Since Monday is Independence Day in the United States, today’s post shares how I freed myself from the pain of past relationships. This article is my sixth installment in my summer series on relationships. Like the previous posts in this series, this is reprint from our A Stitch in Time newsletter. I hope you enjoy reading today’s article whether reading for the first time or second!
Releasing the Pain
“We need to talk,” is a phrase many people dread hearing. I was one of those people. Why? Because such phrases had become a warning signal that I was about to be berated or torn down verbally.
Before meeting Reggie, I fell prey to a man whose chosen weapon was criticism. I not only dreaded the ensuing assault, but I withdrew and became defensive. I would withdraw by shutting down mentally and emotionally. An invisible wall went up between us. If possible, I would remove myself physically or end our phone conversations to limit the criticism. If I could not withdraw, I would become argumentative and defend myself from his criticism.
This past week, a widowed friend checked up on me to see how I was coping during the holidays. Thankfully, I was able to report that I am doing well. My friend’s question made me evaluate my feelings deeper. Part of that was looking at why I did so well. What I found was that this blog has played a large part in my feeling better.
If you have read any of my blog posts, you know I still think about Reggie a lot. The difference this blog made is that more and more my thoughts about him come from the perspective of what have I learned from this experience and how can I use that to help others. This change in perspective is a much happier experience for me than focusing on my loss and pain. That is what today’s blog post is about—coping, so you have a better holiday than you would otherwise.
“I miss having someone to come home to and share my day with,” shared my dear friend Elizabeth whose husband passed away several years earlier. Though I hadn’t felt that kind of loneliness in quite a while (There is hope!), hearing the pain in Elizabeth’s voice took me back to the early days after Reggie’s passing.
What I missed, and continue to miss, most about Reggie was not his booming laugh that never failed to lift my spirits, the peace that always settled over my spirit whenever we were reunited even after the shortest separation, or the comfort of holding his hand. I do miss those things, but what I miss most is his companionship.
This past January, I studied Naomi from the book of Ruth. When the story begins, Naomi is a wife and mother of two sons (Ruth 1:1-2). Two verses later, her husband and sons are dead. In the span of a few verses, Naomi goes from wife and mother to widow and what? There isn’t even a name for parents whose children have died—at least not in the English language. It gives new meaning to the phrase, “There are no words.” There literally isn’t a word.
So, it is not surprising that by the end of the chapter Naomi experiences an identity crisis (v. 19-21). Naomi’s experience raises the question: “What are you going to call or say about yourself when tragedy strikes changing your life and shattering your plans forever?”
This is a guest post by Kristin Kimble. She is a writer who blogs about dating, relationships and the single life from a transparent Christian perspective. She lives in Maryland. You can read her blog
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“Mary Jane it up if you have to,” she said.
She was referring to the main character of the BET series Being Mary Jane played by Gabrielle Union. Union’s character, who I can relate to in more ways than one, places yellow sticky notes all over her house, particularly on her bed post, with positive affirmations and quotes that she reads every morning before going to work. Each show starts out with intriguing quotes from various people that foreshadow the shows theme.
It was my second session of counseling and I was truly enjoying the experience. The couch was amazing and my therapist was excellent. I felt comfortable and encouraged!
The topic of the very first A Stitch in Time newsletter I wrote was hope, hope of a great love. Reggie and I were 43-year-old newlyweds. I mention that we were 43 because we didn’t come by our love early in life. We stumbled first, each in our own way, before finding each other. I wrote about hope because I wanted to encourage other people who had stumbled, not just once, but multiple times like me, to not give up. There was hope. Reggie and I were living breathing proof.
My dream of a great marriage came true. In fact, God gave me exceedingly abundantly above what I asked or thought. I had an extraordinary love. Buoyed by the hope of that love, we began to build an extraordinary life. Nine months into our marriage, we founded our ministry, A Cord of Blue. A year into our marriage, we began trying to conceive. We wanted to add an addition to our happy family.
Two weeks ago, I started a series on getting ready for the next big thing in your life. Part one of this series focused on three key issues to consider while we wait for our blessings to arrive, part two switched gears to some things we can do to improve our relationship skills, and part three discusses some things we can do to improve our emotional health.
As I shared in part one, whatever my next blessing is, I want to be ready to receive it when it arrives. I wasn’t ready in the past and almost missed out. When I began to get ready, one of the first things I worked on was my emotional health—another key component to a successful marriage or a successful life.
Being emotionally healthy is the key to liking yourself, feeling comfortable in your own skin, and enjoying where you are on the way to where you are going. I had all of that until the pain I endured in that previous relationship changed me. I felt foolish and was withdrawn around family and friends. Where was the strong, confident woman that I knew and loved? She was buried under a pile of hurt; I wanted her back; however, I didn’t know where to begin. Then, I stumbled upon Bunny Wilson’s book, Knight in Shining Armor.
“How do perceptions of beauty vary across the globe?” That is the question posed by Superdrug Online Doctors, an online pharmacy in the UK, when they commissioned the Perceptions of Perfection project. What they found supports what I said in an earlier post about beauty being in the eye of the beholder.
The purpose of the study is: “Widely held perceptions of beauty and perfection can have a deep and lasting cultural impact on both women and men. The goal of this project is to better understand potentially unrealistic standards of beauty and to see how such pressures vary around the world.”
“I am not ______ enough.” In last week’s post, I shared about a conversation that I had with a mentee about negative self-talk. Specifically, we discussed the ways my mentee did not feel “good enough”. In her TED Talk, Dr. Brené Brown calls this shame and says we all have experienced it in some way. I know I have.
We all have an “I am not ______ enough.” We just have to fill in the blank: “I am not tall enough”, “short enough”, “thin enough”, “smart enough”, “beautiful enough”, etc. For me, it was I am not thin enough.
For as long as I remember, my size was a source of conversation. As a child, my family affectionately called me a “butterball” because I weighed over 9 pounds at birth. When playing basketball, my teacher selected me to play center in junior high because I grew sooner than my classmates. Over and over, people said I was “big” for my age, but I wasn’t overweight yet.
Once, when shopping for bathing suits, my mother tried to get me to try on a bikini. Out of obedience, I did it, but I was uncomfortable the whole time. My mother didn’t understand. According to her, I was “big boned,” not “fat.” There was no difference to me.
Welcome! Around the United States today, Americans are celebrating living in “the land of the free and the home of the brave.” I, too, am celebrating my freedom—personally as well as nationally.
Courtesy of iStock/dangdumrong
You see, before my dearly departed husband Reggie passed four years ago last month, transitioning our newsletter A Stitch in Time into a blog was one of my writing goals. However, along with the confusion following the loss of my husband, I experienced severe writer’s block. I couldn’t even write in my journal.
Then, two weeks ago, there was a shift. As suddenly as my freedom to write left, it returned. The words started flowing again. Now, free of whatever was blocking my writing, I started this blog.
Here, my goal is to open a dialogue about how to navigate the challenges, struggles, and obstacles, we encounter in life, and ultimately, not allow these experiences to define us. Also, I hope to share tips, ideas, and resources on how, like my writer’s block, we can overcome, resolve, and/or just plain move past them—whatever works to free us to write a new ending to our story. My prayer is that you will join me.