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ABC’s of the Double D: Difficult Divorce

An anonymous reader writes:

I would love to initiate a conversation about “The Big D”: divorce. Really difficult divorce, (not that any divorce is easy!). Please, some realistic conversation! I have read other articles that are not, in my opinion, helpful in my situation. They usually run something like this: Sister Nielsen is surrounded by her large, loving, helpful, supportive family; she comes to terms with her ex-spouse, even begins a friendly relationship for the sake of the children includes him and his new young wife in family activities, dusts off her degree (teaching, nursing, etc.), and gets back into the work force. She adjusts to her new life and later will marry a wonderful man.

Sorry. That is just not the reality for most of us. Far from it. I was nearly 60, had never worked outside the home, lost almost everything, had to start over, still have no idea where I am going or if I will ever get there, struggling daily with everything.

Yes I am bitter; yes I am alone and lonely. I still have my testimony, still attend the temple and serve in the Church, still love the Lord, but please know that there are women my age out here! I live in an area where there are NO active men my age. Could we please have a voice?

Kathy says:

Dear Sis:

The serpent is sharpening his talons, delighting in the pain he can cause as the millennium approaches. Nowhere is this more obvious than in the amount of agony that can be inflicted upon a woman who is reduced to financial ruin and endless months of sorrow and panic by a spouse who loses interest and wanders away. The church tries so hard to bolster marriages, even awful ones, to try to keep everybody as safe as possible, that it often feels to the divorced sisters that they are invisible or at least inaudible.

I can completely appreciate your sense of disconnection with the “can-do” cuties who march back to school while mom or doting Auntie tends their young kiddies, and emerge with a CPA or MD and probably a handsome new hubby. More power to ‘em, of course. But we are not young anymore, nor as strong or healthy as before, and we are going to have to figure out how to live on our Social Security check in somebody’s basement or over their garage if we are that fortunate if we can’t pull together a decent retirement somehow. Maybe we can figure out a way to utilize our resources in the Circle of Sisters.

I have been reading in Mosiah about the several references to living according to Abinadi’s teachings. A priest was assigned to preach the gospel to every 50 people, they convened as often as possible, and all the widows and children were cared for. Those who had plenty gave abundantly, those who had more than they needed contributed what they could, and those who had nothing were sustained. I think this is an ancient prophecy about the purpose for our latter day wards and branches. This is surely part of the answer. You might have to “cast thy burden upon the Lord,” and lay your financial needs at the feet of your bishop, allowing him to find a way to help you. Then your job will be to trust and obey. What a prospect!!

We never, never expected to find ourselves in this particular pickle, but we learn to adapt to the hand we are dealt, with whatever “courage and hope from above” that we can muster. A sixty-year-old LDS sister without a dime can still behave like an elect lady when she knows she is being proved by a Father who loves her and knows He can count on her to trust Him and exercise her faith and confidence as never before.

I attended my 90 year-old Aunt Mayola Miltenberger’s funeral this morning. She served as secretary to Belle Spafford and Barbara Smith, two general presidents of the Relief Society. She was married to a non-member, a fine Catholic military officer, until his death in 1962. He was a wonderful, provident, and supportive husband to her, and I doubt very much that she ever regretted those years of her life.

Dear sister, you are vulnerable and emotionally needy at the moment. Please promise us you will not take any wooden nickels. Don’t jump into anything. Be doubly and triply vigilant against charmers and scammers. But if there are no active members in your region, and you find there are nice men in your neighborhood who are kind to you and whose companionship you enjoy, I think you should allow them to befriend you. You can make friends without inviting or assenting to a courtship, and you might find you can bring these friends with you to church activities and actually enjoy a pleasant evening or even a daytime event if your new buddies are retired. A guy does not have to be an active member to bring you to church and show you a nice time.

Please put up your Halloween decorations and exchange a few pleasantries with an acquaintance you trust who might become a friend. Allow your bishop to sustain your financial life for a month or two until the pain becomes manageable and you can examine your alternatives rationally and choose one that is feasible. I’m sure our sisters who have walked your path will encircle you with their love and assurances this week.

Jeannie says:

It is unbelievably difficult for me to imagine the whirlpool of feelings you must be experiencing at this time. The loss and desperation you have described are so understandable when one considers your new, jolting reality. At 60, the prospect of “starting over” must be daunting, at the very least. Because you wrote to “Circle of Sisters,” I am going to assume that you not only want a “voice,” but would invite some comment, as well. This may not be exactly what you want to hear, but I feel very strongly that it is what I need to say:

One thing, by your own admission, that is fairly blatant in the description of your life is the word “bitterness.” Although I have not been divorced, I am no stranger to loss, loneliness, hurt and the bitterness these things can bring. From very personal experience, I can tell you that of all the obstacles you must face and overcome, it is unbridled bitterness that will become your worst enemy. It will infect and even supplant every good intention, every positive and motivating force in your life. It can make you caustic and undesirable as a friend or partner and eventually it can take on a life of it’s own; sacrificing your possibilities for happiness in it’s wake. Unchecked, it can even rob you of the things that are intact: your testimony, Church and temple service, and your love for the Lord.

Losing that bitterness was the most difficult journey of my life, but I tell you dear sister, it was worth every prayer, every tear, and every setback to be able to say the words “I forgive you.” Now there is light where there was blackness in my soul. There is joy where no other feelings but anger and hatred had place. Optimism and charity have replaced the bitterness that served only itself. By removing that obstacle, life’s purposes are clearer and I am open to those Heavenly voices that will never fail to comfort and guide when earthly voices disappoint.

What has happened is unjust and just plain lousy. No doubt about it. No one should have to begin again at age 60+. Some, maybe even most, of the things you are dealing with are out of your control. That dark, defining feeling of bitterness is one of the things you will be able to control and eventually, banish from the vocabulary of your emotions. If you work tirelessly on this one aspect of your attitude, I absolutely promise that the Spirit of God will enlighten you and help clarify, order and resolve those things that loom so fearfully on your horizon.

{ 32 comments… add one }

  • Reader Comment June 28, 2007, 10:11 pm

    Sally from Springfield, Oregon, writes:

    Don’t you just hate it when everyone else on the sinking boat of divorce is all cheerful and you wish that they could just see, divorce is a downer? But there really is a difference between it being a downer and a drowner. The trick is to not sink or even to float…. but paddle with all of your might, mind, and strength.

    It is apparent that you have many gifts. You are literate and computer literate “to boot” because you are reading The Circle of Sisters on a web site. You have language skills to express yourself or a great spell checker. You have enough sense to know that you are in a sinking boat and you don’t want to drown. And yes, divorce is a downer but it can’t drown you.

    Bitterness and loneliness are actions that can drown you. Because, you choose those actions to replace your loving actions that express a living growing testimony in Jesus Christ and the gospel.

