We had discussed divorce. This husband informed me that our marriage was typical, and it was normal for a husband to look outside while married. In other words, he thought the man could date, and it was normal. I shared that I did not want that kind of marriage. Several more months went by after our discussion. Continuing to work on me, I no longer responded to his intimidating words nor what he said to make me have fear about leaving. More answers came to me, confirming his lies and his actions with other women as I moved towards filing for divorce. Suspicions were true. I learned, for sure, that one person he was dating was my best friend.

We had an initial meeting, each with our lawyers, about the division of property. It did not go well for him. It was November, and we were having our first snow of the year. When I arrived at my lawyer’s office for the meeting, my lawyer told me I was not to say anything, not one word, during the conference! Amazingly, I did not. My lawyer and I listened carefully as my unnamed husband spoke. He surprised me when he turned to me and said, “Susanne, would you like to respond to some of these statements?” I did so. His lawyer was stunned with my response, so he must not have been told the whole story by his client. 

In a few days, we learned my present husband was going to contest the divorce because he wanted alimony and we had not agreed to that during the settlement conference. My lawyer expected him to want more than was offered and he felt certain my husband would be entering the courtroom on crutches, no matter how far out the court date would be set. I was fine. That hearing was not scheduled until the middle of January.

The morning before our court date, however, my lawyer telephoned saying, “Your husband is having a witness to confirm his good character. Can you find witnesses to help us? This was about 9 o’clock a.m. I was on my way out the door to do a stress seminar for Norman’s fire department.

I took a breath and then put my situation in my God Box before leaving. I said that I would make no telephone calls, but would ask every person that called me for an order for the nutritional products I sold or others telephoning if they knew anything about my husband they wanted to share with me and, if so, would they consider being a witness for me. I then finished my note saying that “I only have until 4 o’clock to find a witness because my lawyer has to provide the names.

I arrived home about 11:30, and by 4 o’clock, I handed him the names of fourteen witnesses. My lawyer could not believe it. I couldn’t either. I was even amazed by what I learned. My Angels did great!

It turned into two full days in court. He wanted alimony plus my nutrition business. The Judge’s final words were, “I do not know why we are here. He has already spent all of her money. He then turned to me and said, “I am so sorry, but I have to give you every bill, your house payment, everything, because he has not worked. However, you do not have to give him alimony payments or your business. You keep the house. (That I was hoping he would get due to high payments.)

GIFT: I was free to grieve both Don’s death and this divorce. I did so, but first with no energy, I went straight home, to bed, and slept two days. 

Lesson: Do not enter a relationship until you take the time to both grieve and heal the past. When one has not taken the time to learn more about Self and walks into a gathering while still sick over a situation they left, the person will draw the sickest person in the room to him or her. Of a person is whole, that person will draw a whole person and a relationship that is healthy and happy.

GIFT: This work I did on me prepared me for greatly improved relationships in all parts of my life. I now believe we are in school on earth and are here to discover the answers to our repeating negative patterns that cause us problems. When we do the work, life dramatically improves. God is good.

Facing My Mistake

Because of beliefs, I continued in my bad marriage. No friends knew about his actions in my marriage, because I wanted him to be liked by others if I could fix the marriage. Thus, I let no one know what was happening. It was now time to step forward and do something!  I considered divorce. It was okay for others to get a divorce, but not me.  Never! I had to let go of my belief about myself not ever divorcing.

The stress and pain in this marriage was awful.  My self worth was diminishing.   I was having insomnia for the first time in my life. I knew Don died loving us.  I thought my second husband would be like that. After marrying, I felt no love.  I could tell when he lied.  He denied that he was on dates, but I could not prove it.  I began reacting before thinking. Sometimes I could sit on my front steps, feel where he was, and drive right up to his car. I threw a huge bowl of popcorn on him once.  (Guess who cleaned it up?) I threw a glass of water on him when we were eating out and could care less if someone saw me do it or heard what I said.  I did not clean it up. I went home. None of this behavior was like me. Both children told me that I was not even the same person their mother had been. 

 This marriage brought wisdom. Lessons that came to earth for me to learn had been presented mildly in my first marriage.  In this marriage, they were magnified ten fold. Eventually I discovered some past beliefs were no longer mine. In my past, I had book knowledge. This marriage was bringing experiences showing me what I needed to know.

