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. 


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