response in their battle.  They often serve and look for purpose in the midst of their difficulty.

As adult children of divorce, we need courage.  Many others who do not have divorced parents need courage , too!!  Let's not forget that in all our pain. May we reach out to others who have hurts and anger and pain and sadness , too.

We can cry our tears with them and they with us and in doing so, we can all learn not to be surprised by difficulty in life, but to be prepared and ready and strong when the next battle comes.  Paw in paw, hand in hand, we all need courage to face the challenges of life!!!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Be Tough


As adult children of divorce we now know how hard it can be! We know what it takes to keep going and to stay strong.  We build emotional muscles and exercise our minds in ways we never had to before. We have to be tough.


Being tough and having persistence and determination in the face of difficulty is not something we like to learn. It often is learned when things are hard. Recently I have been observing many marriages, divorces, single people, single parents, and I have come to some loose conclusions.

First, I am convinced that when people marry, they are not , nor can not be aware of how difficult the relationships and cares of life can get.  Often a new marriage or relationship brings a feeling of being loved, and there are new experiences and plans and dreams. Without ruining this early love, I think it is good for a new couple to be realistic about the future.  They can not look into their own future, but can look at others who have been married for a long time.  If a marriage stands the test of time, there are seasons of difficulty. It may be the normal challenges of making money, taking care of children, and keeping a house.  Sometimes more severe challenges arise. There may be health issues, legal issues or problems with family or friends or work.

 I have observed that many people just are not ready for the reality of those issues in their life.  I was not!  Those things happened to "other" people, not me, or my husband. But, I had to learn that they happen to us too!!  That is when I had to get tough. I had to fight the affects of depression in our marriage, head on. I had to strengthen my resolve to do what was right and stay faithful when I was tempted.  I had to use my muscles to keep going at the end of a long day after working, caring for children, and folding laundry at midnight!  I was not truly ready to be married , but not able to hardly communicate with my husband some days when our life was at its fullest stages. I was not truly ready to accept that our life would not be the way I had dreamed it would be. 

Secondly, I am convinced that when the hardships and reality of the normal challenges and sometimes the extreme challenges of marriage hit, that some people begin to get tough with the wrong things.  They get tough with their spouse. They begin to see their spouse as the reason they are not happy or fulfilled. They see themselves as deserving better or more and the focus is on their own pain and uncomfortableness. My husband and I have done this.  We have blamed each other for our own unhappiness. We have accused each other of carrying the lighter load at times.  We have been tough on each other, which makes it worse.

So, my message in this post is to appreciate and enjoy the great times in marriage, but be realistic in expecting hard times too. Get ready and when it happens , be tough.  BUT, be tough with the "issue"!!!   Be a team , that is tough and strong and determined to fight for time together.  Be tough in the face of temptation and say "NO" to other people's pursuits! Be strong in your commitment to each other, to be a team, to make decisions together!
When medical issues arise, fight together. Call in other reinforcement if you need it!
Learn to discipline together , and carry each other's load by helping your husband get gas in the car or doing the dishes for your wife! Expect the struggles of life and fight them together, as a team!

If you are left alone because your spouse is tired, gives up and can't give what is needed, then you are going to need to be tough as you fight the struggles of life on your own.
I have watched single people, single parents and others who have been abandoned carry on with great fortitude.  It takes twice as much energy, twice as much faith, twice as much positive attitude, and many sacrifices along the way.  But many people have risen to that role they never wanted or expected. 

Today my message to all of us is to expect great things from our marriages, but also plan on a day when it will not look like all we had dreamt. At that point we need to be tough and fight the problems together!  Fighting life's challenges alone is achievable and oftentimes most to be respected and admired , but when you and your spouse have been tough together, then when the time has passed, or the challenge has been resolved, you can share the joy of making it through a hard time together.

So , whatever you are facing today, remember to be tough, or get ready to be tough and don't fight people, but fight the issue at hand!!!!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

ACODs Let Go


LETTING GO



To let go doesn’t mean to stop caring,
it means I can’t do it for someone  else.
To let go is not to cut myself off,
it’s the realization that I can’t control another.
To let go is not to enable,
but to allow learning from natural consequences.


 To let go is to admit powerlessness,
which means the outcome is not in my  hands.
To let go is not to try to change or blame another,
I can only change myself.
To let go is not to care for, but to care about.


