The Worst is Over…Not.

This whole business of divorce recovery and starting life over again in mid-life…it ain’t for sissies, as they say. For a while I’d thought I was through the worst of it, after going through the initial few months of sleepless nights and sheer panic about my future, then a period of calm reflection and settling down emotionally, and eventually starting to feel more optimistic about what lay ahead for me. When I got to that point I was sort of surprised: I thought it was supposed to take longer than that to heal from the trauma of divorce, but maybe I was one of the lucky ones, right? Wrong.

When I was offered a great job several months ago, I felt temporarily courageous and decided I was brave enough to move away from my friends and a place I loved. I convinced myself I was strong enough to start life all over, in a place that was geographically not all that far away but felt – psychologically – like it was thousands of miles away. Today I’m not so sure I’ve got enough strength.

Kim with titmouse in hand at Kensington Dec 2014

Hand-feeding a Tufted Titmouse at Kensington Metropark

But I’m not giving up. I’ve worked incredibly hard over the past 15 months to adjust to being on my own again. It’s taken every ounce of strength I could dredge up from the depths of my soul to get to this point. I’ve gone through all the stages of grief about my divorce–some of them more than once. I do wish the grieving process could be a linear one, so that once you’ve gone through each stage you could be done with it. But it’s not that way, and even though you think you’ve finished with the “anger” or “depression” stages, they can come back when you least expect them, which is even more unsettling than the first time.

I’ve been trying to figure out why I’m falling back into negativity and sadness lately.  I just spent a few minutes looking back through my Facebook timeline for December of last year, and I almost can’t believe how happy I looked back then. The photos in this post were all taken last December while I was living alone in my apartment, in limbo, not sure what I was going to do with my life. But look at me, I was happy! So why am I not happy now? I have a house and a job, so you’d think I’d feel better about my future, right?  But what I’ve realized is that I’m still missing so many of the people and places that I love, and more importantly, I don’t have the time or energy anymore to do the things that make me happiest.

Kim with two chickadees in hand at Kensington Dec 2014

Two chickadees feeding from my hands at Kensington Metropark

I can’t remember the last time I went out and just walked in nature. These days I come home exhausted, often crying as I walk into my dark and empty house, and spend the evening just sitting on the sofa in front of mindless television. And that is so not how I want to live my life! I want to be with friends who want to be with me, and I want to be able to smile without forcing it, and to see birds. In fact, I’m really missing the joy of seeing birds and just being able to spend time in nature. That’s been an important part of my healing process, and I can easily see the impact of less nature time in my life. Clearly, I need to make this a priority.

I’m also sure that this recent sadness is also partly due to the fact that it’s THE HOLIDAYS and we’re supposed to be giddy with happiness all the time. Maybe that’s why few people are willing to really hear me when I try to share something about my sadness and my fears. Since my emotions are so raw, I cry easily. And I see the way they look at me when I mention my troubles–their eyes glaze over or they just pretend they didn’t hear me and quickly change the subject. I wonder if people are afraid to acknowledge my pain because it makes them feel guilty for their happiness. Does that make sense? Or maybe they think I expect them to make everything better for me?

Kim and Deb in Rochester with holiday lights Dec 2014

My sister Deb and me enjoying the light display in Rochester, Michigan (Dec. 2014)

But that’s just it, I don’t expect that of anyone. And thankfully, I found one friend recently who was willing to just listen to me. And I’ll be eternally grateful to her for really seeing me for who I am and for not thinking I’m weak. She didn’t try to solve my problems, and I didn’t expect her to. She just listened to me. And that was such an amazing gift.

Is there anyone in your life who could use someone to just listen to them this holiday season? Could you give them that precious and life-affirming gift? I know I’ll try to pay it forward now that someone has done me the immense honor of acknowledging my struggles. After all, isn’t that what we all want from life, to be really seen and heard?

Wishing you and yours a holiday season filled with love and healing.

 

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21 Responses to The Worst is Over…Not.

