It’s amazing to look back on the year 2011, but it’s hard sometimes to believe that this is really MY life, and not just some sort of silly dream. I got to thinking the other day – I’ve called 6 places my home this year and moved 6 times as well. Sheesh. I began my internship in Iowa City, Iowa this January and spent 2 months house-sitting for a professor on sabbatical. Then I moved to a hotel and spent 4 months there. That brought me all the way to July when I finished my degree, moved everything out of my home in Kansas City and into storage for the summer and moved in with my parents. My family and I took an amazing vacation in July, and while on vacation I was offered a temporary job back at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. So, what did I do?! I packed everything up into a camping trailer and spent 2 months living in a campground on the lake while applying for the permanent position. I was then offered a full-time position and moved everything out of storage, out of my parents’ basement and into my beautiful new home here in Iowa. Whew – I’m glad to be settled!
This year has definitely been a roller coaster for me, but I read a great quote the other day that said this: “Life is like a roller coaster. It has its ups and downs, but it’s your choice to scream or enjoy the ride.” When I look back on this past year, I’ve had my share of ups and downs. 6 months ago, I would have said that that roller coaster made 100 trips up and down each day. I made a decision that day that I would never again ask my patients: “What emotion are you feeling today!?” Really….I think I felt EVERY single emotion EVERY single day! Things have definitely gotten easier though, and the “trips” up and down have gotten fewer and fewer. I can also look back too, and think about the music I’ve listened to that’s gotten me through this year. Some songs were “sad” songs, some were “angry” songs, and some reflect the pain and emotions I was feeling as my heart was torn in two. I know this post is long, but I want to share part of my story from this year using the lyrics and songs that helped pull me through. It’s obviously not everything, but a brief summary of my life that I hope can inspire someone else some day.
June 5th was the day my life shattered into a million pieces. June 5th was the day my ex-husband first told me that he didn’t love me anymore, and I posted this song: “I Won’t Let Go” by Rascal Flatts to my blog based on the very naïve thought that he didn’t actually mean the words he had just said during that devastating telephone conversation. It’s only fitting then, I suppose, that at the end of the year I’m posting a song by the same artist titled “Moving On.”
In August, I posted the song “Blessings” by Laura Story which has become my theme song through these past several months. It’s amazing to think that the “rain” and trials I’ve been through were actually amazing blessings in disguise. Without them, I wouldn’t be where I am or be the incredible person I am today. I hardly even recognize the “old” me. I’m also extremely amazed at the strength I’ve found through my faith. During those early months, I posted several songs including “In Better Hands” by Natalie Grant, “When I Look At You” by Miley Cyrus, and “Beautiful, Beautiful” by Francesca Battistelli. These songs supplied me with the strength and encouragement to make it through some pretty tough days. There was also a day back in September when it started to occur to me that my marriage really was going to be over, and I posted the song “Here Comes Goodbye” by Rascal Flatts. I knew at that point that I needed to accept the “goodbye” process and start preparing my heart for the days to come. To pull me through those few weeks, I also posted the songs “Stronger” by Mandisa, and “A Living Prayer” by Alison Krauss. It was during that time that I began to realize that I really would survive this process, and that my life could become something very amazing despite the circumstances I had found myself in. I also began to realize that I wasn’t the ONLY one in the world who had been divorced, and that I wouldn’t wear a “D” labeled on my forehead for the rest of my life. There are so many people who share similar life stories as I do, and that there may come a point in my life where I could use my story to help others going through difficult times in their life as well.
At the beginning of October, I traveled back to Kansas City for a court date I’d been nervously awaiting. It was that day that I saw him for the first time in several months, and I felt that rush of emotions come back over me again. It’s amazing though, that the first thought that went through my mind that instant wasn’t “Ahh, I love him,” it was the lyrics “I’m done thinking that you could ever change; I know my heart will never be the same, but I’m telling myself I’ll be okay. Even on my weakest days, I get a little bit stronger” from the song “A Little Bit Stronger” by Sara Evans. It was actually a really great feeling, and a day where I started to finally feel at peace with everything. Another song along that same idea is “Stand” by Rascal Flatts which I had found on my iPod on my way back from Missouri that weekend (and later used as the “theme song” for a whole week of sessions with my patients on perseverance and self-confidence!) The lyrics to those two songs also helped give me the strength I needed to make it through several REALLY long, hard days that followed.
