Divorce and The Law of Attraction

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As the saying goes “I’ve got some good news and some bad news”.  First, the bad news – you attracted your divorce to you whether you realize it or not.  Now the good news – you attracted your divorce to you whether you realize it or not, but that’s how powerful you are.

This idea may make you angry, confused or make you want to argue that I am crazy but if you take a moment to really allow what I’m saying, you’ll see clearly in the end.

In this incredible time of scientific advancement, we are beginning to uncover the truth about what’s really going on and why we are here.  Quantum physics has enabled us to understand that our world, physical and non-physical, is all made up of energy which comes from one underlying source.

Everything we experience with our five senses is energy being received by our personal receiver; we are continually transmitting energy with our thoughts, words and actions.  We are connected to everyone and everything by virtue of the one energy source that is the driving source of all that is.

Quantum science has proven this truth and the Law of Attraction has made it more comprehensible.  The truth is that we are always getting what we are a vibrational match for, whether we want it or not; it’s the law.

The Law of Attraction clearly explains that by having a desire for one thing but focusing our thoughts, and more importantly our feelings, on the lack of such thing, we will attract more of its absence; it’s the law.

If you want to know what you have been focusing on and attracting, you only need to look at your life in this moment.  What you have been focusing on with the energetic vibration of your thoughts, words, actions and feelings has manifested in your life whether you are conscious of it or not; it’s the law.

You cannot have a happy marriage by focusing on what’s wrong or wishing things were different.  The Law of Attraction will always bring a vibrational match to you; it’s the law.

So can you begin to see the correlation between the Law of Attraction and your divorce?  Can you see how what you were thinking, feeling, believing and acting upon is what showed up in your life at the time?  It’s not easy, but it is empowering because now you can consciously begin to have what you really want in your life; it’s the law.

There are no mistakes in this energy driven universe, therefore your divorce was not a mistake.  So now what do you do with this realization?  You begin to create a vision for what you want and take ownership of the energy that you are aligning with that vision.

The best way I have found is to get support, like a divorce coach, and set up mini experiments for yourself until you truly resonate and appreciate the power that you have at your disposal.  You ARE the creator of your experience and you can be, do or have whatever you want; it’s the law.

The good news is that you did attract your divorce to you; that’s how powerful you are.  Now you can get to work attracting the next chapter of your life with more understanding, love and power than ever before….congratulations!

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T. H. I. N. K. Before You (fill in the blank)

THINK

As children we heard our parents and teachers remind us to “Think before you (fill in the blank).”  Whether they realized it or not, they were setting the framework for a more conscious way of living.  They were showing us that becoming aware of the effect of our actions will help us decide whether to do or say what we felt in the moment.  Unfortunately grown up issues, like divorce, can erase all the great childhood lessons of behavior management and put us right back to square one.

How many times have you said or done something from a place of anger and felt like you weren’t in control of what came out of your mouth or how you reacted?  Have you ever felt as if something took over you and you felt literally “out of your mind”, unaware of your thoughts, words and actions?

If there is one life event that can make people feel out of control in many areas of their life, it would be divorce.  Each life transition is accompanied with challenges but divorce can often be so stressful that people literally change from peaceful, loving individuals to angry, combative, vindictive, mean-spirited adversaries.

According to the Journal of Psychosomatic Research (Holmes-Rahe Life Changing Events Scale), the only thing more stressful than divorce is the death of a spouse.  Some of my divorce coaching clients would disagree.  They would say that divorce is more stressful than the death of a spouse because death would have been the end of a painful relationship while divorce keeps the relationship and the stress intact mainly due to the mutual bond of children.

One of the tools in my Divorce Coaching tool box has helped my clients to focus on what’s important rather than react to the emotion of the situation.  This has made a big difference in how they interact, negotiate and amicably resolve their divorce.  This tool is the acronym for “Think”:

T – Is it Thoughtful?

H – Is it Honest?

