How To Keep Focused On Getting A Better Life

2012-12-28 How To Keep Focus

Getting to the life we envision for ourselves often takes a leap of faith.

Once the decision to make a change is made, everything that comes next can make it easy to forget why you made the decision in the first place. Stress can play tricks on your mind and make you wonder if you were thinking right when you made your decision. Sometimes, you just have to trust yourself and try to remember how it felt to be sure.

This happened to me when I was getting divorced. When I saw the sadness my decision was causing my kids, I even asked my soon-to-be ex-husband if we could just live together like roommates for the sake of the kids. I insanely thought for a moment that we could go from fighting like cats and dogs to buddies. Yes, I was insane. In the panic of seeing what my decision would mean for my kids, I was willing to try any alternative to divorce. I temporarily lost my mind and forgot about all the reasons that made it impossible for me to share a life with my husband. I forgot how it would be better for my kids to see a strong woman alone, than to absorb and normalize the unhealthy relationship between two parents. I was losing track of the new husband-free life I had envisioned for myself. Instead, I was thick into the mess of change and doubting my decision.

Getting through the whole process was hard. It took almost a full year to feel better again and to get my hopefulness back. I can now see that I was just plodding along on faith that our life would be better than it was when I was married. Along the way my mind played tricks on me and made me fear things that I didn’t need to, but periodically along the way, I regained my focus and remembered some things that made it easier.

I was afraid of being a single parent, because I had forgotten that, parenting with someone you can’t connect with is so hard. As a single parent, I get to make the rules in my house. It is up to me to decide how much teasing is too much. I can require everyone to eat dinner together. And bathe. I can create customs like lighting a candle at dinner. When we were always waiting on my ex to get home for dinner or weigh in on a decision, many of the things that I wanted to do as a family went by the wayside. For years. Now I can make them happen. (Mostly. I do have ornery teenagers, you know.) I remembered that it is good to be Queen.

I was afraid of being alone because I had forgotten how much worse it was to feel lonely in a marriage. At first, I thought I would miss having someone at the bottom of the stairs to talk to after putting the kids to bed – then I remembered that my husband was hardly ever home in the evenings. I was always waiting for him to be there. And he wasn’t, so I never could feel settled. I felt sorry for him that he was still at work that late at night. And I hoped he really was at work that late at night. Which didn’t feel good. Now, I really value having a quiet house to myself when the kids have gone to bed. I remembered that I like to have peace at home in the evenings.

I was afraid of shouldering all of the responsibility of taking care of a house, because I had forgotten that doing everything by yourself when you have a partner, feels worse than relying on yourself. Shoveling snow, dealing with horrendous basement floods, and emergency room visits still feels hard and lonely. Then I remember that I did these things by myself, even when I had a husband, and it feels more manageable.

I was afraid to not have a man in my life, because I had forgotten how sad it feels to be with someone who doesn’t cherish you. I had forgotten that, much to my disappointment, I had attended social events alone, slept alone, gone on vacation with the kids alone, and generally gone about my life alone for many years. I had forgotten that I was well-trained for a life alone.

Then somehow I remembered how it felt when I decided that I would rather have the freedom of being truly alone than live a life with someone who made me feel alone. And sometimes remembering that feeling has been the only thing that has kept me going through the difficult, lonely, scary times.

Getting through hard things makes me feel like I can get through more hard things if I need to. Divorce is not good, it is hard on kids, and should be avoided if at all possible. In the end, it turned out to be the right thing for my family. It has made our world bigger, emotionally safer, and more open to possibility. I am still in the process of creating the home I envisioned for my family. We still have meals where there is too much teasing. My son still insists he is an iguana. There are umbrellas in the shower and pizza boxes on the counter and dishes in the sink more nights than I would like, but my life is much closer to plenty perfect now and it feels good to know that how it goes from here is all up to me.

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  1. Leslie says:

    I am so glad I stumbled across your blog, and read this post. I have been contemplating divorce for the last 10 years and recently came to the decision to pull the trigger. I agree that being alone in your marriage is great training for doing it on your own, although I know it is not going to be easy or fun. The situation as it is definitely is not good for me mentally or for my kids. I stayed “for the kids” but what have we modeled? The fear of doing it on my own is something that held me back. Old keys do not open new doors….

    1. annie kip says:

      Thank you for sharing this, Leslie. It is so hard to come to a decision between two difficult options. I am glad this post helped a little bit. Wishing you lots of happier times ahead.

