In the next two weeks, it will be a year since my husband left me. I can’t believe it has been a year already. It feels like yesterday he walked out the door never to return. However, as I reflect on this past year, I am so much a very different person. I am so happy. Happier than I have been in a long time. With the help of so many people, I have been able to work through so many things. I have grown a lot. My eyes have been opened. I have deeper compassion for others. I have seen how God has been in the details of my life. I have learned more about my strengthens and weaknesses. I have been given strengthen from my family, my neighbors, my friends, my church family, and those I work with. Each person has played an intricate part in my healing. Today I wish to talk about my church family and the power and strengthen they have given me this past year as I have been healing and trying to get back on my feet. There are so many people who have been amazing. I am listing some here, but there are many more.
I love my church family. They are so incredible. So many different backgrounds, and livelihoods, but they contribute to the greater good. I feel like we are very close to them.
I fully remember the first Sunday I went to church after he (my ex) left. I walked into our Sunday service and out of habit went to sit on the bench where my family sat. On that bench was a new family who had just started attending our congregation. They had no idea that was “my family’s” bench. Not that we had assigned seating, it is just where we sat every week for the last 5 years. The pain hit me hard. I no longer have a family. Those where his kids that I loved and he took them away from me. My bonus daughters wouldn’t ever be sitting on the row with me again. Seeing someone else there caused major shock, hurt and deep pain. It was raw. More raw and deep than I knew I could feel. Embarrassed and hurt, I made my way to the very back row in the back of the meeting hall where I sat….. alone. I tried really hard not to let the tears fall. But they came. Shortly after the meeting started, I noticed Bishop Speckhard (who sat on the stand) get up and walk to the side section of the hall and talk to a couple women then walked out of the room. Then, through the back door he came to me and invited me to sit with these two women. Michelle M. and Marian. They had always been my friends and when the Bishop brought me to their row, the sat me in between them and they both hugged me and held my hands as tears filled my eyes. I cried inside, but the eyes showed it. For the next several months until I was comfortable on my own, each week Michelle M. and Marion had a designated seat next to them for me so that I never felt alone.
Family Home Evening
After that first meeting was over, I told them what happened, and hugs were abundant. Several other women in the congregation just came over and hugged me. Everyone was in disbelief the actions of my ex-husband and how he had drastically changed. After having major comforting words, they asked how they could help me. I remember feeling worried and having anxiety about Monday night. In my church, Monday is set aside for Family Home Evening (FHE). I held Family Home Evening each week with my bonus daughters. Sometimes it was games and fun. Sometimes it was a lesson or addressing issues that my bonus daughters needed to talk about. Sometimes very formal, sometimes informal. Sometimes I had power points, other times it was just talking. But it was our time together. But I was teaching and I was empowering my girls with things they need to manage life. And I was having anxiety about not having it and no longer being able to do it with them. Michelle O, who is a mother of teenagers like I was, invited me over to her home to share FHE with her family. Her invitation seemed to calm my anxiety, gave me some stability, and something to look forward to. During the course of this past year having FHE with them has been such a HUGE blessing. I have become closer to their family and it has strengthened me in very personal ways. It helped give me solid ground during a time I didn’t have it. It was a great building block for me as I have been rebuilding my life. In fact, when a single man came to visit our ward, they invited him over too so that I could have a change to work on being around single men in a safe place. I love their family for helping me feel important and loved each week and feeling safe in their home. I love being able to talk about important things with them. I love going to their home each Monday night.
My Sunbeam Class
Also during this time, it was also difficult for me to attend Relief Society. Relief Society is a meeting just for woman to talk about gospel principals relating to their homes and families. While not everyone is married in Relief Society, a lot of woman are. With raw emotions, it was so hard for me to sit and listen to people talk about their families and husbands with mine being suddenly ripped away. One Sunday, a woman talked about her sister getting married to a man who had three children and how she was going to become a step mother to his daughters and about the influence she would have on them. The situation sounds so much like what I had and what I had and wanted to be doing, pain hurt again. I got up and left the meeting as it hurt too much to hear those things. I was jealous because I wanted to still be that mom to my kids and it made me angrier at my ex husband because he took the only kids I would raise away from me. I didn’t know how much I loved being a mom, until he left me.
