Healed by Love: Zoey

 

 

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I am kicking off Healed by Love, the second section to United by Pain, with what I learned from rescuing a stray, female, adolescent German Shepherd. We named her Zoey, meaning life. She completely turned our world upside down, as we’ve never wrangled (yes, handling her is sometimes like wrangling a pig covered in butter) anything like her before. We had no idea what we got ourselves into. I cried the first night we had her, painful aware of how unprepared we were. The first few days, as with anything challenging, were the hardest. One week down, and things are progressing, slow and steady. We are still getting used to doing life together, not something that comes over night, or over a week.

Over the last week, Zoey has taught me a few things about the healing process. She is a wise puppy, maybe these things can help you through your healing process.

Compassion is rarely convenient, but never regrettable.

Sometimes new things are scary and that’s ok.

Calm begets calm.

The only people worth being around are those who are understanding and willing to help you through the hard times, even when you’re a mess (and you bark and growl).

Peanut butter makes everything better.

Never underestimate a nap or long walk.

 

I hope this helps! Stay tuned as I post more stories of love in the the healing process!

 

 

 

United by Pain: Caroline C.

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Quote by Caroline C.
Caroline is one of my best friends and I am so thankful for her and her story.
How old were you when your parents divorced?
16
What was your initial reaction to the divorce?
My parents divorce has a preface. I found out my mom was having an affair with someone she met at work. At the time she was a nurse at a prison. The person the affair was with was an inmate. She revealed this to me in confidence and I still have no idea why. She said, since I was a teenager at the time, she wanted to know what I thought counted as cheating in a relationship. She did not tell my father for a few months, and it ate away at my insides. Although my parents argued a lot, I hadn’t realized how unhappy my mom was. And with her choice of companion I was livid! I was able to share this burden with my older sister. She was in college and I’m sure she struggled with this moral dilemma more than I did.Despite it all, I wanted my parents to stay together. I was very afraid of the unknown and I didn’t know who they were without each other. Ultimately, my mom was forthright and asked for a divorce. My dad fought this for a few months, but my mother made it clear that she was deeply unhappy and so they divorced 1 month before their twenty-third anniversary.

How did it make you feel and why did it make you feel that way?
My first feelings were an intense anger towards my mother. In my young mind I felt like my mom was always picking a fight with my dad. I had not yet realized all the ways my dad had let her down and failed as a husband (though he was a wonderful father). So, naturally I saw her as the source of all of the hurt and discord that my family was going through. I also felt this overwhelming guilt. I didn’t feel like it was my place to tell my dad, but I kept something incredibly hurtful from him.
What was your relationship with your parents like before the divorce?
I feel like I had an alright relationship with both of my parents. I favored my dad as a child because he didn’t get mad if we were messy or dirty or loud. My mom was not patient with children. As I grew up, I was able to better understand my mother and I felt like we were becoming closer.
How did things change after they separated?
Things were initially bad for both of them. My dad was so deeply hurt. He made some choices I wished he hadn’t and ended up 400 miles away from us, in the woods without running water or electricity. My mom tried to date this abusive, ex-con once he was on parole, but that relationship had no substance to sustain it. Ten years later things are better. It took a lot of time for all of us to heal and we all healed at a different pace. My dad still lives 400 miles away. We talk about him moving back, but I know he’s happy out in the wilderness on his own terms with the world. My mom has dated but never remarried. She has grown a lot as a person and enjoys being independent. My parents still talk from time to time. You could probably even say they are still friends. They still love each other. However, they both are very stubborn are have a hard time compromising. I have learned a lot from watching their relationship fall apart and heal.
How has the divorce shaped your romantic relationships?
I am married now, but if I look back on my relationships I had after the divorce, I definitely dated people that were motivated and ambitious – sometimes to the detriment of the relationship. I am now married to someone that is a do-er. However, our goals and priorities are more synchronized and we communicate very openly with each other about everything, good and bad.
What is your advice for others in your situation?
Feel what you are going to feel, because until it is all out it will be hard to move on. Write bad poetry about how your world is falling apart. Spend time alone crying or hitting the gym. Do what works for you. Need to see a therapist or counselor for a month or two? Do it! Sometimes feelings were so overwhelming you need someone outside of the situation to help you cope with them. And remember, the older you are the more memories and history you have with how things were. With time, new memories will be made that help make the present seem not so bad and the future maybe even a little brighter.

United by Pain: Jason Y.

