Living through Adversity

Throughout my life, I have dealt with adversity, which is no different from most people. The most recent of these events, divorce, recently concluded. Some of them are amicable in nature, however, I was not so lucky. With all of the difficulties I encountered, I learned many lessons along the journey, lessons I hope can inspire others. As I reflect on the events of the past year and a half, I feel very strongly that I was given many gifts, as well as opportunities.

First, imagine a person making false statements and trying to bring one down at every opportunity. Envision an individual who tries to keep a son away from his father, and makes disparaging remarks about the father to the child. That was my life for many months, and I was on the receiving end of these actions. In retrospect, I have a much better relationship with my little boy having dealt with what was thrown at me. A gift that is absolutely priceless.

I learned, most importantly, that I was living with a person who suffers from mental illness. This mental disorder is the most prevalent of those diagnosed within the United States, affecting almost seven million adults. In November 2013, I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). This was a life-changing diagnosis, as I was able to put a name to what I had experienced for years. I was constantly on edge, and would worry more often than I care to admit. I would react to stressful situations, as well as situations that were not necessarily stressful, but I would convince myself they were indeed stressful. Think about worrying about situations that likely will not occur, but in my head I am convinced will occur, such as damage from a storm. The diagnosis I was given was a gift, and I feel it is one of the best I have ever received.

Thinking that it was in fact calming me, I would have a few beers every night, only to discover I was becoming more anxious. The first step on my road to healing involved cutting alcohol out of my routine, and my life. While not an alcoholic, my actions became habitual in nature, as well as an escape from my marriage. No longer drinking has had many positive effects. First and foremost, I am more relaxed. My memory, which had suffered, has come back at full strength. Another gift, one that provides positive vibes on a daily basis.

Through divorce, my support system (family, friends) is extremely strong and helped me immensely. There were times where I was unsure how I would make it through. Even now, with the financial ramifications, I question how I will ever attain certain goals. I take solace in the fact that everything always works out. I am fortunate to have my sanity, hope for the future, and people with which to share my thoughts.

I have recently found someone who I care about deeply, and truly love. I was not sure if, or when, I would find love, but I have. She is my soft place to land, and I feel emotions I am unsure I have ever felt. I am thankful for her, and am so lucky. She is a special gift, one I hope is in my life for a long time to come.

Lastly, I have struggled to find meaning in the divorce. I know everything happens for a reason, but what is the reason for all of this? With my enjoyment of writing, coupled with my budding interest and comfort in public speaking, i have been provided an opportunity. A gift, if you will. I have a voice, one which I would like to use to inspire, help, and motivate others. The lessons I have learned are immeasurable, and I utilize these lessons everyday.

I have been given many gifts, which I now want to share.

Lessons Learned

The area in which I am a part of at work performs lessons learned sessions quite often.  The sessions allow the individual to share successes, as well as obstacles and what was done to overcome those obstacles.  After enduring a divorce and numerous other challenges, I feel that I should have my own lessons learned session, except this one will be through writing:

1.  Utilize a “red stop sign” – If I begin to have negative thoughts, or say something I might regret, picture a stop sign.  This can help me redirect my thoughts.

2.  People are inherently good, although there are people who are bad, bordering on evil.  Therefore, it is important to really get to know your partner as well as possible.

3.  Having a solid support system is key – Whether it be parents, friends, colleagues, or a therapist; having people to talk to is imperative.  In my case, I had all of those.

4.  Whatever you do, do not lie – It is easier to remember truthful details than details filled with lies.  Lies will come back to haunt someone, which is what occurred with my ex wife.  An individual who lies loses all credibility.

5.  For those with children, never bad mouth the other parent in front of the child(ren).

6.  It is possible to find love again, although it might take time.  It has happened to me. 😃

7.  Seeing a therapist is vital if you are having difficulties.  I have noticed a positive impact on my life through attending sessions with an unbiased third party.

8.  If you have children, make them the focus of your attention.  Doing this can help keep things normal for them during an abnormal time.  Every child, and situation, is obviously different, but I found this strategy worked.

9.  Financial difficulties will subside and even out.  Financial difficulties do not define a person, how one approaches and handles difficult situations defines that person.

10.  Take the high road, always.