  2. kerin says:

    Thank you! This really helped me regain my clairty. My situation is somewhat similar.Fear, uncertainty, and lonliness are sometimes crippling. Especially when you have kids to think about. Not sure what the next step is for me, but finding hope and help in unexpected places is always a good thing.

    1. annie kip says:

      I know what you mean, Kerin. It is so hard to make decisions in the middle of a messy situation – especially with kids to consider. Hopefully, you have the time you need to really reflect and make a good choice for your family. Getting divorced is no picnic, so you have to be really ready and be sure you have exhausted all options before you get to that point. I hope you can find a way to make your life more the way you want it to be, whichever direction you go.

  3. may says:

    great blog. thank you!

    1. annie kip says:

      Thanks for stopping by!

  4. Elle says:

    Job hunting and came across your page. Wow, I have 4kids and we have been married 20 yrs. I have a master’s degree and was always fit. Ditto on all the details above. We are losing our house short sale or foreclosure not sure yet. We have no savings and some credit card debt. I work part-time in a bakery. So after 10 yrs of trying to get him to help me. He tells me he is not attracted to me because I am not as fit (I am 30lbs overweight)and not using my degree and working full time. He works 2nd shift so I have to be home with the kids. We always had a plan that I would work full time when youngest went to K he starts this sept. but my husbands says he has no hope that I will work in my field and he can’t respect me working at my current job. I am trying to re-enter the work force full time and make enough to get my own place when the house is settled. But have no idea how to get started. We are in separate rooms same house. If I can fix myself he will be “willing” to stay with me. I am having a hard time just functioning and smiling for the kids. Anyone have work force re-entry advice? It is good to know others have done it. Thanks

    1. annie kip says:

      Hi Elle, Thanks for sharing about your situation. It is so hard to find the right balance of things – especially when you are trying to hold a marriage together, work, and take care of kids. This is simply not an easy time in our lives. It is good to ask around and find out how other women are handling their load. I found out about J. Hilburn through a friend and it made sense to me right away. I really enjoy my work with J. Hilburn (see the “work with me” tab on the home page), the flexibility it gives me to take care of my kids, and the unlimited earning potential (rather than an hourly position). The downside to working for myself, is that starting my own business has taken time and commitment. Being a full-time mom is really hard work, no doubt about it! Working outside the home is quite a lot to add on to that full-time responsibility, but finding a job you really love can give you a whole new sense of your own worth. In my humble opinion, you deserve more than someone who would be “willing” to stay with you. Everyone deserves to be loved and appreciated for who they are inside. I can tell that you are a sweet, caring person. I hope you can find your way into a job and life situation that makes you feel alive, valued, and hopeful again!

  5. Deb says:

    Hi ,
    It was amazing that I found myself reading your blog site. Like many of the comments, I have been a single , married mother of four for a long time. Went to school events myself , family things, holidays , and spent most nights on the sofa alone after the kids got to bed. We own a business together so it’s a messy process. Weve had counseling loads of times, but things are still the same. I think I can with all honesty say that I’ve done all I could to work things out, but it need both partners to do the work doesn’t it? My youngest is 16 and struggling with it all. Anyway , just wanted to say it was warming to hear that I’ve already managed to be single while married , so I will get through this.

    1. annie kip says:

      Hi Deb, thanks for stopping by! Yes, I have been there. I am sorry you find yourself at this crossroads but I am glad to offer any comfort I can to you. It is so hard to figure out. I wish you all the best as you sort through your options and try to do the right thing for yourself and your family. I know it is not easy.

      1. Deb says:

        Thanks Annie,
        We are having sporadic counseling , but as is typical my husband never follows through with things he says he will,do while we are in front of the counsellor. We’ve Been living apart for 18 months now, but I still get the feeling he’s waiting for me to ‘get over my tantrum and move back home” I say I havnt seen much change , which he denies, it makes me look like the one which led us to where we are today, but I wasnt the one never home or having you know as a mother all the decisions I made werent made lightly, considering every minute aspect! Thanks again for your blog , just knowing others have come through this and understand helps .

        1. annie kip says:

          Yes, it is difficult. I can relate to your frustration. The issues that led to my divorce haven’t gone away, but at least I can stand a little farther away from them now.

        2. Candi says:

          My divorce was final last September and in August, it will be 2 years since I left my husband. He, too, seems like he’s waiting for me to get over my tantrum and come back. I was also the one at home with the kids while he was always gone and having affairs too. I guess because we were married for such a long time, and I left once before and then came back, he thinks I’ll do it again. He’ll be waiting a VERY long time, that’s for sure!!

          1. annie kip says:

            It must be nice to finally be in a settled place with regard to your relationship – even if your husband is taking a little longer to see it. That feeling of deep knowing is so good.