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This is Jason’s story. His situation is very different than mine or Kim’s, but just as hurtful. A child should never have to wonder if they can trust their parents.
How old were you when your parents divorced?
Seven.
What was your initial reaction to the divorce? How did it make you feel and why did it make you feel that way?

My parents split when I was six. I don’t remember an initial reaction. I don’t remember feeling sad, or upset or even confused. Maybe I was and didn’t even know it. I do remember telling teachers, friends at school, just about anyone I met that would ask questions about me, that my parents were divorced. I don’t remember it as a way to get attention, but more or less just a statement of fact. I guess that was the big thing in my life then, and I liked to share.

At that age, I had never experienced anything more traumatic than one of our dogs dying. And that dog was a stray that lived at our house for just a few months before getting run over by my school bus. So although it was quite shocking for the bus driver to tell me he had just run over my dog, it’s not like a lifelong bond was shattered.

And I don’t remember any outward shows of affection or problems between my parents. I distinctively remember just one fight between them, and there was quite a bit of yelling, but I have not the foggiest recollection of what it pertained to. Probably the only reason I remember is because it was so rare.

But I don’t remember many positive interactions between them, either. I didn’t understand it at the time, but my dad worked a lot. He worked Monday through Saturday during the day, and he had about a one- hour commute to work. On top of that, we had a farm on which he raised pigs and tobacco. So he would get up at the crack of dawn to work on the farm before going to his tire plant, Goodyear, to work a factory job. Then, he would do more work on the farm when he came home. After supper, without fail, he would fall asleep in his recliner for about three hours before getting up to go to bed. Other than Friday nights – which were go out to eat and grocery night – and Sunday after church, the closest thing I remember of the three of us having a conversation was mom and I talking and dad snoring.

So I guess I never developed the happy family ideals that would have led me to being really upset when the divorce happened.

What was your relationship with your parents like before the divorce?
I was much closer to my mother. She did not work, so I spent all the time with her. Once, she went to community college for a semester, and she took me with her to drop me off at a day care the college ran. I told people I was going to college, too. That was the only time in my first seven years that we spent much time apart. And I think that was just three times a week. She took me swimming and to play with other children. We watched “Days of our Lives” and “Another World” on the tele. You know, the typical mom and son bonding rituals before cable TV.
I loved my dad, and he was a good man, but other than going to the local high school’s basketball games sometimes, I don’t remember much individual bonding between us. As mentioned before, he worked a lot. And he was 39 when I was born, so he was not a spry man to begin with. I don’t remember playing catch or doing the stereotypical father-son roughhousing. I would follow him when he mowed the yard and watch Kentucky basketball games with him – when he didn’t fall asleep – and that was about the extent of it.
How did things change after they separated? 
I became fearful of my father for a few months after the separation. It wasn’t until years later that I understood it was of my mom’s doing. My father suspected my mother of rekindling an old flame with a high school sweetheart. He put a tape recorder under the house in an attempt to acquire proof of said relationship, in hopes of using it as ammunition to get custody of me. Some repairman who was under our house discovered it, and mom waited until she thought dad was coming to switch out the tape – her weekly trip to an exercise class – to confront him. She left me in a bedroom by myself while she did this. Mom did not hide anything about tape recorder-gate – except the allegations of a high school sweetie, which I’m sure I wouldn’t have understood – and I’m pretty sure embellished a lot. My dad never did, and never would until I asked him after high school, speak and ill word about mother or explain those actions by dragging me into the muck. I never asked him as a child because mom explained everything with her slant. And why would mom lie? I spent all my time with her.

But I didn’t truly become scared until mom told me not to play near the road. She said dad had people drive by in cars spying on us, and there was a chance they might grab and kidnap me. We lived in the middle of nowhere, and this was in the middle of school campaigns about don’t talk to strangers, and candy could be a really dangerous trap. I became terrified of my dad. One time, a car drove by slowly and mom scooped me up and we chased after it. Of course, I’m not even sure the driver knew we were “chasing” him/her. I don’t remember the outcome, but there was not a confrontation. Still scared the bejesus out of me.

So for the longest, I would not be near my father alone. I had to be around mom or my grandma to even hang out with him. I’m not sure when or why this fear dissipated, but it did after a while. All I remember is being terrified of him for that short time.

Oh, and when I was an adult and finally started asking my dad questions about the post-separation drama – and my relationship with my mother had deteriorated for so many reasons – he mentioned the name Doyle Dick, the man he suspected my mom was talking to on the phone. The name of my mom’s first of many boyfriends post marriage? You guessed it.