    Try out this example: Mature Sister A, starting over and looking for ways to express loving actions of a living growing testimony in Jesus Christ and the gospel meets Sister B, who probably has more than one minor child and more bills than income and more cares than hours and energy and is in need of Sister A’s loving actions from a living growing testimony of Jesus Christ and the gospel. Love and laughter replace loneliness.

    Turn off the television more. Keep your activities in groups. Family Home Evening groups are great. Ours varies from ten to twenty. Avoid single dates. Memorize the Strength For Youth booklet. Listen to great music as you read your scriptures, church magazines and faith promoting books. You can have a “safe” relationship with all the people in your family history. What a great way to have exciting, moral, legal, and non-fattening fulfilling relationships. Pray, pray, pray with your loving Heavenly Father and listen, listen, listen. Your Visiting Teachers, Home Teachers, Relief Society President, and Bishop are all on your team. Allow them to help you. Look for vocational training at the Employment Division and visit a counselor at your local community college.

    For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7

    Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began. 2 Timothy 1:9

  • Reader Comment June 28, 2007, 10:11 pm

    Gail writes:

    It is easy for those of you who are safely in good marriages, to give advice to those who are alone and lonely. You cannot possibly know what it is like to be alone night after night with no one to share the good or bad of the day. At least round up an older sister who has gone through this to give the answers. It makes you feel like a real loser to lose a man who professes to love you right up to the time he walks out the door with a younger woman.

  • Alison Moore Smith June 28, 2007, 10:12 pm

    Gail, you are absolutely right. It’s easy to give advice from the outside. That can be both good and bad. Good, because sometimes a different perspective is very helpful when you are in the middle of a heartbreaking mess and have difficulty seeing beyond it. Bad because, as you said, sometimes the perspective is incomplete.

    The bottom line really is that this dear sister chose to write to us. I assume that she read our prominently placed bios. In spite of the fact that we are all currently married (and hope to remain so!), she still wanted some input. So we obliged.

    Believe me, this sister will get plenty of feedback from those who have gone through similarly horrible situations. I am sorry for your pain and, although I realize that it’s easier for me to say this than for you to feel it, I do hope that one day you will know that it is the man who walks out the door with a younger woman who is the real loser. Not you.

  • Reader Comment June 28, 2007, 10:13 pm

    An anonymous reader writes:

    It sounds like the sister who wrote about being divorced and starting over at 60 is overwhelmed with the problems she is facing. Maybe a discussion of the practical problems she needs to deal with would be more helpful than telling her to date nonmembers and change her attitude.

    I am in a similar situation to Sister A. Going to school and trying to find a job in my 50’s. I am by far the oldest person in my ward. The average age of the adults in my ward is probably 23 years. My Bishop and Relief Society president are wonderful but I can’t count on the ward to support me while I go to school. I can’t get a loan, don’t qualify for help from the state, can’t find a job, don’t get any money from the former husband, and my savings are gone. I am down to my last dollars and will have to put my bills on a credit card next month.

    I suspect that many sisters are in this situation but I have not found a place to get the practical information and support I would like from LDS sisters. I have tried a few chat rooms but most of the contributors have been divorced for so long that they are too far removed from the pain and problems.

  • Alison Moore Smith June 28, 2007, 10:13 pm

    I am so sorry to hear of your trials at this time.

    You make an important point. Practical help is much needed. I don’t have much to offer in the way of advice, but have you checked into Pell grants (or perhaps other available grants)? Even if your financial hardship has not been long-term, students can still get grants (there is just more paperwork involved than if you’ve been destitute for a long time). Grants do not have to be paid back…ever. I wonder if there are any grants or scholarships for single, middle-aged women going back to school? I wouldn’t be surprised. And if the school you’re thinking of attending doesn’t offer much in the way of financial assistance, look elsewhere even to correspondence schools. There is much unused assistance out there if you dig for it.

  • klgreen1 June 28, 2007, 10:15 pm

    I got walloped by a number of our readers for advising our divorced sister to accept non-members as new friends. Please read on, and accept our sincere thanks for countering comments with which you don’t agree, with no sugar-coating. As our original sister mentioned, these issues need to find a voice. Thanks for trusting us to empower you to “tell it like it is.” I believe in the first amendment with all my heart and trust the founding fathers’ intuition (and the many centuries of history that informed their decisions) that there is great value in open dialog.

  • Reader Comment June 28, 2007, 10:16 pm

    Joyce from Berkely, California, writes:

    It’s ridiculous to suggest to any endowed sister that she should make friends with a non-member male with the possibility of dating. We marry whom we date! I know too many women who befriended, then dated, then married, mostly out of loneliness, non-member men. These men do not share the two most important things in the women’s lives…their children and their belief in the gospel. After the hormones and rush of excitement, reality set in, and the women are saying, “What have I done?” It takes a mighty fine man to be better than none. I know. I’ve been divorced twice. The Lord does provide an extra protection for single sisters who live without the priesthood in their homes. Just getting from friend to dating to marriage poses too many risks with the non-believer, especially in the moral arena.

  • Reader Comment June 28, 2007, 10:16 pm

    Char writes:

    Hi. Your articles were most interesting. But it isn’t always the man who is at fault. A friend of mine (male) just went through a divorce and his ex still thinks that the divorce decree is only a guideline for them to follow. She doesn’t, but he does. I wish that when she would pick up their three kids, that would be all she did. But she brings her boyfriend with her and then screams at her ex in front of the kids. She says it’s his fault (she is the one who walked away and gutted the house). I wish she could see herself in a mirror when she screams in front of the kids. It’s not always the male’s fault. But in our society we always lay the blame at the feet of the husband plus most of the divorce laws favor the woman. Isn’t it about time that we had some divorce laws in favor of the man? He gets stuck with child support and has to work three jobs plus pay medical insurance on his kids. After he pays those, he’s lucky to have $20.00 in his pocket for the month. Is that really fair? I don’t think we live in a fair society. We live in an “It’s-your-fault-not-mine society.” Your opinion please.

  • Alison Moore Smith June 28, 2007, 10:17 pm

    You are correct, of course, that it’s not always the man’s fault. I do not believe that we implied such a thing, but please understand this is a women’s forum and the person who posed the question was female, so it is only natural to pose the answers from the same perspective. Statistically, however, I believe that the number of men who abandon their families probably far outweighs the women who do the same.

    As for promoting divorce laws that favor of men: I don’t think so. Divorce laws should first favor any children that came from the union. After that, it should be as fair as possible, favoring neither. I agree that now they are often skewed toward women and, although women (particularly stay-at-home moms) still need protections in our society, they should be equalized to some extent.

    As for child support leaving one parent or the other high and dry: tough beans, as my mother would have said. I currently have a sister-in-law who is required to pay child support to her ex. Is it a hardship? Yea. But mostly because kids are expensive and maintaining two separate households is significantly more expensive than maintaining one. This shouldn’t surprise people.

    That said, I’d like to comment on something you didn’t even ask about but that screams out for comment. Exactly what is your relationship to the “male friend”?

