(pictured above) We need to celebrate all those women who have accomplished great things after divorce! Here’s a story that began right before this RADiCAL woman, Leanne Lynn, and her husband were set to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary with a special summer trip. During the spring, one night he didn’t come home and she caught him in a lie. Two days later he told her he wanted a divorce.
Leanne had worked the graveyard shift while he earned his engineering degree. Later she had been a stay-at-home mom for 20 years. Here’s how she described it:
“The next weeks brought me to the lowest point in my life. Into the deepest pain I had ever felt. I couldn’t sleep. I lost 40 pounds. Grief enveloped me. Despite the cloud of despair, I made myself get up every day and move forward. My faith was shaken, but I held on despite feeling that God was far from me. I held on to His promises even when I could not feel His presence. I asked him to show me His plan for me. I also asked friends what job they could see me doing? All responded: teaching! They were right. I had taught as a volunteer for years, and it was what I would have chosen if I had gone to college.
Just weeks later, at age 46, I enrolled into a community college as a full-time student. After the first day of classes, I cried my way home. On the old highway, I passed a worn-out discarded sofa on the side of the road. I thought to myself, ‘I am like that old couch, unfit for a donation to Goodwill.’ I felt unloved, unwanted and overwhelmed. I wanted to quit, but I didn’t.
To make a long-story short, she earned an associate degree at the community college and then entered a teaching program at a four-university. “I just walked forward one step at a time,” she says. “It was a day-by-day, moment-by-moment accomplishment. I kept my eyes on God. I kept being ‘Momma’ to my girls. I did my homework!“
Above is a picture of Leanne Lynn and her kids. She graduated magna cum laude in midlevel education! What a great example to her daughters and all of us.
Here are some final words from Leanne Lynn:
“The way I see it, you have to take it one day at a time and leave the rest in God’s hands. There are scholarships/grants for displaced homemakers, so I have done this without debt. There is no telling where I would be emotionally, if I had stayed in my ‘yuck’ and become a bitter old woman. I’m glad I don’t know!”
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” ~ Joshua 1:9
Let’s all be inspired by Leanne Lynn’s story of success after divorce!
Vicky Marr, lives out her own version of “BE WILD.” The picture above was taken at a Motorcycle Rally in Scottsdale, Arizona.
Vicky signed up for her first motorcycle class at age 42. “I had never even ridden a scooter on my own. I had always been a passenger on the back of my wasband’s bike.” She lost many of her group of cycle friends after the divorce because most of the riders were co-workers of her Ex. So she finally decided, “It was time for me to venture into a new group of friends.” She was referred to a group of women bikers. She was welcomed with open arms. Now they ride and/or socialize weekly, and they have t-shirts that say “We Are Women, Hear Us ROAR!” I love that! (and her GRANDMA GONE WILD shirt, too!)
“Having fun is key and finding that fun in adventure (and adventuresome people) is way beyond fulfillment!”
I was married for 35 years to a corporate executive. Reason for divorce: He liked to “spread the love.” I got tired of sharing that love with other women. I always tried to keep the marriage intact – Catholic gal against divorce – but it was time to move on when my grown daughter said she didn’t know what was right or wrong due to my example. I realized I needed to be a role model to my children.
When attending a RADiCAL Women Boot Camp, I was stunned at how packed the place was … it made me realize I wasn’t alone in this new chapter of my life. Many women were in the same boat, trying to find our way. I joined a “singles” group at church, took dance lessons at the community center, signed up for computer classes at the local college. My advice is to try any and all types of groups until you find your own place … your comfort zone of good people. FIND YOUR PASSION!
MY PASSION: Motorcycles. My wasband had a bike, and we took trips with an active biking group. After the divorce, I lost that group, so finally got up the nerve to take lessons and buy a bike of my own. The motorcycle experience for me is excellent therapy. It’s a great way to clear my mind and feel free. When I’m riding, I can’t be thinking about the past nor the future … I’m very focused on “the moment.” I feel so alive and happy, and I never get on my bike before thanking God for all my blessings. It’s a great way for me to see this beautiful country, and I meet some very interesting people along the way. I have four grown children and six grandbabies. I planned a family vacation in Destin, FL last August.
It was difficult for me without my Ex, but also very rewarding. The kids agreed that they’d like to do a family get-away every year or so, and I don’t need a man by my side to make that happen. I try to have “open dinner” on Sundays, and I try to keep some family traditions going, but also start new ones, too.
