I actually found myself Suddenly Single in the same marriage twice.

The first time my husband and I had been married for 12-years and he was run over by a truck on his Vespa. He had suffered a traumatic brain injury. Going forward it became clear my husband didn’t remember anything about our marriage.

I was very lonely for quite some time trying to fix him. About a year after his accident he began an affair with a coworker who did not know him before his accident.

I was diagnosed with an STD and they noticed I had a large bump on my neck and it turned out they thought I had thyroid cancer and my husband left that night to go to where his girlfriend lived because he couldn’t deal with me.

This went on for months before I discovered the affair. I packed my bags and booked a first-class trip to Paris. I told my husband he needed to sit in our house and think about what he did and he needed to come to Paris if he wanted to find me.

While he was having the affair I was writing a book and so I funneled a lot of my rage and energy into that book and now when I go back and read it I can see that I was working out emotions I didn’t know I was having on the page.

Maybe the reason I can talk about it the way I do now is because I wrote a memoir.

My marriage completely blew up and had to be rebuilt.

After my husband came to Paris we did a lot of talking. Eventually, it came out that it was a long-term relationship and he had been taking her on business trips with him around the world. Once we got to the truth of the matter we were able to begin addressing the why of the matter.

While I was in Paris I was not doing well and had a complete breakdown and had to see a therapist.

My husband’s affair was public and I was completely humiliated so I isolated myself from all my friends and family. It was good and bad because my husband and I were able to completely focus on her family. It was bad because I was completely alone and had no one to support me. I spiraled into even deeper depression and was eventually diagnosed with bipolar disorder and generalized anxiety.

As our marriage was going off the rails I was falling apart. My husband had to step into the role I had stepped into after his accident of trying to keep everything together. It was interesting because our roles were completely reversed.

I had to accept the fact that the person who caused me the most hurt I’d ever felt in my life was the one who could also help fix me. I had to fix myself but I had to have enough trust in him that he could help repair our marriage. That was incredibly difficult.

I hadn’t given up on him when he was sick and pushing me away and he wasn’t willing to give up on me when I was sick and I was pushing him away.

I never thought I would be someone that got involved with a married man and I didn’t set out or realize I was involved with a married man. I always thought that if I found out I was doing something wrong I would take the moral high ground and I absolutely did not do the right thing.

I learned that I’m not always right, I don’t always have the best moral compass. People make mistakes. I was mad at myself for a long time. I didn’t show myself the grace that I showed my husband or that I show my friends when they make mistakes.

It wasn’t until I was able to be okay with the mistakes I’d made that I was able to fully forgive my husband for the mistakes that he had made. I was mad at him but I think I was more mad at myself because I thought that his accident had been my fault. That if I hadn’t been so selfish and had just got off the phone and driven him to work instead of making him ride his scooter he never would have had his accident.

When you let shame and self-blame into your life it will eat you alive. It permeates everything that you do.

The most negative thing I did was I started drinking heavily. I had never been a drinker. I was mixing drugs with champagne and I would just pass out. I started cutting myself which was never something I’d done before. I was never someone who self-harmed. It was a way for me to deal with my emotions by hurting myself in so many different ways.

It took me a long time with a lot of therapy and a lot of support from my friends and family. It took me coming forth almost like an alcoholic and saying I needed help and support. It was scary but the number of people who came out and were so supportive was stunning.

Letting go of the sense that I had to be perfect in front of people was one of the greatest things I did for myself. I just let myself be authentic and real. That led to people being supportive.

I think most of all my husband and I needed people around us. We needed people who supported taking a stab at our marriage.

So often you only hear the stories from the people whose spouses have cheated that have decided they aren’t going to stay with their spouse. I think we view strong women as those who will pack up and leave and kick a cheating husband to the curb. I think there are many different forms of strength. I don’t think you’re only strong if you get rid of your spouse. I think living through my husband’s infidelity was one of the hardest things I ever had to do.

How do you cheat on someone and still claim that you love them? That didn’t make any sense to me. I think strength comes in many forms. I think as a society we tend to think of a woman who stays as being weak or staying for financial reasons or because of the kids, but not because that’s what she’s choosing to do. I chose to stay and I chose to fight for my marriage. I’m happy that I did.