Generally, my relationship with my mother remained strong in the subsequent years after the divorce. On the surface, she was a good mother to me. It wasn’t until years later that I realized she wasn’t a very good person.

How has the divorce shaped your romantic relationships?
I’m not sure the divorce shaped my romantic life as much as how my mom conducted her life after the divorce. I would estimate there were 10 “serious” boyfriends over the next 10 years, including my mom’s fourth marriage, which last a few months. There was the time we were going to move to Missouri to be with the newest love of her life, only for her to return about a month later – I was staying at my dad’s for the summer before moving up there – because he had a “split personality.” I think the guy just wised up.

There was the time we moved about an hour away into this guy’s house for a few days. I actually went to seventh or eighth grade in a new school for half a day – until my mom pulled me out and said we were moving back. Supposedly she had found out some dirt him, and they were breaking up. There were a couple of times I began developing relationships with different boyfriends’ children, only to have them gone from my life about the time I thought I was getting new brothers or sisters. When I was 16 or 17, mom married her fifth husband – my dad was No. 3 – and she has been with him ever since. I’m wonder if she was younger whether she would have moved on to No. 6 or No. 7 by now.

Love has not come easy for me. I’m 36 now, and I’m truly in love for the first time. There were times I thought I was in love, but it faded within a few months. I’ve had a hard time trusting people, and for the longest, I just assumed I would live my life as a bachelor, which was fine to me at the time. I had seen enough messed up relationships that it didn’t seem worth it. Why go through the effort when breakups, some messier than others, were the inevitable conclusion? And that is the lesson I carried from observing my mother for years – relationships suck. My fiancée changed all that.

My dad got married again not too long after the divorce. Although he is still with my stepmom today, it appeared to be more of a business relationship sans love to my untrained eye for many, many years. They seem happier together in their old age, and maybe they were happier than they appeared for the first 15, 20 years, but that’s not the impression I got growing up. So while their marriage did not diminish my view of relationships, it sure didn’t enhance it.

What is your advice for others in your situation?
It’s hard to dispense advice because everybody’s situation is different. For the most part, I feel fortunate that the divorce happened when I was so young. I never had this image of a happy family that was shattered later in life, when I could truly understand. Most of the bad memories were of my mom’s doing, and as I’ve come to find out later in life, it’s because she is a severely flawed person, not because of the divorce, per se.

I guess my only advice is to try to get distance from the divorce before drawing concrete conclusions. The years have given me a much different perspective on my parents and what went down when I was a child. My father was too good of a man to give me his side of the story until I was old enough to ask. My mother would offer up a critique when none was requested. Because of this, my opinions were skewed. But I have a better relationship and more respect for my father today because of it. Not everything is always as it appears.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

United by Pain: Kim S.

As part of my series, United by Pain, I have a few people who have agreed to share their pain stories. You can’t have healing without the pain. We must experience it fully in order for the healing to be effective.

First in my guest blog series is Kim S. You can read more about her and her adventures here.

When I heard the news of my parents divorce, I yearned to have someone to talk to who knew what it was like. That is hard to find as a 28 year old. Though Kim and I have many things in common, our struggle with out parents’ divorce is a uniting factor and I am blessed to have an understanding ear. She said it best when she said, “I am sorry you had to go through all of that, but I am really had I have someone to talk to, someone who understands.”

These conversations are for you if you want to know that someone somewhere understand how you feel.

Here are Kim’s answers to questions I asked her.

How old were you when your parents divorced?

They started seeing lawyers (which I didn’t know about) when I was 15. I found out they were getting divorced the weekend of my 16th birthday, and my dad moved out the first day of my junior year.

What was your initial reaction to Mom and Dad’s divorce?

I actually had to ask my father what was going on. My sister and I knew they weren’t happy, and we figured that they were going to counseling. I assumed that would be his response. When he told me they were getting a divorce, I lost it. I cried with him for a while, and then, honestly, I called my then-boyfriend and told him to pick me up. We went back to his family’s house (my second home at the time), and I cried a lot more.

How did it make you feel & why did it make you feel that way?

I was torn to pieces, but I also was confused about it all. Growing up, I didn’t have many friends with divorced parents, and out of those friends, their parents had been divorced since before I knew them. So I didn’t really see the process of a divorce and what it can do to kids/teens/adults who are self aware. It’s not as simple as “mom/dad doesn’t live here anymore.” There are layers upon layers of hurt and anger that seem to bubble to the surface for months and years after it happens.