          2. Deb says:

            Hi Candi, I am amazed , but feel so supported knowing that there are other women going thro or have gone through my same situation! I love how strong you sound! I find myself sometimes thinking ‘we’ll maybe I should go back’ but I know that it would only be for he kids or him. Mind you the kids are grown up , the youngest is 16. We own a business together so it is not a simple thing to even begin to divide the finances , but meanwhile I feel in a state of limbo and can’t move forward.

  6. Louis says:

    Holla Annie,
    Stress is a overrated word that is being used to protect the true feeling of what one really feels and truly what to project. Choice is a word that needs to be in the mainstream, Ok ,, you in a situation were there is pressure on your emotions,. think of all the possibilities, to portray your true feeling for that person that you have feelings for.

    Much Love Annie,

    Louis is Chilin like Bob Dillon.)

    1. annie kip says:

      I completely agree, Louis! We all have choices about how we respond to events in our lives and thus much more control than we admit over how our lives unfold. It would be great if everyone paid more attention to the feelings behind thier feelings!!!

  7. Diane D says:

    Dear Annie,
    Between your writings and others feedback my current story has been written pretty much. The only added details being that the emotional abuse of a 27 yr marriage/31 year relationship has taken such a toll to the point where I am just crawling out of a major depression. Hopefully nearing the end of a seemingly long divorce, he’s been out of the house 6 months, went through marital counseling and finally I was told by therapist and my priest “why are you waiting?’ So I filed, he began hiding family business money, stopped paying off the credit cards like he’d done since we’d been married, sold one company post the judge saying not to and using that money to do god knows what with even after judge said put in escrow until things were settled! The best was his denial that he’s the owner of his company, that his brother has been for the past 5 years? News to me and all 4 of his children. Sadly, like everyone I’ve questioned would it be easier financially for me, the kids to stay together? To lose this home,the home my kids have only known and the one my dreams of grandchildren and big family gatherings were to occur in then I realize its been a house for too long not a home and two are grown on their own already. My 15 yr old, son, college age daughter and I will make it on our own somehow, I have to believe that despite how much their dad is trying to hide money and act like he has nothing. Course to the world, my kids , he is still smiling, laughing, joking isn;t life grand? But now, as I search for a job, struggle to pay bills on my temporary support, try and find someone to mow the lawn since obviously he’s cx our lawn service among many things and we have no mower, I am realizing that I have done the right thing. When he moved out I wasn’t feeling sadness but relief, that spoke volumes. And I’m learning…you’re right Annie, there is a difference between loneliness and being alone, and from this point forward I will stand tall, and relish in being alone. For now I know if I can survive 31 years of that relationship, there can only be great things waiting for me ahead, I just have to stay mindful! Thanks again it feels so much better knowing I’m not alone in this process that makes you feel so lonely at times and I wish everyone well !

    1. annie kip says:

      Thanks for sharing your story, Diane. I am so happy to hear that you are feeling relief – and hopeful about your future! I think many people can relate to your feelings.

  8. Megan M. says:

    I want to thank you for this post. I have been separated almost 5 months and my divorce will be final next week. It has been a struggle. A very hard struggle. But I have to believe that there is more than what was given or shown in my marriage. I have never been alone. I went from my mothers house to my soon to be ex-husbands house. I am terrified of being alone. But just like you said, I was alone before. I have recently been questioning my decision and wondering if I did the right thing. You put all my feelings into words. Knowing that someone else felt this way made me not feel so alone. My kids are doing well, and that is all that matters. I am terrified for the future but as long as it isn’t the past we will be ok.

    1. annie kip says:

      Hi Megan, we all have to do what feels right to us. It is a big adjustment to be separated, even if you have had experience being on your own. Just take your time and try to pay attention to what you already know. Try to parse out what is legitimate fear for a good reason, and what is just unknown. The best resolution is when two people can come back together and create a stronger bond, but it does take two to make that happen. Knowing my kids were better off helped me too.

  9. Candi Brandl says:

    Oh my! I could have written that almost word for word. The only big differences are that my children are grown and I don’t feel like this is a scary process at all. I wake up with a smile every single day to not be living that sad, empty life anymore. I’ve only been separated 5 months, ready to file for the divorce as soon as I have the money for my lawyer. Still discovering who I am and having a ball reinventing ME 🙂 I don’t know what the future holds but as long as it’s nothing like the past I’ll be doing ok.

    1. annie kip says:

      Oh, I can so relate to the relief coming through in your words. I am so happy that you have foound a way to feel free and happy. Good luck to you!