Suddenly I saw what I did not see before. Many of the negatives in my first marriage were presented much larger in the second marriage. Don and I made it seventeen years, including his six years of health problems, his two leave of absences for campaigns, community theatre productions plus work, and taking care of two great children still at home.  I made that marriage work, but this one?  I could do nothing right.

GIFT:  I thought about Jesus healing the blind man.  I began to “see” as I woke up and went on a search for my truth, not someone else’s truth that I had heard. Others that meant well in my life had programmed me for years. It was time to know my “own” truths, what I now believed and did not believe. I discovered Al-Anon and a serene calmness was entering me.

LESSON:  I learned I was an unhealthy codependent and needed help.

A God Box/Letting Go Box

  1. Find a Box. It can be “any box.” I began with a small one and had to go to a larger one later.
  2. Decide if you need to talk to someone or call someone for the last time before putting your problem in the God Box. Once you place your request in the box, you stop talking about it. If someone knows you are having a problem and they question you, truthfully answer their question. Otherwise, say nothing about this problem.
  3. When you are ready to turn your problem over to God/Spirit/Angel, take a small piece of paper and write down the problem or situation you are worried about on your paper. For instance, “Dear ______, will you please solve my problem? I have tried, but you can do better.” Before ending your note, “thank them” for taking the problem.
  4. Find someplace where you can get on your knees or sit in a chair if you cannot get on your knees. Place the small piece of paper in your hand, raise your hand as high as you can. Say a prayer and ask them to take this situation. Visualize God or your Angel or your Divine Source taking it out of your hand.
  5. Place the request in your box and replace the box’s lid. Now “it is in the dark.”
  6. Once you have given it away, truly let go. There is no talking to others about the problem unless someone asks you about it.  Make no telephone calls about your issue. You can return a call or answer a question if someone asks you. Instead, you simply sit back and watch.

When you have a problem that is not being solved, no matter how hard you have tried, use this God Box/Letting Go Box. Many wanting to use a God Box think they must have “just the right box.” They put off letting go because they are looking for that perfect box. Just do this. Use any box temporarily. It is worth a try. I have used a God Box for different situations for over thirty years. Obviously it worked. Each time a problem was solved, I continued and still continue to be amazed.

I stopped trying to control what others are doing. I no longer get upset with them for their decisions. It seems that once I finally step aside and quit attempting to interfere or control a situation, God, my Angels, or whomever above that is helping me is able to take my problem and transform it when I finally get out of the way. It might look a little worse before it gets better. I just relax and trust. This God Box gives me the assuredness that I can let go completely and wait to see what happens. Sometimes I might get frustrated waiting, but I look at my box and say “I know you are working on my situation, right? Thank you.” I then smile and again “trust” they are working on it.

The energy surrounding the problem begins to change, sometimes rapidly and, at other times, more slowly. I simply continue in my life,  as I remind myself to “stay balanced and kind.” A small sign that my problem is being taken care of comes to me. Next, I see or hear another sign, and the change or answer comes. I understand more about Jesus saying to go into the dark to pray. I put the problem in the dark as I put the lid on the box, and answers do come.

I watched an IRS problem go from $40,000 to $250. I could have stewed and stressed over that for a year, but did not. I put it in my God Box and allowed it to play out. The only telephone call I made before I gave the problem to God was to my accountant before using the box. When he returned my call and asked about my problem, I simply shared everything I learned from a surprise telephone call from the Treasury Department with him. Our accountant was amazed as he watched how the IRS worked on my problem with him. Many strange things happened. He telephoned me each time to share the story and was so excited to later share the result with me.

My God Box helped me through my divorce, helped me find fourteen witnesses to speak for me in court, helped me with problems my children told me about, problems I have had with friends, and my list goes on. One more time, I will share, “It works for me, and it will work for you.” You will be able to watch as God’s grace covers each situation, and Angels/Spirit works on the problem rather than you. What they do will be much appreciated by you.

Ready for Change

I began to take steps to find the truth.  I began doing affirmations first.  Next, I decided to fast, because an unknown man I rode the ski lift with Colorado said “you have a beautiful smile, but your eyes do not look happy.” I then shared with him I wanted to find a truth about my husband. He then shared with me fasting with an intention for truth works. Was he an Angel? Odd experience to have on a ski lift. I returned home and fasted one day a week for four unusual weeks. Two books I previously mentioned came from other people during those four weeks.  One was “Tough Love” and the other was “Women Who Love Too Much.”  I read both and asked if I could keep the books. I next asked an admired friend to be my prayer partner. We prayed together every morning on the phone.  