I also got two versions of the “we’re getting a divorce” speech. My dad shared his feelings with me when he told me, and though we were both sad, I took comfort in knowing that I wasn’t the only person hurting. My mom, on the other hand, was more stoic about it. I don’t know if she was pissed that I found out before it was “time” or she thought she had to be strong for me, but I felt really disconnected from her. From that moment on, I felt like I became two people: Kim with her Dad, and Kim with her Mom.

What was your relationship with your parents like before your parent’s divorced?

Before “the day,” I think I was closer with my mom. I think she understood what it was like to be a young woman and a teen, and she was more okay with letting my first “real” boyfriend spend time with me. Plus, she drove me to all my theatre stuff, so that was nice.

My dad and I were butting heads. Looking back, I realize that he and I had no idea how alike we were, and he was coping with his marriage falling apart as well as job stress, so maybe he and I yelled at each other a lot because, on some level, he didn’t want me to grow out of being the little girl I had been for so many years. I also spent, like, every weekend with my then-boyfriend. For me, it was an escape from the deteriorating home situation, but I’m sure on some level it stung for him to see.

How did things change after they separated?

Complete 180.

My mom told me the day I found out about the divorce that she “never loved my father.” And I thought that was total horseshit. Because if you didn’t love him, then why would you have two children with him? Why would you stay with him for this long? This fueled years of anger toward my mother, and it didn’t really subside until I left for college. Don’t get me wrong, it still turns my stomach to think about that moment, and I still don’t have answers to any of those questions. But it’s been a while, so it’s easier to allow myself to feel those emotions and move on.

I had a large yelling match with my dad right before I moved to college for my freshman year. I was so angry that he moved so far away, and I felt neglected because my mom worked four nights a week at the hospital. I spent many nights as the parent to my sister, and I felt like he was part of the reason why I was so lonely. I also missed him all the time. And it killed me. So I finally told him how I felt, likely laced with profanity, and from then on, we’ve been close.

How has your parent’s divorce shaped your romantic relationships?

Oh boy. This one’s a doozy. Within a month after my parents news, my then-boyfriend broke up with me. And it was messy. So I was perpetually afraid of being hurt. But I wanted to be in control of the relationship, so I dated men who weren’t super motivated, were super clingy, or were romantically inexperienced. But I also wanted a ridiculous level of commitment, so now I have a strange collection of promise/pseudo engagement rings that never really counted because they were secret.

Once I stopped pushing for dominance and commitment and marriage and babies so hard, I started to find peace within myself, and that’s when I began to (in my opinion) have real, loving relationships.

Do you have advice for others in your situation?

Well, I’m not going to sugar coat it: You will hurt. You will cry. You will get super pissed. And you will feel this way off and on for years.

But there will come a time, not right away, where you will feel okay for five minutes. Then 10. Then an hour. And you learn to live in this new normal that the world has offered you. And that doesn’t mean that you’ve quit caring and the divorce has won. It means that you’re finding peace. And hope. And light. So allow yourself to feel hurt because I believe you have to feel it to get through it, but also allow that glimmer of hope to guide you through it. Because it will get better. And you’ll grow into a much stronger and more beautiful person because of it.

Anniversary

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Today isn’t about my parents.

It’s about me and my husband and the love we have for each other.

Today is our 2 year anniversary. It is also the 1 year anniversary of my parents telling me they are getting divorced.

Call it want you want, but I feel like God guarded my heart. When I think of Sept 15, I think of Barry and I on our wonderful day, not the heartache and pain that would follow one year later.

I know that I am in the middle of series on pain, but today is about love. I will pick it up next week.

Today, love wins.

 

Your Pain Matters

This week’s blog is brought to you by http://www.storylineblog.com, you see the original post here. It’s written by Cadence Turpin

I found it quite freeing. I hope you do too!

 

We’ve all experienced moments of feeling like our pain is being “put into perspective.”

Whether it comes from witnessing horrible tragedies on the news or walking with our friends through unimaginable circumstances, you’ve probably, like me, sighed in the heaviness of it all and said something along the lines of, “man, the stuff I go through is so petty in comparison to this.”

The sentiment is common.

For years, I’ve heard myself and other Christians make similar comments over and over again when discussing news stories, social injustices and the burdens of the poor and hurting.

This way of processing tragedy isn’t exactly wrong. There’s no denying God uses external tragedies to give us inner perspective. But pain is pain. And I have a hard time believing God ever intended for us to go so far as to let others’ pain shame us into believing our pain is a “petty” problem unworthy of God’s attention.