  1. kristieinbc says:

    Dear Kim,

    I wish I was there right now so I could give you a hug, then sit down and listen while you talk through some of the things that are weighing on your heart. My dearest friends live several hours away from me, but we connect on the phone several times a week and have some nice, long conversations. Would it be possible for you to remain connected this way with some of the friends you have left behind? Also, the holidays can be a very difficult time, but also don’t overlook the fact that we are now to the shortest day of the year. It is possible you could have SAD, which would add to your feeling this way. In previous years if you were outdoors more you might not have noticed its effects as much. A light box might be worth trying. Virtual hugs to you…

    • Kristie, thank you for your caring message. I’m feeling your virtual hug across the continent! I do have a light box tucked away in the closet…perhaps I should pull that thing out and make use of it. I’m very glad we’re starting to add daylight time to each day now, and I’m also glad that we’re having such beautiful weather…in the upper 60s in December! Every day without snow is a good day for me, LOL.

      I’m sorry I’ve not visited your blog much recently. Maybe I’ll get a chance to catch up on my vacation next week. Wishing you and yours a Christmas and New Year’s filled with much love!

  2. Oh Kim I wish I lived near by I know we would enjoy a coffee and a chat at the new aviary that just opened up in a town near here. You are doing amazing, your whole world changed. I know for me it would be a huge adjustment to be single again. My sister is going through the same thing and I know she has her good and bad days too. I will try and remember to listen and just let her vent every now and again. Wishing you a happy xmas. I really do believe you need to set up some bird dates. I would be lost without my walks with nature.

    • Kath, I love the idea of a coffee and chat with you. If only we lived on the same continent, we could try to make that happen, LOL. And you’re right about me needing some bird walks. It’s starting to get cold here lately, but I need to just bundle up and get out there. Thanks for the motivation, and happy Christmas to you too!

  3. Littlesundog says:

    This time of year is hard for me too, so I understand. I believe it is a difficult time for a lot of folks. But what you said made me think of Daisy deer. If I used one word to describe her it would be “resilient”. She was an orphan. Only one of her six babies lived to be an adult. She constantly flees from danger, and stands up to defend herself. She adapts as her world changes. Kim, that is you too, my sweet friend. Life is this crazy roller coaster of experiences… all put in place so that we evolve and discover who we are.. and who we are not. You are doing just that. You are already cognizant of what brings you peace and happiness.Stick with those things, and be positive as much as you can. I tend to find I attract so much more good, when I’m thinking positive! I love you, Kim. I’m so glad we are friends. 🙂

    • Yes, resilience! That’s what I’m trying to work on, being able to bounce back when I get knocked down, and adapting to change better. I really like how you use Daisy’s life to illustrate what it means to be resilient. Thanks for all the encouragement and support, Lori. I’m so happy we’re friends too! Love you.

  4. Donna Madrid-Simonetti Desert Donna! says:

    Willing to listen anytime Kim! xxx xxx-xxxx. Like singer Blondie says, CALL ME! anytime! 🙂 You got the holiday blues mixed with other blues.

    • Thank you, sweet Donna. You’re right, I’ve got two kinds of blues, don’t I? But as a result of writing this post, I’ve gotten so many wonderful messages of support and offers to go birding, I’m already feeling better. 🙂

  5. The holiday season is rough for so many people. it brings back memories, good and bad. Love and loss. It also causes a lot of stress and sadness and some don’t make it through it sadly. My divorce just became final(after 19 months) 3 days before my 50th birthday(12/6) and I went through a bunch of different emotions. Time to start living again. Here’s to a better 2016 for all of us who made it through the rough times.

  6. Rob Weir says:

    Well my friend. If you ever get up in this neck of the woods in your old haunts, I would like to invite you to meet me where we first met. Watching the birds through the window at our favorite park in the winter, is great therapy. You brought Magee Marsh into my birding world during that first visit and I will be forever thankful. Despite the fact that your Buckeyes continually beat up on my beloved Wolverines, you are missed. Keep the faith, reach out toward making new friends, but most of all….don’t forget your old ones.

    • Rob, thank you for your continuing support. I would love to sit with you at the window at Stony Creek again, but if we don’t meet up there, I absolutely want to see you when you come to Magee Marsh next spring! Happy Holidays and big hugs to you and Kathy!