Then I took another step.  I acquired a counselor for us because I still thought we could save this marriage. My problem was my partner went twice and said he thought life was good.  I am sure he did.  He was dating and using my credit cards that I did not know he had.  He quit counseling and I continued. It was through the counseling I went to for about six weeks that I discovered I was a great codependent.  The counselor suggested I read “Codependency No More.”  He also thought I might like the Al-Anon Program.  He was so right.  I went and felt better.  I tried several meetings and found the one that was right for me.  I quickly asked a woman I met at a meeting to be my Al-Anon sponsor, and I began the steps.  I discovered the “God Box” from a speaker at one Al-Anon meeting.  I immediately went home, found a box, and started using it.  Miracles began happening.  

All of this helped me take my focus “off him and what he was doing.”  I was finally able to put my focus back on me. Using that God Box helped me with the IRS problem, problems with children, and personal problems of all sorts.  I returned to a balanced and more confident person that could sleep. I had no more insomnia. On a bad week, I went to more than one meeting.  An answer came to me at every meeting.  I also learned techniques to stop reacting.

LESSON:  Learn to watch for signs/answers within and without. Make changes in Self. Use a God Box. Journal your life. Read an inspirational book for ten minutes every morning to balance before leaving. Al-Anon brings answers.

GIFT:  I learned techniques to stop reacting to emotional abuse. For instance, I began praying silently continually through his emotional abuse sessions when he told me what I could do to change so that he might like me.  I barely listened.  I gained the courage to file for a divorce.  

A Fun Encounter with Billy Joel

We were returning from a meeting in Albuquerque. I was sharing the story with Rob, an employee that worked with me at our mental health center about the 18-wheeler event a few weeks prior As we drove through Santa Rosa, I told Rob I needed to stop and call home because Dawn and Johnny would be worried if I got home late. They had been waiting up for me ever since their Dad died. I pulled over at the filling station, where I usually filled up with gas. Rob said that he wanted to remain in the car, so I went in to use their telephone.

As I entered, I saw a man using the only phone this service station had. I waited for him to get off. No one else was in the office, so it was easy to hear every word he said. I listened to the man sitting at the desk say, “I like staying in your hotel, but do not do what you did the last time I was there. I got no sleep. If this happens again, I will never return. I had people knocking on my door all night. List me under the name Sam Smith, not Billy Joel. Do you understand? I told you to do this when I previously stayed with you, and you ignored my request. Do not list me as Billy Joel. Sam Smith is my name tonight, have you got that?”

Not being able to resist this fun opportunity, I walked closer, smiled down at him sitting at the desk with the phone to his ear, tapped him on the shoulder several times, and said, “Mr. Joel, Mr. Joel, may I have your autograph?”

He ignored me and kept talking. With no one else in the office, I just stood there and listened to Billy Joel as he continued, “Now I have forgotten how to get to the Hilton Hotel. Can you give me directions?” He stopped to write them down and got confused. “I don’t understand.”

I quietly shared with him as she was giving confusing directions, and he kept trying to write them down right. “I just came from the Hilton in Albuquerque. I can give you easy directions.”

Billy Joel spoke into the phone: “Never mind, I will be there in a few hours. Have all of the suites on the top floor ready. Thank you.”

After completing the transaction with a credit card, he ended the call. I gave him the directions that would take him right to the Hilton and picked up the phone to call home. Billy Joel walked out the door. Johnny answered, and I began telling him where I was and shared I had stopped to call but would be home soon. (Billy Joel re-entered the station’s office and interrupted me.)

Billy Joel: “I did not mean to say that I do not like my fans. I want to give you my autograph.”
Me: “I don’t want your autograph. I could not resist teasing you a little bit, because you looked so tense.”
Billy Joel: ” But I really would like to give you my autograph.”
Me: “No, I do not need it.” I kept returning to my phone call home.
Johnny: “Mom, who is talking to you?”
Me: “Billy Joel”
Johnny: (excitedly) “You don’t want his autograph? I want his autograph!”
Me: “My son would like your autograph.”
Billy Joel: “O.K., Give me a piece of paper.”

