All the Feelings

There is a burning in my stomach. It’s a familiar feeling, although not one I enjoy experiencing. I can even name it (ahem…them), and that makes me angry.

Allow all the feelings.

That’s what I am supposed to do. Allow them to wash over and then right out of me so that I can continue on without getting stuck. I HATE THAT.

This burning in my stomach is because there are so many emotions hitting at once, and I can’t figure out which one to allow through first. So I’m going to name them and hopefully be able to let them go.

Anxiety: What if I cannot get everything done? And on top of that basic anxiety, what if I can’t get everything done well? What if someone judges me for not doing “right?” What if something slips through the cracks?

Fear: I’m afraid of this new change. What does that mean for me? What does it even look like?

Excitement: I feel excited and enthusiastic about the possibilities.

Anger: I am angry that I have all of these emotions. I am also angry at how hard managing everything is.

Joy: There is so much joy in seeing hard work pay off.

Grief: In this final stage of letting go, I am sad. I am sad that the life I struggled to find peace in has ended in a way that was unexpected.

Happiness: As I look to the past and to the future, there is happiness in many parts of my life story. I am happy that I have had the privilege to experience many things, many thoughts, and many transitions. I am happy that my kids love me well.

Peace: In the midst of all of these emotions, there is a knowing. A knowing that cements all of the feelings into the peaceful realization that all is well. This is where I am supposed to be at this time.

Today is like the official funeral for my previous life. It’s over, and I don’t know what life will look like in the after.

I am a new person, and I get to rest in knowing that.

Defining Moments or Defining Me?

These days, I am feeling as if I am a bit of a cliché. I was sitting with a new friend the other day when she casually mentioned her observation about how many forty-something divorced women there seemed to be. While the comment was innocently made and had absolutely nothing to do with me, I felt it deep in my bones.

I am a forty-something-year-old divorced woman, and it is an identity that annoys me. I do not want to be known as “the divorced woman.”

But simply because that is a part of who I am, does that have to define me as a whole?

I’ve spent quite a bit of time pondering this, and I refuse to allow myself to fall into the trap of accepting that…because I am so much more.

These are just a few pieces of who I’ve been:

  • A girl that grew up in rural North Louisiana
  • A piano player that would get lost in music
  • A teenage band member that loved performing
  • A young college woman trying to figure out who she was
  • A young married woman
  • A new mom
  • An active mom of littles
  • A homeschooling mom
  • A victim of domestic violence
  • A “church lady”
  • A mom of teenagers
  • A woman that cooks and entertains
  • A betrayed woman
  • A divorced woman
  • A mature college student
  • A late forty-something woman beginning a new life
  • A survivor

Not one of those things define the whole of me. Every single one of them is simply a small part that makes up the whole of me.

At this point in my life, these are the only things that won’t ever change:

  • I am a woman.
  • I am a child of God.
  • I am a mother.

I think that sometimes we (maybe just me) get stuck in accepting one definition of ourselves, and we forget that who we are ebbs and flows with our personalities and our life experiences. It can be difficult to recognize that we are more than our circumstances.

But it is possible.

Transitions & Mistakes Along the Way

Transition periods are on my mind.

As I was speaking with someone the other day, I could hear the exasperation in their voice with me. They are tired of me struggling. They are annoyed with me for continuing on a path that they think is wrong. And while they did not directly say that they were annoyed, they did clearly state that they believe I am wrong for doing what I am doing.

Here is the truth about my life. I am struggling. And the path that I have chosen is a bit more difficult than some other path. But it is my path, and I made the decision to go on it. Once I started in this direction, I have never looked back. This decision is mine. I can honestly say that it is the first decision that I have EVER made on my own without changing directions to make someone else more comfortable.

And although it is a hard path, that is all that it is. It is hard.

It is ridiculous that I am 48-years-old and am just now beginning to make my own decisions. Honestly, it feels completely awkward and uncomfortable.