I honestly believe we are happier now than before his accident and we were pretty happy before his accident.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It wasn’t my choice.

I was married at 25, I had just graduated from grad school with my MBA and I was dating my high school sweetheart.

Life happens and we ended up living apart. It was supposed to be temporary, I was in my mid-30s and I thought we were going to work towards being together, but as it turned out he had other plans and there was an affair. He had already made up his mind to leave the relationship and the marriage so I found myself Suddenly Single at 35.

I had to pick up the pieces. I had to figure out what life was going to look like from this place.

I was literally curled up in a ball crying. I thought my life was ending. It was like I didn’t know how to go on.

It was really about how am I going to put my life back together. I’m fortunate to be an extrovert and I don’t cry over spilled milk.

I did things, I surrounded myself with people. Your friends don’t understand sometimes. I didn’t really know that many divorced people at the time. I started doing things for me. I joined the ski club, I hadn’t skied in 10-years.

When I was rediscovering myself there were some major tragedies in my family. My brother was in a major car accident and soon after that my father was killed. He was run over by a car. I went through a lot in my mid-30s.

I was working with a therapist and he helped me to process all this.

I never had trouble meeting men. Really it was understanding who would be the right guy for me and what I want out of a relationship.

I had to do stuff to take care of myself. There’s this whole thing that goes on when you’re separating a household.

You have to be ready for a new person to come into your life.

There were things I was totally clueless of.

I’m an explorer and I discovered a whole new world out there. I discovered there’s a whole dancing world out there. There’s all this stuff going on.

The way we make connections is to have similar situations. Some of the people I met in that timeframe are still my friends today.

I thought my husband was helping me with my business but he wasn’t.

I found through the therapy that when I was getting out there dating that she wasn’t really serving me so I got a coach. I liked what he said and I was interested in learning.

What I discovered is I am resilient, I am resourceful, and going into the next relationship there are things I’m not willing to give up. I believe the universe provides to you what you need when you need it. You have to look for it but there are so many resources around.

Trust in yourself. Get the support you need…your family and friends and some professionals. You’re not going to see the silver lining but there is one. There’s a reason for it and you don’t understand it, but life’s a journey.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I did not think that I was going to be suddenly single and I am sure so many women have been caught off guard like that too.

It’s crazy. I thought I had it all figured out. I went through the really hard part of making the decision to get divorced and going through that really hard part and then meeting somebody and going, ah-ha! this is what it’s all about. And then…that ends.

In our last interview, I was like…I found this person who I like to sit on the couch and just talk to and he was talking about how we were going to live together and get married and spend the rest of our lives together and I found out everything he said was fake.

I’ve had to now step back.

This is like a blessing. You learn from it and you move on and you learn what you don’t want, what you deserve, and what the next relationship is going to look like. It has been tough.

I did everything for this person. There was nothing that I did that wasn’t great for him. Every single love language there is I met. I was like, why wasn’t I good enough. It goes deep and it really, really hurts you. I’m not going to lie, I’m still trying to get through it.

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter. Thank goodness I have some really great friends.

We don’t know why people do what they do. All we know is it wasn’t right and we just have to close that door and continue to move forward. It’s a struggle and I have to work on talking to myself.

I am good, and I don’t deserve that, and I do deserve somebody that wants to give me the world and do all those things that I did for him in return for me. I am such a pleaser that it feels good for me to please people. I’m doing great, therefore he should love me, but he didn’t love me.

If there’s anything you did wrong, you saw the red flags and you didn’t pull the ripcord sooner. I chose to ignore all the red flags.

If it doesn’t seem to add up, it doesn’t add up. If the story doesn’t really work there’s something there.

I step back and go holy cow, how did I do that? I really enjoy taking care of people.

I was in love with loving him. Now I need to look for a person who values me. I’m used to being in a relationship where the person doesn’t cherish me.

We all have our days. I’m not superwoman. I’m not perfect.

I realize now I deserve a lot more.

It’s not the easy journey but it’s the right journey. I know that I’m somebody when I want something I’m going to do it.

We really do need to listen to ourselves.

I have started to do more meditation. Music is huge for me because I just love music.

Exercise is always the go-to. Exercise is just so amazing in so many ways.