After a short time, I was called in to the office of the church leaders. They were checking in on me and asked me how I was doing. Then I was asked to serve in a position in the Primary (organization of for kids) teaching the Sunbeam Class (3 & 4 year olds). I looked at the man in shock. “You really want me to teach Sunbeams”. I have never taught the little kids. I have never had children of my own, just my teenage bonus daughters. While I did have nieces who I love dearly, this was very different. He said “Yes”. All you have to do each week is let the kids know God loves them. After some thought I agreed. They asked another woman in the ward Alicia L. to be my teaching partner. I was so nervous walking into primary. I sat in the teacher chair and got to meet my class. There were 3 little boys and 5 little girls. They were an active bunch. But they have so much love in them. Each Sunday we prepared lessons for them and even though they had tons of energy and likes to express it, they were learning from us. They would say such funny things in class about what they were learning and how it applied in their little lives. But more than that they gave me love. They were so excited to see me. I started receiving colored drawings they had colored for me, they hugged me each week. Parents would tell me that in nightly prayers at home their children prayed for me and Alicia. One little boy lived in the same complex as I did and in the mornings I would see them walking their dog as I was leaving for work. He would walk over to me and say hi teacher, and give me a big hug. It was an AWESOME way to start the day. One Sunday afternoon I was on the couch watching tv and there was a small knock on the door. I opened the door and it was one of my primary kids and her mom. She had a big smile on her face and she said “hi teacher! I made you a cookie”. And she giggled and handed me a bag with a cookie in it”. Her mom told me “she loves coming to your class. She thinks you are so awesome that she had to make you a cookie today”. These kids have so much love and they share it with me. These kids have no idea the pain and hurt I had been feeling. But their simple acts of pure love towards me have been amazing. So healing for me. It has become a Sunday ritual now, that when primary starts, I go around the room and give each child, including the other older classes, hugs and welcome them to primary. They love it! Their faces light up. They like to tell me what they did the previous week. There is so much power in children. Whoever said, children don’t have much to offer is completely wrong. They are strong, and powerful and their ability to share love is INCREDIBLE and HEALING.
Activity Day Girls
Activity Day’s is an organized group of girls ages 8-12 that meet every other week to learn skills and explore individual talents. They do crafts, learn basic cooking, and do service in our neighborhoods. As Valentines day approached, I remember feeling a lot of apprehension an anxiety about it. I my divorce was close to being finalized but to feel not loved by the person you love on valentines day was hard. I had put things in place to spend time with my nieces and I was following the plan my life coach and I had put in place to manage the feelings. But there was some residual emotion. Valentines Day came. I was following my healing plan. I came home from work to change and was excited to go see my nieces. As I walked up my steps to my door, I found colorful hearts and notes of love strategically placed all over my door. These amazing Activity Day girls took time to think of me. I was grateful for that. I left them up on my door for several months. Each time I saw the hearts, it brought happiness to me during the difficult days.
Jerri joined the church recently. She has insights to “real” life and she helps me keep it real. I admire her so much. She is a single mother and she is a damn good single mom. She was in a situation that was less than desirable. She up and moved from New Mexico to Utah for a fresh new start. It was here she met a friend name Shelly who introduced her to church. She started attending my church and we became good friends right off. She is amazing. She has so much to offer. She understands what its like to go through a divorce.
I had a pearl necklace that I received from my ex. I loved wearing it, but now I felt I couldn’t wear it because of what it represented. I had received some coupons from a local jewelry store for pearl necklaces as a promotion. The week of valentines day, she and I went down to this store and redeemed our coupons and gave each other the pearl necklaces. We call them our valentines day pearls. We wear them every week to church. I love it.
Marion is my visiting teacher. She has been with me in my journey as a single woman, married woman, mother, and now as I am divorced. She is an example of a true woman of God. I want to be like her and live my life as she has lived hers. She was there every step of the way. She knows the details of almost everything–some of which are far from pleasant. She has been able to give me a deeper perspective on many things. I love her as much as I love my mom. She is a true treasure to all who come in contact with her. I have learned so much from here, I can’t even list it all.