I struggled to hold the phone and find a piece of paper. Unable to find one, I pulled out my planner and opened it to a page that had writing on it. I passed the planner to Billy Joel open to the pages written on and pointed to where he could write. He turned the pages to find a future blank one. I reacted, “No, do not write on that page. I will need that page later.”

Billy Joel: “You want me to write my autograph on a page where you have already written? Are you kidding?”
Me: “No, I am not kidding. That is my planner. I need those other pages.”
Billy Joel: “Please find me a page I can write on.” I did so, and after writing his autograph, he returned my planner and again headed out the door.

Then I was able to focus on my phone call to Johnny. Dawn asked to tell me something. Johnny relinquished the phone to her. About that time, Billy Joel re-entered the office again. He now had another man with him. They stood across the room opposite me, watched, smiled, and listened as I finished with Dawn and hung up the phone. I started to leave. I thought they might be waiting for the phone.

Billy Joel hesitantly said, “Wait, we want to ask you something if you don’t mind.” (I paused, and they slowly continued.) “Would you consider going with us to Albuquerque? You would have a suite all to yourself. We would love to have someone like you show us Albuquerque, places to eat, sites, whatever you like.” I said, “No, I need to go home.” Billy Joel continued, “You had better get this man’s autograph. You are going to want it, but first I have a question for you.”
Me: “What is it?”
Billy Joel: “Do you know who I am and what I do?” I was thinking for a minute before responding. He said, “She doesn’t know who I am. She doesn’t!” Then I said, “I think you sing? I have heard your name.” Billy Joel came back with, “I don’t believe it. You do not know. What do I sing? I tried to explain that I had lots going on in my life. I love music, but only half-listen to it. “I do not know the titles of your songs; I am sorry.”

“The other man was quiet and smiled a gentle smile while Billy Joel questioned me. Then Billy Joel turned towards the man and said, “You truly do want this man’s autograph now because he is going to be famous soon.” I asked, “And why will you be famous?” Billy Joel answered for him, “This is Richard Gere, and his movie will be coming out soon. Remember this title. It is “American Gigolo.”

I said, “Congratulations! I will watch it, but it might be a long time before I get to see it. I live in a small town, Portales, NM, and we have only one theatre. It takes us a while to have a new release. I will watch it, though. Right now, I need to get home. I hope you two have fun in Albuquerque. I have two children waiting for me. Their Dad died earlier this year, and they worry if I am late. I also have a friend in the car with me that needs to get home.”

Billy Joel: “Are you sure you cannot call them and go with us for just one day in Albuquerque?” I decided they wanted someone that looked at them as usual, not famous. I said, “No, have a good time.”

I returned to the car, and we headed home. Rob asked, “What took you so long? I shared that Billy Joel and Richard Gere were in there asking questions. Rob was stunned and sorry he did not go in with me.

When I got home, Dawn and Johnny wanted the details. I said, “They wanted me to turn around and go back to Albuquerque. They responded, with something like this: “You mean you left us several weeks ago and got into an 18-wheeler, but you would not go to Albuquerque with Billy Joel? ” They were quite put out with me. It has been a fun story for all three of us to share over the years.

I Did What I Wanted To Do

I met that younger man that was fun and I jumped when he asked me to do anything.  He was a relief for that hole within that began with Don’s death.  He asked me to marry and I said “yes.”  A Judge married us during a spontaneous weekend of travel.  We returned to Portales the next day and decided it would be best to leave New Mexico since Don and I were well known there.  Agreeing to start over somewhere else, we shared our thinking with Dawn and Johnny and asked them to go with us. Dawn said, “No, I want to spend my senior year here.” Johnny’s answer was “yes” even though he would be giving up being the next Drum Major of Portales’ band.  His band director offered him a place to live so he could remain in Portales.  He said no.

I resigned from the mental health center that I helped build for the past ten years.  We had met every goal made ten years prior.  I resigned from all positions held in New Mexico and my newly appointed position on the National Mental Health Legislative Council. Next-door neighbors purchased our big house. My Portales family had a party for our marriage.  We moved to Abilene. 

I did what I said I would never do.  I left Dawn with relatives we loved in Portales for her senior year. Dawn made good grades, was a leader, and a cheerleader for several years. I missed significant events. Her problems began. She got into trouble for being late to cheerleading practice.  The sponsor stripped her cheerleader position, and I was not there for her.  I was also not there to help with other situations.  Dawn was struggling with filling her void. 