Everybody is different and nobody’s perfect. At the end of the day, we do deserve to have that person who wants to make our day better every day. I know that’s what I want to do for my guy.

It’s important to do your work, to self-reflect, to get strong from the inside out, and take time to get to know people and really, really listen to those red flags.

You do not need to jump into bed with a guy quick. If you’re worth it to him he will wait, and if he dumps you because you don’t, he’s definitely not worth your time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Four and a half years ago, my brother, my only sibling passed away suddenly.

My sister-in-law had talked to him earlier that day. He wasn’t feeling well and he was a teacher and had stayed home. By the time she came home, he was gone.

She was distraught. She wasn’t even able to call us and tell us. It was her mother who called me to tell me and then I had the very difficult task of then calling and telling my parents and the rest of the family.

The call to my parents was the hardest I ever made. My dad is one of these people who is very put together, pretty easygoing, doesn’t get emotional a lot. Listening to him break down on the phone was awful. He was so upset I then had to turn around and tell my mom.

It didn’t hit me right away. It took a couple of weeks. I did break down at the memorial. After that was when I started to have it really sink in. It wasn’t just how I was reacting to it. I kind of view myself as the caretaker. For a long time, I was so busy taking care of them I didn’t take care of myself. I have since remedied that.

Everybody grieves differently. For me, I needed to seek counseling. I needed to get an external perspective because it wasn’t just dealing with my grief over losing him. It was kind of like losing my childhood.

My relationship with my parents has since changed in its dynamic.

When I started grieving it was after everybody had gone home. It was after the busyness and the meals, the stuff that happens when somebody dies. When somebody new would find out he had passed I would start to grieve with them again which is hard. One thing I noticed is nobody asked how I was. It was how are your parents, how is your sister in law, how is your niece?

My dad and I have always been close. I’ve always teased that I’m a daddy’s girl. If anything it has brought us closer. While we don’t specifically talk about the loss we talk about him probably more than we ever did before.

You learn life is short. Eat the cake. Do the things that you’re looking to do.

I’ve always been close to my family, but it has reminded me that in a blink of an eye they could be gone. It’s important not to let petty things get in the way of my relationships.

The last thing you want is for them to be gone and for you to have not said that thing. For you to have not said I love you, for you to not have mended those fences because that you will carry with you forever.

I have found a way to use this to help others. I have connected with other people who are grieving. When somebody dies people say things. They’re trying to be comforting and they don’t know what to say and instead, they say something they probably shouldn’t.

I understand grief. I understand that heaviness. I understand that loss. It has allowed me to connect and help others in a way I couldn’t before.

In his memory, I have tried to dig deeper and reach out more and so more service. It makes me feel like I’m keeping that connection by doing those things.

Don’t stop talking about them. Their memory is still there. Initially, while I thought I lost my childhood, the memories are still there. While I may not be able to talk to him about it, I can talk to other people about it, I can tell my niece the silly stories about ridiculous things he did when we were kids. Things like that, in a sense, help keep him alive.

It gets better. You’re able to function. I think the best thing you can do for yourself is to find a way you can remember them and almost pay tribute to them in your life.

Give yourself time to grieve. It’s okay if it takes longer than some people think it should. Find that connection, find something that makes you feel like they’re proud of you, and do that. Seek other people who you can talk to because holding it in doesn’t help either.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’d been dating my boyfriend for five and a half years. We were the type of couple we never had a fight, we always talked it out. I thought we had a relationship that was based on honesty and trust, well I started getting suspicious when I was being stalked by one of his Facebook friends.

Something intuitively in me told me to just start paying attention to what he was doing on social media. Following my intuition has never led me astray before.

We ended it.

I needed answers and he wasn’t going to give them to me. I messaged her and we went on a 48-hour texting marathon comparing notes.

I’ve always had a sort of dark humor about myself, seeing the light in the darkness. You either laugh about something or you cry about something. I have done my share of crying about this. I do wake up in fits of rage and it comes in waves. I still wake up completely angered and disgusted and in complete disbelief but then I tell the story back to myself and I tell myself this is bananas.

Talking with friends has been super helpful. Several girlfriends have taken me out to lunch. Just sharing this whole thing helps, it really helps. I decided to flee town for a couple of weeks. Family and friends are key. Reach out, talk about it.