To let go is not to fix, but to be supportive.
To let go is not to judge,
but to allow another to be a human being.
To let go is not to be in the middle arranging all the outcomes,
but to allow others to effect their  own outcomes.


 To let go is not to be protective,
but to permit another to face reality.
 To let go is not to deny, but to accept.
To let go is not to nag, scold, or argue,
but to search out my own shortcomings and to correct them.


  To let go is not to adjust everything to my desires,
but to take each day as it comes.
To let go is not to criticize and regulate anyone,
but to try to become what I dream I can be.
To let go is not to regret the past, but to
grow and live for the future.
To let go is to fear less and love more
 
from Chuck Swindoll's book Grace Awakening

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Your Parents Divorce and Sex


This topic has come up in my mind many times but today after paging through a magazine at the hair studio I decided I am driven to address it today!

The magazine featured an ad for a TV show running on USA network called Satisfaction.  The photo shows a couple sitting in bed, separate and still , looking ahead with bored looks on their faces.  The tag line reads something like “ Are you willing to risk your marriage for it?” or something like that.

I have not watched the show so possibly my reaction is over the top, but as those of us who are adult children of divorce know,  nothing ever is the same for us. Our reactions and perceptions are forever changed once our parents divorce in our adult years!

My reaction was to become angry .  I wanted to answer that question in the minds of each person who sees the show’s ad. I want to scream “NO, your marriage is not worth risking for the feeling of sexual satisfaction that may come from a different relationship!!”.  After reading the description of the show, there was added angst as the story line includes the marriage partners looking for satisfaction by paying an escort.  

Should you think I am suggesting that satisfaction in a marriage is not important, that is not the case.  I am just wondering why the show is not exploring a different question instead. Something like “ What are you willing to do to find it again in your marriage?”   I admit that the drama and funny situations and suspense may not keep one glued to the set in my kind of show, but mine would include showing a couple who is willing to selflessly consider how to please each other sexually and in all other ways ( from satisfaction in emotional closeness, and satisfaction in shared goals and satisfaction in spiritual connectedness, etc). 

I have been married for over 25 years and I can tell you that satisfaction in a sexual relationship is dependant on their being satisfaction in many other areas of a marriage first.  Where there is emotional, relational, spiritual, and intellectual satisfaction mutually, there can be physical enjoyment that transcends the acts involved in sex.  That was God’s design .  Why should we settle for looking for that with someone else in relationship, or in a purely physical contract where money is exchanged.

So , how does this fit with ACODs and their experience?

If you are reading this , you are probably 20-50 years old as an adult. You have probably had your own sexual experiences in some shape or form . You probably remember when you learned that your parents also had those type of experiences , with each other , that resulted in YOU!   Most people I have talked to had a hard time with that concept once they learned how that all works. The thought of your parents in a sexual relationship usually makes most of us squeamish, but the idea that they have a healthy relationship makes us feel secure.  Most of choose not to let our imaginations go there when it comes to our parents, but we feel warmed and happy when we see a spontaneous kiss or gentle hug or a tender look between the people whose love was a catalyst to our creation.

In my case , when I learned my father was having an affair, at an older age, I have to admit this question of sexual satisfaction ruminated in my mind.  As acods who know our parents divorced because of a “new person” in one or both of our parents lives, we have to deal with the fact that one or both parents were so dissatisfied in some or many aspects of their marriage, that they went looking elsewhere or took the bait when it was offered.

  Affairs can satisfy emotional, intellectual, and many other parts of us. As adult children of divorce it is hard for us to think that our parent is choosing to become closer to someone else than our other parent.  It is hard to accept that our leaving parent can let go of the many connections they have to the past with us and our other parent.  We wonder how they can share their joys and sorrows with someone we don’t know .  This eats at the core of our being.  We become almost nauseated when we consider the physical relationship. Something so sacred has been dragged through the mud.  We see selfishness.  We see immaturity.  Again, our leaving parent may see new satisfaction  but we see loss.

As an adult child of divorce who was grappling with this, I initially felt that something was taken away from my own sexual relationship with my husband. It had nothing to do with us, but the images I tried to keep out of my mind of my leaving parent.   For a while my sexuality was affected.  The enjoyment was not there all the time for me.  Thoughts of my parents physical love being gone bothered me and made me angry.  The satisfaction was not there.  Actually that loss of satisfaction has gone in cycles as I have married, bore children, raised children, experienced ill health, and busy schedules , and again as I made my way through the first few years of being an acod.    But thankfully the physical satisfaction or loss of it is not how I determine the value of my relationship with my husband. And it is good that he does not think that way either . 

