Archive for the ‘Divorce’ category

One Year Later

August 6, 2015

Today marks exactly one year since my divorce was final.  The thought had crossed my mind from time to time over the past month that it was coming, but it wasn’t until I woke up this morning that I realized it was here.

I don’t even know how to describe the past year.  The images that comes to my mind are detox or rehab.  The kids and I have just been healing…which can be a painful process in itself.

For some of the kids, the loss of the constant stress and tension in the house was as much of a cause of distress as the loss of their father living in the house.  It seemed like they needed to act out regularly just to recreate the former conditions of the home.

But a year later that seems to have finally dissipated.  They still have their moments (they’re only human after all), but others have been able to observe the change in how they carry themselves and act and react to others.  When my parents have come to visit the past few times, they’ve noticed that the kids aren’t having as many temper tantrums and emotional meltdowns.

As for me, it’s been an emotional roller coaster ride.  Overall I am happier and healthier, and wonderful things have been happening.  The downs have usually corresponded with me falling into the same old emotional and communication patterns with my ex-husband.  With the distance of not having to interact on a daily basis, I’ve been able to take each blow up between us as an opportunity for self-examination and learning new and healthier ways to behave.

There’s been a lot of introspection in general this past year.  With the help of my priests, my spiritual director, my therapist, my parents, and my wonderfully, awesome circle of friends, I’ve been able to start to find my center of gravity again.  I’ve been examining the roots of my codependency issues, looking at my personal strengths and weaknesses, and determining how to use that information to move forward to become the person that God wants me to be.  It has not been easy, though, having to expose my own seedy underbelly and poke at wounds that are still more tender than I realized.

One often hears about how healing the annulment process through the Catholic Church can be, and I have found that to be extremely true.  The 20+ pages of answers they requested made me really think about the patterns in my past that led me into my marriage, and the mandatory evaluation by a psychologist helped me to gave me some new focus and perspective.  The annulment has already been approved by my diocese and is currently under evaluation for due process by a second one; I should be hearing the official word by the end of this month.

Financially, I’ve recently hit a bump in the road.  At first I was upset and worried, but God has really sent me an abundance of blessings through the support of my friends and family (I’m talking direct intercession, y’all.)  I’ve come to realize that God is using this to help me overcome some long-time personal, stumbling blocks that I’ve had in order to get me where He wants me to be.  Through all of these ups and downs, I’ve been reassured of His constant presence and love for me.

Upon the heels of the divorce, it was tempting to try to turn back time and imagine that I could be the person that I was before I got engaged to my ex-husband (which is when things first started going off the rails) or that I could turn our family life into the kind I imagined it would be if the marriage hadn’t always been so dysfunctional.  It took me a little time to realize that I am not that person anymore and that I can’t keep thinking about what might have been.  So, then I began trying to build a life for me and my kids moving forward from where we are right now, only taking those things from the past (positive and negative) that will aid me in doing so.

On the practical end of things, I will be staying home with my kids for one more year.  The older three will all be in our parish school this year.  I’ll be homeschooling the kindergartner and taking care of my now 3-year-old “baby”.  In a providential turn of events, I’ll also be taking care of the youngest child of friends from church and school.

In the next few months I’ll be applying for my early childhood education teacher aid license through the state, with the intention of trying to secure a full-time work position at the start of the 2016-2017 school year.  But I know that  lot can happen in a year, so for now I will just do what I can do to keep us moving forward and leave the rest in God’s hands.

How Punching a Heretic Saved Christmas

January 7, 2015

One of my girls has been really struggling since the divorce.  The whole situation has been fraught with good things and bad things.  My feelings have been all over the place about it at times, and I understand way more about the situation than my kids do.  It’s no wonder that my kids would be experiencing and emotional roller coaster, too.

