If you read my blog, you pretty much fall into one of these categories:
1) Living in a hard marriage,
4) Single mom,
5) Going through a hard/sad season of any kind,
6) You like all the pink,
7) Or you’re my Dad. (Hi, Daddy!) (Bless your heart, by the way.)
So, categories 1-5 should really resonate with today’s topic. We get sad. I get sad. I understand sad from the angle of going through a handful of super hard circumstances in my day and from having what I would consider to be a melancholy bent. Shoot, I think part of me even relishes being sad because it’s just so darn comfortable to me. I know how to be sad. If you need sad lessons, call me. I’m the sad expert.
But say you’ve gone through a hard thing and you’ve grieved it well (so you think) and you’ve analyzed it thoroughly (hypothetically) and you still feel sad. Then what?
This summer, I will have been divorced for two years. I still get the grace card on being occasionally sad over the death of my almost-nineteen-year marriage and I totally get that. However, I’m at day 27 right now over the ending of my recent five-month friendship with the good man, and I feel like I am supposed to be done. Over it. Moved on.
I heard Carrie Underwood say in an interview that, pre-marriage, she didn’t really spend too much time dwelling on break-ups, that she’d give herself a day and then she’d go be awesome.
I really loved him; he loved me better than I’ve ever been loved; and I thought he was the man I had been looking for my entire life. Oh, and I’m not sure anyone else will ever get me or treat me or partner with me like that again. (Geez, Beth.) (I know…I told you…a real malaise fest over here.) So, all that to say, not really running off to be awesome on Day 2. (Or Day 27 apparently.)
And yet, I feel guilty. I feel wrong. I feel like I really should, at this point, be further along in my healing. Even though I have taken some major strides. Like lessons learned and huge breakthroughs. And please know, it’s not like I’m crying all day every day. In fact, I’m still totally engaged in mothering; I’m eating and sleeping just fine (not too much and not too little); I’m having quiet times; I’m going for walks every day; I’m getting huge amounts of work done (like, I wrote an entire e-book in two weeks kinda work done).
My mentor asked me if I thought I might be in despair; but that’s not it. So here’s how I know something’s not right: I don’t feel like me yet. I have this baseline sadness humming throughout my every activity. Like, I’ll read a few pages in a book and then look off and sigh. Or I’ll still occasionally cry on my walks. Or I’m just not really smiling or laughing all that much.
Listen, I spent twenty years feeling sad and not allowing myself to act that way. I know how to fake it. But I don’t want to fake it anymore. “As long as I keep pretending, my soul keeps dying.” (John Ortberg) I have spent the past four years recovering my heart so that I could be fully me, so that I could live as authentically as I wanted to. And my reality is that I’m just blue.
So, I’ve done all the usual steps. My typical bag of tricks is empty. I’ve journaled. Lord, have I journaled. I’ve cried. I’ve prayed. I’ve eaten copious amounts of ice cream. I’ve talked with my mentor. (Bless her heart, too.) I’ve had a ritual Girls’ Nite In involving chocolate and crying and a cat sweater. (My friends have an odd way of trying to prod me back into the saddle.) I’ve even put on my calendar another Girls’ Nite In where they will help me sign up for eHarmony (I don’t want to talk about it). I’ve walked on the beach. I’ve written a goodbye letter I’m not going to send. I think you see my point. I’ve done the work.
I’ve grieved and processed the crap out of this thing. And yet. This still-not-myself thing lingers. This sadness follows me around. I’m tired of being sad and kinda hopeless when I’m alone; and I’m equally tired of pretending I’m fine when I’m not.
So, here’s what I’m doing next: I’m going to set up an appointment with a counselor. (No, sweet man, YOU did not send me into therapy; the first whatever-we-were post-divorce has just thrown me for a bit of a loop and triggered, turns out, e-ve-ry-thing apparently.)
I know I say on here a lot that counseling is a great tool for you, but I wanted you to understand that it’s a tool I have used and that I’m not ashamed to let you know when I can tell I’m stuck and need some extra help.
I cannot heal myself. (I’ve tried.) And I’ve asked Jesus to, and he has been, but if there’s anything that I’m missing because I’m just too close to the situation, then I want to be completely open to whatever that is so I can learn and fully heal and then move on.
So, sweet girl, if you’re just still too sad over anything, if you’re not yourself, if you feel stuck, reach out for help. He gave us each other for a reason.
Lord, all my desire is before You;
And my sighing is not hidden from You.
My heart pants, my strength fails me;
As for the light of my eyes, it also has gone from me.
My sorrow is continually before me.
But in You, O Lord, I hope;
You will hear, O Lord my God.
Do not forsake me, O Lord;
O my God, be not far from me!
Make haste to help me.
P.S. Allow me to add something here: Just before my reconciliation attempt several years back, I went on an anti-depressant for about eighteen months. It’s not for everyone. But I want to help erase a bit of the stigma if I can. If you find yourself stuck – like really stuck – for a while – like months and months or even years and years, I want to encourage you to go to your doctor for a complete medical exam to make sure you are physically well, and to prayerfully research your options regarding medication. There is nothing to be ashamed of. Not one thing.
Resource: Christian Counselor Finder
If this post encouraged you, you would benefit from “Unraveling: Hanging onto Faith through the End of a Christian Marriage”, found here or “Living through Divorce as a Christian Woman”, found here.
I think it’s very wise to recognize that your current loss has triggered things which may be better understood and moved through with the help of a therapist…I went to my therapist when I started dating because I was so afraid to trust myself! I’m all for it. And while not fun, I think it is okay and realistic to be sad. I’m so sorry for your current blues. I’m so glad you’re being real.
