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DivorceWise Newsletter
Issue 20 - 2003 by Kari West - Garden Glories Publications
Topic: Memories of Special Days

Welcome Survivor!

Memories of special days that we once treasured, anticipated, and enjoyed are as inevitable as the seasons. A wedding anniversary. The holidays. A former spouse’s birthday. In this issue of the newsletter, we’ll talk about these calendar dates that we may not want to remember yet cannot forget — and the unexpected emotions that accompany them, even years later.

Here's what is new

If you are connected to the Internet, Kari invites you to visit a new inspirational section Relax. Enjoy! (second from last button on left) featuring music and inspiration. And while you’re there, please take a moment to leave a gardening tip at gardentips@ garden glories.com along or drop one in an envelope with your first name and the state you’re from so we give you credit when we post the tip online.

A helpful resource is “Shattered Dreams” by Larry Crabb. You might recall that Lynn from Florida (Issue 17) suggested this book. After reading it a second time, I ditto her recommendation. Now let’s meet Dawn in California.

Personal Reflection by Dawn in California

The word ‘anniversary’ brings up many feelings for me. It used to be a word of joy, remembering good times, security, love. However, this year as I approached September 1st — the day that would have been my 23rd wedding anniversary — I felt dread and great sadness. I wanted to escape. It used to be a day that cards were given with declarations of ‘love forever’. A time of yellow roses or overnight trips. A day when we remembered our wedding by listening to an audio tape of the ceremony and laughing together.

This year I was newly divorced and certainly didn’t feel treasured, as I thought back to the prior Sept. 1st when my pastor husband told me he was living a lie, didn’t love me, probably never did, and wanted a divorce. Now August-November contain a series of bad memory anniversaries — discovering an affair, of my husband being dismissed from the church, of having to tell our children he was leaving. It is the season when I learned the unbelievable facts of his betrayal, loss of love, and the breakup of our family. This year those dates in my history loom large. As I write this, today is another one. One year ago he packed up his life in boxes and moved out. I hurt, remembering another horrible day.

This September 1st, while dreading the approach of our wedding anniversary, I told my dearest friend how I was feeling. As always, she was there, ready to encourage me, love me and understand. I told her that I couldn’t just stay home by myself with all those memories. Since Sept. 1st fell on a Sunday, I knew that by being alone it was a recipe for disaster! But I really didn’t have the energy or desire to plan anything.

My friend told me that we would make it a fun afternoon for just the two of us and that I wouldn’t have to plan. She took me to a charming tea room that I’d never been to before. She wouldn’t let me pay — saying it was a birthday present even though my birthday was a month away. I was thrilled, never imagining that on my ‘real’ birthday, my friend would also throw a party and give me a gift! We dressed up and sat at a cozy table tucked in the corner and enjoyed being served a beautiful tea, relaxed, and shared lively conversation. We talked about many things — including divorce. My friend walked with me through it all. She comforted me, reminding me of God’s goodness and love. After the tea, we did a bit of window shopping. I was carried through a painful day by the graciousness and sensitivity of my best friend.

I’ve learned that anniversaries, holidays and bad memory days aren’t days we can walk around. We have to walk straight through them. God’s promise, ‘I will never leave you or forsake you’ is sure and true. With the reality of this firmly in my heart, I march on knowing I am fine, I am loved, I am surviving and thriving.

A suggestion for getting through the holidays is change. My life has been changed forever; not by my choosing. But by trying to keep all the same decorations and traditions I was causing myself too much pain. Little things helped like throwing away the advent wreath my husband and I made together 20 years ago when all of a sudden it felt really ugly and buying all new bedding for myself for my birthday. Of course, I’ve kept many things the same to give stability to my two children; but things that cause me a glitch in my ‘feeling monitor’ had to go. In keeping myself connected with church family and friends, we’ve stayed stable and well loved and taken care of.

Letting trusted people know what you are going through and of the painful memories you are walking through, can be a great thing. Somehow, for me, it dilutes the pain as I experienced what it means to ‘carry each others burdens.’ I hope and pray that I can be there for other people in this way as well.