    Why do I ask? Well, either you spend a lot of time with him gossiping about his ex-wife or you spend a lot of time witnessing the antics of same. If the former, then stop. Making judgments based on one-sided information (particularly just after a divorce!) is out of line. If the latter, then you might want to think hard about getting involved with a man who was just divorced, has minor children, and is having a chaotic relationship with his ex. Sure, it’s trouble for you. But you’re a grownup. These kids don’t need any more chaos in their lives and adding a girlfriend who is antagonistic to their mother is a heap of that.

  • Jeannie Vincent June 28, 2007, 10:17 pm

    Thanks so much for your input. Of course, it’s not always the man who’s at fault. We are not into male-bashing. Since our column is called “Circle of Sisters,” we address the issues of our readers (predominantly female) and sympathize with anyone, male or female, who has had a bad experience.

    I’m not sure what state you are from, but in many instances, the woman (if the children do not live with her) is responsible for paying child support. Since most women are awarded custody, I certainly think that child support from the father of the children is a fair proposition. Bad-mouthing an ex in front of the children is not fair and I feel very sorry for your friend and his kids.

  • Reader Comment June 28, 2007, 10:18 pm

    An anonymous sister writes:

    My sister has gone through a difficult divorce. It’s been nearly a year and a half now, and she is finally accepting that her husband divorced her. She has a disease that affects her nervous system, slowly taking away her ability to function. She has lived near me for almost a year now, and we have been spending a lot of time together, trying to help her find meaning and purpose in life, learning to accept where she is and move on. Learning to deal with and accept both the disease and the divorce has been difficult with a capital D!

    I appreciate Jeannie’s comments about bitterness. My sister has never seemed to be bitter, unless that is another name for depression. I am the one who feels much anger toward her ex-husband and his emotional abandonment of her. But, like an abused child defending his alcoholic father, she defends him. So I’ve learned to not attack him verbally, but just listen when she tries to sort out her feelings toward this man who used to love her, and whom she still has feelings for, but who now treats her with contempt and the “niceness” that only one who abuses another can exhibit.

    At Education Week this past summer, John Lund taught me something about burdens, and how the Lord helps us deal with them. Usually we just want Him to remove the burden from our shoulders, but he rarely does that. In my sister’s case, she just knows that if she could only walk again she could go home to her children and be a good wife and mother again. But the Lord has not granted her that miracle yet. Instead, he has removed her from a bad marriage, he has sent other family members in the form of her parents and brother and sisters to help her, and he has softened many hearts (including her own) and opened many doors. John Lund suggested that we read the chapters in Mosiah that tell about the people of Alma and the people of Limhi escaping from their bondage. All of these points are illustrated there: softening of hearts, sending someone to help, removal from the situation, and removal of the burden itself. Reading this confirmed to me that the Lord’s hand is in my sister’s recovery. I have already witnessed his great love for her and each of us as we have witnessed many miracles and his guiding hand in her life.

    For this sister who is divorced at an older age, please hang in there. Build up a support system of friends and family. Seek counseling from someone who is grounded in gospel principles. And, above all, turn to the Savior and let him soften your heart and guide your life. Love and best wishes to you and all those who are dealing with this kind of pain.

  • Reader Comment June 28, 2007, 10:18 pm

    Patsy writes:

    Having been with my mother through three bad marriages and my children with at least a divorce apiece; I am aware of the pain it can cause in your life. My definition is that divorce is “a necessary EVIL.” Only one of the eight divorces in my family was not necessary, and three were temple marriages! We need to get our heads out of the sand and realize that because we have been to the temple everything is OK! A piece of advice is: If you are letting the individual stand between you and Heavenly Father…who is the closest to HIM?

  • Reader Comment June 28, 2007, 10:19 pm

    Jennifer writes:

    Divorce is absolutely Satan driven a repugnant horror inflicted by the great evil one who wants everyone to endure all eternity in utter misery.

    While the evil and horror of divorce is blatantly obvious, the amazing and awesome surprise for me during my particularly bitter divorce was the increased protection and love I felt from my Father in Heaven.

    My husband of 25 years after telling me daily how much he loved me and how happy he was simply announced one day that he didn’t think he wanted to be married any longer. He took the entire summer to “make the decision.” In reality he took those months to charge purchases, hide money and paperwork, get expensive dental work done, spend the retirement funds, tell lies and poisonous stories to our grown children, etc. Additionally, because he was 1st Counselor in the Bishopric, I remained silent and endured rather than to cause anyone in the ward a crisis in faith.

    At the end of the two year horror, my fragile health was destroyed and I settled for far less than legally entitled just to make it all end. He stalks me still. I remain in constant vigilance to retain and protect my safety.

    Very few people rushed in with loving support. I received instead, far more cruel and judgmental comments as ward and family members worked to make sense of the situation. They felt it and were absolutely hurt. Ward organizations would offer to organize, for example, a yard day and then never follow through and fail to tell me that they had cancelled the project so I sat waiting for people who never showed.

    Overnight I literally lost everything I felt had been absolutely sure parts of my life family, friends, money, lifestyle, a home, everything.

    Everything except the overwhelming love and support that came in immeasurable abundance from my Heavenly Father. Many nights while sobbing my way through prayers, I felt the loving presence of family members and loved ones on the other side of the veil. I felt loving arms embrace me and rub tired and overstressed muscles. In the temple and while on my knees, answers to prayers and resolution to worries and great concerns came in completely powerful unmistakable clarity.

    My Father in Heaven knew I was (and to a great extent still am) absolutely alone in the world and that my support network had become an attack network. He made up the difference!

    During the worst of it, I felt the Lord so completely close to me that complete strangers would come up to me while I was pumping gas, for example, because they recognized such a bright glow about me and just had to be near me and talk with me. During the worst of it, the Lord surrounded me with such an amazing layer of protection and joy that my husband’s attacking comments and cruelty had no effect and he’d leave the room or the house rather than continue.

    Throughout the entire two year horror, the Lord told me and warned me that certain decisions would be life threatening and that I must not allow certain things to be written in to the decree. He told me some things I must absolutely have in the decree.

    Being a single woman in a very married church is more than difficult. I mourn still, the loss of easy invitations to “couples movie date-night with friends” or just being included in groups. Being invisible really stinks! Living at the poverty level stinks.

    On the flip side, I have time for some really fabulous and wonderful parts of life that were never available before: I gleefully celebrate never having to attend another James Bond movie; things are always right where I put them; when something interesting captures my eye, I can go investigate. Rediscovering who I am is wonderfully fascinating.

    I cherish far more of the life I have now because it is a life with Eternal Possibilities and those possibilities are entirely up to me — and listening to my Father-in-Heaven, who wants only the very best for me. My old life was comfortable, but it also required living with a companion who was quite obviously on an entirely different path than mine. He openly walked away from his temple covenants. I hold them dear.

    I’ve made my choice: I choose this life the one that knows and follows my Savior.