Thank you, Missy!
Another EXCELLENT post!!! Thank you for speaking to the stigma that surrounds anit-depressants. With a complete medical exam to rule out other issues, those medication are a gift from God and can take you through some dark times. They are an excellent tool as is counseling!! I thank GOD for the couselors that have helped me through this process!! As I said in a comment earlier, yours is the third post-divorce dating experience that I’ve seen lived out before me in recent days…all very similar as they all ended. BUT to see the healthy responses from you and my other two friends teaches me that this next step isn’t necessarily easy and should be covered and smothered and prayer. And the results left to God. HE is taking tender care of you as you heal right now and for that I am very grateful!!! Hang in there sweet lady!!
Thank you for the sweet affirmation, Kim! -Elisabeth
Thanks as always for your honesty. I was thinking maybe an anti-depressant might be a way to get “you” back — glad you’re going to do counseling. I’ve done both of those over the course of my life.
I went off my anti-depressants about 10 months ago, after being on them for about 6 years. Am glad I was on them because it DID help. I no longer wanted to kill myself. The way I look at it is God made doctors and doctors/scientists have invented meds that have helped lots of people. Sometimes it is just what is needed. Bless you Beth!!
Michele, not quite ready to go the anti-depressant route this time around at only day 27, but I do appreciate your encouragement. -Elisabeth
I was at a retreat where the Christian counselor Leslie Vernick spoke, and she said something about this subject, ” If you have a broken leg, you need crutches. Once the leg heals, you need to throw those crutches away. It is the same with antidepressants; we may need them while we heal but we shouldn’t make them a lifelong crutch,”. So use them while you heal.
You are such a wonderful person so fearfully and wonderfully made. Let your value come from your identity in Christ. He loves you, no one else will ever love you as He does. You are complete in His love. I know He is not your boyfriend but I daresay that the purity, security, unconditional nature and fullness of His love is better than any love that a boyfiriend or husband will or can give. God is love. He created all the different kinds of love. No one can love you like He can. Bask in His love, feed on His love,let His love heal you from all scars. Let His love mesmerise you, fix your eyes on Him, seek after Him as the dear panteth for the water. Love Him with all you’ve got. Give yourself away to Him. Withhold nothing. He will not pre decease you and leave you comfortless. Really living this…believing this gives you freedom. It revolutionises your life. You no longer look to persons to satisfy your need for love (which we all have) because you have tapped into the source of the Aurthor of love and you feed directly from His love. His love becomes a conduit through which you love others rather than you being really needy for the love of a man or someone else. If others love you that’s great but if they don’t you’re so secure in God’s love that you know it’s their lost because you know who you are in Christ and that what you have to offer others is priceless.
I love you Elisabeth, when I read your posts what I get is, “this lady (you Elisabeth) is sweet” .God has the absolute best in store!
Lois, thank you for your sweet, sweet words. -Elisabeth
Thanks for sharing, Elisabeth! Next month is the “anniversary” of my divorce; August would have been my 25th wedding anniversary. I’m heading to court in a few weeks for a few things in the decree that he’s not honoring…so guess my occasional feelings of sadness are normal, huh? I think we’re often way too hard on ourselves! I”ve thought lately about going to a counselor too…thanks for the guidelines.
And I just want to add to the comments about anti-depressants–as an instructor told us in nursing school (a LONG time ago and I still remember it!), sometimes when a person is depressed she is not able to do the things she needs to to get out of the depression (like eat right, regulate sleep patterns, exercise, etc.). The anti-depressant can help a person to lift out of the depression enough to do the things to help get her the rest of the way out of the depression. And from personal experience, they work and help…I was on for a total of several years but have been off now for a long time.
God’s blessings to you and to everyone else reading this!
Thank you for sharing, Shelly! -Elisabeth
YES and YES!!! Counseling and meds. That’s the exact message I want people to know: You may only need one or the other or both! but don’t shy away. Beth, you hit the nail on the head by trying everything and realizing you then needed a helper. I went back for a tune up with my counselor in March and it was just what I needed. Other times I had to go week after week. God has given us people that He uses to heal us and in the process we grow closer to Him. Amazing!!!!!
I want to thank you so much for this blog. I have been feeling the exact same way, it felt like I was reading about me. It really helps me to know that Im not alone in the way I feel and that someone else (besides God of course) knows what Im going through. Its nice to have someone not rushing me through this pain or telling me I should be over this by now or at least moving on. Thank you for helping me not feel alone or wrong.
“Thank you for helping me not feel alone or wrong.” Amanda, it’s my honor to play that role in your life today. -Elisabeth
Oh how I needed this post!!!!!! I’m so sorry day 27 is still yucky, but thanks for telling it like it is! I’m mad at myself this very moment for being stuck in a rut! This post helped in knowing I’m not the only one who can’t just move on super quick.
Nope, LaTosha, you’re not. -Elisabeth
I echo yours and other’s words about anti-depressants, they can be life savers. They certainly have been for me. Recently we had a major sad thing happen in our family. I had a HARD time accepting it. At first I felt ok for a week or so, it seemed like not such a big deal. Then I was hit with BURNING ANGER. That lasted a long while. Then I tried to bargain with myself and my husband. All throughout I suffered major sadness. I realized yesterday I have been walking through the 5 stages of grief, in almost a textbook fashion. I am slowly moving toward acceptance the last stage. Sometimes, we just need to let ourselves grieve.
Hey, i am so sorry you feel this way. how about you try reaching out to your neighbors and coworkers who don’t know The savior and tell them he loves them pray with them if they are willing. Pray to God to use you to help others in need of salvation.