I – Is it Intelligent?

N – Is it Necessary?

K – Is it Kind?

If the answers are “yes”, then it is probably okay to say it or do it.

What this tool does is bring you to a place of awareness before you take action.  It helps you to be in control, to be “in your mind”, to keep your dignity and to not let negative emotions take over.  Whether we realize it or not, we give up our power when we behave unconsciously and self-esteem can diminish.  This tool helps you rebuild your foundation and puts you back on solid ground during and after divorce.

Let’s face it – no one is perfect.  There will be times when your buttons are pushed and you will react rather than respond.  However, learning to apply T. H. I. N. K. as often as you can in all your relationships will help it become a wonderful addition to your tool box as well as a healthy habit to reduce the stress in any situation.

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Hurricane Sandy and Divorce

No one believed the warnings.  It felt like we had heard it all before and it would never actually come to pass.  There were things outside of our control that were coming together at that exact moment in time, and we didn’t realize we were going to be affected so dramatically.  Some lost their possessions, some lost the life they knew and some lost hope.  For those affected, it felt like each moment was an eternity of fear, sadness and loss.  For those who knew someone affected, they felt helpless, concerned and inspired to help.

This scenario describes what it felt like to many people who just experienced the surprising devastation of hurricane Sandy from my home on Long Island.  The hurricane hit the East Coast at high tide, during a full moon, after families had just gotten their homes and their lives back to normal after the effects of hurricane Irene a year ago.

Before the greatest impact of the storm, I briefly spoke to a divorcing client in New York who shared that she felt like the storm outside her house mirrored the storm she felt she was going through with her divorce.  While the literal loss of lives and homes experienced by the victims of hurricane Sandy in no way compares to the losses associated with a divorce, people going through a divorce can often feel like they are losing everything they’ve held near and dear to their hearts.

The description above could just as easily describe the “perfect storm” effects of divorce:

  • How many of us ignore the warning signs, saying “It will never happen to me”?
  • How many of us have already been affected by divorce directly or indirectly and feel we have “insured” our marriages against the major loss of divorce?
  • How many of us took the steps we felt were necessary to build a strong foundation for our marriage, yet still have it destroyed by people, places and things outside of our control?

The “perfect storm” of hurricane Sandy can be a metaphor for the disbelief, damage control and subsequent recovery that accompanies divorce.  Whether you have been affected by a natural disaster or an emotional disaster, you are never alone.  Just as the Red Cross relief efforts are a lifeline of hope for those affected by natural disasters, people experiencing divorce have various lifelines as well.  Whether it’s speaking to a Certified Divorce Coach, legal professional, minister or financial planner, there are people waiting to help you ride out the storm of divorce and rebuild as well as restructure a new and improved chapter in your life.

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The Serenity Prayer and Divorce

The Serenity Prayer is most familiar in 12 Step Recovery programs however the power of its message and guidance goes way beyond addiction-related help.  It can help you no matter where you are in your divorce.  Let me break it down and show you how:

“God grant me the serenity”

No matter where you stand on the matter of God, if you are beginning, in the midst of, or recovering from divorce, The Serenity Prayer can make a difference in your divorce.  Whichever side of faith you stand on, you can still be open to the welcoming relief of being in a place of serenity, especially when dealing with divorce.

One of the biggest complaints from people dealing with divorce is the drama and the feeling that life is out of control.

The first line of The Serenity Prayer is not about being worthy of peace and serenity, it’s about taking a moment to become aware that you have a choice.  You can choose drama or you can choose serenity.

But how do I have a choice when all these insane things are happening in my life?

“To accept the things I cannot change”

Acceptance does not make you weak; it actually makes you more powerful.  Acceptance isn’t always easy but resistance makes action impossible.

Author Byron Katie says, “When you argue with reality, you lose; but only 100% of the time.”  Think about how often you have argued with the reality of a situation, draining yourself mentally, emotionally and physically in the process.  Acceptance empowers you to take healthy action rather than being stuck and arguing with what is.

