Listen to God's voice at the foot of the crucifix." ~St. Gaspar del Bufaro~

Sunday, June 18, 2017

It Is Finished. (Part 1-The D Word)

It is finished. That awful "d" word is now attached to my name and our family...divorce.  I feel like I need to pinch myself here in this little blog window.  It honestly doesn't seem possible.  I remember feeling this same way after my late husband was tragically killed and hated the title of widow. That word sounds so dark. Now I hate this title equally.  Actually, I hate it a little more. I know that 'hate' is a strong word but seriously, I'm not sure I can handle much more. What's up with this, Lord?  I truly want to be goodness and light and these things bring out the worst in me. I question my sanity and I'm not good at the struggle. Oh, is that the point? I'm sorry, I keep missing the point, I guess.  A dear friend and I chuckle over the fact that I must be the queen of bizarre tragedies. Lord have mercy.  After much prayer and consideration, I've decided to share some of the story. Maybe by putting myself out there in all of my weakness, others might find hope and healing a long with me. After all, we're all in this together!

First, I just need to vent a bit. Don't you think that divorce is an ugly word? There's just something about it that sounds bad.  To be honest, I can't even say the word out loud.  I hate it even more because I'm Catholic and it goes against everything I believe in.  I believe we were two that became one flesh. I believed in growing continually through our day-to-day fidelity to our marriage promise.  I believe in total and mutual self-giving.  I gave 100% of myself to my spouse and I thought he did too.  What on earth happened? 

Like a bomb going off, I discovered this wasn't the reality.  Betrayal and pathological lies staggered through the 17 years and suddenly they came to light in shocking ways.  I initially wrote about addiction but it turns out that was only a symptom of other issues. In fact, I've heard stories like mine on television talk shows and now one of them showed up in my house. Uninvited.  I am that person who had no clue. It was honestly like the father of lies suddenly appeared and shattered our family in one fell swoop.  It has truly been UNbelievable.

Being totally transparent, it's clear that I struggle to understand what this is all about.  I share here in this personal space, to continue to document healing through the unthinkable, the unfathomable.  I'm trying to keep hope afloat for myself and my children.  It's not easy.  As a person of faith, I know God is keeping me sane.  Without Him, I am nothing, I can do nothing.  It's so important to know that we are not alone.  If there is someone else out there who is struggling with any type of deep suffering, it is my desire to help.  I've searched for help and found it through honest, faith-filled writers, who shared their struggles and their paths to healing. I believe it can be done with God's help alone.

It's been almost 3 years working through this tragedy and my heart still hurts terribly.  It hurts all the time.  My brain hurts too.  Both my heart and my head still struggle to process all that has happened.  Especially because things were good and happy in my house until the lies rolled out.  It's still so hard to believe that such an incredible charade took place right before my eyes. It feels harder to handle because I never saw this coming, nor did the children. 

Yet, even with the level of deception that occurred, it was still my first instinct to fight for our marriage.  I knew our children deserved that.  Later, I learned that my "fighting" was all co-dependent fighting.  Especially when it came to his addiction, I spent all of my days coming up with resources that would help my spouse fight his demons, determined to solve his problems...And truthfully, hoping they would all disappear with some "magic bullet."  The sad reality was that trust was completely gone and no magic bullet could repair the fact that truth never existed in the first place.

Even though the Sacrament probably wasn't valid, it's still a deep pain that doesn't subside.  Love still holds out hope that maybe a miracle could occur with humility and true reconciliation. I hoped and prayed, for my children's sake, that a miracle recovery and conversion would take place.  It was my biggest prayer to have my husband and family back, the way it was 'before.' 

No miracle came.  This was another tragedy for all of us.  With every bone in my body, I feel the broken bonds of our marriage in the hearts of my children.  Marriage is clearly not just about the husband and wife.  Our bond created more life and love through our children and they are crushed a long with us.  We should never underestimate the damage that an earthquake causes to a house... Everyone who lives there is affected. I suppose that's why the word divorce sounds bad.  It sounds like walls dividing and crumbling down.

So the question is how do you put your house and heart back together after this divorce rumbles through your life?  How does someone rebuild a house of love?  Now there's a happy word!  Rebuild.  It's possible, as we all know.  We've seen it happen all around us.  Even the horrific 9/11 brought rebuilding and restoration. This is where I am now. I'm struggling with rebuilding and restoration in the midst of human damage. I'm learning that it takes a real and honest look at the carnage...resentment and other broken pieces of my heart... to see how it's affecting spiritual and physical progress. I'll share more about this in Part 2.  I have started to realize that my brokenness started to consume me.  I prayed in desperation for healing.