  7. Marie says:

    The foundation of the Buddhist philosophy is that expectations create suffering. We have so many expectations of ourselves, thinking that we should feel this, or be at that point in our lives, or have more time, or be happy, or…. Then we sit around feeling bad that we haven’t achieved those things. Stop beating yourself up, be OK with where you are, with the now, but take those steps to do the things that bring you joy (and identifying them is the first step!). My best to you Kim. And if you ever want to go birding…. 🙂

    • Hi Marie. I agree with the idea that expectations create suffering, because I’ve seen it many times in my own life. In fact I’ve been working on becoming more aware of when I have unrealistic expectations, or even any expectations at all. Thanks for the good wishes, and I hope to see you on the trails soon!

  8. Beautifully said. And I LOVE your blog title:))

  9. Jennifer Dierks says:

    Kim, I know how you feel – my husband passed away in January after 34 years of marriage. I faced starting over even though I am older than you it seemed like a daunting task. I’m a birder and have joined Sisters on the Fly and bought a truck and camper. Thought I was doing well but lately have been in pain, have no energy and no Christmas spirit even though I have two wonderful sons, two wonderful daughter-in-law and a 10 month old grandson. I’m also having knee replacement surgery next month. I think it is just the holidays, the first time thru all these events without him. I have a trip planned for April with SOTF and hope to go to the Biggest Birding Week in May. My Dr says my knee will be good by then so I have reason to work hard at recovery. I am lucky in that I could retire but I have had to fake happiness sometimes and setting goals like my trips in April and May give me something to look forward to. I plan to just keep on rebuilding my life until it resembles something that will make me happy even though I know there will be ups and downs. You should do the same. Think of all the people who are worse off – no money, no home, no loved ones. You and I are pretty lucky, right? I’ll watch for you on down the road, perhaps at a birding event, smiling, because we are both in a happier place! Jenny

    • Jenny, thank you for taking the time to share that. I think you’ve got the right idea by planning things to look forward to. This is the first I’ve ever heard of Sisters on the Fly — they sound like a fun group of women! I wish you all the best with the knee surgery, and maybe I’ll see you on the boardwalk at Magee Marsh in May. Both of us smiling, of course!

  10. Jack Burris says:

    Kim, the Christmas season is a hard time for a lot of us. TV, movies and Christmas cards all portray perfection in everything related. Even a current commercial tells us to “Win The Holidays!” by buying at their stores. Common sense tells us that nobody will win by buying. Still we want the perfection for the ones we love, the perfect dinner, present, etc. I understand that it is hard that you don’t have old friends and loved ones nearby. That just sucks. Visit them when you can. But please in the mean time continue to reach out to those around you, but you must know some lack the confidence to reach out to you. Cathy and I seldom reach out to friends or family, everyone is a lot busier than we are 🙂 But we have a friend that isn’t afraid to reach out to us. So if you can gather the strength, call someone every day. Make a plan to get out into nature, alone or with someone. Fledge a new birder 🙂 Be with people, keep reaching out. Your in our hearts and prayers.

    • Oh Jack, thank you for taking the time to write those encouraging words. You and Cathy are such special people, and you’re at the top of my list of people I know I can depend on for ANYthing I need. I’ll see you soon (and I WILL hug you!).

  11. WPC says:

    Like your comments! You have it figured out beautifully about how people react to other peoples problems-especially emotional ones. You have come a long long way Kim and now you are a working girl so you do not have the time for yourself that you used to have. The birds have gone south and winter is setting in on Ohio so we are stuck inside so much more. The holidays can make us feel left out when it seems most everyone else is not. The move you made is a good one for you to give you space and work is always going to be hectic at times.(that is why they pay you). You now should get that yarn back out and create something pretty like a new scarf to wear to your new job! You are like me that you are happiest if those little hands are doing something creative. I am so glad I like to crochet and make crafts because it makes me happy. I am here always if you need any support and just remember that you are loved very much. Mom and Dad too

  12. trudyjohnson says:

    Holidays . . . hard times. You are heard and you are appreciated. Praying for healing and joy in the coming days, Kim. And, so glad you are making time for the peace nature can bring, a peace and joy you have shared with others in the past and will again in the future. That’s my wish for you.

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