Sarah too is a good friend. We have a girls night once a month where we go to the library or do something fun. She has 3 active boys that are so fun. I have really enjoyed my friendship with her. We go out to eat, she has gone to games with me. We go to lectures at the library. She is someone who is just awesome. I will always be grateful to her for being there the day I found out my ex was having an adulterous relationship with Jessica Street. My ex had led me to believe that he was living out of his vehicle for so long, but in reality he moved in with Jessica. Jessica was in my ward. I sat with her in church. My kids babysat her kids and never paid them. We stopped letting them babysit for her because she never paid them. She was just plain weird. She had moved out two years prior. My ex never liked her when she was in our ward. He said he could never be with her. Yet he moved in with her before we had even filed for divorce. He talked her into leaving her husband. She has 5 children. I thought Jessica had a higher moral standard than that. But yet, she still being married is having sex with my husband who was still married to me. Then she left the church and all the teachings of it. Hearing news of my ex I was completely devastated. Sarah was an at home mom, one a very few in my ward. She was home when I got the news. I was devastated that this was really happening to me. I went over to Sarah’s house and cried. She was so tender and cried with me. It made me sick, that my ex would do that to his kids. Did the girls know this was wrong? Jessica already has 5 children, she doesn’t need to take away mine. I am supposed to be their life teaching them, not her. I hate that a woman who I thought had moral standards and who knew me, would betray me and be part of taking away my kids. I wanted to much for the girls to have examples of good relationships in their life. I knew what he was doing with her wasn’t good and wouldn’t reflect a healthy relationship. I know deeply that I am to be in their life and show them good things, how could he (the ex) so blatantly do the opposite of what we taught in our home. Was everything I did and taught to my bonus daughters in vain? The agony I felt was incomparable. She gave me comfort on a very bad day. She reminded me of God’s plan. As we talked and cried, she helped me see that in order for my daughters to know good, they do need to see bad. And that maybe through watching their father and his choices, it would build upon the role I play in their life. Gratefully with the help of my life coach and others, I have worked through these emotions. I haven’t been able to forgive Jessica Street yet. I hope one day I can say I have.
I met Angie many years ago when our congregations merged. She was in walking club and cooking club. She is amazing and has a wonderful personality. But she knows how to stand her own ground. Angie is an accomplished woman. She is excellent and playing the piano and is a wonderful mother of girls. I also have girl time with her. Usually it is later at night when her kids are in bed. Her husband watches the kids and we sneak out to Wendy’s for ice cream. We talk about anything and everything. She is the woman who helped me find the school for my bonus daughters. She has a way to share things with me that is uplifting. She also has a way to share things with me that I need to know but in away that doesn’t add fuel to the fire. She is really good at reassuring me and telling me how crazy everyone else is. She is another who is in touch with life and acts upon her impressions. She is a true friend. She cares about people.
Teresa & Mike
They are awesome! They have been good friends to me as well. Mike’s stature reminds me of superman. He has good hair and is just a good man. I am so glad he and Teresa are married and are just so amazing.
They have a home with a lot of property around it. Shortly after my divorce was final, I collected all the personal memories and items of my relationship and we had a burning party in their yard with their kids. I burned pictures, my leftover wedding announcements, wedding cards, clothing etc. Anything that reminded me of my ex got burned. We roasted hot dogs and marshmallows listened to music. It was a wonderful night. As we were burning these items, we noticed hundreds of Chinese lanterns filled the sky. It was so beautiful. It was like they were carrying my hurt and pain away. They also represented a new beginning of all the awesome things that lie ahead. It was so beautiful.
My heart fills of emotions about Joyce. She is from South Africa. I have learned from her example. She sacrificed so much of her time. In south Africa she would get up at 3 am and drive several hours to voluntarily teach seminary at 5 am. Then she would drive to work and work a 8-10 hour day and then start over again the next day. She is a woman of deep faith. She helped me come up with patterns for my BYU hand quilted quilt, cooking, and relationships. She was a grandmother to many families in the neighborhoods. The kids love her and call her Mrs. Doubt fire because she has similar features to that fictional character. I admire her a lot. Recently she was diagnosed with a terminal illness and given a short amount of time to live. She has impacted my life in so many ways. I am going to miss her immensely.
They say it takes a village to raise a child. But do we every really grow up. It takes a village to raise all of us.