Reference to “the things you cannot change” refers to the people, places and things in your life.  You cannot change your husband’s anger; you cannot change your wife’s choices; you cannot change your mother-in-law’s coldness; you cannot change the reasons you are getting a divorce.

Well now I feel completely helpless!  How does that help me find serenity?

“The courage to change the things I can”

It takes courage to get divorced; it takes courage to move forward from a divorce; it takes courage to let go of fear, anger and hurt.  Depending on how you choose to look at it – the good news is you have a choice; the bad news is you have a choice.

Once again it comes down to a choice.  You can stay stuck in the negativity of divorce or you can have the courage to grow from your divorce.

Changing the things you can simply means changing YOU.  Your thoughts, beliefs, words, and actions are within your power to change.  If you have been spinning your wheels and getting no where, it’s probably time to look at your part in the situation and choose to do things differently.

Ok, I’m starting to see where some of my pain and suffering has been self-inflicted; now what do I do?

“And the wisdom to know the difference”

This is the point where the fog starts to lift and serenity begins to become a reality rather than a wish.  Sometimes the only way to determine what to accept and what to change is by trial and error.  Please remember that mistakes can be perfect opportunities to gain the wisdom to know the difference.

No matter what stage you are in, in your divorce, you can apply the Serenity Prayer by taking the following steps:

  1. Keep in mind whatever is bothering you when you say the Serenity Prayer.
  2. Ask – what is it that I need to accept or change?
  3. Ask for the wisdom to know the difference and the serenity and courage to follow through with what you learn.
  4. If what is bothering you is a person – Ask that the person in question be given the security, love and joy that you want for yourself.

Why would I ask that my soon to be ex-spouse be given the serenity that I want when I feel he/she is the cause of my issues right now?

The key is resentment; resentment marks the place where you see yourself as a victim.  You want to let go of resentments because they cost you too much of your self-esteem.

Love yourself enough to release yourself from the closet in which resentments keep you locked for your sake and, if you have children, for their sake.

Serenity is not freedom from the storm, but peace amid the storm.

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Divorcing Parents…..Listen Up!

 

I laughed, I cried, I had moments of recognition, I gave it two thumbs up and I couldn’t wait to discuss it.  No, this wasn’t because of a new chick flick; this was after watching the HBO documentary “Don’t Divorce Me!  Kids’ Rules For Parents on Divorce”.

This powerful documentary shares the thoughts and feelings of two dozen children ranging from ages five to ten regarding their parent’s divorce.  As any parent who has been through a divorce will attest, not having your divorce affect your children can feel impossible at times and often confusing.  This documentary’s power is in the open, honest and brutal truth that only children can share.

If you have an opportunity to watch it, please do.  If not, here are the poignant rules and advice that the children in this documentary want to share with you:

  • Don’t put me in the middle
  • Make sure we know it’s not our fault
  • Don’t use kids as a messenger
  • Don’t break our hearts
  • No blaming us for the divorce
  • Listen to me!
  • Don’t say bad things about the other parent
  • Don’t ask me to spy
  • Don’t fight with each other in front of me
  • Don’t make each other cry
  • Don’t talk about money
  • Be honest with me
  • No fighting!
  • Give us more love than we need
  • Help me say goodbye
  • Try to live close to each other
  • Don’t get mad at us
  • Let us see each parent equally
  • Learn to get along for our sake
  • Be careful when choosing my stepparent

If you or someone you know is a parent going through a divorce, don’t be afraid to read this sage advice and recognize when you are breaking the rules.  Author and spiritual leader Maya Angelou said “When you know better, you do better”.  Let these children’s messages enlighten and help us all to do better.