I got back into running this year. Walking along the beach, spending time with family and friends. Just reflection. For better or for worse,  I find myself in a situation where he made this super easy to get over.

Having such a samurai sword taken to the separation has been very helpful. I just decided that going forward just focus, focus on me. I’m not going to let this be part of the story where I fell apart and a year later I’m a hot mess. Find your inner warrior, find your inner spirit. It’s going to be okay. It’s a wound but it’s not a mortal death-wound.

In the moments when I find myself caught up in fits of rage, I remind myself that I’ve worked better when I’m a little bit angry because things just get clearer. Priorities get super clear when I’m at that DGAF moment of life. Using that to fuel my clarity.

I don’t physically act on it when I have those moments. I sit, I take a deep breath, then I remind myself I’ve got to take care of me.

I don’t want this to affect the way I approach future relationships.

I know who I am, I know what I want in life and if there is anything I could change it would have been walking away when I knew I wasn’t getting what I wanted or needed from the relationship. I let it sit for way too long.

Walk away when your needs aren’t being fulfilled and call it a day. Walk it off.

Ask yourself, do you want to wake up in five years and recognize you’ve been with the wrong person? I guarantee you don’t. Take care of you. Take care of yourself.

Don’t blame yourself. There’s no way to predict this kind of person coming into your life. Forgive yourself. Find a way to embrace all of the emotions because it will come in waves and just keep going. One foot in front of the other. Get up, do something healthy for yourself, keep going.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I found myself suddenly single after going through a terrible devastating divorce. It was something I would never have predicted for my life. I took my marriage vows very seriously. I was really committed to my marriage and my family.

He started hanging out with younger friends and people that didn’t have the responsibilities that he had and got pulled into that lifestyle and ultimately started to have an affair with someone. It was devastating when I found out he had a child with her. It was so painful and so shocking when I first found out that I couldn’t even react. I went into shock. I didn’t tell anyone for a whole year.

I came to a point where I couldn’t hold it in anymore and I had a breakdown at work. The head of human resources encouraged me to connect with a therapist and that was the beginning of my healing. That was the beginning of me realizing that I deserved better. That I deserved to be happy. That I didn’t deserve to be disrespected, lied to, cheated on, and all the things that I was dealing with in my marriage.

We got separated and about a year and a half later we got divorced.

We never argued, we never had any issues and that’s why it was shocking to me.

When we got into an altercation I had to have him removed from the home that day. I didn’t really have the means or resources to take the kids and leave. Part of me was willing to sacrifice my own happiness in order to keep the family together.

The kids didn’t know what was going on and I didn’t know how to explain it to them because I was still in a state of not being able to talk about it without breaking down and crying. It took time for them to understand what had happened. I tried to break it down as best I could.

Professional counseling was the gateway to my healing process. It helped me to understand things about myself.

I knew how to thrive in dysfunction. I was used to things being messed up and figuring it out.

I lost my identity. I didn’t even know who I was anymore. I made self-care a priority.

I don’t even know who I am. What do I like?

I had to get back to who I was outside of being someone’s wife. Outside of being someone’s mother.

As I started to talk to other women I realized I wasn’t alone.

I learned that I love to watch movies and take naps and read books.

As I started to rediscover the parts of myself that were packed away and dormant I started to feel more alive. There’s so much life to live.

It was really hard for me to get up if I didn’t have to get up. I had lost all of my life, I guess. When I had those moments alone I went into the why me.

This was about God giving me an assignment because he knew I could take the pain and the devastation I was feeling and use it for the good of others.

I am proud to say that I bought the home I am living in now. It’s new construction. That’s a big deal because when I got divorced I had to file bankruptcy.

Now is my time to live and to really enjoy myself. I love it!

It’s not your fault. Don’t blame yourself. Get help. Do not try to go through that yourself. Find someone you can confide in and who can help you heal through that. Pray about it. Listen. Be mindful of the people you’re telling your business to.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was married for a very long time. I got married really young and I thought the world was a perfect place. I found myself falling out of love and very lonely and that took us to the journey of years trying to fix what was broken and realizing you can’t and then it was the sad part of the journey where you have to say goodbye.

I found myself single in my 30s. It was a very scary time.