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This idea came up last week when I got a call from my friend Jamie. I was telling him about the teen mom I mentor, Emilia, who had just opened up about years of sexual and physical abuse.

I was telling Jamie how petty the relational hardships I’d endured seemed in light of Emilia’s, how she’d really shifted my perspective, how I’d wasted so much time mourning heartache that wasn’t even close to what Emilia’s heartache must be like.

But before I could continue, he cut me off.

“Yeah, but that stuff matters too, Cadence.”

I paused. “Yeah, I know…”

Truthfully, I was kind of annoyed. Yeah, yeah I get it, my stuff matters but it doesn’t really matter. Not as much as Emilia’s stuff. I shouldn’t be mourning my stuff when there’s more important stuff to be mourning in the world.

Our conversation continued and I didn’t think much else about it.

But my friend’s words came back to haunt me a few days later. I got an email from an ex that was hard to swallow and as I started to tell myself you shouldn’t be upset about this, I immediately remembered my friends words: That stuff matters too.

All of a sudden those four words I’d found slightly annoying and uncomfortable a few days earlier felt like a breath of fresh air.

They actually felt true.

And even healing.

I slowly began realizing how years of belittling my pain in the face of others’ pain had only been filling me up with shame. You shouldn’t care so much about this. Just think of what so-and-so’s been through!

What my friend Jamie taught me in that moment, without realizing it, came directly from working with thousands of hurting people over the years who’d been held back from healing because they were carrying so much shame about their pain.

Your stuff matters too.

We need to stop shaming ourselves about our pain and instead acknowledge that we are all fragile humans who are trying to figure this life thing out. We need to remind one another our pain matters, even when it feels petty. 

And especially when we’re tempted to compare and conceal it.

Let’s practice more compassion without comparison. Let’s gain more eternal perspective while giving ourselves permission to mourn our worldly losses.

Your pain is not a problem.

 

Real Talk

It’s been almost a year since my parent’s broke my heart.

Yep, I said it.

The two people, who I thought would never hurt me, left a gaping hole.

Divorce doesn’t kill it’s victims, no, it’s much more cruel. It tarnishes every memory, leaving you guessing if what you believed, what you saw, was even real. Every kiss, hug, “I love you” spoken between them is now a question mark.

Uncertainty clouds every memory.

I have a lot of question marks in my memories now. My memories look like swiss cheese. Even my future memories, the moments I hoped for. When I married, I longed for the days when the 6 of us would spend holidays together.

Not anymore.

Apparently, my parents have had issues ever since I was a baby (insert massive question mark spanning most of my life). Sometimes I wish they divorced before my childhood happened. I wouldn’t be haunted by doubt. A child should never doubt the love between their parents.

I know this sounds idealistic. I know many people out there never witnessed love between their parents. I know I should count myself as lucky for having loving parents. I do, please don’t misunderstand me.

My parents’ marriage influenced more than the two of them. They promised us they would never get a divorce. They instructed us on how to avoid divorce and how to have a healthy marriage. How are you supposed to think, when you are taught to honor your marriage vows and to honor each other, and then this happens?  I guess I have high expectations of my teachers. I try to be mad and then it hurts to be mad. I try to be happy, but that hurts too. I get caught in the middle and the only thing I can do is cry. No matter what I do or what I think. It just hurts.

No matter how hard I try, I will always be in the middle.

If want to have a relationship with the each of them (Confession: I considered, briefly, divorcing my parents and never talking with them again), I will always be in the middle.
I will always have to choose a side. I can love both equally, spend the same amount of time with each, say the same words (and mean them), but now, one parent always comes before the other.

Now a first and a second. Now a choice.

Both are calling at the same time, this happens more than expected, who’s call do I answer?

I have to make a choice.

Thanksgiving is coming up. Who do I spend it with?

I have to make a choice.

My parents tell me they understand. Loving parents will understand. However, as a child, I have to make a choice every time, and the agony of even having to make a choice at all breaks my heart every time.

I get heartache for choosing to stay, for choosing to love, for choosing to forgive. Divorce sucks.

I know my posts aren’t usually this raw, but pain needs to be felt if you are to ever achieve healing. These feelings have been with me for the last year, and thought there might be others who felt the same way about their situation. For the next month, I will have guest bloggers post about their pain. We are united by our pain. Because of our pain, we have compassion for each other. October is the month of healing and I will post stories of healing as we are only truly healed by love.