One of them, though, has a tendency to stuff her bad feelings way down deep and try to pretend that they don’t exist.  Then she explodes on the rest of us over trivial things.  Sometimes it’s a constant stream of criticism and verbal abuse.  Sometimes it is hitting and kicking and throwing things at people.  She is old enough to know better, but she just can’t seem to stop.  And trying to get her talk about what is really bothering her is futile.

As Christmas approached, she started to express concerns that she might be on the naughty list.  What if she woke up to a stocking full of coal while her sisters delighted in their gifts from Santa?

I told her that I think Santa understands that she has had a rough year.  Santa knows that her dad and I split up and then he remarried someone else within a very short period of time.  That’s a lot for a little kid to have to deal with.  Plus, she seems to be at a transitional age which can make things emotionally and mentally topsy turvy, too.

Then she started asking me questions about Santa mythology (she still believes).  I reminded her that Santa started out as the bishop Nicholas.  He started out by secretly dropping money for the poor down their chimneys.  I told her how one time Nicholas got so mad at a guy who was telling lies about God that he punched the guy in the face.  I explained that Nicholas had to apologize and go to confession for what he did.

Her face lit up, and she said, “He’s like me.  I hit people when I get angry, too.”  I reminded her that Nicholas knew it was wrong, though, just like she does.  But I think it helped to reassure her that Santa Claus would understand that she has had a rough year and made some mistakes.

Then, because I had been unable to take her to confession due to all of the sickness in the family, we made a plan for her to go to our prayer corner, tell God her sins, and say the Act of Contrition.  It’s not as good as going to actual confession, but it was the next best thing at the time.

I’m Not Where I Used to Be…

August 6, 2014

My divorce was finalized today.  I filed on March 21st, and it only took four short months.  That’s what happens when you haven’t really been living as husband and wife for over a year and you have no assets to fight over,only debts.

I don’t really know how I expected to feel today.  At times I thought I would be throwing a celebration.  As I approached the judge this morning, I just felt like I was going to throw up.

In some ways I’m relieved that everything is settled in black and white.  The kids and I know what our legal rights and limits are.

I am slightly embarrassed.  I am now a divorcee.  My marriage failed.  I feel a special stigma as a practicing Catholic.  When we say “until death do us part”, we’re supposed to take that seriously.  And I do…and I did.

I know that this is not what God wanted for our family.  God wanted my kids to have two parents who were capable of loving each other in a sacramental marriage.  That’s not what my kids got, though.

I truly believe that God was working in my life in the weeks leading up to when I filed for divorce.  Even though He would have preferred the ideal, I believe God knew that the divorce was the lesser of the two evils that the children and I were facing.  He put events and people in my life without whom I would not have had the courage to do what I was prepared to do in one last attempt to save my marriage or the courage to do what I had to do when it became clear that there was nothing I could do to save my marriage.

In some ways, though, the finalization of the divorce is just the beginning for me.  Next up I will be meeting with my pastor to start the annulment process to determine if my marriage was valid in the eyes of God in the first place.  Through documentation and the testimony of others I have to show that my marriage that we “thought to be valid according to Church law actually fell short of at least one of the essential elements required for a binding union”.  I’ve heard it can take as long as 18 months for the determination to be made.  (I still have a lot to learn about it.)

Part of me would love for the Church tribunal to discern that it never was a valid marriage in the first place.  I think it would make the civil divorce feel more justifiable.

Of course, the biggest reason that most people want an annulment is that they would be free to marry again.  Even though I know that I am not mentally or emotionally healed enough to have a healthy romantic relationship at this time, I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t thought about the possibility of marrying again.  But frankly I am glad the annulment process takes awhile.  It’s like God’s gift of more time to get my sh*t together.

On the other hand, I think about what would happen if the tribunal declared that my marriage was and therefore is still a valid marriage.  That means that I am not free to date or marry anyone else until Ricky dies.  If I were to do so, it would be considered adultery in the eyes of God.