Another thing about me is I believe my core is JOY! No matter what happens to me, no one can take my joy away from me. Sadness, grief, horror, anger, abandonment … these are all emotions I’ve experienced, but I firmly believe if I can stay true to myself … I will always find the joy or humor. You can, too!
Accept that it’s a new life. It’s different than what you had before. It’s different from what you thought it would be. It’s up to you to make it a better one. First and foremost, learn to embrace this time alone. Do things that you weren’t able to do before.
In thinking about how much my life has changed since my divorce, I decided to list all the things I’d done in these last 4 years. I was startled at all I had attempted or accomplished. Plus, I’ve had two jobs I never would have even thought to inter- view for. My ex would have made fun of them, being the over-achiever type he is.
Here are just a few examples from that list of things that I’ve done that helped me transition and appreciate my new life. Some silly, some serious:
Seafood – My wasband was allergic. Now I eat it often and relish every bite. (Smile.)
Housekeeping – Now I can leave out projects that I’m working on. Craft projects, sewing projects, art projects. Yep, it’s my place and I get to decide when to put things away and when to vacuum.
Learn new things – I’ve taken all kinds of classes, including Thai and Bengali cooking classes. (I now throw cardamom pods around the kitchen with panache!) I’ve taken enameling classes. I’ve learned Contra dancing and English Country dancing. I’ve changed my own windshield wipers!
Join – Those clubs you’ve always meant to join? Become an active member. You will be so appreciated and you will make new, fun, interesting friends!
Friends – One of the best things I did during the transition that’s been an ongoing blessing – Nearly every weekend, I call a girlfriend (or long lost relative) from my past, and reconnect with them. (Note: Laughing ‘til you cry is good.)
Exercise – I am one of those people who always avoided exercise, but during the transition and particularly during a crying jag, I learned that if I started exercising vigorously I’d have to stop crying. Hard to cry when you’re gasping for breath stepping up and down on one of those stair climber thingies. Just walking will help. Walking in the sunshine is even better.
If you haven’t found an exercise you like, now is the time to experiment. (No one around to make fun of you when you’re practicing tap dancing steps!) Try all kinds of classes. I did, and I found ZUMBA! I’ve even agreed to lead a group of folks through a version of it at Kansas Dialogue this summer. Me? Lead an exercise class? The universe is tilting. Maybe the Mayans are right.
Gratitude Journal – (I’ve even had burly men in a divorce support group thank me for this one. They obviously hadn’t watched enough Oprah.) Every day write down 5 things you’re grateful for. Having one of those absolutely horrible days? On those I try to write 100 things, and I’ve done it! (Nutella always makes the mega list, and often the short one.)
Explore new authors – Home alone and can’t stand another minute of television? Try out a new author. One of my rekindled friends loaned me the first Kris Radish novel, “The Elegant Gathering of White Snows” and I was hooked. Her books celebrate the power and strength of the friendship of women.
Fix things – When you have to call to have something fixed, watch them. Ask questions. Next time, you’ll know how and when to oil the pump on the base- board radiator heating system. And you will feel proud to be able to do it your- self! Really!
Here’s a surprising thing that happened last spring. I was getting dressed to head to Zumba class one morning and caught the middle of an interesting commentary on the local public radio station. It wasn’t until the end, when the announcer gave the name of the commentator, that I shockingly realized I’d been listening to my ex, the man I had been married to for 33 years. At Zumba, I declared it, “The day I no longer recognized his voice.” Sounds like the title of a good book. Maybe I should send it to Kris Radish.
Susan Schuette Buchanan began college in Environmental Studies, but the pull to create proved undeniable. She ended up with a BA in art and no portfolio. Two years later, after completing a vocational degree in commercial art, she landed her first magazine job. Poof! It’s thirty years later…with several magazines and one lifetime behind her, she’s creating whatever she feels like. These days it’s primarily polymer clay mixed media, but the growing pile of junk collected from the Habitat Restore suggests there are shrine assemblages on the way. All she needs is welding lessons. O.K. That’s not all she needs, but welding lessons would be a good start!
Susan is a former President of the Board of Directors of the Lawrence Art Guild of Lawrence, Kansas.
Prudence Shea Rexroat
Prudence on a recent medical mission trip.
When a woman has been married for over 20 years there are certain three word expressions that she comes to expect; “I love you,” “you’re my soul-mate,” “what’s for dinner” and maybe even “where’s my underwear.” But, “we’re getting divorced,” is never something a middle-aged wife anticipates.