The thing about transition periods is that sometimes they are quick and can be over in a matter of days, but sometimes it takes a few years to transition into a new way of living. The speed of a person’s transition is not something that can accurately be compared.

I’ve become a part of a group of single parents, and one major thing that I have noticed is that it has taken most of the people in this group (especially those who take the time to heal) somewhere between 5-8 years to settle in to their lives after divorce.

So whenever I hear someone begin to sabotage my efforts, I have to consciously step back and recognize that they are the ones uncomfortable with my life. And that maybe I should not be sharing with them some of my questions or hiccups…because a hiccup is how I see most obstacles. Yes, sometimes I cry. And yes, sometimes I get scared.

But the one thing I never lose sight of is the proverbial “light at the end of the tunnel”…there may be twists and turns, and I may make a few (or a lot) of mistakes, but that’s okay.

I’m learning that mistakes do not mean that I have to stop moving forward.

They mean that I simply need to readjust the process.


Handicapped Hospitality

So I’ve almost always been a hospitality person…inviting people over, cooking for them, relaxing with them…it has always been my “thing.” I love it!!

Almost from the moment I left my parents’ home, I loved it. I remember running to the video store, renting a VCR and a movie, cooking and inviting people into the very old, trailer house that I lived in. I considered having people over the best part of life. That continued everywhere I have lived…until my divorce.

My life was upended by divorce. I moved from my home. I had to deal with all of the emotions of all the times I entertained for and with my ex-husband (for those of you who remember ‘What is Emotional Abuse Anyway,’ I had to work through the fact that entertaining was a way for me to “hide in plain sight”). I had to figure out how to live life again. Plus covid hit a year later, just as I felt that I was getting a bit stable.

And, to be honest, entertaining feels awkward without a spouse.

But, oh my gosh, do I miss it! I miss the joy of planning a meal…an afternoon or evening filled with people. I miss laying out all of the serving pieces and writing on sticky notes to make sure I have a dish that enhances the beauty of every single item I will make. It is truly one of my absolute favorite things to do.

Unfortunately, I feel sort-of handicapped now. I’m not sure if it has to do with being divorced or if it has something to do with the pandemic. All that I know is that if feels as if I am struggling to figure out how to do this again.

Women, I love you, but I don’t want to have women-only lunches. I miss the interaction of adults…men and women laughing and enjoying one another’s company. But everything feels weird and awkward.

So how do I do what I love and learn to be hospitable again? I honestly have no earthly idea.

But I know that I have to figure it out. Hospitality (or love, welcome, serve as Amy Hannon says it), is simply who I am.

I heard someone say that “brave, difficult, awkward hospitality” is how we meet people right where they are. It’s not the beautiful platters and place settings, but it’s whatever we have on hand that welcomes people to have a place in our lives.

So I am challenging myself to have at least one “brave, difficult, awkward” moment each month until it feels natural again.

I’m not giving up on this…I love the whole process of it too much to let it slip away forever!

Tentative Hope

Hope…but do I dare? Is having hope in hard situations simply not living in reality?

Over and over, Scripture talks about hope. It is definitely something that God wants us to grasp and hold onto.

But for me personally, I am afraid to hope. I want to hope that relief will come, but it is just so very hard to keep hanging on.

Isaiah 40:31 says, “But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

Do I believe that? Do I really believe it?!

I want to. I do know that when I plug my soul into God’s word, my hope is strengthened. I truly believe that if I can just hang on, I will see God’s glory in a magnificent way.

But right this minute…hoping is hard. Doing what I can to prevent weariness, is crazy hard. It almost feels as if I am trying to trick my brain into believing something that isn’t true.

It is true. God’s word says it. And as if this is a new revelation or something…all that I have to do is believe it. Nothing else. Just believe. Believe in hope.

Maybe I am a bit stubborn, but I am choosing to hang on. If I let go of my hope in Jesus, I might miss seeing what he has in store for me.

I believe hope is one of our greatest gifts.

My prayer these days: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13


How did I forget?