  10. Orestes G says:

    Hello Annie,
    I recently read an article where your website was mentioned and I clicked on it. I read the above article and I have to say, my marriage was kinda like yours. I would be the one going to family functions alone and with the kids. She was always working, taking on the extra shifts and looking to make that money. We divorced in 2006 and she has remarried, but, she has a lot of bitterness towards me. For the last 5 years I’ve been in a healthy relationship but the bitterness being shown from my ex is taking its toll on us.
    Your blog has helped me to realize that one can move on without that “special” person in your life. There is always someone out there who is better. I spend my time with my daughters and try to provide them with a great atmosphere. They are my world and I will not allow anyone to take that away from me. Thank you for providing me an insight into your world.

    1. annie kip says:

      I am so happy to hear that your daughters are giving you motivation to make a better life. It is hard to know what happens to relationships and why people become so bitter. I am sorry, but glad you are moving on. Thanks for checking in here!

  11. Connie Omari says:

    Hi Annie! this is sooooooo refreshing! Thank you for your honesty and soul searching… I think your perspective can be utilized for a variety of concerns… not just divorce. I’m currently thinking of a career change, but I am afraid of the uncertainty. However, if I really think about it, I”m uncertain with what I’m doing now anyway, and at least my career change will give me more control. I really appreciate this. Thanks again.

    1. annie kip says:

      Hi Connie! I am so excited that you see how this stuff applies to all aspects of life! I feel like everything clicked for me when I realized that being my authentic self was the way to make sure I was happy with whatever came along in my life. We can’t always like what we are doing, we may decide to stay in bad marriages or get out, but paying attention and holding on to who we are can guide our decisions toward more happiness. This has nothing to do with being selfish and being self-centered – it is all about offering our best selves to the world. Good luck with your job transition!

  12. Vickie says:

    Hi Annie: Just discovered your site. It’s food for the soul, and I thank you for that. I “love” the painting of the stacked stones. Was thinking it would be perfect for my meditation space. Can you tell me the name of the artist?
    Namaste- Vickie

    1. annie kip says:

      Oh Vicki – thanks so much! I took the photo in Sedona and am happy to send a copy to you! I would love to see how you use it!

      1. Vickie says:

        Would really appreciate a copy. Have searched for the right artwork for years. I think I’ll look into having it printed on canvas. Will send you a pic when it’s done. Hugs-Vickie

        1. annie kip says:

          I sent it yesterday – let me know if you don’t get it! Thanks!!!

          1. Vickie says:

            Have not received photo yet.

  13. Dana says:

    Hello Annie,
    Reading your story felt like reading my own experience, I can feel what you went through and agree that taking such a decision can have in some cases more advantages like yours. I personally went through the same; got married very young and raised my kids alone, had to suffer many things but as you said it prepared me well for the new chapter in my life. it’s very hard on the kids but therapy can be an option to help going through this phase. All the best wishes for you and for all single strong mothers.

    1. annie kip says:

      thank you, Dana! It feels good to know that you can relate. I think if we are going to make this kind of big decision, we owe it to ourselves and our kids to get the most we can from it psychologically – learning about ourselves, admitting our faults, finding our inner-strength. Adversity is a really great teacher if we are willing to look at ourselves. It sounds like you know how hard it is to do this work.

  14. Louis says:

    Hello Annie,
    Currently I am going through “The Divorce”.. And I must say , I have these questions and feelings that you have mentioned. During our separation, I have time to rewind and look from the outside in. I just kept asking myself why didn’t I see that, and why is she always so angry of everything, I just got tired of asking.. Judge has granted her ,my Business my house and My car. She took my Dog and Gave him away..I asked her why are you so ANGRY.. I was very loyal and supportive to her and her mother. But again I look back and just say that I could be living with this anger and her trying to make me feel as she does.. She refuse’s to tell me why she is soo upset. All in All im happy though.. I have quility time with my son and we make the best of it. Thanx for hearing me out..

    1. annie kip says:

      Hi Louis,
      I know women are not always as willing to communicate as we would like people to believe. People can be really mean. Men sometimes get the raw end of the deal. I am sorry. It doesn’t matter if we are men or women, if we are unwilling to look at ourselves, we cannot connect with another person. We have to be willing to tell our truths and admit our weaknesses to be in any relationship – spouse, kids, friends – it doesn’t matter. It is a two way street. I am sorry that this was so hard for you but glad you have the chance to make a happier life for yourself.