 

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Your Jigsaw Puzzle

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In the book Living a Life That Matters by Harold S. Kushner, he shares what a friend and colleague wrote regarding our importance in each others lives – “Each lifetime is the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle.  For some, there are more pieces.  For others, the puzzle is more difficult to assemble.  But know this: you do not have within yourself all the pieces to your puzzle.  Everyone carries with them at least one and probably many pieces to someone else’s puzzle.  Sometimes they know it; sometimes they don’t know it.  And when you present your piece, which is worthless to you, to another, whether you know it or not, whether they know it or not, you are a messenger from the Most High.”

After reading that passage, I couldn’t get the idea out of my head.  For years I had been searching for answers, for meaning, for a spiritual connection and I had gradually learned beyond a shadow of a doubt that there are no such things as coincidences.  Those moments when people, places and things unfolded in ways I couldn’t explain, were no longer random to me; they began to finally make sense regarding our importance to one another.  But until I read the above passage, I had never visualized our lives as a jigsaw puzzle, waiting for people to provide the missing pieces for our puzzle and providing the pieces for them in turn. 

Looking back I can see that my ego wanted to believe that my jigsaw puzzle was pretty complete from the beginning, requiring only a few pieces from other people to complete it.  In reality, my jigsaw puzzle had many missing pieces that were waiting for the various people, situations, challenges, successes, failures and moments of surrender to begin to fill in the spaces as the picture became clearer. 

As I read the above passage I imagined that at this point in my life, most of the edges of my puzzle have been placed to form the “frame” of my life; I was born with a personality, certain innate skills and a level of intelligence that has formed a path for me.  However, the inside of the jigsaw puzzle, the pieces that create and complete the vision, have been handed to me throughout my life.  Each piece added has helped to bring clarity and form the beautiful picture I was meant to become.

The truth is that we are all significant in each others lives in ways we may never understand.  We need the pieces of our jigsaw puzzle from whoever is carrying them and we need to share the pieces we carry for others.  You never know when you may be holding the exact piece needed for someone to finish their puzzle – that’s how important you are in the lives of everyone you meet!

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Dysfunctional Family Bingo

It was the week before spending Christmas with my husband’s family and I was sick to my stomach.  This had become the typical response when I was anticipating spending time with them.  I had been dealing with their inappropriate behavior and my husband’s denial of the situation for a very long time.  Each time I had to see them I was nauseous, had major headaches and had other physical issues days before.  This is how bad it had gotten.  

This particular week I was reading Oprah’s magazine and found an amazing lifeline in an article written by life coach Martha Beck.  She explained her experiences dealing with dysfunctional family gatherings and had come up with a way to actually look forward to them.  I said out loud “NO WAY!!” but was intrigued and kept reading.  She described how to make a childhood game of Bingo into a sanity saving tool when getting together with dysfunctional families.  I decided it was worth a try; anything would be better than sitting in a corner until it was time to finally go home.

I explained the premise to my husband and since he didn’t want to see me physically and emotionally suffer anymore, he agreed to play “Dysfunctional Family Bingo” with me.  Per Martha’s instructions, I created blank Bingo cards on two pieces of paper, filling in the center square with the words “Free Space”.  With an openness that we hadn’t experienced in a very long time, my husband and I came up with the dysfunctional, disturbing things that his family members typically did. I then filled in the blank spaces on each of our cards with these anticipated acts, making sure each card had the same descriptions but in different boxes on the card.  Things like “Your mother will ignore our kids” and “Your brother-in-law will announce that he is invincible and try to prove it” became squares on our Bingo cards.  When we had come up with 24 things to fill in the squares on the cards we decided that we would secretly mark our cards, meeting every ½ hour in an out of the way spot at the party to review our progress and to announce “Bingo” once our cards were marked vertically, horizontally or diagonally.

If this seems harsh let me explain by saying this – my husband and I never had a better time at one of his family functions than we did that day.  We were on the same page because we were playing a game together and more importantly the things that would have made us upset and would have put a wedge between us became things we actually looked forward to because we both wanted to win our Bingo game.  We were able to turn an upsetting day into a fun, memorable moment.  