I met with my counselor last week for the first time in about 9 months. As we were talking, she does her magic and asks a few questions…

(I’m going to stop here for a minute. I have literally just finished a grad school class on cognitive behavioral interventions. My entire final was a live “practice” combining and using questions to help a person see where they can make changes. I made a perfect score. I literally just learned questioning skills. Insert eyeroll.)

Continuing on…as I sit in her office, it occurs to me that I already knew how to manage what had spiraled out of control in my own life. My mind is reeling with the thought, “Are you kidding me?” I had slipped into behaviors without even a conscious thought about how much stress they were causing me!

The process of awareness and using tools to function in emotionally healthy ways simply need to be rebooted sometimes.

I’m going to be honest. On my way home from her office, I was annoyed that I had forgotten that I had choices. I was living in my past reactions within the abuse cycle, and I had totally allowed myself to slip into old habits.

As I have pondered it since then, I have chosen to embrace the fact that I slipped into old patterns. It happens, and I wasn’t paying that much attention. I have just been “getting through” each day.

The difference now is that I know what to do. I know where to look for help if I need it.

But here’s the thing.

I accidentally isolated myself. It wasn’t intentional. It really did just happen.

FYI-isolation is my thing. I am really, really good at it. It’s how I survived in years past.

We absolutely cannot isolate if we are to live meaningful lives!!


Yes, we get busy. Yes, it has been hard because of the pandemic. Yes, we are busy with work, kids, classes, church…whatever the things are that fill your time.

But we need people to connect with. People to keep us in the present. People to bring us out of our headspace.

(And if you know me, you know how stuck I can get in my mind. I a bit of a weird-o about that. I can also get stuck trying to disappear into reading. And sometimes, I can even get stuck just sitting in my living room doing nothing…it is kind of ridiculous.)

So here’s the deal. I’ve been moving forward, step by step, since the day I found out my ex-husband was gay. Sometimes we get stuck in old patterns of behaviors. Except now, once the a-ha moment comes, I know what to do to get unstuck.

Moving forward isn’t about never looking back and never having another problem.

It’s all about the a-ha moments. They should totally give us a boost of confidence that we are awesome at this moving forward thing. We know how to get ourselves out of stuff. And even if we don’t remember, we probably know where we can go to get a little help!

Keep going. We’ve got this.


Fresh Eyes

It is 6:30 a.m. the Saturday before Easter. I am alone in a bed and breakfast just a few miles from home, and I have been consistently working to catch up on all of my classwork that has fallen through the cracks the last few weeks.

Why am I in a bed and breakfast? How am I even paying for such an indulgence?

After receiving my tax return, I put it all immediately in my savings to offset the lack of income I will have this next summer…although I also need new tires for my car, my computer is dying, and I have holes in my rental house walls that need professional repairing. (Yes, I am rambling…sometimes fear creeps in.)

But my mental health was failing. The busy-ness inside my home was creating a whirlwind inside my brain. My young adults come in and out. My teenager is struggling with his schoolwork. My home is cluttered. I have been in and out a lot these days. I could not seem to clear my head long enough to focus on what needed to get done.

I realized that I could push through, but I know me…at some point in the near future, I would eventually lose it and hurt someone’s feelings. I have been jumping from activity to activity, attempting to see progress within the house while also trying to get some of my schoolwork (and real work) done. I have been doing a minimal job of completing my schoolwork, not allowing myself to fully grasp the information I need for my future. And in general, I have been walking around frustrated at everyone instead of taking the time to process my feelings, deal with them appropriately, and communicate them.

So I gave myself a budget and permission to spend 2 nights away from the chaos. To clear my head and focus my vision.

Plus…there is this other thing that has sneaked in and has been causing me a bit of unexpected emotions. I needed to allow myself to feel those, so that I can continue moving forward.