I can see where some people would think it is sad that I would be damned to a “life of loneliness”.  Of course, I’d rather be damned to spending the rest of my mortal life alone (although how can I ever really be alone with 5 kids?) than spending all of eternity separated from God.

I kind of wonder, though, what else God might have planned for me if getting remarried is completely off the table.  Maybe God would have a better use for all of the time that would be spent maintaining a romantic relationship.  Maybe God has a special way that he wants to use my time and talents for the glory of his kingdom once I am no longer busy raising children.

On the way to the courthouse this morning I prayed the Rosary.  As I meditated on the Sorrowful Mysteries, starting with the Agony in the Garden and ending with the Crucifixion, I kept thinking about how my sometimes extremely insightful oldest daughter summarized her feelings about the divorce.  She told me a few months ago that she wasn’t happy about, but she knew it’s what needed to be done.  After all, “Jesus wasn’t happy about dying on the cross, but he knew it’s what needed to be done.”

I thought about how Jesus’ wounds didn’t disappear after his resurrection.  They were still part of his glorified body.  I know that there is a lesson in there for me somewhere even if I can’t put my finger on it right now.

So, on the way home I prayed the Divine Mercy Chaplet, asking God to heal me, my ex-husband, and my children (a recommendation my pastor made during my last confession).  And I would ask that anyone who reads this post to please offer up even a small prayer of healing for my family.

 

Meyer quote

This Is My Time

April 27, 2014

Now that all of the nasty viruses seem to have finally left our house, I am left with a To Do list a mile long.  Some things are divorce-related and others are just a part of life.

Right now I am getting by financially, but the reality is that I will need to get at least part time job within a year or two.  I think that I can squeak by on child support and maintenance (aka alimony) until then, but it’s going to be very hard for to get ahead of the game–build up savings, not accrue debt, and have money for fun– if I don’t eventually get a job.  I’m just trying to hold off for as long as I can because a) the income to cost of childcare ratio is probably not going to be very favorable, and b) I’m trying to keep the girls’ lives as consistent as possible for now, and me going back to work would be a major upheaval.

It’s been 11 years since I held a full-time job, and I know that the medical billing field has seen huge changes since I left.  If I had to get a job right this instant, my best bet would probably be to try to get a position at a daycare center.  (I do have almost 12 years of non-stop experience changing diapers.)  Then I could keep my little ones somewhat with me and get a discount on their care.  But I’m not sure that medical billing or child care is what I would really want to do.

I picked up a copy of What Color Is Your Parachute? at my local library, hoping for a little guidance about what to expect “out there” in the job-hunting world these days.  The book made two points that have really been rattling around in my brain a lot this past week.

1.  “There are ways we can define, at least to ourselves, what the meaning of this period of unemployment is, now.”

  • “These months have meaning because I am making this a Time for Thinking.”
  • “These months have meaning because I am making this a Time for Learning.”
  • “These months have meaning because I am making this a Time for Repairing.”
  • “These months have meaning because I am making this a Time for Growing.”

2.  The job-hunting method with the highest success rate (86%) is to do an inventory of yourself:  discerning which of your skills you most enjoy using, which work environments would make you most happy, and how to get where you want to be.

 

I really feel like God has been whispering these things in my ear over and over again the past few weeks.  It’s in this secular job-hunting book.  For the first time in months I glanced at the 10 Principles of Success advocated by Matthew Kelly, and the first one is self-knowledge.  Step 4 of Codependents Anonymous is to make a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves; I came across the Word document the other day where I began that work but never finished.  And then when I was reading Jen Fulwhiler’s e-book about how to follow your dreams while raising a large family, one of her first steps involves self analysis.

This is my time for thinking.  This is my time for learning–studying myself  and maybe seeking some further education or job training.  This is my time for repairing–repairing my home, repairing my kids, repairing relationships, and repairing myself (mentally, physically, and emotionally).  This is my time for growing–building new skills, overcoming some of my weaknesses and limitations, and striving even more towards holiness.

This is my time.