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We’re taking a break this week from our A-Z posts, to think about the wedding anniversary. The reason: today, August 2, was my anniversary.cake - black forest

After 16 years post-divorce, the date still stings. So I’d like to share some of the ways I make it past this day and find hope to face tomorrow. Perhaps these ideas will help you, too.

EMBRACE THE MEMORIES

Although the ending of my marriage was horrific and the last two years attempting to keep it together were a nightmare, there were some nice memories during the 25 years.

We had three children together. Two of them live in heaven, and I feel blessed every day to have my adult son close to me.

The wedding itself was beautiful. I loved my gown, and the music was fabulous. I have never seen another cake like mine with an icing chariot on the top. The groom’s cake was a chocolate schoolhouse since we were both school teachers.

We traveled extensively during our marriage. The two-week European vacation was a highlight as we rode the train everywhere and visited 9 countries.

I loved my ex-laws and enjoyed spending time with them. Our families knew each other well, so it was a tight connection that felt like a special blessing.

My “wasband” and I both served in church and in the community. As over-achievers, we were involved in many different avenues of service. Teenagers filled our home as it became the place to be to play Trivial Pursuit. We grew the high school Sunday school class from three sometime attendees to 30+ regulars. We fostered several teens who were having difficult times and watched them grow into fabulous young adults. We sang and acted in various musical presentations and initiated the AWANA program in our church. As teachers, we were active in the state and national teachers’ associations, attended conventions, became officers and the go-to people for questions about education.

Together, we remodeled and restored several old houses. I loved doing that sort of thing, and he played along. We wallpapered, painted, restored furniture, scraped off old carpet and the rubber backing to replace it with linoleum and then swore we would never do that again.

ADMIT THE PAIN

One reason I’m writing this post is to validate that the pain of divorce is real – and it remains – even years later. Writing, journaling, processing through words is one of the ways I figure out life.

None of us imagined we would be going through divorce when we dressed in that beautiful white gown and solemnly marched down the church aisle.

But it happened, and now it is part of our history – a piece of our journey in this world.

It is important to admit the pain and be authentic about our feelings. Denial will only push us back and the whole idea of Starting Over Single is to move forward.

So I will admit that divorce sucks and it continues to hurt years later.

However, even within the pain – we can grow and despite the pain – we can become better than we were before.

That pain has enabled me to become a certified life coach so I can help other SOS women. I know what they’re going through when they struggle with lawyers, try to put a meager budget together and hope their children will not be forever scarred.

The pain of divorce energizes me as I fight for women who have been abused – especially the more hidden abuses of emotional and mental despair. These women have a voice, and I want to make sure they are heard.

Divorce pain gave me topics to include in the book I wrote, “19 Tips for Starting Over Single.” And the divorce pain is creating germs of ideas for blog posts from A-Z which will eventually become another book.

Going through the pain of divorce strengthens me as I pray for women over the phone or hug a woman who just found out her husband is having emotional affairs with women on porn sites.

Digging through the pain of divorce taught me more about forgiveness and grace than years of sitting in church pews or even teaching Bible studies myself.

In the Bible, a verse describes exactly what can happen to us when we learn from the pain and then utilize it to help others.

God comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the same comfort we ourselves receive from God” (2 Corinthians 1:3).

That’s what happens when we admit our pain and then allow God to use it.

CELEBRATE THE FREEDOM

Although I wish divorce wasn’t part of my journey, I would never want to go back into that horrible lifestyle of a destructive and deceitful marriage.

I am so glad to be free now and to be on this side of the struggle. And no matter where you are in the journey, a day will come when you, too, can celebrate.

You had cake for your wedding reception. So have a piece of cake or some ice cream when the divorce is final. It’s a sweet symbol of moving forward.

Tonight, to celebrate my freedom, I’m having supper with my son. For an hour – I’m going to forget about counting calories and enjoy the taste and smells of good food. I might even have a luscious piece of blueberry pie.

Some women celebrate by buying new shoes or even a new car. One woman I know bought a beautiful pearl ring to wear on the fourth digit of her left hand. It reminds her she is a pearl of great price to God – and to all of us who know her.

If you had to find a safe home to protect yourself and your children, then celebrate how courageous you are. You are one of the she-roes of this world and someday your children will rise up and call you blessed.

If you had to file the papers because he wanted you to be the “bad guy” – then celebrate that you were strong enough to admit the marriage was over and you were moving on.

Now that you’ve already been through the worst part – the actual painful breakup – you are moving forward and upward. The best is yet to be.

Another way to celebrate your freedom is to do something special for someone else. Besides having a scrumptious dinner with my son, I’ll be visiting some special people in a care facility. I’ll bring them flowers and try to cheer them up. I’ll probably pray with them and remind them how much God loves them.

And for those few moments, I’ll focus on what is good about my life rather than the pain.

So celebrate your un-anniversary and remember who you are – a woman of grace and strength who is moving forward.

©2016 Starting Over Single

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