That was many years ago and my husband and I have since divorced, due in large part to continuing issues with his family, however the empowerment of that simple game of Bingo has stayed with me.  It wasn’t meant to be mean spirited; it was meant to begin the process of seeing difficult situations in a different light.  For that one day I looked forward to the inevitable inappropriate behavior that had made me so uncomfortable in the past.  For that one day I laughed when my sister-in-law ignored me and smiled when my mother-in-law made passive aggressive comments to me.  For that one day I was having fun in the midst of dysfunction, enthusiastically filling out my card in order to whisper…….BINGO!

P.S.  If you can’t come up with 24 dysfunctional things to fill up a Bingo card (lucky you!), you can also play “Dysfunctional Family Tic-Tac-Toe”, filling in a Tic-Tac-Toe board with only 9 dysfunctional acts.

  • Since this game doesn’t need to be applied to a family situation, what other dysfunctional situations do you have in your life that you could play the game?
  • At first glance does this feel like it would help in uncomfortable situations?  How? 
  • Who could play with you?  They don’t need to be at the same gathering; you can text/call them when a dysfunctional act happens so they can fill out their pre- arranged Bingo card as well.

 

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“The Cat Story” – A Lesson In Guilt

Here’s where “the cat story” began – She was torn.  The cat was very ill and needed to be put to sleep for its own good but she felt so guilty.  Her boys didn’t feel the same way she did; they said the cat was very mean, scratched them many times and they weren’t as sad as she was that the cat needed to be put down.  She understood what they were saying but she just couldn’t stop feeling guilty.  The day came to bring the cat to the vet for the procedure.  Obviously distracted, she walked past the cat and got the nastiest swipe from the cat that she had ever received, drawing blood.  She looked up to heaven and said “Thank you.  Now I don’t feel so guilty.  I got swiped by the cat and that’s exactly what I needed”.  

Fast forward a number of years later.  She had been through a great deal of heart ache since putting the cat to sleep.  Her husband of 18 years had cheated on her, she lost many close relationships due to his behavior, yet she managed to find a place in her heart to forgive him.  She had tried to work on the marriage but he wasn’t trying.  No matter what she did to put things back together after his infidelity, no matter how much she truly forgave him, he wouldn’t partner with her on putting their marriage back on track.  She finally made the agonizing decision to get a divorce.  He resisted but still wouldn’t do anything to make things better.  Today was the day that he was finally moving out of their home. They sat, crying, reminiscing and wishing that things could be different.  He left and she felt horrible, wondering if there wasn’t something else she could have done and said.  She felt incredibly guilty because he hadn’t been hurtful or angry at the end, he was just distant.  She called me a few days later excitedly telling me that she had another “cat story”.  The day after her husband cried on her shoulder, leaving their home and their marriage, a friend saw him with the “other woman”; the woman he had betrayed her with two years earlier; the woman he swore he had no further contact with.  She said she was relieved to have a “cat story” because she felt she could move on with less guilt. 

A few weeks later I had my own “cat story”.  I had been extremely ill and unable to go to work during my busiest time of the year.  It’s never a good time to be sick when you have a job to do but I was literally unable to function or leave my house.  I felt guilty but also realized that I could count on one hand the number of days I had been sick in the past 10 years at my job.  When I finally returned to work after taking off a few days I received a surprisingly cold shoulder from one of my bosses.  This treatment continued for 4 days.  On the 4th day I called the woman who shared the cat story with me and excitedly told her I had my own “cat story”.  My guilt for being unable to go to work was alleviated by my boss’s disproportionate treatment of me.  After I got off the phone with her I looked up to heaven and said “Thank you.  Now I don’t feel so guilty.  I got swiped by the cat and that’s exactly what I needed”. 