Many times through the years we have found ourselves proverbially sitting in bed, staring into space, looking bored.  If asked “Are you willing to risk your marriage to find sexual satisfaction outside of this marriage?”  we would shout a resounding “NO!”.   We know that way more is risked when we look elsewhere.

Instead we have asked ourselves when in that spot,  “What are you willing to do to restore satisfaction to your marriage?”   And then we start answering by realizing that our sexual relationship will only be as good as our overall relationship.  We want the emotional , relational, spiritual, intellectual parts to be so strong , that should illness, or old age, or stress keep us from physical closeness, our marriage will stand strong regardless.  And then we answer more specifically what we can do to spice things up. 

If you are an adult child who is determining your own sexual mores , and now you have more to deal with because of a parent’s affair and subsequent divorce of your parents, learn how to think in a healthy way about sex.   Boundaries keep good things in and bad things out, just like a fence. Even if you are dating, pursue much satisfaction in your dating relationship before the physical component ever enters the equation.  Ideally, commitment in marriage before sex will keep things in perspective and show selflessness and honor to each other.

Dealing with our parents sexuality is not always comfortable , even when they are happily married, and when the quest for satisfaction has led to divorce, we feel the loss and have to deal with it. 

Recently I was struggling with what topic to write about next.  Well, advertising experts will tell you  that  “sex sells” …..  Maybe one day we will see an advertisement for a TV show that is selling healthy, valued, good sex within the bounds and bonds of marriage . That is what I am “selling” today on my blog. I have seen the alternative and I think I have the better deal for the whole family!!!!!!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Liars Remorse


Buyers remorse is a term that has come to mean the feeling of regret  after making a purchase.  A feeling that the cost was too high, or that the risk was too great, can come after we make a financial decision. Sometimes we wish we would have told ourselves to remember our budget. Or to remember an item we were saving for. We wish we wouldn't have spent the way we did, but we have to pay the consequences.

Liars remorse can describe the emotion of remorse after telling or living a lie.  The realization that the loss is large and the repercussions many, can come after we deceive or lead others to believe things that are not true.

Children of divorce, at younger ages, don't always know , or can't distinguish the factors that led to their parents divorce.  Adult children often can smell the rat, or have gathered evidence , from an adult perspective that reveals one or both parents as liars.

Just as our parents lied to us, they probably lied to themselves. They fooled themselves that nothing would change. They overlooked how a small fib could turn into a big one. They underestimated that a betrayal causes great mistrust and that trust is not easily restored.

In his book The ( Honest) Truth about Dishonesty ,  Dan Ariely explains how lies happen and who tells them.   He makes a case that a dishonest or unhealthy desire is best walked away from "before we are close enough to be snagged by it".   Avoiding misbehavior or lying is the best choice and easier than overcoming a poor decision that involves consequences.  Our lying can become easier the more we do it, so make it a goal to not even begin fooling others, lest we fool ourselves in the process.

I am convinced that some of our parents who have led us down the road of being adult children of divorce, have little liars remorse.  I hear that as I listen to other adult children of divorce whose parents are quite happy and content with the new life they have created for themselves, while leaving a hurting family in their wake.  We have liars remorse and sadness for the lies they told.  Other parents do regret their decisions, but have to live with the loss of trust and closeness to family members .

Sometimes adult children of divorce benefit in a round-about way from our experience. We weigh each of our decisions in our marriage and families on a very sensitive scale. We don't want regret or pain for our children.  So then, we must always remind ourselves to consider each desire carefully and weigh the cost.

Dan Ariely shares a story in his book, about a curious element to a victory march among Roman generals.  Victorious generals, wearing robes , sitting on a throne, being celebrated, and marched through crowds in the city streets , were accompanied by a unique companion.  Always by the General's side, was a slave, whose job was to whisper constantly into the General's ear the phrase  " Memento mori", which meant "Remember your morality."  ( p. 247 The Honest Truth About Dishonesty book) . 

I don't know about you, but I don't always like to be reminded of my propensity to goof up.  I want to think that I am capable of making good decisions and that I don't need reminders to stay on the safe side of the street.  But maybe words of my family, friends, scripture and the words of my conscience are needed to whisper or shout to me to remember my morality.   The slave may have been more free than the general he advised, if he followed his own advice. 