Johnny had problems that began with Don’s illness and his death. He would not communicate with us about feelings he was having as Don died and would hardly look at Don.   After Don died, friends and their fathers asked him to do things with them. He refused.  I should have seen how much he was struggling with loss.  His school principal confirmed this, and I got him a counselor. That helped until I began dating and chose to marry. 

This move brought more problems for Johnny.  We enrolled him in a large high school. After six unhappy weeks, we moved him to a smaller private school where he did great. Johnny auditioned for and was chosen to be in Texas’ High School Choir.  That success, too, was ruined. Six weeks later, a telephone call was received with an offer for work in Norman, OK.  That offer, combined with an attack on us at a “7-11,” brought about a decision to move again.  We enrolled Johnny in Norman High School, his third in one semester, just in time for him to take the SAT.  The counselor telephoned me saying he thought with changes Reagan made, and with Johnny’s high SAT scores, we should try to get him into college. He explained college would be paid for if he began in the coming semester.  However, he knew of no school that would take a 16-year-old. I had doubts but shared the counselor’s idea with Johnny, and he wanted to try.  Southern Nazarene University, Bethany, Oklahoma, accepted him, and he began.  He lived with us and drove back and forth to Oklahoma City.  

We went to Portales, NM, to watch Dawn graduate. She then left Portales and moved to Norman to attend OU.  Johnny wanted to go to the University of Oklahoma, so he would not have to drive to SNU in Bethany.  OU allowed him to enroll with his B average from SNU. Both wanted to live in the dorm. While in OU, he began talking to recruiters and approached me about his lack of discipline due to no father and his desire to quit school.  He wanted to go to the Navy. He finally convinced me. When 17, they picked him up, and he was off to Boot Camp.  We attended his graduation from Boot Camp. It was impressive. He was the Drum Major heading up their band. I was so proud.  After the Navy, he returned.

LESSON:  Do not run. Slow down and think carefully about decisions following a major loss, even a year later. Nurture self.

LESSON:  Oh yes, never say never. I said “I would never leave one of my children to have their senior year alone.”  I also said, “I would never put a child into college at age 16 no matter how smart they appeared to be.”

GIFT:  I kept faith through this!  A major dream came and I will share it later.   

I Regret What I Did

I watched Dawn and Johnny both from a distance while I was going through that bad marriage.  Johnny was in the Navy.  Dawn was at OU and working.  They could see I was making wrong decisions and was struggling.  I could see how they also were struggling in their lives.  Of course, it was easier for me to see what they were doing wrong and it was easier for them to see the difference in me. Eventually they each told me that I was really not doing well and they did not like what they saw. I knew they were so right.  

When I began working on my Self before I filed for divorce, I heard a woman at one of my first Al-Anon meetings say that if a person continues to attend these meetings, that person gets better.  Then about six months later, that person will see their children and others around him or her start to wok on improving life.  She said “Do not even say what they should do unless they ask, but watch what happens and what they do.”  That got my attention!  

It was true.  We had all three gone down in our lives after Don died and then more during my second marriage.  Luckily one thing we never lost was love for each other.  We also each had prayer and God. The three of us talked about the mistakes in choice and relationships we made. We also discussed what the abandonment done by me caused in them.  They say I literally checked out.  It hurts every time they bring that up, but it is so true.  I did that. I ran to try to fill that void.  I was hoping to give them back a family feeling.  Obviously that did not happen.  They did not want to be around that second marriage after they watched me in it.  I apologize each time the subject is brought up. I knew I made a big mistake.

I do believe when the pain I felt in the second marriage finally doubled me over in hurt, something in me rose up and changed following the prayer I made on my knees.  I finally got it!  I knew God did not want me in that unhappy marriage.  Nor did he want Dawn and Johnny to feel the way they did and make the choices they were making.  I knew I had to heal and I needed help.  I was fine physically, but could die feeling this way if I did not change me.  I know a person can change their clothes, change their hair, and put a smile on his/her face and it might look like change. However, there is a huge difference when the change is within.  My change after that prayer was within.  I realized if I left him, he had a choice.  He did not want to change within this marriage.  Perhaps he would choose to improve his life if he was alone.  It was not my responsibility to fix him.     