It's obvious that just like death, divorce symbolizes that a marriage is done.  It is finished.  Yet also like death, LIFE is not over.  We hope.  There is always hope.  This is what I cling to as I walk through the desert, once again. I know God always brings goodness when bad things happen but it's hard to wait. Patience, patience, and more PATIENCE, the virtue I need the most practice with.  Funny how that is...I'm obviously a very slow learner!

In Part 2, God reminds me that healing is possible.
"I will restore you to health; of your wounds I will heal you, says the Lord." ~Jer. 30:17

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Finding Easter In The Bloody Mess...

As Christians enter this week reflecting on the brutal murder of our Savior, we often wince at the thought of it.  Yet, we know what happens at the end of the story...The bloody mess is what saves us.

Only during Lent do Catholics have the opportunity to attend Friday Stations of the Cross.  During each of the 7 Lenten Fridays, we can choose to listen to the agony as we enter the scene that Jesus suffered. We bow our heads and drop to our knees in prayer as we mediate upon the different stages of the death march.  Inevitably, I find myself weeping at some point during the 30 minutes as we reflect on what occurred that Good Friday long ago.  Not only does it help us remember what happened but it reminds us of the direction we should be heading.

This Lent, I made a commitment to our parish Stations of the Cross.  I only missed one week.  We have typically made an effort each year but this year was different.  This year, I felt drawn, almost invited, to truly live Good Friday each week.  It was difficult to keep our calendar clear on Friday nights at 6:00 but it was worth it.  Entering the Passion of Christ is truly one of the most amazing spiritual exercises. 

I have learned the hard way that it is there, in the bloody mess of Calvary, that we are not alone.  No matter the size of my cross, your cross, our family's cross, we are not alone.  In fact, we are never closer to Christ than when we climb that road to Golgotha by His side. 

As I continue to suffer the after shock of trauma in my own life, it really helps me to visualize the blood on Christ's face, and the wounds on his human body.  He knew that we would suffer too and we'd need a lot of help to get through it! This year, having my family broken by impending divorce, feels like trauma on the inside.  My cross is heavy but I find consolation knowing that He knows. After all, Calvary was the ultimate trauma. 

I take one day at a time right now.  The memories of countless lies and betrayal threaten my sanity.  Mixed with the confusion of happy memories, I still find it troubling how all of this has transpired in my marriage without me knowing. How in the world did this happen?  Why did this happen? This Lent, I have felt particularly tortured as my brain randomly rolls from memory to memory in an inescapable attempt to process what has occurred. "Letting go" is simply not possible and I have been certain that my head might explode.  Yet for 30 minutes each Friday I thought about the crown of thorns that pierced God's precious head and saw my reflection in the blood dripping down his face.  Those are my wounds, your wounds, the world's wounds, that he bleeds.   He knows our heads are suffering from many wounds. He takes them on so that we might heal, one step at a time.

Even then, healing is a process and we still need to keep moving forward with our crosses. Things don't get better overnight. Lest we forget, He shows us how to do this too.  Last week, I was having a "bad day" carrying my cross. I was cleaning out the garage and having a pity party about all the burden of the work and junk that was left for me to bear alone.  Suddenly my neighbor appeared to say hello.  She just felt that she was supposed to tell me that I won't be buried by the burdens I was carrying. Suddenly, I recalled Good Friday.  Jesus' friends left him and even betrayed him during his suffering.  He found himself unexpectedly accepting help from strangers like Simon of Cyrene who helped Jesus pick up the Cross...And Veronica who wiped His face.  Once again, I was not alone.  Little did my neighbor know that she just wiped my bloody face.  She was my Veronica. He knows what we need and when we need it.  His trail of blood leads us home.

As Good Friday arrives, I know it's time for me to accept the challenge of my own Good Fridays...again.  Sometimes we get multiple Good Fridays to help us stay with Him.  Sometimes we're carrying a cross and sometimes we are called to be Simon or Veronica.  Either way, if we stay the course, we are never alone.

He took on our bloody mess.
He walked the walk.
He stumbled and fell and got back up.
He never quit.
He suffered a piercing death.
He sacrificed that we might live.
He saves us from ourselves.
He is unconditional love.
His resurrection is Easter~the dawn of eternal life.

We find Easter in our bloody mess...Our mess is His mess. The bloody mess saves us. 

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