What I learned from “the cat story” is that we often need a reminder that when we’ve done nothing wrong, yet still feel guilty, we may need to be jolted into the reality of the situation.  Just likeCher’s infamous scene in “Moonstruck” where she smacks Nicholas Cage across the face yelling “SNAP OUT OF IT”, the jolt can come in many forms, so pay attention when the cat swipes you; it’s for your own good. 

  • Do you have your own “cat story”?  Share it with someone 
  • When have you felt guilty even though you did nothing wrong? 
  • How did feeling guilty help the situation?

Dawn Sinnott
www.divorceasacatalyst.com

 

 

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The Ins and Outs of Online Dating from a Match.com Success Story

I was newly single at 40 years old with a 14 year old daughter and 10 year old son.  I was way past the crazy social things I did in my early 20’s – past the point of hanging out in clubs, winning burping contests at the Boardy Barn in the Hamptons and going into the city for a wild party until 5 am.  I was a single divorced mother trying to put my life back together and open to finding love the second time around.

Thankfully I did have one single friend my age that had never been married, had no kids, had been using Match.com for quite awhile and was ready, willing and able to teach me about dating in the 21st century.

At first I was leery but quickly learned that online dating afforded me the opportunity to pre-screen my potential dates in the comfort of my home, without having to hire a babysitter and in my pajamas….win/win/win.

Honestly I could fill a book with the many interesting dating stories I have but the bottom line is I met my second husband on Match.com.  We’ve often joked that we could be in one of the cheesy commercials – met October 2006, married August 2008.

From the online dating experiences of myself, friends and my new husband, I have come up with some online dating guidelines that I’d like to share.

First, this is the most important step that no one ever tells you about – work on yourself first before you look for a soul mate online or anywhere else for that matter.  As a life coach I work with people on their goals and dreams, helping them to get clarity and to determine how to get what they want.  The most important first step that I suggest to clients looking for a relationship is to make a list of the qualities you are looking for in a mate; once the list is complete, go back over it to make sure YOU either possess those qualities or are working on them yourself.  Don’t look for someone to solve your problems like financial security or low self esteem.

The reason I suggest this is that the biggest mistake people make is looking for someone to “complete them”.  I needed to learn to feel great about myself first, work on the areas I needed to work on and become the kind of person I’d like to date before I put up a profile on any online dating site because otherwise I might get caught in the trap of looking for outside validation.  I needed to figure out who Dawn was at this stage of my life and then really like her.

The next step is to fill out your profile honestly.  I stress the “honestly” because my husband and I met many people in person who lied on their online profile.  Your profile describes characteristics about yourself such as age, body description, religion, income, etc.  It also allows you space to describe yourself in more detail and what you are looking for in a date.  Unfortunately, in my experience men lied about their height and age; in my husband’s experience women lied about their body description and age. 

My suggestion is to take time describing yourself.  Then ask some honest, trustworthy friends to review what you’ve written as well as give you feedback about the type of person they would want you to meet.  It’s often interesting to get other people’s perspectives.  Upload a recent flattering picture of yourself.  Again I stress “recent” because my husband had a few awkward dates where the woman was actually 15+ years older in person than her picture.  Make your descriptions thoughtful and succinct then take the leap and post it.  You’re on your way!

The next step is the pre-screening process for both men and women.  The biggest mistake I made at first was thinking that every single person who wrote to me was “the one”.  I learned to view each email with a cautiously optimistic approach and quickly learned what was a deal breaker for me and what caught my attention.  From my friend’s personal experience I learned to take time emailing the person to see if there was a connection, then agree to talk on the phone to see if there was a further connection, and then agree to meet in person for coffee or one drink.  A brief one-on-one date is best because you’re not trapped at a 2 hour dinner and this allows you enough time to consider a longer second date. 

What I needed to feel was some type of connection in regards to sense of humor, intelligence, family values, etc.  I wanted to meet someone who was also divorced and had children because I felt it would say a lot about the type of man, husband, father, provider they are.  If I felt a connection after the pre-screening process, I agreed to meet in person.

