I am OFTEN asked "How are you doing?" by friends, acquaintances, coworkers and family. I have decided to attempt to answer the complicated question in this post. It shouldn't be complicated. I mean, I'm either doing well or NOT doing well, right? However, it is just not that simple. I find myself experiencing many different emotions on any given day. Some good. Some not so good. But I have learned that every emotion I experience is both normal and legitimate. I struggled with that in the beginning of my trial. Everywhere I turned, there was a new person delivering their opinion and advice to me. Don't get me wrong, I valued most of what I heard. Having said that, though, I found myself highly sensitive to the opinions of others. I would allow myself to feel so guilty if I wasn't "mourning" in the right way, or if I was not "as happy" as I should be on a certain day of the week. Until recently, I would become obsessed with how "so and so" was handling their separation or divorce. I constantly felt like I wasn't "getting over it" as quickly as I should.
But, I do not feel that way anymore. Through (much) prayer, family, great friends and LOTS of reading material, I feel like I am finally in touch with HOW ANDREA FEELS. How Andrea is doing. My answer? If I had to answer the question of "how I am doing" in one simple word, I would have to say that I am not good, bad, or okay. I am LEARNING.
- I am learning how to be a different type of mother to JP
- I am learning how to start all over again
- I am learning how to find normalcy in the middle of an abnormal environment
- I am learning how to live in a house with five other people
- I am learning how to live without a spouse
- I am learning how to co-parent with Scott
- I am learning how to find God in the middle of circumstances where He doesn't always seem present
- I am learning how to reinvent myself
- I am learning how to set new goals for myself
- I am learning how to not take one single day for granted
- I am learning how to appreciate every thing around me
- I am learning how to make the most of EVERY day
Most of the books I have read say the same thing. They offer advice on how to "get through" your trial and come out on the other end a better person. While that sounds great, I have found that it is not always practical. I am no longer interested in getting through my storm. I want to learn how to live in the cloud and find it's purpose while there. I am currently reading what is probably one of the BEST books on loss there is. My opinion may be a little premature since I have not even read half of it's content. I literally am having trouble putting it down. It is so enlightening. The book is called, "A Grace Disguised, How the soul grows through loss," by Jerry Sittser. The author was in a car accident where he lost his mother, wife and four year old daughter. His pain, as you can imagine, is unfathomable. Yet, over the years he found a way to "live in the sorrow." He stopped concentrating on ways to get PASSED it and moved on living one day at a time. Hour by hour. I'd like to share a few excerpts from the pages.
"The decision to face the darkness, even if it led to overwhelming pain, showed me that the experience of loss itself does not have to be the defining moment of our lives. Instead, the defining moment can be our response to the loss. It is not what happens TO us that matters as much as what happens IN us. Darkness, it is true, had invaded my soul. But then again, so did light. Both contributed to my personal transformation."
"I did not go through pain and come out the other side; instead, I lived in it and found within that pain the grace to survive and eventually grow."
"I learned gradually that the deeper we plunge into suffering, the deeper we can enter into a new, and different, life - a life no worse than before and sometimes better."
In other words. Do not run from your "darkness," whether that be divorce, abuse, death or any other type of loss. I am learning to embrace my unexpected and sudden pain and LEARN from it each day.
This past year has not been an enjoyable one. And I have no idea what my immediate future holds for me and JP. What I DO know is that no matter what we face, God has equipped us BOTH with the spiritual and emotional tools to handle it. Good or bad.
And that is how I am doing.