From Chaos to Grace

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 “Hope is the leavened sustenance of our souls carrying us from one day to the next, no matter what comes our way. It is what remained at the bottom of Pandora’s Box after the `chaos escaped into the world. It is what lifts our eyes from the prisons that separate us from one another and toward a better, more just future.”
~ Karen Hering

Someone once told me, “Deanne, you are hoping for a miracle.” It was true. I wanted a certain thing to happen. I believed it could happen. And, I believed if it happened everything would be okay. I would be okay. I would be happy. But this particular miracle that I wanted required another person to change.

So, I tried to change him. I begged, pleaded, and cried. I made deals and compromised. I blamed, threatened, worried, obsessed, attached and detached, lovingly and not so lovingly. But the more I tried the more I failed. It seemed nothing I did or did not do worked. I felt helpless and terrified. Terrified for the relationship to end. Terrified for the relationship to continue. Foolishly believing that if I was smart enough, worked hard enough, believed strong enough, and loved long enough, I could fix him. I could fix us. And he would be saved. I would be saved.

But the more I tried to save him, the more I needed saving. My life had become completely and utterly unmanageable. I was spiraling into a crazy dark abyss secretly wishing a knight in shining armor would knock down my door and scrape me off the floor. Deep down inside, however, I knew only I could do that. Only I could rescue myself. I would have to be my own shining knight. I just was not ready to put on the chain mail yet.

Apparently, I had to be smacked around a bit before I would be ready. I had to lose at life before I could win. And, I did lose. Not so surprisingly, the more I lost the more I hoped for a miracle. And the more I hoped for a miracle, the more I asked for the impossible, to change him. A miracle by definition is in some sense the impossible. It is typically contrary to natural law, something extraordinary and unusual. Not until I understood I was expecting something extraordinary, some divine intervention since my intervention did no good, did I understand the impossibility of my cause. I cannot tell you the exact time I comprehended this concept. I am not even sure there was an exact time. It was more like an unfolding, gradual, even leisurely at times. But when it did unfold, I could finally see that it is impossible to change another human being. Even more impossible, is expecting someone else to make me happy. Only I can do that.

The only power we have is over our own lives. It is such a simple idea but yet one of the hardest lessons I have ever had to learn. I cannot control another person. No one can! I could not change him, no matter how much I loved him or how much he loved me. But, guess what? There is someone I could change. I could change me! Change doesn’t simply happen, you have to make it happen not “hope” it to happen. Hope without the footwork is like wanting to win the lottery without buying a ticket. You can’t win if you don’t play.

So I began the footwork. I cleaned up my side of the street, stopped blaming his problems for my own, and took the attention off of him so I could focus on myself. Free of my obsession, no longer directing all my thinking towards him, I was able to let go of the suffocating feelings of guilt, thinking his problems were something I did or did not do. I let go of the resentment (resentments are a killer) I felt towards him when I understood that nothing he did had anything to do with me. They were his issues not mine. I let go of self-pity when I took ownership of my own life and began to love myself fully. I let go of fear and anxiety when I knew I could take care of myself. I let go of control when I let go of outcomes. And, I was no longer in denial when I could finally be honest with him and myself. In other words, I learned to live and let live. I was free!

Sometimes things have to fall apart so you can put them back together. As I began to put my life back together, I slowly got better. And as I got better, a miraculous thing happened, he got better too. It is amazing what happens when you stop expecting the other person to change and change yourself instead. It becomes contagious. People want what you’ve got. It takes some courage I might add. You have to stand up for yourself. You have to have enough self-respect to believe you deserve it and enough self-love to know you are worth it. And then, you must trust. You must trust that things will turn out no matter what happens. It may not turn out the way you planned, but it will turn out.

I will not go into the details of Kevin’s life. That is his story. I will tell you, however, he is an inspiration to everyone that knows him, especially me. A couple of months ago, Kevin had a stroke. It was located in the cerebellum part of his brain. He is very lucky to be alive and doing amazingly well. The kids and I are more grateful than words could ever describe.

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Today, Kevin and I have decided to re-invest in our marriage. We are back together, committed to each other, our family, our health, and our future. And, I am excited to share with all of you that I have been accepted into the Goddard College Master of Arts Program in Psychology and Counseling in Plainfield, Vermont. No I’m not moving, but I will be spending eight days each semester living on campus in a dorm in an intensive study program. The remaining weeks will be spent doing independent work here in California. My goal is to get my counseling license so I can help people through recovery. Recovery from trauma, loss, addiction, and health issues. What better way to make good use of the chaos I have experienced in my life but to turn it into grace.

Miracles do come true my friends. Most are disguised, however. What actually seems like a crisis, may actually be an opportunity. But only if you choose it to be. You can wallow in self-pity, stay safe, and get mired in lack of imagination and motivation or you can get off your keister and do something about it. Yes, it takes a bit of bravery, but I know you are brave. It also takes an incredible amount of patience. More patience than you believe you can muster at times. But, miracles may take years to reveal themselves requiring living in difficult and uncertain times. Eight years to be exact. But, for those of you that can live in this extended state of ambiguity, great things can happen, even the impossible. It is the ultimate “Yes!”

Love you all!

The End or shall I say The Beginning!

5 Responses to “From Chaos to Grace”

  1. Aunt Marilyn Says:

    Love you and your incredible family. A great lesson to learn is that you can’t change anyone,
    but, you can change how you respond to them. Thanks Deanne, you are one strong and special Lady. I am proud to call you my niece!!
    Aunt Marilyn

  2. Myrna Brooks Says:

    Thanks for sharing your powerful story. Danielle went to Goddard College. We found our place here while attending her graduation. She now lives in Montpelier. Good Luck with your studies.

  3. Cyndi McQue Says:

    So happy that everything is coming full circle. Getting back together after so much life has happened is a true example of hope. It is hard to get through those dark times, most people don’t make it. But to keep hope alive and love alive takes a great deal of patience, as you’ve said. Luckily, patience is a learned skill!
    So happy for you all!

  4. Maureen Meeks Says:

    Deanne, you make me proud to be your Mother. I love you and your strength!!

  5. Deanne Says:

    Thank you! Yes, it is true Aunt Marilyn. I used to react. Now I respond.

    And, I reached out to Danielle, Myrna. She said Goddard was an adventure of the life changing variety. Wow, more life changes, can’t wait.

    And, Cyndi, thank goodness you can learn patience or I would have been in big trouble.

    Thank you for reading my blog. Love you all! Deanne

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