The last step that I found the most important was to lighten up and have fun with the whole thing.  I have so many funny stories about people I met and dates that went wrong but I look at all of them as lessons learned.  A therapist once told me to look at dating at first as a way to figure out what you DON’T want in a companion.  Once I started to have fun with it and get clear about what I didn’t want, what I did want showed up.

My husband wrote a brief message to me initially, commenting on a picture I posted of a recent trip I had taken to Ireland.  I looked at his picture (check), I looked at his status “divorced with 2 kids” (check), he was Irish and had been to Ireland (check), I looked at his description which was witty and sincere (check) but he lived much further away from me than I wanted.  I decided to write back because I figured the worst that could happen is I get to have a new friend to talk to about Ireland.

I took a chance on a new friendship and what I got instead was a new husband…..since August 2008.

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You’re Only As Sick As Your Secrets

I was attending a presentation by Pulitzer Prize winning author, Frank McCourt, discussing the ins and outs of writing a memoir.  Frank McCourt won the prestigious award for his heart wrenching description of his impoverished life in Limerick, Ireland titled “Angela’s Ashes”.

I had received the book from my grandfather on the day of my grandmother’s funeral.  I  was wandering around their house, trying to find a memento of my grandmother that I could take with me to continue the closeness I always felt with her.  Due to my love of reading, my grandfather suggested I take one of her many books.  Next to her bedside was “Angela’s Ashes” and I knew in an instant that that was what I was meant to take with me.  My grandmother’s parents were immigrants from Ireland and she had passed her love of her heritage onto me.  What a fitting tribute to read a book about Ireland that was sitting next to her bed the day of her funeral.  I devoured the book in a few days and, although the memoir was sad, shocking and inspirational all at the same time, I felt an even deeper connection to my grandmother and our Irish roots.  I saw my grandmother’s sister a few weeks later and told her how touched I was to read the book; how it felt like my grandmother had left it specifically for me.  She smiled, patted my hand and in a sweet voice she said “Honey she HATED that book”.  She explained that the Irish do NOT talk about their secrets and the author had bared his family secrets for the whole world to read.

After the presentation about his experience writing his memoir, I waited on line for my chance to have my book signed.  When I was finally in front of him I said “Mr. McCourt, I loved your book.  My grandmother however hated it”.  He looked up at me and said “She was Irish?”  I nodded and he told me that that was the way of it; the Irish did not like him sharing his secrets.

It was in that moment that I realized the undertone of my heritage; I started to see things from a clearer perspective.  Until then I never noticed how “undesirable” things were not discussed or how certain stories and rumors were neither confirmed nor denied.  Things were often swept under the carpet and left there.

However years later I attended a recovery program to deal with my ex-husband’s alcohol
addiction.  In that program I witnessed people baring their souls to complete strangers week after week and I watched them leave each meeting lighter.  I listened in awe but also with an uncomfortable feeling; a feeling of nakedness and exposure.  Then I heard the saying that changed how I approached my situation:

“You’re only as sick as your secrets”

If I wanted to get better, I needed to be willing to share and unburden myself from the people, places and things that I instinctively wanted to sweep under the rug of my mind.  Once I began to open up and share my story, I began to see why Frank McCourt was compelled to write his memoir; he was tired of being sick from his secrets.

As I write this blog I am aware of the irony that it took someone else’s alcohol addiction to help me become healthier.  I also know that my grandmother smiles from heaven every time she reads what I’ve written and she’s proud that I am passing along my openness to the next generation; my children will know what it means to be Irish AND talk about their deepest, darkest thoughts without judgment.  Hopefully they in turn will pass along a love of their heritage and a willingness to stop the disease of secrets.

  • How open and honest was your family of origin?  What did you learn from how certain situations were handled?
  • What secrets are you keeping right now?  Who do you have in your life that you trust to support you and allow you to share your secrets?
  • How trustworthy are you for someone to share their secrets?  How can you help another person to unburden themselves?
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