That was years trying to discover why I felt that way. I don’t believe in getting married with the “let’s see if it works”. I believe in getting married with “it will work”. The sadness came because I felt I was the failure. However, I learned that I wasn’t. The sadness came with losing what I thought was going to be the rest of my life as well as losing the love feeling that I had for that person. I really had that warm and homey feeling around them for so many years.

It took me 3 years to admit to anybody else that I was feeling this way. Even to him. It was a very big self-discovery. I felt so sad.

It’s a very very very personal journey.

I couldn’t believe I opened my mouth and admitted it to another human because then it made it real. I think that’s where the fear started setting in.

We were this perfect couple in the eyes of the universe.

Now we have to deal with this. Now we have to take action on what we just said. I have to face him, face my fears, face the future without him, face everything…and it’s going to be a very big mountain to climb.

I knew there was going to be good at the end of it all, but just the fear of getting there.

I was raised by my grandparents so abandonment was my number one fear in my world. When your parents abandon you that kind of scars you forever. That fear bled into our marriage. I felt like he abandoned our marriage and that’s what created this whole sadness thing.

Before I talked to anyone it was reading or listening to books by a lot of others who had been here before me, taking it all in and understanding what I was about to do and how it was going to affect me. I tell people I broke myself down and I put myself back together again.

Back when this happened therapy was not a big thing. I do believe in therapy and I believe it is a wonderful thing. Girlfriends were your answer. The process was digging deep, figuring out where I was, becoming really raw with myself, holding myself responsible for what I did wrong, rebuilding myself again, and then being able to make that final decision.

I had two girlfriends who held me together and helped me get through.

My lawyer said to me, the emotional rollercoaster you about to enter into is going to be very dramatic.

I believe you are never alone. I believe you do have to open yourself up and receive the help people give you. You have to know you cannot do anything alone and asking for help is a beautiful thing.

I feel like it was another lifetime ago, even though it wasn’t that long ago. I feel like I have grown up tremendously. I have discovered strength. Even though I was a strong person to begin with I have discovered strength I never knew I had. I have become much more compassionate. I find myself wanting to help other people going through anything dramatic because I understand the fear. I also believe in love. I believe one sad story doesn’t mean your life is a sad story.

I used to say to my children, adjust and move on. Don’t dwell on it. Dwelling doesn’t do any good.

I changed for the better. I was a good person to begin with but I changed for the better. I feel like I have so much strength now. I am myself. I look in the mirror and go, I know who you are and that is an incredible feeling.

For me, strength was the ability to put myself first. I had never done that before. I came last emotionally. I came last in strength. Now I do put myself first. If I’m happy everybody will be happy. I will give more. I will be more. I will create more.

When I was single I realized what a good mom I was, even more than before. I realized what a beautiful woman I was, and I’m not talking on the outside, I’m talking on the inside.

I realized what I could offer to the world without someone by myself or holding my hand. That was a wonderful time. I found me again. That was such a huge huge deal.

I wanted to make sure I knew, who is Maria? I wanted to give back to society, back to the world, and remain really good friends with my ex.

Forgiveness is a big deal. I had to forgive him for things as I had to forgive myself. That was the aftermath of it all.

I was raided with goodness. Nobody ever told me the truth because it protected me.

I wanted to make sure they know their dad was a good person and that they had a strong family unit.

When you fall in love, fall in love for the right reasons. Get to know the person. Live with that person. Get to know each other.

I don’t know what the future holds. But I can tell you right now that my heart is at peace.

Take a deep breath and understand that you are the only person that matters in this world. You have got to live the life that you’re meant to live and sometimes that means the person standing in front of you is not supposed to live that life with you.

You have to move forward no matter what happens. We are blessed with the gift that we have been given which is the gift of life. Just understand that you have to fight for your happiness.

If that means the next season that you’re in is going to be difficult, it’s going to be scary and you’re going to face some really brutal moments. They will be gone. Everything goes away. Everything cycles in life. You will find happiness. You just have to walk through this journey to get there.

Put your shoulders back, chest out, chin up, and realize you are the most precious thing in the world and you have to take care of yourself first and foremost so that you can take care of everybody else around you. Just go out and get your happiness, no matter what that means. Face your fears.