Help for today by Kari

Nobody ever said it was easy living out that first year without the spouse we thought would always be there — or that the memories of our shared life and joint traditions would not come back to haunt us. Painful memories are everywhere. An empty chair at the table pricks our hearts like a thorn. A song yanks our thoughts back to the past. A distinctive aroma replays a bittersweet event. An invitation to a party arrives and our mind latches on to a memory, a time and place, and a loved one now gone. A particular date on the calendar catches us unaware — a birthday, graduation, or wedding anniversary, whether it is someone else’s or our own. In fact, the more that day meant to us, the great our grief.

The longer we live, the more experience we have with loss and with the memories of these special days. But that doesn’t mean we get better at going through them. While grief is intended only for

a season, memories last a lifetime. And, as Dawn discovered, whenever these memories wash over us we feel the pain afresh.

That first year after a loss it’s important to take comfort in knowing that our Creator is an emotional being who does not treat pain lightly. He gave us the ability to cry. To Him, each tear is something precious to be treasured and remembered. Since God isn’t uncomfortable with tears, we shouldn’t be either. Weeping out of anguish or anger reflects the truth of how the these special days that remind us of our losses are impacting us. By acknowledging our feelings, we cooperate with the grieving process that God designed for our healing.

It’s also important to take comfort in knowing that, in time and with our cooperation, we will move beyond the raw grief. With the passage of time, the raw pain will evolve into a more weathered perspective. Anniversaries and holidays, and each and every special day connected with our past, become opportunities for new beginnings — if we are willing to see these important events and experiences as the history of what has shaped us into the person we are today. If we erase the parts that contributed to the whole, whether the memories are happy or not, we erase what is our unique selves.

As you relive the story that you may not want to remember but cannot forget, celebrate your life. Whenever you recall the past and are thankful that it happened at all, you revolutionize its meaning. As you look back through your tears, don’t forget to notice how far you’ve come and to believe that your life is not over yet. No matter how it may appear, you are not alone.

  • Your Creator loves you passionately. (Psalms 139)
  • Jesus is the one and only lover who will never leave you. (Matthew 28:20)
  • Angels guard each wobbly, scary step you take toward the rest of your life. (Psalms 91:11-12)

You’ll know when the time is right to let go of what isn’t, so you aren’t stuck in an unlived life. To toss out that Christmas wreath from the past. To trade in (or give away) the jewelry from an anniversary. To brainstorm a new way to celebrate your birthday. To make room in your closet and heart for what may be waiting in all the moments yet to be. (After all, like many of us are discovering, if you hang on to things in your closet for too long, they may shrink two sizes!)Right now, if you feel overwhelmed with painful memories and think that nobody cares about you or will ever love you again, remember:

  • that God so loves you so much that He gave His one and only son, Jesus, who gave His very life on a lonely cross just for you.
  • that nothing — not even divorce — can separate you from this love gift that cost so much.
  • that this gift of salvation “... comes with an eternal, unchanging, non-negotiable, non-refundable guarantee,” as Judy in Canada says on page 117 of Dare to Trust.

Redecorating tips for the heart

  • Throw your own party (or potluck dinner) by inviting others who may not have a place to go on the holidays, such as other single-parents, widows, or elderly neighbors. Exchange memories and milestones, both happy and sad, good and bad.
  • When finances are tight, brainstorm gift alternatives such as volunteering to clean a family member’s room, babysit a friend’s child, walk a co-workers’s dog, or weed a parent’s flowerbed.
  • Eat healthy and get enough sleep the week before so you can deal with the stress better.
  • Counter mood swings by expecting them and realizing that perfect situations happen only in Thomas Kinkade paintings and perfect families appear only in Norman Rockwell paintings.
  • Toss out that Christmas wreath like Dawn did, especially if the treasures and trinkets of the past are weighted with heavy memories. You’ll discover not only more room in the back of your closet but more space in your heart to embrace something different or new.

A new year begins only because an old year ends.
—Madeleine L’Engle

A Promise You Can Trust

Now choose life, so that you and your children may live ... Deuteronomy 30:19 NIV

In the Meantime

Please feel free to suggest topics for the newsletter and share your story. Write Kari at Garden Glories, P. O. Box 11692, Pleasanton, CA 94588 or Clicking Here. DivorceWise Newsletter also available online at www.gardenglories.com. Archived issues available upon request.

Copyright 2003-2008 by Kari West