As adult children of divorce, allow yourself to listen to words of caution and warning in your own pursuit of desires in life.  Determine to be a person of truth so you do not find yourself a victim of liars remorse.




Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Old Posts Revisited


The House, The Rings, Recipes, Photo Album, ....... As adult children of divorce, physical remembrances of what was , and now what is, can be very difficult.

Look at some of my old posts and I hope it helps you come to grips with your new reality!

The Rings

The House

The Recipe

The Postcard

The Photo Album

The Holiday

The Pathway




Monday, May 26, 2014

Take Your Time as an Adult Child of Divorce


Six years has passed since my journey as an Adult Child of Divorce began with a fateful phone call.  As I talked to my pastor a few weeks later, he said something about "years" and I remember my thoughts screaming " Years???!!!  I can't bear this another day! And things need to get back to normal by Thanksgiving six months from now, so we can go on as we always have!!" 

His understanding and experience with divorce and how it affects families, gave him a long-term perspective. He was aware that huge changes in a family don't generally resolve quickly!!  Although that view was so very unsettling to me, it was probably good for me to hear right away.  Time would come and go and things would change and there was little I could do to change that.

Through the last six years of grieving and healing and continuing to deal with the aftermath of my parents divorce,  I have learned that it is OK to take our time, as adult children.  Take your time grieving, don't try to rush it.  Take your time finding the support you need, you will know when you have found the right counselor or support group!  Take your time in resting and distancing yourself from all the drama, in order to focus on your own family ! Take your time in accepting new things and traditions.  Take time to relax and enjoy your own life. Take time to be thankful for the things that are good.  Give others time to process things in their own way and timetable. 

I still hope that time will continue to bring healing to all the changed relationships in my family. People come to grips with things individually , in their own way  and we can always hope and pray for positive change as our families experience later life divorce.

Six months seemed like an eternity at the beginning of my journey.  Now six years later, I realize the gift that all those days and months has been to bring me to where I am now. Breathe deeper today, give yourself permission to wait, and rest in the fact that "there still is time".

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Top Ten Reasons Adult Children React Negatively When Parents Divorce


 
 
Top Ten Reasons Adult Children React Negatively When Parents Divorce

 

1.    The adult child’s sense of normalcy, security and support is taken away.

2.    The adult child is positioned between his or her parents and often a difficult decision of supporting one over the other is forced upon them.

3.    The adult child is put in a situations of answering to family and friends about a parents poor choices.

4.    The adult child often is a part of conflict with his or her siblings as a result of the parent’s divorce and the way each sibling thinks and acts as a result.

5.    The adult child has to answer to his or her children about compromising lifestyle choices of their grandparent and may watch as family values decline as the younger generation watches the older generations behavior.

6.    The adult child may need to make sacrifices in their own life to help and support a parent that is alone.

7.    The adult child may see strain and conflict in their own marriage resulting in the stress that the profound changes in the family have caused.

8.    The adult child may lose relationship with long-time family and friends when allegiances are made.

9.    The adult child will make their own decisions , as an adult, and often a parent will not respect that, still viewing their child as a child.

10. The adult child cannot feel the love of a parent who has initiated the divorce, instead, the pain is overwhelming, having come from a former viewed trusted, and loving parent.

 

Friday, April 25, 2014

ACOD CheckUp


I like Checkups.  Maybe not everyone does, but I like my dental checkups once a year. I look forward to going to my doctor to talk about my general health.  When our car is scheduled for a yearly service appointment, I feel a sense of relief.  Most of the time, I go along in my life without paying much attention to my teeth, my blood pressure or the faint noise in the engine in my car.  When I go to the checkup, I am happy that I have a second person paying attention to things that I may be so used to that I am inadvertently ignoring them. 

In marriage, and in personal life, especially if you are an adult child of divorce, checkups can be so valuable.  A yearly appointment with a trained counselor or a trusted pastor can help you deal with issues before they need "surgery" , so to speak.   Sometimes the checkup will expose a problem you didn't'know you had, or it will enable you to voice your concerns about something that is nagging at you , but isn't a big problem yet.

Once I got over the wrong assumption that 1. I didn't have problems or things to work on in my life , and 2.  going for help shows weakness,  I felt more comfortable making an appointment with a counselor for a "tune-up" in my marriage and life.  How grateful I am for two friends, in particular, who modeled this for me , and I could see positive results in their lives.  I could see that their problems stayed manageable and that they were strong people for taking care of themselves!