LESSON:  A major change in life affects children more than we realize. When I began to walk towards improvement in myself, they followed.  It took time.  Time does heal, but it greatly helps to have a healthy person working with you.  It takes a strong person to ask for help. The lesson here is “Become strong.  Find help to improve and watch what happens in life.”  Many of us make mistakes.  It is important to learn from our mistakes.  

GIFT:  We are all three survivors.  We each learned from our mistakes and grew. Dawn moved home to live with me so she could finish school after taking a year off to work.  Johnny returned from the Navy soon after Dawn moved in with me.  He chose to live with us. It was amazing for all three of us to be back under one roof together.  I believe I appreciated this opportunity more than anyone.  We were able to talk and share with no one around. We all set goals.  They each finished school.  Johnny even eventually received his Masters.  Dawn has had great success in the service industry.  Johnny has done excellent with GAO.  I also set goals for business as well as goals for other parts of my life.  Today we are all three in happy marriages and I have a bigger family.  Thank you, God!

Finding A Younger Man To Relieve The Pain

Later that summer I was doing a Board Training for our mental health center’s board.  Afterward, we went to a restaurant to eat that had live music. A younger man walked over, introduced himself, and asked me to dance.  He was a charmer, a good dancer, and fun to talk to. We laughed and laughed. To my surprise, the pain within diminished.  He telephoned my hotel room in Ruidoso the next morning early and wanted to meet for breakfast. I was excited and did so.  It all began.  He lived in Texas, I lived in New Mexico.  It was a long-distance relationship for about a year.  

Yes, I found a younger man that not only relieved my pain but was also more than willing to marry and help me reduce my assets.  He quit his job and came for a more extended visit than usual.  He met family and friends, and I said “yes” to marriage.  

I walked down the wrong path rather than staying put in Portales, NM, where I had two children that needed me, incredible family support, a great home, a high position in the community and state, and was known in the mental health field. I was the first woman ever elected as President of the New Mexico Mental Health, Drug Abuse, Alcoholism Council.  The National Mental Health Legislative Council requested that I be a representative as a result of our Council’s writing and educating legislators that passed a comprehensive mental health act for New Mexico. 

Instead, I wanted to run away and fill up that void inside of me I could not get rid of.  I hoped the inclusion of him into our family would bring back a family feeling. I chose that wrong path when I faced a fork in the road.  

Dawn remained with relatives in Portales to finish her senior year.  My new husband, Johnny, and I left New Mexico and initially moved to Abilene, Texas.  In only a few months we moved to Norman, Oklahoma, where I had gone to OU to school in my past.  Johnny went with us.  None of this felt good, but I kept pushing back signs I began receiving on the first night we married.  

It was not long before I realized I was in an emotionally abusive relationship.  Because of my internal programmed beliefs, I remained.  I was non-judgmental about others getting a divorce, but I could not believe I had done this, and I was certain I could fix it.  I had made my first marriage of seventeen years work through difficult times  of no money, schooling to Ph.D., health issues, Don moving out for campaigns, our house burning, and cancer.  Nothing worked in this marriage.  

I used to teach “researchers estimate if someone remains in an abusive relationship for two years, they also become sick.”  Professionally I have always succeeded.  Now I was sick.  I was married to a habitual liar.  I had not discovered the truth, but could feel every lie.  I had abandoned my children to date him, spend time with him in Texas, and then to marry him and move away from New Mexico.  I felt like I had given him everything.  

Lesson:  I made a big mistake.  I, however, still believe every marriage has a purpose.  It teaches.  When we make a mistake, the key is to learn from it. I went to work on me as this marriage brought me to my knees. It would have been so much better if I had moved through the void, made no decisions, and worked on me until I liked myself single and was fine alone.  

GIFT:  I gained “wisdom” for my future.  I understood how an awful marriage feels. The pain of this marriage was much worse than the pain of death.  It was two different feelings.  The feeling of rejection came with this marriage.  I did gain a master teacher for “what to not acquire in my life ever again in any relationship.”  It woke me up and forced me to study my Self and move forward in a way that I would learn how not ever draw someone like him into my life again.  He looked so good “before we got married.”  Until I had this marriage, I thought all marriages could be fixed.  