      1. Louis says:

        I agree 100%, Being out of that and out of that environment , I truly look at my situation with her as being a educational experience. Go figure, I going to be 50 yr old and still being schooled.) again in hindsight I have become a better Gentleman. My job now is to support my Son, Financially, educationally,and most important Lovingly. He is my JOY.) Thank You Annie, I appreciate the inspirational words, and i will continue reading.



        1. annie kip says:

          So glad to hear that, Louis. You do, indeed, seem like a gentleman, in every sense of the word.

  15. My life was also lonely . You put many things into perspective for me. I had
    been married for 21 years, and spent most of the marriage doing things alone. I believe I only stayed because of the income, which was not there most of the time anyway. Starting over is
    VERY hard. Money is extremely tight. I have to make some realistic decisions that are going to be hard
    for my 16 year old son. The house that I made a HOME is in foreclosure. I try to look at a different
    life for me and my son. My kids are a wonderful support system. Its not their fault. I have to try and make things right. I want a better life, no matter where I am living!! Thank you.

    1. annie kip says:

      Hi Kathleen, I am so sorry you are in the middle of a hard situation. I hope that you will be able to continue moving through it and get to the other side feeling freer and more in charge of your own life, no matter what that looks like. I think you are very brave. Being attached to the feeling you want for your life with your son, rather than the trappings of a life, seems smart. It sounds like you are a very loving mother and whervever you are will be HOME for your son.

      1. Thanks Annie, Its better to be free than living a lie your whole life. Agree?

        1. annie kip says:

          I think of it this way…when I am 90 years old looking back at my life, will I be happy with what I lived? Will I say “wow, you were a really great compromiser, too bad you didn’t get more out of it” or will I say “you lived a full life, even if it wasn’t easy”?

  16. Jean Owen says:

    Very profound, and well stated Annie. Some of the things you refer to
    I find true with the other D, death, of my husband and it helps.

    1. annie kip says:

      I can see how that would be so. Even around something you did not choose, like losing David. I am glad you can relate this to something in your life and find it useful.

  17. Annie,
    There is no greater sadness than feeling alone in a marriage. Someone very close to me is going through a divorce right now and she just got married. I think both parties thought getting married would help their situation. Marriage is hard and takes work everyday. It can’t be a one person doing all the heavy lifting while the other person does….?
    Thank you for sharing this.

    1. annie kip says:

      I am so sorry to hear that. It is very painful to break up a marriage – that you stood in front of God and everybody promising to stick to – even when it seems to be the only alternative. I hope that anyone who is going through this will remember that it won’t always feel this bad.

  18. John Capalbo says:

    Hmmmm…so maybe it wasn’t John that had the “teasing problem” after all! :-))

    Great blog Annie. I envy your ability to put your feelings into words…

    1. annie kip says:

      Hahaha! Yes, perhaps many years of top level training enabled my kids to identify your “teasing problem”!!! They are experts in the field!!!

      Thanks for reading, John. I really appreciate it!!!

  19. Having trouble formulating a response because all I can think is me too, me too, me too. There is something so powerful and comforting in seeing your experience so clearly articulated in another’s. Thank you for giving me that this morning. I did it all–from crazy fantasies of somehow building a different life together for our kids, to doubting everything, to fearing that kind of disappointment again–so it is hard to pick one part of this that resonates most deeply. But I think it is this: “I forgot how it would be better for my kids to see a strong woman alone, than to absorb and normalize the unhealthy relationship between two parents.” It was that realization, more than any other, that gave me the strength to leave. It’s why it’s now true for us, too, that it “has made our world bigger, emotionally safer, and more open to possibility.”

    Wishing you a happy year, with progress made toward the dreams you have for it.

    1. annie kip says:

      And in return, it means so much to me to know that you can relate. People who have not been through this kind of “threshing,” as I like to call it, cannot really understand how choosing to divorce (especially when you have kids) does crush you and pull you apart until all that is left is your Self. Maybe wounded and in pieces, but your truest, most core Self. I have to say that I am grateful for everything that I learned, although I would never wish it on anyone. I know you have a better life now as well and I am so happy for you!!!

  20. Deb White says:

    Some of the things you listed resonate with me in my life, too … you are still the strong, beautiful woman I remember, Annie. Much happiness to you and your gorgeous kids in 2013!!! (P.S. I am passing this entry along to a friend of mine!) xoxoxoxoxo

    1. annie kip says:

      You are the best, Deb. I think we all experience degrees of these same feelings from time to time in our relationships. Plenty perfect is just fine. I always say it is hard to know when too much is too much, until you get there. Then you are sure. Terrifyingly sure. Thanks for passing the post on – I hope it helps your friend feel stronger and more hopeful.

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