I don’t think a lot of people allow themselves to deal with their sh** after a divorce. They move forward and carry all of that mess with them…either that, or I cling to my sh** for a long stinking time. But I don’t think so. I think that as a society, we expect people to move on quickly from their feelings so that the discomfort for those around us can go away. And people move forward believing that the sh** will just go away if they keep doing stuff to push the emotions away.

For me, 25 years of marriage (and a whole lifestyle) was a lot to lose…it would be for anyone. It was only 3 years ago that I was pursuing intense therapy to try and figure out if my marriage could be saved. Back then, my then-husband was working to convince me that he wanted to be married to me. So I kept trying to have an open mind and to be logical.

But on Easter Sunday 2018, a decision was made that confirmed that my marriage could not be saved.

And on this Easter weekend (2021), I am working to reframe that part of my story. Bear with me as a S-T-R-E-T-C-H Jesus’ story to help me along.

Jesus died…betrayal set that in motion. And then He rose again.

A part of me died…because of betrayal. But I am rising again as a new woman. (Told you I was stretching it a bit!)

When I choose to look at my life in this manner, I see encouragement. I see the hope I am giving to others. Has this path been difficult? Yes, beyond anything I could imagine.

When I look around at those who have suffered betrayal, I see many faces. Some of us fall into despair and cannot get up. Some of us fall into rage and become angry women seeking revenge. And some of us pray (beg) daily that God keeps our hearts soft so that we can gently lead others to see Jesus.

My season of difficulty has not yet ended, but I am seeing the fruit of sharing my story and of me leaning on Jesus.

**At least 3 women have come to me and told me that they left abusive relationships…because I shared my story.

**2 young men came to me and told me that they were groomed by older men in trusted situations…because I shared my story.

I have thought that I needed to stop sharing my story, but my story is important. My story gives hope to those who have experienced horrible things…and it is not even the worst one you will ever hear.

But it shines a light in the dark corners that some of us try so hard to hide. It creates a space for people to have a voice.

So this time away has given me fresh eyes. Some things I see:

  1. I love what I am learning, and I need to take the time to create a space to absorb all that I can.
  2. My children are experiencing growing pains and need the space to feel those pains without my intervention.
  3. My heart continues to heal. Allowing myself to feel those pangs of confusion and grief as they pass through my body, not judging them, but accepting them as simply part of the healing process.
  4. I am doing great things. Maybe not from a huge platform, but in teeny, tiny private ways, I am making a difference.
  5. And this job I have but don’t love…I am doing pretty good at that, too. Messages from parents expressing their gratitude about what they are seeing and hearing from my classroom are confirming that I am where I am meant to be.

I encourage you. When your mind is filled with an overabundance of moving parts, and you cannot seem to see clearly, give yourself permission to step away from it all. Fresh eyes bring clarity and peace.


Pondering…Am I Guilty?

Am I guilty of parental alienation?

I honestly do not know. This is something that I have been afraid of being blamed for ever since the divorce occurred. In fact, it is something that sometimes keeps me awake at night. My thoughts wonder how much I contributed to the negative feelings my children have toward their father.

Three out of my four children live with me. (The fourth lives on his own.) The three that live with me have observed the overwhelming nature of my divorce. It was impossible to protect them from it.

For the first little bit during and after the divorce, I regularly told my children that their father loved them to the best of his ability. Honestly, he wasn’t the nicest guy to live with, and during the divorce he became vindictive directly to them. But he is their father…

All three of them accused me of trying to force them into a relationship with him. All three of them said that I was trying to manipulate them.

So I stopped.

But am I guilty of this thing called parental alienation? Did I promote their feelings of anger directed toward their dad? Was there anything that I could have done to encourage them more?

There’s this: I only found out about my ex-husband’s attraction to men because my daughter told me. In the beginning, I attempted counseling, and I encouraged my children to see that I was trying to be open-minded.

And there’s this: My 2nd son and my daughter told me that if I stayed with their dad, I would not have a relationship with them. That they would make an effort to see me occasionally, but they would never again enter our home freely.

