Pictures…

When I originally had thought about this post it was to address “what do I do with the memories and the pictures of my past”.  The vacation pictures, birthday party pictures, special event pictures, etc .. all memories captured in a moment of time when I was married, when I had an intact family.  How do I process those feelings of loss, those feelings of what will never be again?  In combing through the multitude of pictures I had taken in years past to capture what were joyous and momentous occasions – I saw something that made me stop and think.  I found myself looking very closely at those pictures.  More so at ME in those pictures.  Then I started to compare pictures of pre-divorce to those of post divorce and I think the question that I was looking to answer in this post was visibly answered and closure found. So let me show you what I mean:

Here are pictures of me and my family pre-divorce.  They look good right?  We did many things as a family and a married couple.  We vacationed sometimes 2 or 3 times per year, never the same place twice.  We made many good memories that me and my children still reminisce about.  Which is why it was so hard for me to look back at these images.  I looked with sadness and a sort of longing for the familiar that was my life for so long.

Then I looked at my post divorce pictures and saw an raw unadulterated JOY in my face. With me now being truthful with myself, I could look at the old pictures and connect that there was a sadness in my spirit that didn’t loom over me in my recent pictures.  I noticed that I was no longer isolated and so many pictures included people in them.  It was evident that I found my silliness and zest for life again. And although my life looks different now than I had originally planned it to at age 44, it is GOOD, VERY GOOD.

And there were so many pictures I wanted to include, it was so hard for me to choose.  The one picture of me and my kids on the ride at Disney is the funniest.  That was our first trip as a redefined family unit and we all felt the difference – the lightness in the air and our silliness came out – staging pictures on this ride – we must have done it 5 times.  My recent photo library is filled with fun photos showing my travel adventures, my experiences with my friends and extended family, sporting events that I attend, concerts, gatherings at my house, time spent with my kiddos, etc. and every one of them brings a smile to my face!

So what was intentioned as a post about dealing with the unfamiliar and uncomfortable images of the past found itself as a post about joyous transformations.  Not all change is bad, uncomfortable – yes, but sometimes much needed even at our resistance of it.  There is no doubt that it is hard to look back.  I know sometimes I think where did I go wrong, why did I stay so long, why did I choose the paths I did – but it was those very choices that made me who I am.  I even think sometimes, will I ever have “that” – you know the “white picket fence family”.  There is no clear answer for that,  as my crystal ball isn’t functioning these days.  That reality makes me uncomfortable, truly uncomfortable, sometimes so much so that I cannot find my “Center” with not knowing what my future looks like.  But I sit in that space and cling to GOD’s word:  Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you”, declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”.  And there you go….  when you hold to that TRUTH I know my future is in the right hands.

Joy, Transformation, and the Hope for a Prosperous Future….. all found in looking through some pictures.

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Introductions….

Welcome to “Life After Blog….”  Life after what you ask?  For me, the precipitous for this blog is Life after Divorce.  But in this journey you will find that I record a lot of “life after” events…  Life after adoption, Life after children going to college, life after loss and many others that you may experience yourself.  Writing has proven to be very therapeutic for me throughout this journey and I started during the adoption process of my 1st adopted child.  That blog chronicled my adoption journey and recorded those precious memories, thoughts and feelings as I was experiencing them.   But now, my life has far outgrown just writing about the adoption of my 2 youngest daughters.

Here’s my story in a nutshell, just so you have a little background.  I was a senior in high school when I met who is now my ex husband.  Not sure I would characterize it as love at first sight or even love at all.  At the tender age of 18 – I got on the proverbial “train” which was our relationship and couldn’t get off.  I was married and pregnant at age 20.  Had 2 children by the time I was 23 – my son Christopher (who is now 23) and my daughter Elizabeth ( who is now 20).  And the train roared on……  Fast forward past several jobs, many houses, several business ventures, birthdays and milestones to 2010 when my then husband and I adopted our first daughter Maddie (now age 9) from China.  Shortly after coming home with Maddie, infidelity reared its ugly head and hit me square in the face.  I had known of its existence for some time but up to this point had refused to acknowledge it in our marriage.  Friendships were destroyed and I was left to pick up the pieces and there was debris everywhere.  I duck taped the shit out of our marriage, our family, my dignity and tried hard to hold it together.  By my husbands account, no extra ordinary measures were even needed, 2 weeks was plenty of time for me to “get over” it.  So in an effort to continue to play the role of wife and mother and stay on the train, I stuffed my feelings, snapped out of it and refocused my time and energy to my children and tried to navigate through what my husband thought “I” could do to make it better.  I jumped through hoops, tip toed around adult temper tantrums and balanced 10 spinning plates on a pole all in an effort to save what was left and not let 20 years of my life go down in flames.  I was a master at not speaking my truth or being honest with myself about the state of my marriage and my life for that matter.  I was an ostrich with my head in the sand.

In all of the chaos that was my marriage, I still had a deep relationship with GOD and felt the call on my life to adopt again.  2 years went by and in 2012 we brought Mia (now age 6) home from China. It wasn’t long after she arrived home that more infidelity plaqued our relationship, over and over and over again.  2014 was our first separation and it lasted about 5 months.  Not long after he returned home did he meet and begin dating another 20 something year old girl.  His relationship with her stuck followed by our 2nd separation.  This time it was different.  I began listening to my body – the gut feelings that you know something is amiss, the tears perpetually at the brink of falling every day, the fear of stepping out of a completely controlled and always monitored life – AND i realized that I had to make a change.  Saying the words “I don’t want my marriage anymore” was a huge step for me in finding a voice that had been silenced for so long.   I knew I needed help to navigate my meek and scared self through the shit storm of a divorce with a controlling, vicious and manipulative man and to emerge and speak my truth, find my voice and live the life I always wanted to.  The curtain raises and In walks in the most amazing LIFE COACH and “MY FIGHT” surfaces and I begin to “DO THE WORK” to reclaim my life.

Has this journey been easy?  Absolutely not.  I still carry with me the grief, the guilt and the pain but “Joy cometh in the morning”, Psalm 30:5  No matter what we go through in life, a new day dawns and brings with it the Joy of light, the joy of the possibilities yet unseen.

Through 25 years of a BAD relationship, the shining light is that I have 4 beautiful children that bring unbelievable JOY to my life every day.  The BIGS (my adult children) and I have a very close relationship and always have.  I devoted myself to them and their activities and still do.  I love to see them succeed (I am their  biggest cheerleader) and I am there for them in their failures to guide, assist and comfort.  My Littles are just that, beautiful little girls who Love their mom and I love them.  This isn’t my first rodeo raising kids, so I feel like an old pro.  Its a familiar role but one that I am most comfortable in and where my cup gets filled the most.

So that’s it…..  A quick glimpse.  As I continue to pour myself into this blog I will connect the dots, I will share my truth – the good, the bad and sometimes the ugly and I will expand on my experiences of Life After……

Me and My kiddos