 

I thought I might leave him Suddenly Single when I had to go in for surgery for brain cancer, but I lived. So, he is stuck with me for the foreseeable future as long as I have anything to say about it.

We really didn’t know what was in store for us. Just kind of hope for the best and focus on the present.

I tried really hard to make it a little bit easier for Austin and prepared a whole bunch of notes for him, one an hour, for a lot longer than I thought the surgery would take. I did give him and if everything hits the fan kind of a note so that he would know what I wanted for my funeral and some promises I would haunt him if he messed things up for our kids, you know, sweet things like that. Unfortunately, that didn’t go quite the way I planned.

In the waiting room with the family and her parents, we were there for a while. We were told it would take between 4 and 8 hours. We were prepared for the long haul. We get past 8 hours, 9 hours, 10 hours…notes are long since gone, 11 hours 12 hours…yeah, it got a little unnerving there looking at that last letter haunting me.

I tried to be so thoughtful and give him extras. I think I wrote him 12 letters thinking it’ll never go past 12 hours. Unfortunately, I ended up leaving him there for 4 hours with just the not to open in case it all went wrong. But it was a great plan.

Just showing that I was there for her and not focus on what I was going through. For selfish reasons it was easier, but also that hopefully gave her less to worry about.

We’re really fortunate that her family is close by and her mother is very involved and that really helped out immensely. My sister also came out to help for I don’t even know how long at this point. It’s all a little bit of a blur.

In terms of relationships, I really learned that having a really strong relationship can get you through a lot. There’s so much that changes. It’s great that I survived, but there’s a lot that goes into survival. I had this marathon brain surgery and I had to come back from that. I had to get to the point where I could walk farther than the door of our townhouse to the car. I had to get to the point where I could sleep for more than a couple of hours without waking up in pain. Austin was fantastic so he would get up and give me my medication on the ridiculous schedule that I was on.

He did such a great job taking care of me. I learned a lot about our relationship as a couple and what we could endure together. A lot of people worry about their relationship with their husband, and he really did see me at my absolute worst. I looked like Frankenstein…bald head, staples up the back. It was really bad and he never left. He just stayed and that kind of security is amazing.

I learned about the importance of family. My mom basically took a whole year off from her dream to help me. We’re so fortunate to have her. I learned that those relationships are everything and to put energy into them. Not so that you can use people when you need them, but so you have that support and that love that those people and those relationships are so valuable and can be gone at any time. I’m never going to be sad about the time I put into my marriage or the time I put into my children because they could be gone tomorrow.

It reinforced that I’m pretty resilient. I think I already knew that but this was certainly a big curveball and then the power that perspective has. Seeing her after surgery and seeing her on the bed, the doctor had told me things had gone very well, but going to see her…you know, all the tubes and the different everything she was hooked up to…swollen and not looking like herself, bald and lot of bandages but she recognized me and that was a huge deal.

A lot of recovery for me is kind of hearsay. I hear about the things that I did but I don’t necessarily remember.

I was overjoyed at the sight of her. She could move her fingers and her toes and she knew who I was. My sister started freaking out. Ladies, that’s what you’ve got to find is a man that loves you when you come right out of brain surgery.

It gave me a lot of peace and a lot of joy to know that we had people who wanted to step in. I didn’t make a dinner for 9-months after our surgery. People filled our freezer, filled our fridge, sent pizza, sent casseroles. Don’t give people casseroles. My children still have PTSD about baked ziti. They see it and they’re like OMG, cancer!

People like to help. You’re not putting them out. You’re giving them an opportunity to bless you and to step into your life in a moment of need and to feel useful and to feel connected. There’s no shame in taking help.

After surgery and beginning of recovery, the support that we got was overwhelming. I’ve always been independent, kind of a self-sufficient person, and relying on others is not something I was particularly comfortable with or used to. It was a big change. It’s one thing when it’s your family but when you have complete strangers going out of their way to do things to make your life easier it’s a really foreign experience and gives you a renewed hope for society. There are so many bad things that go on around us in the news and even in the places we live but there are a lot of great people out there.

It’s not something you choose. It’s just something that happens and something you do. Every day something new happens and you’ve just got to roll with it.