I Did What I Had To Do

It was bad enough for us with Don being in and out of the hospitals, having two surgeries, staff infections, and then finding out he had cancer all along. I was working, driving back and forth to the hospital in another town, and trying to take care of Dawn and Johnny.  Once in awhile they stayed with relatives, and other times they had sitters, and as they got older, they began working on me to let them stay alone if I was not going to be gone more than a few nights.  

I thought I was there for both of them, but I was not.  Looking back, I was emotionally unavailable. I listened.  I asked questions.  I told them what to do, and we all just kept going.   Don began having stomach problems. When he felt better, he filed for Congress without telling me. He campaigned, worked, and his health issues got worse. I helped, but he lost.  He had a surgery, was feeling better, and then was under duress from those in Washington wanting him to run again. He said “yes” and actually lived in another town for one more congressional campaign.  I was working, taking care of Dawn and John, and trying to see Don on the weekends during both campaigns to help him.  

Dawn and John went with me some weekends, but did not like to do that.  They usually had sitters and their activities.  We were living in a rent house we did not like. We found a house the three of us liked and I purchased it. I traded land we had originally bought to build on sometime in the future for the down payment. Dawn and Johnny helped me move us to a home we liked that I purchased while he was gone. Then we telephoned Don and suggested he come back as soon as possible to sign the loan.  

It got worse for the three of us after Don died. There was only one parent to depend on. We were all three doing the same running, running away from our own pain.  I did not realize I was running and I did not notice what was happening with them.  I felt alone. They felt like they lost their Dad and, to some extent, they lost me. They each began acting out in their individual ways.  I was acting out in my own way.  Teen years are hard without all of this trouble.  

LESSON:  Stay “in the present” as much as possible. Throughout Don’s stays in the hospital, congressional campaigns, his dying at home plus all that comes afterwards, I was just trying to make it.  I later saw that I was “emotionally unavailable” for Dawn and Johnny. 

Filling the Void

It took about two weeks to regain energy to get back to work. Dawn and Johnny went back to school almost immediately.  I was alone.  People were gone.  Many people shy away when someone has cancer and when someone dies.  They do not know what to say.  I actually telephoned a friend during Don’s illness and said, “Where are you, Linda?  I miss you.” Her response was, “I cannot handle seeing either of you right now, but I will be back when it is all over.”   

Back at work, I spent time writing grants, doing budgets, and presentations when requested.  Many wanted “Positive Thinking Seminars.” I kept trying to be positive for children, employees, seminars, and friends.  Since I was on regional and statewide committees, I traveled in my work.  I would leave at 4:00am and be at a Santa Fe meeting at 9:00am.  Dawn and Johnny had to get ready for school. I would telephone to make certain they were up, but they were on their own as they attended school, extracurricular activities, such as band practices, cheerleading practices, and had dinner, etc.  The meetings were usually all day, and I would be home late at night.  We went to church and family events, but both had jobs, sometimes worked on Sundays, and could not join me. Since Don died, I looked the same, but was not. Church was difficult.  I could hardly stand to be with a couple and turned down friends’ invites often.

When a female friend without her husband asked me to do something and Dawn and Johnny were out with their friends or at a school activity, I generally said “yes.”  It was better than sitting at home by myself. I would leave and then want to be home. One time when I was gone a few hours, Johnny had a wreck.  He was home alone when I got there. He was not hurt, but had to go through the pain of a wreck, talking to police, and the towing of his car. With no cell phones at the time, he could not reach me. He was barely 16. I felt bad when anything like this happened and I was to there. I would go somewhere, my children would come home and feel like I had disappeared even though I wrote a note.  That affected them.

We tried to keep going without their Dad, so we went snow skiing a few weekends during the winter, something the four of us used to do and loved, and then I talked two women into forming a Co-Ed Scout Troop with me. We arranged to take our group to Philmont Scout Camp for an eighty-mile backpack trip in the early summer.  That was challenging and fun! 

I felt better on that trip.  Back home I kept a smile on my face, but would take walks and think.  Wondering why I kept feeling this way within, I looked for books that would help me. That was late 70’s and I could not find any that fit.  

Lesson:   Time helps.  Give yourself permission to grieve. Pray and/or Meditate. Keep watching for the small things that bring relief from the aloneness feeling.  Nurture yourself.  Buy yourself a rose.  Treat yourself to a special meal. Go to a movie. Make yourself your best friend.