But, last year that is exactly what I heard. My husband didn’t stand on ceremony. He just coldly said it. What was he talking about? We had just gone to Mexico for our 20th anniversary, and he said he was looking forward to the next 20. New three word phrases suddenly rushed through my mind. “What went wrong?” “I’ll be better!” and then came a few that are not suitable for the printed word.
The truth is it didn’t matter what I said at that point. Of course, his reasons became much clearer when I found out about “her.” That was the deal breaker for me; the turning point. I had to come to grips with the fact that we were indeed divorcing, and I must figure out how to deal with that. I knew if I was going to survive this, I needed to get healthy physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
So, I began the long journey back to finding myself. Re-discovering that joyful, witty and exuberant person I didn’t even realize had been lost. Being married to a narcissist with a penchant for control and criticism for two decades chipped away at my self-esteem. It’s not something that happens overnight. It erodes little by little like a drop of water on a stone. Regardless of how strong the pebble may be, eventually that drip of water will leave its mark.
My way of dealing with that constant “drip” came in the form of chardonnay. It was so much easier to lose myself in the bottom of a wine glass than face the reality of my bad marriage. My first step was to get healthy physically. So, I quit drinking, and with that I was able to see my previous life in a whole new and revealing way. I got a trainer and starting eating better. Okay, I really wasn’t eating at all at that point. But I lost 50 pounds, nevertheless.
Next, I needed better mental health. So I found a good therapist to help me cope with the overwhelming feelings that this divorce was wholly my fault. I, then, tackled my emotional well-being. I found a group of wonderful women who understood what I was going through; who could relate to the middle of the night rants at him and God; who could grasp my need to pull the covers over my head for days and those who appreciated my overpowering fear, anxiety and grief.
Most importantly, I got healthy spiritually. The biblical truths I found brought me profound comfort and peace. I wasn’t alone in this journey and I felt the Lord in everty step. I’ve learned that He has great plans for me, and He will use this divorce His glory. Without the albatross of my husband around my neck the possibilities for my life are now limitless.
Fast forward one year and I now hear very different three word phrases. I hear things like, “Mom, we’re proud,” and “you really matter!” And the one phrase that I cling to everyday is “LIFE IS AWESOME!”
My name is Becky Skaggs and I am a Transformation Coach, Certified Dream Coach, Licensed Esthetician and published author in Succeeding in Spite of Everything. My passion is found in helping midlife women reclaim their beauty, their power and their lives. It has become my life’s work to empower other women to pursue their dreams of how they want their life to be NOW, no matter what their current circumstances.
And I am a living, breathing, walking, talking testimonial that it’s never too early or too late to start. There is an anonymous quote that makes me laugh these days, although it wasn’t always so funny. It was written by a woman simply known as Catherine (I’m guessing someone in the throes of menopause or mid-life divorce or both) and it goes like this… “If you can’t be a good example – then you’ll just have to be a horrible warning.” Let my story serve you as both.
The warning came too late for me when I awoke one morning to what I thought was a heart attack, but turned out to be an all too common “I don’t have control anymore” panic attack. It started me on a long, slow, downward spiral into the depths of anxiety and depression that I just couldn’t stop, and I thought I would never get out of. It was no wonder … the proverbial brick wall had fallen on me.
In the 2-year span leading up to my 50th birthday, every major role that defined me was gone – daughter, mother, youthful beauty, and the final devastating blow came when my marriage of 12 years ended in divorce, and I was no longer a wife. I lost my home. I lost my security. I had lost all my anchors, and I was terrified with a capital T.
I remember looking in the mirror one morning, something I had been avoiding for some time, and when I finally caught my own gaze, my heart sank. Who was this empty shell of a woman looking back at me? Where had Becky gone? What had happened to her life? her dreams? her passions? And the big question, NOW WHAT?
It took reaching out and asking for HELP for the first time in my life, and spending time alone getting quiet. I discovered that I had to be quiet enough to hear my own inner voice – the God voice taking me out of my head and into my heart and guiding me on my path. I took baby steps at first until I got my legs back under me, taking it a day at a time, hour at a time, sometimes minute at a time.
I was able to stay the course and rebuild my life – a much better life – my authentic life filled with passion and dreams fulfilled. And the result is the incredible dream life I am living today that just keeps getting better! And if I can do it…You can do it!