Later that month, I found more information that only further explained the time he had spent apart from me from January to July. I was crushed, and to be honest, R-E-A-L-L-Y angry. Until this time, I had continued to make excuses and believe the best in a person who had made choices that would cripple any marriage. And I felt like I had been played for a fool for not realizing that it had been happening the whole time. It was during this “angry” week that the song “Before He Cheats” by Carrie Underwood played on my iPod, and there were no lyrics at the time that felt more true or comforted me like they did. I felt humiliated. I felt hurt. I began to doubt so many of the wonderful memories I had once held so dear. There was a small part of me that wanted revenge. There was a small part of me that wanted him hurt as badly as he had hurt me. I also became really angry with God as well – (for the second time in this process). WHY would he allow this to happen to me? Why would he allow me to be hurt so badly? What had I done to deserve this? I posted the song “Better Than a Hallelujah” by Amy Grant, which really spoke to all of those feelings. It acknowledged the fact that it was OK that I wasn’t all “happy” with God. It was ok that my crying, aching heart could barely utter a prayer. But after two weeks or so, I was done being angry. I was done being angry with God and I was done being angry with him. At this point, I was just in time to head home and have a wonderful Thanksgiving with my family. I knew what was coming though, and it terrified me. I knew that the actual “divorce” day was coming, and the only thing I knew to do was to find a song that would pull me through before that day arrived. Amazingly enough, it was the song “Just Cry” by Mandisa that popped up on my iPod a few days before the beginning of that very tough week. Well, tough month really. In one month I had two of my first holidays without him (Thanksgiving and Christmas), the legal divorce date AND our anniversary. Good grief. The positive thing – getting it all over quickly! Another positive thing is that this whole process has helped me become amazingly strong, and I’m soo proud of myself for that. Hearing the song “Skyscraper” by Demi Lovato on the radio only helped confirm those feelings. I could do this…and I had. It was definitely a “top of the roller coaster moment,” knowing full-well what was coming ahead.
Two weeks to the date after the official divorce, it was our anniversary weekend. REALLY!? I’m so proud of myself though, and instead of wallowing in my grief, I spent my time asking God to help me forgive. I absolutely fell in love with the song “Say Goodbye” by Mandisa. The lyrics “Say goodbye, say goodbye, to the one that used to be. Say goodbye, say goodbye, every day is a brand new mercy” were all I needed to reassure myself that the blessing in disguise from this whole situation was that I’ve been able to “say goodbye” to the worried, anxious, needy, dependent person I used to be and recognize that this “new life” I’d been given was a brand new start. I’ve also been blessed to have amazing family and friends to pull me through these last several months. I’ve got great co-workers who sing songs like “I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor to me and take me out for drinks when I’m feeling down. I’ve got amazing family who have stood beside me every step of the way. They’ve encouraged me and given me the strength to move on with my life even on the days when I thought there was no way I could even make it out of my bed. This road hasn’t been easy, but they definitely haven’t allowed me to be a victim of this situation. Like I said in the beginning, with life like a roller coaster, you can either scream or enjoy the ride. I’ve chosen the second option for sure. As time has gone on, I’ve also been able to find the joy in my life once again, and really started listening to music again that I had previously enjoyed. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve spent several hours looking back at these posts and listening to these songs several times over and over as I’ve traveled up and down, up and down…over and over again. But, I’ve also gotten to the point where I can listen to music like “O Holy Night” by Straight No Chaser and celebrate Christmas with my family. It was an AMAZING several days I spent at home, and I’m thankful for each special moment.
As I’ve been reflecting on this past year and everything that’s happened, I spent some time reading my journal. It’s amazing to think that I’ve journaled EVERY day since this all began. When I take time to look back and read the writing each day, it’s only an encouragement for me that things really DO get better, although there were many times when I definitely didn’t believe that. My intention too, in writing this lengthy blog, is not to put anybody down. I only want the best for my ex-husband and his family, who had become my family too after SOO many years together. My hope is that these words can be an encouragement to somebody someday. If I could summarize this whole experience, it would be this:
Going through this divorce and the emotions that came with it felt like HELL at times. And there were moments when I didn’t want the next “canned” response of somebody telling me that “Good will come from this,” or “It will all be ok in the end.” What I wanted was for somebody to come sit with me in the hell I was in and HOLD MY HAND — because it was lonely there and an utterly terrifying place to be. My goal is that someday, I can be that person for someone else. Just to sit with them, hold their hand, and let them know that I understand that the feelings that they’re going through are far worse than anyone could ever imagine. For me, it was my faith, my family, and my love for music that pulled me through.
So to finish out this year, I’m posting the lyrics to “I’m Moving On” by Rascal Flatts. I absolutely CANNOT WAIT for 2012, and the wonderful things that are in my future. “At last I can see…life has been patiently waiting for me.”
I’m Moving On – Rascal Flatts
I’ve dealt with my ghosts and I’ve faced all my demons
Finally content with a past I regret
I’ve found you find strength in your moments of weakness
For once I’m at peace with myself
I’ve been burdened with blame, trapped in the past for too long
I’m movin’ on.
I’ve lived in this place and I know all the faces
Each one is different but they’re always the same
They mean me no harm but it’s time that I face it
They’ll never allow me to change
But I never dreamed home would end up where I don’t belong
I’m movin’ on.
I’m movin’ on
At last I can see life has been patiently waiting for me
And I know there’s no guarantees, but I’m not alone
There comes a time in everyone’s life
When all you can see are the years passing by
And I have made up my mind that those days are gone.
I sold what I could and packed what I couldn’t
Stopped to fill up on my way out of town
I’ve loved like I should but lived like I shouldn’t
I had to lose everything to find out
Maybe forgiveness will find me somewhere down this road
I’m movin’ on. Chorus