And then there’s this: My 4th child, from a very early age, disliked his father. I never understood it and often attempted to force a relationship. The only way he would spend time with his dad is if he was bribed.

Not to mention this: My ex-husband moved over 1000 miles away.

I was devastated by my ex-husband’s hidden life, and as my eyes opened to why our lives were the way they were, I realized what awful things he had intentionally done to keep his secret. (Some of them are still beyond my comprehension.) Did I share too much of that? Maybe. I don’t know how I could have kept it a secret. Their friends were telling them things, and they came to me with questions. I didn’t want to lie to my kids.

Regardless of all of that, am I guilty of alienating their dad? Did I overly encourage my children to dislike him?

My studies in social work tell me that this is a problem with some divorce cases, and I do not want this to be the story of my children. I want them to know that even if I cannot look their father in the eye or have a face-to-face conversation with him, they are more than welcome to have that. They won’t be hurting me. (FYI-that is a total lie…it will hurt me if they seek out a relationship with him. But I can keep that tucked inside of me to share with a friend instead of my feelings affecting them…(laugh out loud) is that even possible? They do live with me, and they are no longer young children. They can see through any attempt I make to “fake it.”)

How does a person navigate this? How do I prevent this from happening? I know that the emotional turmoil of walking out this devastating path has affected my children, but have I alienated them from their father?

What could I have done differently? What can I do differently?

Today, I continue to ponder if I am guilty. Part of me thinks no way, I would never do that. Another part of me thinks that it is impossible for me to have not negatively influenced them.

I will have to settle with this thought: I have done the best that I could in my situation.

I just pray that sinks into my soul one day soon.


Tired of Trauma

The word trauma is on my mind this morning…honestly, I’m beginning to feel as if the word is overused. And yet, it is the most accurate word for what so many people have been walking through the last several years.

Someone used the word trauma on my facebook post yesterday in response to all that Texas has gone through. All day, I pondered it and began making a personal list of all that has occurred since Hurricane Harvey in 2017.

While I acknowledge all of the things that have occurred, I want those of you reading it to realize that I have made certain that I have had the help I needed to persevere through it all. I have not attempted to walk this out alone, nor have I powered through out of sheer will-power. I have leaned on the resources around me, and I believe that I have a relatively balanced outlook on all of it. It is a lot and I will not minimize that, but I want you to see that when you acknowledge that things are difficult and tap into resources, you will find that you can make it through stressful seasons without bitterness and anger, and you may even come out on the other side emotionally healthy.

  1. August 2017 — Hurricane Harvey — devastating for Southeast Texas, although not to me personally (a lot of survival guilt during that time)
  2. November 2017 — My ex-husband resigned from his job to avoid being laid off
  3. November 2017 — My oldest son had his first deployment…with submarines, you do not get to know where your loved one is
  4. January 2018 — One of my dearest friends was diagnosed with breast cancer
  5. February 2018 — I found out from my daughter that my husband of 25 years was gay
  6. Throughout 2018 — Struggled with guilt about my own family drama occupying my mental resources while wanting to pour my heart into caring for my friend
  7. March 2018 — One of my children had a complete meltdown and had to be admitted into a psych hospital
  8. March -July 2018 — Information beyond my comprehension was exposed to me
  9. April 2018 — My oldest son came home traumatized from what occurred during deployment
  10. July 2018 — Filed for divorce
  11. July 2018 — My ex-husband barged into the home and had to be removed by police
  12. August 2018 — I began working as the divorce court appearances began
  13. October 2018 — Sold my home and became technically homeless (thankfully, I have dear friends to took us in temporarily)
  14. December 2018 — Moved into new rental home
  15. January 2019 — Divorce finalized
  16. March 2019 — I am sued by my ex-husband
  17. April 2019 — Reality hits…some friendships die when there is a divorce
  18. May 2019 — I get accepted into graduate school
  19. August 2019 — My graduate program begins; my daughter moves into an apartment and begins college
  20. September 2019 — Tropical Storm Imelda unexpectedly floods Houston, trapping my daughter and me in my car downtown
  21. October – December 2019 — Ongoing harassment from my ex-husband’s
  22. January 2020 — I cannot pay my bills, so I make the decision to finish the semester, reduce my hours to part-time student status, and make plans to go to work full-time in May 2020
  23. March 2020 — The world stops because of COVID
  24. April 2020 — I begin searching for a job, because that was my plan…COVID or not
  25. May-June 2020 — Major race riots in America consume our cities
  26. August 2020 — No job in sight so I begin monitoring students for online schooling
  27. October 2020 — My students go back to in-person school, so I begin subbing in the school district and baking to bring in enough income to pay my bills.
  28. June 2020 – January 2021 — Major election drama and people are harshly divided…an insane amount of rage surrounding everyone
  29. January 2021 — I am hired part-time to teach at a small private school
  30. January 6 2021 — Our US Capitol was stormed
  31. January 2021 — My oldest son leaves for a 7-month deployment
  32. February 2021 — Winter Storm Uri wreaks havoc on Texas
  33. February 21, 2021 — Today