    Divorce is far more evil than we can understand it changes the very structure of all eternity. However, this mortal life is a life of knowing both the good and the evil. I’ve met the evil my life is focused on the great goodness and joy available through my Heavenly Father. I’m promised that as long as I remain worthy, I’ll have that Celestial Kingdom guy.

    I am far better off than if we had continued on married and comfortable to the end of our mortality. Learning of his choices post death would have been a far ruder and devastating discovery. I still have another good 40-50 years on the earth and am far wiser than I was before. The future is only bright. The Lord can make any and every situation for our good.

  • Jeannie Vincent June 28, 2007, 10:20 pm

    Jennifer:

    If I knew where you lived, I would come to your doorstep and hug you.

    What a beautiful person you have become. I’m so sorry that much of the refining was a result of a horrible set of circumstances totally beyond our control. What you did control was your reaction to the deceit and injury.

    Bless your heart for listening to the promptings of a loving Father in Heaven and not returning evil for evil. Thank you so much for lifting us with your comments. May He continue to watch over and cradle you in His arms.

  • klgreen1 June 28, 2007, 10:21 pm

    Jennifer, it has been an incredible blessing to read the sincere disclosures of our sisters who have soldiered through this journey. We simply have NO IDEA what some of our sisters are enduring, and we need to help each other understand. Thanks for sharing your experiences with our anonymous sister. I can only begin to imagine how affirming it will feel to her to know this phenomenon is not as “silent” as it once seemed. Others are right beside her in loving sisterhood.

  • Reader Comment June 28, 2007, 10:21 pm

    Jone writes:

    Good Morning,

    Having just read this article, I can certainly understand what this sister is going through. I too was divorced at 60 by a wandering husband who found greener pastures with a younger woman. I went through all the steps of grief, anger, hate, pity, etc. Four and a half years later I still wonder what I could have done to prevent this from happening. I could have done nothing. I realize if he had a desire to cheat with another woman, lie, deceive, etc., it was his way of dealing with his life and unhappiness. Once you get involved in living a lie it’s very difficult to return to an honest way of living. Repentance is possible but I wonder how many people really justify their actions and don’t feel repentance is necessary.

    I worked in a family business for most of my married life and was left without education or experience. I know I have struggled with the many things that have forced a change in my lifestyle. I remain active in the church, serve in the temple, have loving children, grandchildren, extended family and friends. However, I am still the one who goes home alone and is lonely.

    At this stage of my life, it is very difficult to even think of dating or looking for a companion. I feel sad to think I have looked forward to having a companion in the celestial kingdom and through my golden years only to find he has a new life, new companion and is happy. Advice from others is great but the application is hard. These are my feelings, I try very hard to have a positive attitude and be productive in my life, but it isn’t easy.

    Thanks for addressing this subject, hugs to all the sisters who are hurting, we need to love each other.

  • Jeannie Vincent June 28, 2007, 10:22 pm

    Dear Jone:

    Thank you so much for opening your heart to us. It is amazing how much resonance this sister’s comment has produced. I am so very sorry that you have had a similar experience but as you stated, there is some comfort knowing others have shared this grief.

    I’m so very glad that you have a loving family and grandchildren to take some of the edge off the loneliness. It is sad and unfair that there are those who believe it is ‘OK’ to wander and make a new life, leaving innocent victims in the wake of their selfishness.

    May you continue to heal and find joy.

  • Reader Comment June 28, 2007, 10:23 pm

    Helen from Marysville, Washington, writes:

    Thank you for your comments to the sister who has found herself divorced and starting over at 60. It’s a truly frightening prospect, and it’s not fair or right. Divorce in the church will always be an uncomfortable thing at any age, but it’s so much easier to become marginalized, no matter what your marital situation, over the age of 60. Some of your comments may not have been what this sister was seeking, but I agree that it is what she needed to hear.

    I am 46 and mid-divorce. After 25 years of a dismal temple marriage and over 12 years of trying to mend the unmendable, I chose to terminate my emotionally abusive marriage. I feel very fortunate for the unfailing support I have received from bishops and Relief Society presidents, home and visiting teachers, ward members, and for laws that now make it easier in many states to end such a marriage with minimal trauma. I feel great relief in the release from having to pretend that mine was a happy, typical LDS marriage. My family is supportive after a fashion, but very fragmented and not much help.

    I can only imagine the fears involved in suddenly being on my own at 60. I’ve had to work through my share of terrors and discomforts. Sometimes I feel very odd indeed showing up at ward functions alone now, in a ward we’ve been part of as a couple for nearly 20 years. My health is too poor to allow me to work full time at this point, yet I must begin to do so as soon as possible. In the past year, on top of the many ups and downs of the divorce process, my house has been broken into three times, necessitating both expensive repairs and negotiations with an uncooperative insurance company and the emotional trauma of home invasion. I’ve spent almost the entire year in physical therapy for three separate injuries. I’ve had two major surgeries involving both shoulders. I’ve learned that my health insurance will change at the end of the year, along with hints from my ex that he would exercise his power to cut me off from my doctors, and I can do nothing to stop him. I’m struggling to reorganize under debts that I counseled against in the first place and am now being blamed for creating, and my financial position is uncertain at best. I’ve been taken advantage of repeatedly by my husband in the legal process, because I chose a “high-road” bottom line and would not let my attorney veer from it. Add counseling my teenage son through a messy breakup, the death of one of his friends, and his increasing alienation from his father and the Church, and it’s been an exhausting year.

    And yet ?I decided early on that I knew there were things I couldn’t control, things that simply wouldn’t be fair, things that would break and remake the heart. I consciously exercised something I’ve told my young primary and Sunday school classes for many years; decide, now, before it comes, how you will meet the temptations of your life. Whatever the temptation, whether sin or despair, decide now how you will meet it, what you will do. In that vein, I decided bitterness was a road that held nothing I wanted. I wanted a better quality of spiritual life. Perhaps, in some ways, my husband doesn’t “deserve” my forgiveness. Even now, the abuse continues. But I then looked at it from the other way around, and decided I didn’t deserve the misery that withholding forgiveness would bring. Bitterness eats your own heart long before it touches anyone else.

    I consciously chose to approach the world with openness and resilience, and to cast the burdens I couldn’t carry onto the Lord. This past year has been exhausting, and I’ve had moments of bitter tears and unmitigated terror, but I’ve also learned a great deal about myself, what I can handle, how to handle it. It’s been a year of greater joy than any I can remember. And when joy just wouldn’t come, I went looking for it, in nature, in kind friends and strangers, in the scriptures. I’ve read books and magazine articles, I’ve gleaned information and put it to use. It’s amazing the information and people the Lord will put into your way to help you, once you actively begin to look for that help and receive even the tough help with gratitude.

    Decide, now.

