One of the most challenging things to tell my girls was their dad was leaving…I thought telling them about their dads cancer 4 years earlier was difficult, nope, this was!!!
I had a peace only the Spirit can provide, but a sinking pit in my stomach and an aching pain in my heart. I proceeded forward with as much clarity and knowledge for why Mr. P would choose such a thing still dumbfounds me. But I do remember my days of selfish choices some 20 years ago and how I deeply hurt people close to me because I was making it all about myself and my so called needs that were unhealthy and damaging. That in hindsight never provided me the feeling of love and peace I’ve since found within the bounds of a healthy and committed relationship. Back then it was all about me and I didn’t consider how my choices were influencing those around me. How much I didn’t love who I was and the actions I was making…somehow I bought into the selfish belief that anything and anyone outside of me would make me happy. I was miserable and everyone else was to blame…till I found myself alone, truly alone! I’d lost great friends (many of which I have great relationships with now and deeply adore!!!), family and my church membership which I hold the most dear and precious to me!!! At that moment, I felt like I had hit rock bottom. I was taking responsibility for all my behavior and found myself asking all the time…”How did I get here and HOW do I NEVER get there again???” So yes, I remember the day very very clearly of not loving myself enough that I looked way beyond myself to feel that…and what I’ve learned is IT IS WITHIN! This FEELING (inside me) will never be satisfied by FILLING up on anything outside of me. I found this was in my relationship and connection with myself and my Heavenly Father. Two of the greatest days of my life were when I prayed to ask WHO I WAS/AM and WHAT IS THY WILL FOR ME/MY PURPOSE??? I listened and took action on what I received.
Every day I get another day to strengthen and grow!!! This news changed my entire view of why I’m here and why I’m going through all this messy, imperfect life…all along striving for perfection.
Peace and happiness are a state of being (YOU)…it is NOT a destination!
Here are ways that helped me at that time…and many many more times since!
*Pray with your entire soul that the Spirit will be with you and lead your conversation. Pray that their hearts are open and feel the peace and comfort only the Spirit can provide in such a time. Invite and ask the Spirit to be with you, surround you and protect you!
*Speak truth! Enough said…
*Not all details are necessary. Create a safe environment where the details are age and maturity appropriate for your child(ren)
*Be kind. Children and adults alike will remember the way they felt over the information given! So kindness matters.
*Listen. Listening is hearing them out. Most the time saying nothing back (unless you feel impressed to counsel) or simply saying I hear you. That must be ____(fill in the blank of what they just expressed or how they felt…sad, frustrating, mad, upset, confused, etc)…I believe in hearing and validating where my children are at. My part is not to tell them how they are feeling. My part is to love and teach them. Sometimes teaching them looks like saying absolutely nothing, just hearing them out. Most children are talked at all day. Providing an opportunity for them to express can feel freeing to just about anyone!
*Let them cry. Crying is a healthy sign. Tears and sweat are two healing forms of letting go…Have you ever noticed you can have very clear thoughts right after a good cry? I know I experience this all the time!
*Be clear on what’s expected and what they can look forward to…as adults keep your word to them!
*Hug it out and not only tell them you’re there for them…BE there for them.. and be present or attentive when you are with them. Such a flood of emotions challenges my ability to stay present and at times I royally fail at being present because the hurt has been so intense!!! It’s a good reminder to know emotions are there to give us information, they will not take us under (as much as it may feel like it physically…have you ever hurt so bad or felt so sad you couldn’t breathe or your heart hurt so bad it felt as if it would stop or burst right out of your chest??? I HAVE! It doesn’t feel good. But once I’ve allowed myself to feel it and process, it moves out.) It’s also given me a chance to say I’m sorry and ask for forgiveness. My children know I’m far from perfect, but I’m doing my best…and doing a great job!!! I need to remind myself of this all the time. They are here to learn and have experiences after all and I’m one of their greatest teachers called mother… To rise victorious…not fall to victim!
*Allow them the time, energy and space to heal at their pace.
*Show by example of how to LOVE yourself and still find joy in life when your whole world feels like it’s falling apart
*Create new things together. Focus on in what we can now create together.
Remember they have been sinned against! The atonement applies them SO much right now!
Great advice given to me was to know kids may not totally show that they get what’s happening until later in life…sometimes not until their 20’s. Be patient with them. They are not adults. My children are both at critical developmental ages and both are creating beliefs about how they view marriage, relationships, love, how men treat women, how as a woman you treat a man, etc….its defining and shaping their world…the good news about this is if they choose into something that doesn’t work for them, they can change that belief and create what they want instead. I’ve always taught them to take the good from our family and what they saw in their parent’s relationship and marriage, then to go create what they want with their own relationships. Adjusting and growing along the way. Hopefully the goal in both partners is to grow together. But agency is to be honored! Love fully and trust. Two of the greatest gifts you can possess and give!
My children’s response was very tearful and simple…
Bailee…I’m so confused you have so much fun together and you never fight. We have fun as a family. She was right! We did have fun together; we rarely fought and came to conflict-resolution easily. Her view of why adults divorce was only because they fight. Not true in my case. He just chose different things. He allowed division and separation somewhere along the way. But no matter the person you are in relationship with it is a choice to stay committed in your thoughts, heart and actions! But it seems easier for some to make it about everyone else, instead of taking accountability for the way one thinks and feels. I prayed if it was for me to stay or go and it was very clear I was to let him go freely…not easily! I would have done (and did!) anything to save my marriage. But I didn’t have a willing partner. That was the reality which was so difficult for so many to accept! It triggered their own personal relationship and marriage. The most common statement I received…How could this happen to you and Mr. P? You were the ideal couple. Yes, on the outside we had it all together. But inwardly when you allow comparison and criticism to set in your thoughts and feeling towards another it can create division. So that being said, focus on LOVING and looking for the good and positive in each other, tell them how amazing they are, show them, hug them, kiss them, etc. These things that seem like the little things are really the BIG things!!!
Lu….tears…and more tears…she still doesn’t understand fully. But it’s her new normal and she is happy and healthy. (Which are what I watch for in my girls.) I do an exercise every night that is helping her acknowledge how and why she’s feeling the way she is. This awareness is simple, yet powerful. (Look for future post about this specifically)
As much as the adversary loves and thrives on the division and the dissolved of marriage, he loves seeing the individual give up and be destroyed even more! I refuse to allow this kind of thinking and feeling to sit in my mind and heart…
So I love a little more, show forgiveness as often as allows, tell those close to me how much they mean to me and take time to enjoy my life. My life will never be the same, nor will I. But it is still amazing and wonderful because I choose it to be such.
Today is a great day to create the life you want! Choose in…into LOVE! I know I do and this brings me so much peace.