So, I hope today I can be that model for those of you who have not talked to someone about your ACOD issues, or other issues in your own marriage or your own life , that just seem to be causing a little ache or pain or rattle.   Pick up the phone and call someone to make that yearly appointment for a checkup.  You may learn to like checkups too!!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Strength To Move Ahead


Yesterday I had a unique experience.  My paths crossed with three women who have survived the pain of betrayal and broken promises.  Each woman has a different story, but their journey to wholeness has been an inspiration to me!!

The first woman I saw yesterday was my mother.  Five years ago my heart broke each time I saw her.  Her agony was evident in every area of her life.  Her physical and emotional health was at risk.  We all wondered if we would ever have her "back" the way she used to be. To see a woman who had given all for her family have to endure the destruction of her family because of her husband's choices added to my grief! How could she go on? Would this destroy her?

The second woman I saw yesterday was a friend I met in Divorce Care.  The support group I sought out was designed for people going through divorce. Although it was my parents ,, and not me, experiencing the divorce, I found the Divorce Care support group at my church to be extremely helpful as I processed my struggle with what was happening!!
Listening to the helpful videos guided me through my healing, but listening to the stories of those who were processing their own betrayal and end of relationships added perspective.  A particularly wise and mature woman became a dear friend as a result of our time together in Divorce Care.  Listening to her story and her determination to grow and become better , not bitter, encouraged me to do the same.

The third woman I saw yesterday is a friend through employment who I ran into at a concert.  When I first met her I learned that a long marriage was ending. Although she was pleasant and enjoyable to work with, she was sad.  The changes and challenges in her life were unwelcome, yet she was having to face them.  As time has passed I have seen her confidence grow.  Her sadness has diminished.  She is embracing the new life and opportunities she has.

When I realized this morning, what a unique thing that was, for me to see these three beautiful women in one day , I realized that they have some wonderful things in common.
Things that can help us ACODs and also that can help the women or men we ACODs are trying to help heal from their own divorces. 

Each one of these women experienced the awful shock of realizing that they had been deceived and betrayed.

Each one of these women were enveloped by anger, depression, and other debilitating , but necessary stages of grief.

Each one had a faith in God that has been something they have leaned upon and valued more through their experience.

Each one sought help from family , friends and support groups. Their counselors and others in their support groups have been invaluable in providing guidance and insight and hope. 

Each women has grown, healed, gained strength to move ahead!!
They have moved, taken new jobs, made new friends, and reached out to others in similar situations. They are real life examples of how God can help us heal and grow in the midst of the pain of our lives.

Each woman still feels the pain of what they have gone through.  The memories, the continued effects, and the changes in relationships can't be ignored. 

But each woman has gained strength to move ahead.

I have been privileged to walk with them in some capacity.  Just their sharing their journey with me has been highly valued.  Their pain has been my pain, I have cried with them and for them.  As well,  their healing, has been my healing.  I have laughed with them and looked to the future with them.  Their strength has given me strength.

My experience yesterday reminded me that those experiencing divorce , as a child of divorce , or the person divorcing,  really need others to walk beside them.

If you are that child of divorce, seek counsel, support from others going through the same thing and take care of yourself.

If you are a child of divorce , helping your parent,  encourage the same for them.

And if you are a woman ( or man ) who is experiencing your life being dramatically altered by a spouse who is leaving,  seek help for yourself.  It is a sign of strength, not weakness, to get help!!!

A journey to wholeness doesn't just happen!!  As my friend said yesterday, that she had to do the "hard work" involved in maturing and growing and healing, it is well worth the effort!!

The women I am blessed to know are proof to me, that despite life's harshest loads given to us to bear, with God's help and the help of others, we can have the strength and grace to move ahead!!!!

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Adult Children of Divorce Experience Burglary When Parents Divorce

Adult children of divorce experience burglary.  Things are taken.  Stealing takes place.  They are violated.  The parent sees only the boxes they are packing to carry on to their new life.  The leaving parent views what has been given in the past as most important.  The parent who is "moving on" takes belongings, photos, family heirlooms, and they take SO much more!!!

Adult children of divorce are left looking at rooms and spaces in their literal family homes, and the recesses of their minds.  The areas are empty or half full now.  They may be strewn with debris and bring a feeling of chaos and insecurity.   Even when they are cleaned, re-arranged , and filled with new furnishings, the memory of the burglary still haunts and changes the behavior in those rooms.