    In addition to letting go of bitterness, I believe the number one thing is to reach out. I received help in large part because I asked for it, even when it was very difficult. I turned to friends and visiting teachers to shore me up emotionally when I just couldn’t do it myself. I go out of my home to ward activities even when I feel uncomfortable, and once my latest physical rehab period is over, I’ll be taking classes at the local community college on fitness and finance. I accepted the challenge of working with our very large nursery at church. There are programs at every community college and many senior centers for the growing class of “displaced homemakers”. There are classes on how to restructure your finances to live on what you have, how to find a job at any age with no previous history, etc. There are frequently great and helpful articles in health magazines (I buy them at the library used for $.25) about ways to deal with stress and live with joy. There are wonderful men and women, in and out of the church, to build friendships with.

    It takes courage to live with joy in the midst of adversity, against fear and the very real spectre of poverty. It’s not easy to face the things you can’t control and instead of fighting, submit to the Lord’s ill and trust that He will carry you to where you need to be. It takes faith indeed to trust that the dark place He’s seemed to carry you to is the place you need to be, now, in this moment, and to recognize that He trusts you to have the strength and faith to climb back into the light. It takes hard, hard work to leave bitterness behind once it has entered your heart, and constant vigilance to keep it from returning. But these things are your only salvation in any time of trial. What’s happened to this sister is not fair. It’s probably not right. But the only peace is in recognizing that this is the way it is, and living life from there. I wouldn’t trade the growth of the past year for anything. (NOT that I’m volunteering for another!)

    People will help, always, if we reach out. But, we also have to do our part and begin to live with joy and strength, even if at first we can only do so “on speculation”. That’s where faith and testimony, like rubber, “meet the road.”

  • Jeannie Vincent June 28, 2007, 10:24 pm

    I am totally blown away by your courage and tenacity. Only one of the challenges you have faced and surmounted this year would be enough to send most of us south with the Titanic. You have dealt with multiples and come away with enviable spiritual strength and the positive outlook that deflects even a hint of self-pity.

    Thank you so very much for sharing your story and impressive bounce-back. You will be a source of inspiration to all.

    I hope the counseling helped your son through this rough patch and pray that eventually, he’ll find his way back to the source of all healing.

  • Reader Comment June 28, 2007, 10:26 pm

    Nora writes:

    I personally have not ever been divorced, but I was widowed at 44 and had to learn to make my own way.

    However, my children have had divorces and a couple of those have been “difficult.” My son developed a serious substance abuse problem, so I finally begged my beautiful daughter-in-law to leave him for her safety and the safety of her two little girls, my grand daughters. He had become very violent and physically abusive to her. It was a no-win situation. We had to get her and the girls out of that situation. Although I hoped that after a year or two he would get his act together and they could get back together, she filed for divorce. She was right in doing that.

    Now, seven years later, and after struggling as a single mom going to college while working as a house painter, she is re-marrying a wonderful LDS man who holds and honors his priesthood. She met him on the internet through LDSsingles.com. I am very happy for her. And even though my son was horrible to her, she is still kind to him and lets him see the girls. He didn’t help her out with child support either and lost his driver’s license. This girl was a convert to the Church. She has put aside the past and focused on the future. I urge you sister to do the same.

    My own daughter is finally being granted her divorce this very morning. After two long years of road-blocks erected by her husband to drag it out, she will finally be free. Her husband was molesting their oldest daughter. He was never a member of the Church and held her back, but once they were separated, she became very active and just this past spring, went to the temple for the very first time.

    She is now 36, and has three girls to finish raising. She also had serious health problems from her diabetes, which she has had since age five. She never went to college and except for some short-term part time jobs, never worked outside the home. She now has her state insurance license. She is trying very hard to take care of herself and her children.

    After being “alone” for 17 years, at the urging of my daughter-in-law, I signed up in LDSsingles.com myself and, after a few months, received a message from a man who had been widowed a few months earlier. We talked for a few weeks, and finally met, as he lived only two hours from me.

    We were a perfect match, but we really knew that before we ever met in person. Three weeks after meeting face to face for the first time, we were sealed in the temple. He is literally the man the Lord hath sent to me.

    I pray that you will find peace and contentment once again in your life. Cast off the bitterness. Forgive the wrong that has been done to you. You didn’t say if you have children or grandchildren, but they can be a big comfort to you. In the meantime, prepare yourself spiritually for Mr. Right so he will recognize your sweet spirit when you do meet.

    Heed the advice of those sisters who have put up their thoughts for you. I know this Church can be pretty hard on us single ladies. Get involved in those things that you can participate in and do volunteer work at the local hospital or Chamber of Commerce. You will meet people that way and it will help you to expand your horizons and opportunities.

  • Jeannie Vincent June 28, 2007, 10:30 pm

    Dear Nora:

    You and your daughters are certainly no strangers to suffering. Our featured sister will be so grateful for your input. Mostly, I’m elated that you have found Mr. Right and a great measure of comfort and strength with your new relationship.

    Thanks for the wonderful advice on losing the bitterness and finding worthwhile activities to refocus energy. This is certainly the only way to find spiritual and emotional healing.

    Grace from Northern Virginia writes:

    Oh, how I can see this sister in my mind’s eye! There are so many like her in my acquaintance, women who struggle every day to hold their heads up despite the pain, the frustration and the sheer effort of trying to go on.

    While my divorce came when I was a little more than half her age, I remember intensely the feelings that emerged. Doubt, fear, guilt, shame, bitterness, and a desire for revenge battled within me on a constant basis, torturing me and thus torturing my children. It’s been about ten years since I left him, and I can say that it does get easier with time…if you work at it.

    Jeanne’s right, the worst part of this is the bitterness that settles into your soul. It fuels every thing else that is negative. I had to learn to let go of these feelings, but my success came piecemeal. Seems every day there was something new that my ex-husband did that made those feelings want to boil over again and again. Since I still directly parent some of the children from that union, there are moments yet when his actions, especially when the children are on visitation with him, threaten my peace to destroy. For the sake of my children I try to minimize my reactions to these things and try at other times to demonstrate that I don’t hate him, I don’t wish him ill, and I don’t want anything I do to threaten his peace. I don’t always succeed at this, but it is the goal.

    A song came to my mind several years ago, one that helped me to let him go and get on with my life. Robert Goulet used to sing it, and I finally had to make myself sing it, too, for the words to settle into my heart. I Wish You Love is its title, and it was written in one hotel room as a raging fight was going on between a couple in the next. The contrasts were stark, and the challenge was clear: could I truly and sincerely wish him bluebirds in the spring, a cozy fire to keep him warm, and all the other pleasures of life (including love)? I hope you can find a copy of that song and that you’ll let it work its magic on you.

    Another source of inspiration and comfort came through John Batdorf’s and Michael McLean’s song, “Let It Go” from the album, Michael McLean: The Collection, Vol. I.

