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Issue 9 - ©2001 by Kari West - Garden
Topic: Midlife Divorce
Divorce is not something any of us want,
but it is something millions of us live with. In a divorce,
what is really important is not what he did to you--but what
are you going to do with the rest of your life? We welcome
you into our growing sisterhood of survivors, whether you
are newly separated, going through a divorce right now, or
have been on your own for a while. We are here to tell you
that you are going to make it and to encourage you
to never lose hope or your faith in God--whatever
happens along the way.
Here's what's new:
Kari's recent article on adultery can be
viewed online at www.ptm.org. Click on the July/August
2000 issue of The Plain Truth Magazine; then, Special
Report, and the title "The State of Affairs." Copies available
through the mail upon request.
In this 9th issue of the DivorceWise
newsletter, the featured survival story from a woman just
like you comes from Lina in California. She speaks to
the insecurities in all of us that divorce at midlife brings.
reflection ... by Lina in California
I thought I was unique in the way I hurt
and in the things I did. Nobody seemed to understand why I
could not snap out of it and go on with my life. All the people
who knew me, including my children who are grown, thought
I was insane.
Since reading When He Leaves, I
discovered there are many women out there just like me who
battle the same demons of a middle-aged divorce. For the first
time, I felt that somebody understood. I won't share with
you about all those dark hours and the crazy things I did,
because you know them as well as I do. The details and our
circumstances may be different, but the feelings and the process
are the same.
There is no prescription to overcome the
feelings of betrayal, of abandonment, and of being used. No
replacement for the years of youth and no way to go back to
them. There is nobody to come to our rescue and give us a
brand new life. Instead, we must go through it. In the company
of God, and with the understanding of other women just like
us, we must go alone. It is a wild ride, but we can make it.
Wherever you are right now, don't judge
yourself too harshly. Whatever you are doing to cope and stay
alive right now is really okay. God, who is the only one who
can judge you, knows your heart.
My story begins almost three years ago,
when the book I mentioned saved my life one day when suicidal
thoughts were so powerful I thought for sure I would go through
with it. That hot summer afternoon I sat down and read nonstop
from 6 p.m until 6 a.m. By morning the crisis had subsided,
and God had used its message to spare my life.
This was probably the worst year of my life--no
Christmas, no celebrations, and no family. Everything and
everyone in my life was scattered and broken up. My home was
dark and gloomy, just like my heart.
Then came spring the following year. I found
an abandoned container in the building where I now live. I
remember one of the suggestions in When He Leaves
about gardening in a pot. Other than my kids, I had vowed
never to care for or to pour love into anything again--not
even a plant. But I went to the store, bought a rose bush--and
partially angry and not doing a very good job of it, I planted
Months went by and I even forgot that it
sat out there on my balcony. I had overlooked watering it;
but, for some reason, it had been a strange season with lots
of rain. A few months later to my complete surprise, I was
That plant showed me that even when it seems
that nobody loves us that God is with us taking care of us
just as he took care of that unattended rose bush. It has
taken awhile, but slowly my apartment is filling up with plants.
And that poor rose bush that once sat outside being ignored?
Well, it is now getting my attention. I'm not perfect at it,
but I'm working on it, just as I'm working on my life. It's
still in process, too.
I planted that rose bush, just because Kari,
who had gone through what I had experienced, suggested it.
It has taught me new insights about faith and life. I remember
having no idea what that bush would look like. When I first
planted it, it was just a few dried thorny sticks coming out
of the mud--a metaphor of me.
Today I am amazed how God can and does change
us, if we allow the natural healing course of time to have
its way. I try to remember when I get discouraged with the
progress in my own life that a beautiful rose bush full of
blooms does not always start out that way.
The allegory of the rose bush has also taught
me that what we see is not always what is. What we perceive
or what the other person is telling us is not always the truth.
I have learned to be much more cautious in trusting. I want
to use the wisdom God has blessed me with and to never again
think I am so powerful as to attempt to change someone's nature.
When you think about it, if we plant a cactus
plant, we receive cactus flowers. If we plant rose bushes,
we will certainly receive roses-but only afer the natural
process has taken place. The Bible says we all reap what we
sow. Who we give our love to matters. If we pour our love
and affection into a cactus plant thinking it is a rose bush,
we should not be surprised when we find a prickly cactus flowers
instead of velvety blooms.
I know it is only by faith that I was able
to overcome the fear of age, the stain and public shame of
being middle aged and not married. I think divorce at this
age takes on a whole new meaning, because of all the insecurities
that age brings. I know that for too long I hid my divorce
from people at work, because I was ashamed. Today I have a
new job and this time instead of lying I am telling the truth--because
it could be that another middle-age women will someday be
walking in my shoes and I'll help her.
Divorce has been a devastating experience,
but I have been able to pick up the pieces of my life. I have
regained what I lost in the divorce and in an emotionally
and verbally abusive marriage--my self-esteem, my self-confidence,
and my dignity. My relationship with God is deeper than ever.
I have learned to lean on and trust Him all over again. His
faithfulness has made me a stronger woman. I know He will
not abandon me.
Do I still hurt? Yes, I do; but it's okay.
I don't hurt in the same insane manner as I did in the beginning.
I have stopped blaming myself and started assuming responsibility
for my mistakes. I'm a better person--more compassionate,
more sensitive, less selfish. I have finally come to accept
life as it is and I'm making the best of it. Maybe like the
book says, someday I will laugh again. For now, I am content
with a smile.
Help for today ... by Kari
As women we grow up thinking we need a man
to be secure. But security and stability lies within you.
It is not about who you are with, where you are, or what you
own, as we all eventually discover in the process of divorce.
Like Lina, you have also gone through something
profound. You've lost the one person you thought would love
you for a lifetime. Maybe you lost the home you spent years
decorating. Or you watched your once-precious wedding dress
carted off to charity, like I did. Perhaps you saw the possessions
you spent years accumulating sold at a garage sale. You also
gave up family traditions you once dearly treasured, because
they no longer have meaning or it just hurts too much to repeat.
After going through something this profound,
you know just how quickly you can lose everything. Now you
are learning to hold loosely all your possessions, the people
in your life, and the places in which you live. You know first-hand
that life does not come with guarantees. And you also know
deep down in the core of your being that you can survive almost
anything. You are starting to like your own company and taking
care of yourself--because the one you once loved no longer
will and because nobody else really can.
And for the rest of your life, you will
keep looking for ways to keep hope alive--even if your apartment
turns into a gorgeous plant-filled jungle like Lina's.
A promise you can trust
"The Lord will turn the darkness before
you into light; the rough places into level ground. These
are the things He will do, and He never will forsake you."
stop by again soon
Please let me hear from you. I answer every
letter and e-mail. Also, be encouraged to share what helped
you through your divorce so others know they are not alone
and that they too will survive. E-mail by Clicking Here or write Kari West, P. O. Box 11692,
Pleasanton, CA 94588.