Adult children of divorce have a lot taken when one or both parents decide to leave.

If you are a parent of adult children and you are considering divorce, realize the enormous changes and hurts your actions will cause your adult children and what you will take from them in the process and how they will feel about it.

If you are a adult child of divorce and you have woken up to find your life burglarized by your parent's divorce,   "call the police, so to speak ( counselor),   begin to clean up what you can,  try to re-decorate and re-fill ,  and establish the "locks" and "safeguards" of setting appropriate boundaries.  

It is one thing to have something taken by a stranger, and it is quite another to have many things taken by a family member.  Adult children who experience the burglary of their parents divorce can feel safe again, but it may take some time!!!



Wednesday, February 12, 2014

A Sign of Hope and Love


When we are in pain , Children of Divorce , and others dealing with other loss, often look for signs.  Some people see "signs" in a lot of happenings, and others choose to look at life more objectively.  I have tried to have a balanced view of "signs" , understanding that some things have reasons for how or why they happen , but at other times, we simply can not explain something that happens, except for that it may be somewhat supernatural.

Two years ago , right around Valentines Day,  as I was experiencing continued pain and adjustment to my parents divorce, I asked God to provide me with some sign of His love.   Something to help me know He was still there and there was still a purpose to all that was going on.

The photo above shows you what I saw a few days later.

The water in my terracotta birdbath had become icy in a perfect heart shape.  I have never seen this before or since!!  The "sign" made me smile and warmed my wintry heart!!!

 As you face your parents divorce today, and as you think about Valentines Day and love , you may feel sadness and a loss of hope.  You hear all the talk about love and then you are watching that love fade away between two people you love most.  You may not believe in looking for "signs" in a supernatural way or you may see "signs' in everything.

Wherever you find yourself in looking and seeing Hope and Love this month,  keep your eyes open.  You just may be encouraged by something you didn't expect that gives you a sense of hope and love as you face your parents divorce!!!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Late Life Divorce and Family Reputation





 
Adult children of late life divorce know what it means to have a family reputation  change.  What was, isn’t anymore, and we have to answer to that in our communities.

Moving back to my hometown had been challenging.  There are good memories and bad memories that return as I drive the streets and visit the restaurants and places of the past.  Understanding that my perceptions of my childhood were not always what I thought them to be is hard at times. But answering to others in the community about my family and where we are today is one of the most difficult things I have encountered.

My job takes me into the community. I rub shoulders with others who have lived here for a long time. I was gone for over thirty years. I am not the same person I was when I lived here as a child. Neither is my family the same. Yet often, people don’t know what has happened.  I inevitably meet people whom I recognize from my childhood or I make the “mistake” of excitedly and warmly reminiscing about something from my past (my childhood school, or a recollection of the “old days” relating to the city) with people I have newly met.  Often that innocent and enjoyable exercise leads the person I am talking with to ask what my maiden name was. My heart drops as I realize again, what I have done. I have walked right into “telling the family story” and enduring the responses.

The conversation often goes like this:

“Oh, what was your maiden name?”

“___”

“Is your dad _____?” or “Is your mom ____?”

“Yes”

“Well, how are your parents doing?” (Excitedly and happily)

“Did you hear they were divorced?”

“Oh no…. (shocked, disturbed) …not them…blah blah…they were such a good family…blah blah…oh my…blah blah blah……….” (I say blah because each time this adds to my pain…their shock reminds me of my first shock)

And then I “get” to answer questions or not answer questions about why, how it could happen, what the situation is today, etc.   

What used to bring me joy to talk about my family now is uncomfortable.  I often reveal just what needs to be said.  Sometimes the people tell me things I didn’t know about my family .Sometimes I want to know more, and sometimes I don’t.  What begins as a casual encounter becomes a serious, uncomfortable discussion that takes away from the initial enjoyable conversation.  What begins as a person getting to know me, as a new acquaintance, now becomes about my family and its problems.

Contrary to the idea that divorce is common and most people just accept it nowadays, I do not think I have EVER had a response of “oh, good for your parents….”, or   “how nice”….  No, most people I talk to are upset and disturbed and I “get” to be the bearer of bad news. They ask questions and want to know more and how it could happen and on and on and on….  If I sound angry, to some extent I am.