    No, I’m not one of those fortunate ones who had a mom or a sister or an aunt/grandmother/cousin/kindly lady next door who would babysit for me while I went back to school and worked and struggled to keep us all together. We faced some very severe challenges, my six children did not come through this unscathed, and occasionally I still wonder when I’ll be able to take some time just for me to take care of me, without a wheelchair to remind me of the consequences of not doing so. I did get through a year of school, on Pell Grants and work study, child support and occasional help from the Church at times.

    I remarried, got a few more children to parent, and put my new husband through his last year of his bachelor’s degree by working two jobs. My turn came; I finished my degree at Southern Utah University 17 months ago, moved from the west to the east and started my graduate studies while my husband stayed behind to finish up an electronics engineering project.

    The obstacles are still here (aren’t they for everyone?), and I’ve faced a very severe health crisis this year. But what got me through wasn’t my nerve, wasn’t my grit, wasn’t my resolve, my tenacity or my sheer will power. What got me through was my reliance upon the Savior, Jesus Christ. There is no other real source of comfort, guidance, assistance or just plain listening ear even though He often has to send one of our siblings to provide the shoulder-sponge into which all the tears flow. He is real, He loves you, and He will hold you so you can let it go.

    There will be days when the Plan of Salvation brings no comfort, because it promises your ex-husband the same kind of blessings through his own repentance as you can earn. Your stomach may well turn at the thought of having to face him in the Celestial Kingdom, after all the pain he has caused you. When those days come, don’t focus on his success, focus on your own. Recognize that the path to the Celestial Kingdom can be a bed of roses with hidden thorns for all of us, and take comfort in knowing that once you get there, you will have overcome many of your own shortcomings. Then try really hard to give him the right to do the same.

    The eventual apologies will come, I assure you, if you both make it there. What you’ll need to be able to do is to apologize to him. Yeah, I know: ouch. But it’s true; you know it’s true.

    Healing can come, if you are willing to work at it and accept it from the Lord. Focus on the good things in your life, not what’s wrong (that’s good advice for all of us, wouldn’t you say? “Count your many blessings…”). Read Neal A. Maxwell’s biography, A Disciple’s Life: The Biography of Neal A. Maxwell, and some of his other works to help you steady your keel and put your personal discipleship on a sure course for eternity. Come to recognize the blessings in the little things in life. Marvel in the change of seasons, how the world has hope of renewal once the dark wintry corners are turned. Remember the Savior faced a darker hour than you have; He is there, He loves you, He is cheering you on, and He will never leave you truly alone.

  • klgreen1 June 28, 2007, 10:31 pm

    I always look forward to opening your email and this one was no exception. I don’t think I’ve ever read a more comforting, encouraging message of hope to all…not just those suffering from the ravages of a nasty divorce. We all have to face those who have injured us at some point…and yes, our stomach may turn at the prospect, but if we hold on, the light really can come in and heal us.

    You certainly have paid your “dues” Grace, and we are all benefiting from your hard-earned wisdom. Thank you so very much (yet again), for squeezing my tear-ducts and making me grateful for your association with our “Circle of Sisters.”

  • Reader Comment June 28, 2007, 10:33 pm

    Michele from Walton-on-Thames, Surrey, United Kingdom, writes:

    I read with interest the article on difficult divorce. The sister asking the question had many relevant points and there were some that were left out. I have been through the difficult divorce. I am the second generation in my family to do so. My parents divorced when I was five years old. My sweet mother is now coming up on 65 and has never remarried. She was divorced in her late 20’s. She should have been one of those “cuties” that was able to put it all back together. She didn’t get that opportunity. Before the sister who is 60 and has to start over gets too bitter, please remember there are others out there who have been doing it even longer than you, without any sign of respite. There are others out there who watch in dismay as their young children grow up and repeat the process and endure the same pain.

    I felt it was also important to point something out to the sisters who commented on this sister’s question. Kathy wrote about her dear aunt who was widowed quite some time ago. How difficult that must have been for her! I must point out that, while being widowed is no picnic (members of my family have been in those circumstances), it is not the same as being divorced. When you are widowed, everyone rallies around the widow/widower and their family and offers support. When you are divorced, people back away from you as if you have a terrible disease. This was certainly the case in my family for two generations.

    My mother grew up faithful LDS in a good LDS town with good LDS parents and good LDS friends. My father was from a town not too far away with the same background. When they divorced, they were living out of town in another area. Mom went back to work and had good friends at work. Eventually, the area we were living in became less desirable for raising children and her aging parents suggested that she move the family back to Utah and live with them. It should have been very good, but it wasn’t. All but one of her friends from school acted as if she were out to steal their husbands or would give them the “divorce germs.” She had to find work in places where the so-called good LDS men thought that since she was a divorcee, that made her “easy.” Her LDS classmates, who now had children the same age as her own, instructed their children not to play with us because we didn’t “have a daddy at home.” I can count on one hand the number of friends I could truly call close from that time in my life. I’m sure my sister could do the same. Despite all that, we tried not to be bitter. It is difficult to tell a second grader not to mind when their classmates won’t let them join in because they don’t have a “normal” home life.

    When, in my 20s, I went through a similar process, divorce from my non-member husband, I thought my friends would be different. After all, they knew me. They hadn’t liked my husband from the beginning. They would support me and rally around me. They didn’t. They were supportive up until I told them the divorce was finalized then all invitations ceased and they pretended not to know me when they saw me on the street.

    It was very painful but, in a way, not surprising. Small town attitudes don’t change that much. I actually asked one of my friends if we could get together and she said they weren’t doing much socializing at that time. Then I found out that there had been a party and that everyone else from our crowd had come but no invitation had been extended to me. When I questioned my friend about this, she flat out told me that she and my other girlfriends were not comfortable with me around their husbands. I could have laughed until my sides split. I have never at any time been interested in their husbands, even vaguely. I decided then and there that I would leave that place before it had a chance to poison my children’s lives. Shortly afterward, my grandmother passed away. There was no reason to stay in our hometown any longer, and my mother and I packed up and moved to a larger city several hours away. What a difference! We moved into a marvelous ward where everyone rallied around everyone. It was the Church in action as it should be run, but isn’t always. Everyone in that ward had lived at some point outside the bosom of the Church. They knew what it was like and weren’t going to allow anyone to fall behind on their account. They were terrific with my son who needed a dad. Several of the men in the ward “adopted” him and took him on scout trips, helped with projects, were marvelous priesthood examples and mentors. I can’t think of one General Priesthood meeting where he didn’t have an invitation to go with someone.

    I was able to go back to school. My mother and I both worked so that I could go to school. My cousin helped out with a little babysitting at first so I didn’t have to worry if I had a late class. It took years, but I made it through and got a good job only to lose it when the company sold. I got another one. I had friends and work colleagues, but no “social life” to speak of.

