Updated: Apr 30, 2020
When I was married the first time, I endured enough pain to justifiably make one bitter. I was under so much stress that my hair came out in certain areas, I mean BALD. I was wearing a heart monitor for a short period of time because the stress of it all was taking a toll. I was angry. I wanted to be Jazmine Sullivan multiple times and “bust the windows out the car”, but I never did. There were multiple reasons as to why I never played out the movie scenes I created in my head. I had two children who were watching and needed me, I could not go to jail for multiple charges. I had friends who stepped in place and stopped me from acting out of emotion. I would love to say that it was the God in me, and my faith that kept me strong and blah blah blah. That sounds great for a song, but it wasn’t always my reality. My faith (not God) failed sometimes. I was weak and feeling all the things that humans feel during times of despair. I still had my faith, do not get me wrong and I loved God with everything in me. I just felt like I felt like I was abandoned during a long journey. Although, I did not experience as much loss as recorded in the book of Job, it certainly felt like it. I want to tell you how I made it through the fog of disappointment, loss, and heartache without walking in bitterness. This is not a comprehensive explanation of navigating through the muddy waters of heartache. Each person’s journey is different. We respond to situations differently and that is to be expected, we are individuals. However, this is a short list of steps that are applicable to ANY situation (not just divorce) and can lead you to healing, recovery and moving forward.
Step 1 Come out of Denial!
I was married a total of ten years and was separated for five of those years. As a Christian, I believe in prayer, fasting, quoting the word, making confessions, and applied all of this to my situation. What made me stay those five years? Part of my stay was belief that it would get better. I was surrounded with marriages that had recovered from being nearly divorced and I simply believed that it could happen for me. While believing, I closed my eyes to reality. I accepted belief but what I did not do was accept that I was the only one in the marriage that believed turn around would happen. I had to accept that the behavior being displayed by my then husband was indicative of his inner thoughts, intentions, and plans. I was in denial of my complete reality. Once I accepted what was really going on, I was able to make clear decisions. Once I accepted that my heartache was really happening, I was able to make clear plans on how to deal with it. Coming out of denial releases the pain that has become a comfortable and familiar cloak that soothes you because the reality of “next” is too great to bear. Once this agonizing pain is released, there is room for truth to come in. Ye shall know the truth and the truth SHALL make you free.
Step 2 Choose YOU!
During this turbulent time, I had to make tough choices. Those choices usually centered around my children and making sure they were good. I shielded them as much as I could and tried to make life normal for them. I was continually active at church and did my best to keep up appearances, serve with a smile and not show others what I was feeling internally. I became a pillar of strength to some, my personal problems were very public, so I felt the need to not look defeated. My look was deceiving and there were days that maintaining this image took its toll. I was creating an image that was pleasing to others but was killing me. I am so grateful for sisters who saw ME and allowed me to crumble when I needed and had no expectations of a performance. Sisters who mentally, spiritually and physically carried me. Even with all their support, I did not begin to truly breathe until I decided that I had to choose me. Not my kids, not my church, not my friends, not my situation, not even my survival. I chose me. Choosing me said I want to live, and I want to thrive not just survive. Choosing me gave me the courage to remove facades and embrace every exposed wound. Choosing me took the focus off my situation and placed it on forward destinations. Choosing you takes the negative focus away and accentuates the positive, YOUR JOY.
Step 3 Say Goodbye and Don’t Look Back!
I am sure you thought this last step was going to be something deep and profound. No, it is simple yet impactful. During the moments of immediate heartache, we hold on to memories of better times. These memories give us hope that we can be restored to what once was a happy time. Often, we look back too long, and we become stagnant wishing on a memory. Lot’s wife in the Bible was instructed to leave her home, along with her husband and other family members. She was instructed not to look back or there would be an extreme consequence. We usually hear her story told in the negative and only as an act of disobedience. I decided to look at Lot’s wife as a mother, a wife, a sister, a friend who was being abruptly forced out of her home, her comfort and told to never look at it again. She and Lot had raised their children, ran their business, established friendships and more. Now, she must move forward with no questions asked. As they leave the city, her heart cannot bear the burden of leaving without one more glance. She is human and her heart strings got the best of her. She glances back and immediately she feels the consequences of focusing on the memory of what once was. How many of us have stared too long at what “used to be” hoping that we can have that memory again? No matter what has caused your heartache, you owe it to yourself to stop looking at the past. Even if the friendship, relationship, etc. is restored, those memories will be replaced with new ones and you cannot allow what once was to be the main component of the new foundation. After I came out of denial and chose me, I said goodbye and made up in my mind to not look back. Looking back adds the pressure of guilt, embarrassment, condemnation, fear, and rehashed pain. Do you need to learn from mistakes or bad choices? Yes, you do, but you cannot dwell on what happened. Looking forward forced me to think about the positive possibilities during my nervousness about the future. Choose to say goodbye to what was and embrace what is and get excited about what is to come.
Finally, bitterness is deep seated in rejection, resentment, and feelings of unfairness. Yes, your feelings are real. Yes, you have a right to feel how you feel. My challenge to you is to ask yourself “How are these feelings progressing me?”. Bitterness is choosing to dwell on what happened and what someone did to you. Being better means that you have accepted what happened and what someone did to you, but you are moving forward from that moment. You have the power to take control over your emotions, put them in check and MOVE FORWARD. My “moment” was divorce. I was sad, angry, disappointed, discouraged and more, but I choose to look and move in the direction of purpose. What is your “moment”? What will you choose to be better and not about?
Better not Bitter: The Choice is Yours!