Growing up, as the oldest child, the reputation of my family and how I conducted myself was drilled into me.  I was to bring pride and good behavior to the reputation of my family. My younger sisters were watching me, and so were others and I knew my parents would be deeply disappointed and hurt by any shame I would bring the family by unwise actions. I took this seriously. My actions , and thereby my reputation, reflected on my family and the reputation we had in the community. We all were a part of each other, so what a person thought of one of us, they also thought similar of all of us.

But the standard set and followed for so many years for me, was either never followed by my father, or he decided not to heed his own advice in his later life.

So now the family is broken and the reputation is left in my hands to explain and try to redeem. I am not the same person I was when I was a child in this community.  I do not hold to the values that my father upholds now in his later life.  I want people to see me for who I am on my own merits .  I do not like being connected to my maiden name or my family story and things that I have learned. It is a challenge and a burden I did not ask for, but have been given. So I face it each day as I head out the door.

SO…as I live my life and work in my old hometown, I will try to do so with the highest of values and work ethic. I will try to remember the good memories and stop by the places that bring me recollections that warm my heart. I will not go to other places that bring me sadness. When I meet people I will be careful and cautious about how excited I get about revealing that I grew up here. If I do and the conversation turns to my family and the new reputation we have, I will try to answer respectfully of each family member and tell the “story” as simply as I can.

Late life divorce puts adult children in an awkward position of trying to hold on to or redeem the family reputation, especially if it has been a good one in the past.  The responsibility for our parents’ actions do not fall on us, but we end up “telling the story”.  Here are some tips for adult children of divorce as we head out into our communities today:

*If someone asks about your family, remember you do not have to share anything you don’t want to share. You can simply say “I would rather not talk about it”, or “What I have told you is as much as I want to share. Thank you for respecting that”.

*Drive past the places with good memories often.  Sometimes drive past or go into the places that bring you sadness as you remember family times at that location. Some closure happens when you face the sadness and accept the changes.

*Continue to see yourself as a part of your family of origin, but keep in mind that you are forging your own path and your own reputation among the people you live with.  Think about how your decisions affect others around you.

*Maybe think of a humorous way to divert the conversation if it gets around to your parents divorce or one parents poor decisions.  I once heard a woman say “You just never know how your parents are going to turn out” and it brought a sense of lightness and closure to the topic. 

Late-life divorce puts adult children in awkward conversations with people in our communities, but we can be ready and wise in what we say. 


Friday, January 24, 2014

A Book on Grief for Adult Children of Divorce



A book by me ,  for us Adult Children of Divorce.  May it provide what it claims : Help to get through , and Hope for the future.  

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00I0FB20Y

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Adult Children of Divorce Face the New Year


As an adult child of divorce , turning the calendar over to the year 2014 causes me to wonder what this year has in store for me as I navigate the continued aftermath of my parents divorce.  I enthusiastically wished many people a "Happy New Year" a few days ago, and yet I wonder, "what will be new about it?" and "what will make it happy?"

When my parents first divorced, many things were new. There were many new hurts, new questions, and new relationship issues.  Yet, on a grander scale, I understood that "there is nothing new under the sun" ( Eccl. 1:9)  My family was not the first to experience the effects of divorce, nor would it be the last. The road of divorce has been well-traveled, unfortunately.  But I had not been on the road before, so it was new to me!!!


In many ways , a new year is similar.  Another day, just on a new page of the calendar. A series of days and weeks that is very familiar to many other minutes and hours of others that have gone before.  Really this month is just a continuation of days following the days of last month,   yet we choose to signify them as a "new beginning", a "new year".  We keep following the road, yet we choose to re-start our journey at a fresh place.

Adult children of divorce don't know exactly what twists and turns we will face in the road, this coming year.  We do know that we can start over again in some ways. Maybe small ways.  Maybe we can determine to set better boundaries.  Others of us may need to get the counseling we know we need.   Some of us need to have that meeting with our loved one that we keep thinking about having.  Taking care of our own needs may need to become a priority this new year.  We can determine to join a support group.  Making a list of books to read may help us on our journey.

As adult children of divorce, we don't know exactly what is around the bend for us in the year ahead.  As we face the road ahead we can find comfort in the fact that God's compassion is new every morning ( Lam. 3:23)  and that we can start fresh in dealing with our parents divorce in some small way this year.   Taking a bit of initiative in being better prepared may be just what we need as we turn the next corner in our acod journey !!!! 

Here's to a "Happy New Year" for each of us !!!



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

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