I think one of the things that made it possible for us to get through this was we were able to still see each other. I remember a couple of times at doctor’s appointments just laughing our heads off about the most ridiculous things.

I don’t know. Am I going to be in a walker? Am I going to be in a wheelchair? What am I going to look like when we’re done with this? We found a way to joke with each other and connect with each other.

Anything you can do to maintain connection, anything you can do to find little pockets of joy in your situation, anything you can do to laugh together as a couple is really important.

Austin became my security blanket for that time. If he was there I was going to be okay.

My mama had already stepped in and promised that she was going to make sure the kids kept going to church and scouts and all the activities that they were a part of.

As much as I wanted to be there if you took me out it was still going to be okay. It might not be what I pictured but it would still be okay and that gave me a lot of peace.

I had tremendous faith that God had a plan for my family and it was a good plan even if I wasn’t in it. But it was hard, it was a hard thought.

Even with the hope that I had and even with the assurance that I had from people around me it was hard. Ultimately I did have a lot of peace knowing I Picked a great dad for them and that even if it wasn’t exactly what I thought it would be it would still be good.

I really focused my time and energy into taking the time I had with Kristina and the kids together and just preparing for that and being there for her afterward rather than trying to focus on how I was going to handle potentially becoming a single parent. Maybe that was stupid. Had things gone another way I would have been pretty unprepared but how much can you really prepare for that?

Every day is valuable because you never know. We knew so it’s a double-edged sword. We knew it might not go well. We might all be looking at tomorrow as benign our last day or our spouse’s last day and it’s just about appreciating each other and accepting the other person for who they are and valuing that time together because the things that make you crazy today may be the things you wish they could do tomorrow.

It could all change tomorrow.

Even on the worst of days, there are still good things that happen.

I keep not dying so he’s stuck with me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The short version is my husband passed away just a little over a year ago. He was diagnosed with stage 4 oral cancer.

He went into the hospital to have surgery to remove cancer and he never came home. He was at the hospital for about 6-months. It was an incredibly rough road.

At the time when everything happened Mike was 57 and I was 50.

I did not realize he was not coming home for a really long time. He was aware of his situation. He was awake, he was alert and from all accounts, we were told that he would likely be able to come home so that was the plan all along.

At the same time, he was in rehab for the stroke he also had to start radiation for cancer so we were never just dealing with one thing. The cancer treatment was just horrible. Looking back on things, I think the six weeks of daily radiation really affected hsi stroke rehab and may have been the tipping point of not allowing him to recover from the stroke. We’ll never really know. It was awful. It was truly an awful experience to go through with him.

As time went on it became apparent the stroke had done more damage to his brain than we could see.

I had friends, I had family, all of our family is local to us. We were very lucky to have people around us, but when you get to that point there’s only so much other people can do. Everybody means well and they want to help but sometimes they just can’t.

I had to accept that my life was never going back to the way that it was before. All the time that there was hope that he was coming home there was that little bit of hope that some of our life would return. As soon as they told me he couldn’t come home without 24-hour care all that hope was gone. No one can help you with that, as much as they want to.

In some aspects his death was almost a little bit of a relief in that I knew that he didn’t have to suffer anymore. He didn’t have to live this life that he absolutely hated. One of the things the stroke did was take away his ability to speak. He had such severe apraxia and aphasia from the stroke he couldn’t get the words out. It was really really difficult knowing he was trapped inside his head.

At 51 this is not the life I thought I was going to have. I thought we would still be married and doing our things and traveling and spending time together and just living our life. This was not part of the plan. This was not something that you ever even consider and then all of a sudden you’re put in this situation that you’re not remotely equipped to handle and you have to figure it out.

On the surface, it probably looks like my life isn’t very much different than it was before. I live in the same place, I have the same job, but there’s that piece that’s missing. We bought this house together, we built this life together and now I’m the only one that’s living it.

I feel like my grief sort of recycled once I started working from home. I didn’t have those same social outlets. Therapy and grief therapy have definitely helped me a ton.

Mike was in hospice for probably the last 2-months of his life. Part of the hospice program was grief therapy for survivors for 13-months after Mike’s death so I took advantage of that as well. The targeted grief therapy has really helped. It has been a lifesaver.