    Eventually, after 13 years of being single, I met and married a wonderful man from England. He is not a member of the Church. It wasn’t that I was seeking another non-member. I was actually hoping to find a good member of the Church, but there is a major double standard out there. Men in the Church who divorce have a greater chance of remarriage simply because they are men. They hardly ever want a divorcee. Single, never-married men in the Church also don’t want a divorcee, complete with children. They all want single “undamaged” goods. It is no wonder that many of those sisters I have known who have been divorced often give up (as in my mother’s case) on finding someone or being found. There is very little point in looking if the prevailing attitude even among members of the Church is that if you are divorced you are a social pariah and someone to be despised. It is easier to go out into the non-member community and find someone who is willing to see you as a person instead of someone with a scarlet D on your bodice.

    Finally, I wish to remind sisters that being single is not a crime or disease. My only friend from school who stood by me recently went through the dissolution of her 20-year temple marriage. She was devastated, having been the injured party. She has been moaning to me that it isn’t fair that she, the good faithful member, should have to suffer and not be remarried after three whole years of being single. Frankly, I have difficulty feeling sorry for her. She has three children. She has a good career. There are plenty of sisters out there who will never have either. There are wonderful, vibrant, intelligent, faithful sisters who will never have the opportunity to marry in this life. My friend believes that life is supposed to be fair. No one said it would be. No one promised this. No one said that if you were a good person in this life you wouldn’t have trials.

    The sign of a truly good person is more often how they COPE with the trials of life. Single sisters will be better served if they do as President Hinckley’s father counseled him while on his mission, “forget themselves and get to work.” If you forget yourself and become a vital member of your community, doing well at your job, in your Church callings, you will be happier and ultimately more attractive to others. People want to be around those who are happy with their current situation and not moaning constantly about their lot in life. Meeting my husband was a surprise. I wasn’t looking for him and was happy in my work. That made a big difference.

    He was attracted to me because of my positive attitude. So, stay positive, and if you aren’t there yet, find one thing a day to be positive about, even if it is just that your hair worked well today. It will help in the long run and you will be blessed for it.

  • Reader Comment June 28, 2007, 10:33 pm

    Eilleen from Ocean Springs, Mississippi, writes:

    I happened to look at this article and boy did it hit home. I too am in this sister’s situation. After thirty five years of an up and down marriage, my husband finally got caught with another woman. The darkness and despair is so overwhelming I well understand what this sister is going through. I just have to say all of the advice you gave is great now; but working through the first years of this catastrophe was so terrible that no kind words really got through to me. I knew I had to forgive him and intended to do that someday. But now I am really doing it. I got help in the form of a Divorce Recovery Workshop. It was through another church organization but many of my sisters had recommended it; so I went with all my doubts and miseries. It lasted twelve weeks and cost $30. It was the best $30 I have ever spent in my life. I found myself. I found what “I” was and how powerful I am if I know what I want for myself. They did not condemn him or praise him. But they built me up to know that God does not give us more that we can handle. I know that coming from another faith seemed strange, but they really drove it home in such a way that I have found strength and I am now really active in finding myself in ways I never imagined I ever would. And the best revenge is that I am happier than my ex. He is finally appreciating what he lost. What goes around comes around. It is so true. But please look for this group. It is a Christian organization and they do not preach any particular religion. I found it in my area in the Methodist church. If I can help any further I would be glad to recommend the book they used etc.

  • Jeannie Vincent June 28, 2007, 10:34 pm

    What wonderful advice!!! We certainly do not have a corner on the market when it comes to practical help. I’ve preached the rewards of AAA and AlAnon for years; both of which are non-denominational. I’m so glad you found an organization that could aid in the reconstruction of your identity.

    Thanks so much for opening our eyes to this new possibility for healing. I hope other sisters in similar circumstances can also benefit from your experience.

  • Reader Comment June 28, 2007, 10:36 pm

    Karolyn from Winlock, Washington, writes:

    Hi Sisters and especially Sister “A.”

    As is my way, I turned my pain inward and what I felt, through the numbing of my mind, was guilt (It must have been my fault) extreme pain, sadness, fear of my future and fear that I would be a burden on my family, friends and church.

    I cried and was in a deep funk for a year. I cried because my oldest daughter forced me to put up the Christmas tree, and cried harder when I discovered my ex had taken all the tree decorations with him. I cried when I was to spend Christmas alone for the first time in my life. My children all lived far away and I neither they nor I had the funds to travel. I cried when I took that stupid tree down. I cried when I went to Church and saw families together while I sat alone and I cried when I stayed home so I did not have to see happy families.

    I could not bear to eat out or go to a movie and watching TV or reading lost it’s luster and appeal. How can you enjoy activities which cry out for a companion with whom to share the funny parts of a book or to reach over, nudge and hold a hand in a movie? I did not want to see my sisters or my mother. I felt absolutely alone because I even felt unworthy to talk to my Heavenly Father. I worked (I was 46 at the time) and my work required me to smile so I learned how to paste on a smile to my mouth but my eyes and heart were dead. As soon as I got in my car to drive home I was crying again.

    Classic depression, I believe.

    I am trying to recall what turned my tide around. I did not have a real turning point as such but several things happened about the same time and in God’s time. Passage of time helped and some one gave me a tape called “You’re Not Alone” (words below if you have not heard them).

    I learned to talk to Heavenly Father again. I found two girlfriends, one in the church and one not, to whom I could talk freely without fear of ridicule or gossiping about the deep wounds in my soul. And yes, I met a man who became a friend and we fell in “like.” I met him in the parking lot of a Chinese restaurant. After five years we married, he joined the church, were sealed in the Portland Temple, and life became better. Not perfect because we are still humans with human frailties but good and comfortable.

    My former marriage was a brass band, this one is a symphony. Occasionally there is a broken violin string, a splintered drumstick, or a split reed from the oboe section but those we can take in the perspective of time and knowledge.

    I think one thing that happens during a divorce period is that some (many?) sisters in the church run away from you as though divorce was a contagious disease. What they have seen of you is perhaps, in your home doing the Lord’s business as your visiting teacher, or as you and your husband, a couple singing, taking sacrament and praying in church, together at community functions and the fear hits them that if it can happen to you, a good LDS woman, that they too are vulnerable. Everyone is vulnerable, temple marriage does not assure there will not be a divorce. It stacks the odds in your favor, to be sure, but does not completely shield you from the buffetings of Satan’s devices and tools.

    Hang in there. You are a much loved daughter of a kind Heavenly Father and you are the very one someone is waiting to meet; be it for a meaningful friendship or more. I really relate to the pain and fears you are suffering and I, a sister in the Lord, love you for what that is worth! Yes you really can feel love over the Internet!

    Here’s a little song
    To help you get along
    It will see you through
    When you’re feeling blue
    Though it’s not profound,
    When you are feeling down, so down
    Sing this little tune
    You’ll feel better soon.
    You’re Not Alone
    Even though right now you’re on your own
    You are loved in ways that can’t be shown
    Your needs are known, you’re not alone.
    And when you cry
    You’re just letting go of heartache deep inside
    So tomorrow there’ll be sunshine in the skies
    And love goes by. You’re not alone.