For 3 years and 5 months, there has been extreme stress in my life and many others throughout the US. That stress is trauma.

Trauma is real, and it affects us deeper than we realize. I do not want to dwell on all that occurred during these last years; however, I also do not want to minimize all that has happened. So many of us are taught to persevere through hardships without ever acknowledging that things were REALLY hard for a while. And that is simply wrong.

Just because you survived it and have made steps forward; the fact that it was a lot to walk through should not be negated.

I know that I sound like a broken record this morning. I keep seeing and hearing faith platitudes that are meant to encourage, but sometimes feel like reprimands for not having enough faith when we are just tired. There are times when we simply need someone to come alongside and hold up our arms as Aaron and Hur did for Moses.

Being tired is real. Pretending as if we aren’t is not.

Yes, for those of you who Believe, God does love us. God’s presence is real. God will sustain us. AND it is okay to say that we are tired and weary…and to rest in the knowledge that God loves us through it all.


Something New

Here it is. The beginning of 2021…I am so glad 2020 has ended!

I am grateful for 2020. I have learned so much this last year, and as odd as the year was, I am appreciative of the insight it has given me.

As 2020 ended, I worked through an inventory of my life. What went well this year? What went wrong? What did I grieve? What brought me joy? What can I learn, and how can I grow from all of it?!

2020 was HARD. Not nearly as emotionally hard as the previous two years, but hard for different reasons. I have learned that I am a person who seriously likes to ignore things…I am an avoider. Let me clarify. If I have to deal with something uncomfortable, I will do it (eventually), but I will tiptoe around the issue as long as I possibly can.

I realized that I need to change the way I live. It isn’t healthy. Not physically, emotionally, or spiritually. This is where I want to blame others, which would be an easy out, but it would not be the truth.

It’s time to embrace my life as a single adult woman with children. I need to stop putting my kids first…3 of them are adults. They need my encouragement, but they are perfectly capable of stepping into their own lives. As for my 16-year-old, it’s time to begin empowering him toward independence.

Now that I realize all of this, how do I make the necessary change?

These two verses have been rattling in my mind for the last few weeks. As the end of the year has come and gone, I’ve decided to cling to them for this next year: Isaiah 43:18-19 CSB “Do not remember the past events; pay no attention to things of old. Look, I am about to do something new; even now it is coming. Do you not see it? Indeed, I will make a way in the wilderness, rivers in the desert.”

Faith and hope. Fully embrace the future. Keep my eyes looking forward, and allow the past to remain behind me.

Although I have continued to progress forward, I have also felt tethered to the past…to Code Red, to the abuse, and to the horrors of what was. It is time to let all of that go.

It means that I am ready to come to peace with what was. It is part of my story, but it is no longer going to hold me captive.

So here I am, in 2021, feeling as if I am sitting on a hill, looking to see what God is going to do next?

Happy New Year, everyone!