I’ve learned a few things. I’m somebody who likes to have control over my situation. It makes me feel better, it lessens my anxiety, and I really struggled with losing control during this situation. I wanted so badly to control the outcome. To dictate how things were going to go. To make sure that he had the best of everything to get back to where we were before. The harder I tried to have control the less control I actually had. At some point, I realized that I couldn’t control everything and let certain things fall by the wayside and hope that they would be okay and know that I was doing the best that I possibly could. Once I finally grasped that concept of letting go of control things got a little easier.

It’s so difficult. You have to get to this point where you’re not always going to have every answer when you want it. You’re not always going to have every outcome that you want when you want it. Sometimes that has to be okay. It was such a hard concept for me to wrap my brain around because I naively thought I could control everything. In a situation like this, you just can’t.

I always thought that if I had control I would feel so much better but it was actually the opposite of that.

Grief has its own timeline and you don’t always get to dictate what that timeline looks like. Grief deserves a lot of respect and it’s something as a society we could do a much better job of. It’s just one of those things that will come into your life when you’re not expecting it and it will take over. It will make you do and say things you never thought would happen and that’s okay. You’ll be alright.

I would encourage them to seek out whatever support they can, even when it seems like you can’t possibly do that. Asking for help is so important. Ask questions, press for answers. It’s okay to do so.

Just be kind to yourself. You don’t have to have all the answers right now. You don’t have to have total control. You will get through it. It might not feel like it, but you will. It will take time but you can do it. If I can do it anybody can do it. I never thought that I was a particularly strong person and as I was in the middle of it I looked back on everything I had gone through and thought, you know what? I am pretty strong. I survived all of it and I’m still here. You can do it. You can.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The first time was nearly eight years ago when I went through my high-conflict divorce. It was awful. And then I guess again it has happened recently too and it was a bit more of a surprise than I thought.

It was feeling like not again, here we go.

We had been together for nearly three years and we decided to blend our families. I’ve got two kids and so has he and they all got along fabulously.

I had made myself emotionally unwell going through this dilemma. The whole stress of it all I literally got sick for probably 6-weeks. I wasn’t sleeping, I was waking up and I was just stressed.

I think when you’ve been through it once before and you’ve waited so long to meet somebody again it was like, really? Again?

We’ve always had a great relationship where we’ve spoken about things and it has brought us closer together and that’s what I loved about our relationship.

We decided to live separately and see what would happen then.

This time around there was a lot more sitting and reflecting. I sat with it, I thought about it, I did some inner work and some journaling, you know…all the things you’re supposed to do and there was that part of me that was like, “I’ve failed again.”

We all have flaws. We’re perfectly imperfect people.

I was an absolute emotional mess for about 6-weeks.

We took some time apart and he really honored me and my need to not talk about it.

Why not? No harm could come from it. The mind was going crazy.

It’s been quite a journey. A lot of self-reflection and digging deeper and feeling into it.

I had to stop the thinking and tap into the feelings of my heart and what was my intuition telling me.

I didn’t want to have tension in the house for the kids. I wanted the kids to have peace and calm.

The mind wanted to take over. My pattern was a great guy, a good man but this is my feelings. It was a constant head-heart intuition battle. I had to have conversations with myself to trust in my body and my intuition.

I literally sat out in the car two days ago and burst into tears. It doesn’t make sense but I had to trust. It will be okay. You know the cycle. Allow the emotions and get the learning.

I had to come back to what was right for me. I had to trust and have faith in myself and my feelings.

When I had my divorce I couldn’t imagine getting through it. I felt like it was always going to be that way. This time around I knew that it would feel different sooner than when I thought. I knew it wasn’t a failing.

No one really wants to hurt anyone. The grief cycle is important to go through.

What’s been hard this time because I’m being the one who’s the breaker-upper. I’m not used to that.

Logically it doesn’t make sense but I had to go with what I’ve learned.

I had to own my part in it for sure.

Breathe. Do your inner work. Do the self-care. Do the emotional stuff because that’s what’s going to drive the decisions anyway. Have those heartfelt conversations with your partner and just come from an absolute place of love for yourself. When it comes time to have that conversation no one is ever really ready, but it has to be done. On the other side of that is freedom. You’ve got to face that fear and come from a place of love and trust in yourself. Take the time to nurture yourself.