    And I know that it’s not easy but I know it will not last
    ‘Cause one that loves you more than me is sending blessings fast
    You’re not alone
    Say it one more time “I’m not alone.”
    Even when it is hard to find the words, your always heard,
    You’re not alone.
    Say it one more time “I’m not alone”
    Even when it’s hard to find the words
    Your prayers are heard
    You’re not alone

  • Alison Moore Smith June 28, 2007, 10:40 pm

    Today (April 2006), more than a couple of years after this article was written, I reread it as I cleaned it up for the new and improved Mormon Momma site. A couple of things struck me today, that did not before.

    It is true, and sad, that in this church we have a tendency to vilify the woman in a divorce if the man was a church leader. This is done by both men and women. Perhaps it is an effort to reconcile in ourselves the pain or disbelief that comes from being betrayed by someone we trusted. But how can we not embrace and hold up a woman who has been abandoned?

    Just this week our stake president was released. He has accepted a call to serve as a mission president in Chile. (His wife will, of course, accompany him, but as far as I know that doesn ?t entail a call unless it ?s Wife of Mission President. ?)

    In stake conference his wonderful wife got up to speak. She spoke of the love she has for those in the stake and what a blessing it has been serving while her husband was first a bishop and then a stake president. When she concluded her good husband jumped up and put his arm around her and said, This is my mission companion ?for the next three years. ? And he planted a kiss on her.

    The exchange was lovely and sweet and we were all happy for them and their new adventure. But after I got home and reread this article, something else stuck in my mind. I know there were women good, honorable, faithful women in that congregation who are single through no fault of their own. I personally know some who though they do not gossip about their ex-husbands have been through the most devastating trials at the hands of the one who should have been their protector. They will not likely ever be blessed in this life with the wonderful companionship and the incredible experiences that our stake president ?s wife would be.

    Now that isn ?t all that much to get upset about, I suppose. We all have different paths and not all faithful couples are called to other countries or even into stake presidencies or bishoprics. The position doesn ?t matter to the Lord and our righteousness or position in God ?s kingdom isn ?t determined by our callings on earth.

    What does make me sad, however, is that these divorced sisters will also not be likely to be given the same respect, deference, or consideration as those women who have maintained successful ? marriages. Marriage, of course, is something we treasure. But shouldn ?t a woman ?s (or a man ?s) personal commitment to living the gospel bear more weight than their spouse ?s behavior?

    Didn ?t we learn anything from the calling of Sheri Dew?

  • mlinford June 29, 2007, 12:33 am

    His wife will, of course, accompany him, but as far as I know that doesn ?t entail a call unless it ?s Wife of Mission President. ?)

    The wives are set apart by GAs before they go, I believe as missionaries. This calling is so amazingly important. Just because it may not have a title that sounds fancy, the role of the mission mom is packed with potential. The key is a woman who can put her heart into it!

    (Mom and Dad are just getting home from this role, so it’s on my brain…)

  • Sharilee10 June 29, 2007, 12:49 am

    Having been through a very nasty divorce myself, I have had a lot of thoughts as I have read this thread. There is a lot of wonderful advice that I can simply say Amen to. A couple of additional thoughts might be:

    1. While it may not be what a woman going through divorce wants to hear, the truth is that the sooner you do learn to let go and forgive the sooner you are able to find peace and joy again.
    2. While I know that what you are saying about being treated differently in the Church and some women having issues (and some men having issues with you turning their wives into man haters), you DO get to choose your own attitude and it will have a huge impact on hoq others treat you. I have never experienced a ward that treated me differently because of my single status. While I recently learned that ‘the attitudes’ are actually out there– I have never experienced it because I have chosen not to feel that way myself nor to notice it. Thus, it hasn’t been an issue.
    3. The thought that kept coming to me over and over was the blessing of serving others. I have to admit that I rarely feel loneliness as a single woman. I have so much else in my life to focus on and so many wonderful acquainances. Lose yourself in the service of others and your life becomes filled with love. I loved this statement:

    If you forget yourself and become a vital member of your community, doing well at your job, in your Church callings, you will be happier and ultimately more attractive to others. People want to be around those who are happy with their current situation and not moaning constantly about their lot in life.

    There is so much more to say, but I am waaay past that 11:30 time, and my body literally can’t take late nights any more. I would like to share a couple of poems I wrote regarding my experience and then I’ll head to bed.

  • Sharilee10 June 29, 2007, 12:52 am

    HEALING

    Healing is a process.

    There is no end.

    I peel off layers like the skin of an onion.

    Just as I reach “the end” something happens

    To remind me that I have room to grow and progress.

    A purpose, a goal.

    Healing involves friends, family, God, self

    Agencies, tears, books, tragedies,

    9-11, deadly weekends in Salt Lake City.

    All are opportunities to revisit

    The horror and violence of my past,

    To maneuver through another piece of the process,

    To come through stronger than I was before.

    Healing is progressing to peace without forgetting the pain.

    I hope I will always cry when I hear the cries of other women.

    To travel back with them, to feel their pain,

    Not from sympathy, but from empathy,

    From having been there.

    Healing is the peace of coming to terms with my past;

    Forgiving myself for staying, for not leaving sooner.

    For marrying him in the first place.

    Healing is learning to set boundaries in healthy ways,

    In knowing that some will lie about me,

    But in being able to let go and let God.

    Healing is the calm, the peace;

    I am ENOUGH!

    The joy of having my children

    The relationships we have created.

    Knowing that my children and I are enough!

    Our home is enough!

    We are MORE than enough!

    Healing is the music, the magic, the peace,

    The beauty, the calm, the thrill,

    The ease with myself and where I am,

    And who I am becoming.

    ~~Sharilee Guest, 2003

  • Sharilee10 June 29, 2007, 12:53 am

    I am grateful for where I have been,

    Where I am going,

    For the process it took to get here,

    For the trials, the learning,

    Even the pain.

    I am grateful for the loneliness and the fear,

    That led me to discover what I had inside.

    Grateful for the strength, the power,

    For the beauty that is in me.

    I am grateful to those who went before me,

    And stood up to make a difference

    So that my experience was more bearable.

    I want to be part of the solution,

    So that other women’s lives will be blessed.

    That women down the road will be better off

    Because of how I dealt with my experiences.

    The circle goes around,

    And I want to be a part of that circle.

    If other women have an easier road because of the work I have done,

    Then the past and the pain will have served a purpose.

    ~~Sharilee Guest, 2003

  • Alison Moore Smith June 29, 2007, 10:14 am

    Posted By: mlinfordThe wives are set apart by GAs before they go, I believe as missionaries.

    This came up in a much more recent discussion. You might recall that I was adamant about how much work these women do. I can’t imagine why they don’t get a “title that sounds fancy” since, apparently, we at least feel that titles do mean something at some level. But that’s another discussion entirely. :smile:

    Sharilee, thank you for sharing your insights here. I didn’t know you were a fine poet as well!

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