Monday, September 22, 2014

ANASAZI Lessons

 Raising children is hard.
Going to school is hard.
Working is hard.
Keeping my house clean is hard.

Trying to do all four of them as a single mom is hard.

And lately, I feel like I've been failing in at least 3 of these categories at a time. I've been so overwhelmed. My eyes start to droop around 7pm because I'm just so exhausted. I don't know if I've ever felt this exhausted, not even as a mom of a newborn. But maybe I just forgot what that felt like.

I've had so many nights where I lay in bed and wonder how I'm going to get everything done the next day. How am I going to have time to sweep the floor and fold some laundry and do two homework assignments and give my kids quality time with their mom?

And the thing is, I don't have time for it all. That would explain the sticky floors, the sink full of dishes, and the laundry that's been sitting in the washer for a few days. It would also explain the amount of tv my kids have watched in the past week.

I've felt like a failure so many times in the past week and most nights, I'm so close to tears when I think about the times I told Petey she had to pack her own school lunch or get her and her brother breakfast because I just couldn't do it.
But we've pushed through. When I feel like I can't keep doing this, I keep doing it anyway. I just focus on one small step at a time.

Today as I was thinking about one of my favorite motto's, "I can do hard things", my mind went back to 17 year old me.
 This is her. Her name is Kissing Sun Firefly and she spent six weeks of her summer learning how to make fire out of wood and a piece of rope, cooking with a tin can and dried foods, hiking 20+ miles a week with everything she had on her back, and sleeping under the stars every night.

Out there, I learned what it means to do hard things. There were so many nights I would cry myself to sleep because I was so lonely out there. I often felt misunderstood by my parents and even by my group of youngwalkers and trailwalkers. That first week was physically exhausting and I got so dehydrated that I was vomiting uncontrollably during one of my first big hikes.

I remember feeling like I would die out there. I remember being so embarrassed that I had gotten dehydrated and I wondered how I would ever make it. But I kept focusing on one more step and then one more and one more until finally, I had made it to our week's destination. I remember the tall grass, the ants all over the dirt, and the girl with the curliest blonde hair I'd ever seen reading her Book of Mormon to me to calm me down. I layed there under the sun, wondering how I had gotten from point A to point B without dying.

I felt like I had accomplished something so incredible that day.

A few weeks later, we were hiking through a dried up river bed and I had my hands through my sleeping bag/backpack and all of a sudden, I tripped and my hands weren't able to catch my fall. But my face did. I could feel my lip swelling as the blood ran down my chin. I couldn't do this anymore! Hiking was too hard. I couldn't handle being out in the middle of nowhere and getting hurt. But I kept going that day. I cried a lot because my battle wound really hurt but I kept hiking and we made it to our destination. That afternoon, I walked down to the dried creek bed and sang, "For Good" from Wicked over and over again. I cried. I sang. I listened to the wind. I felt peace. I knew I could finish this hard thing. I knew I could work things out with my parents and believe in myself.

I knew I could do hard things.
ANASAZI taught me lessons I still apply in my life. It was a turning point in my life. I was strong before ANASAZI but when I came back from those six weeks, smelling worse than death but feeling happier than I had in a long time, I was a warrior.

And I'm still a warrior.

I have felt so much failure recently that I have to take a step back and look at the big picture. Sometimes the small picture doesn't show me what I've accomplished because it emphasizes all of the things I'm doing wrong.

But the big picture---the big picture shows me how far I've come and how much I am capable of enduring.

So tonight, I'm not going to focus on my messy house or my children that went to bed in their school clothes. I'm going to focus on the fact that I worked five hours and came home and did homework with my daughter while babysitting two extras, and then I took 3 online quizzes and got all A's and wrote an essay.

And now I'm here and it's ok that I'm still not choosing to clean. I've done enough for today.

I can't do it all but I can do enough.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Breathing, Living, Learning, Growing

I am a huge fan of music. Music helps me cope with a lot of things in my life, especially this past year.
Lately, I've been going back to the same two songs most days.

Colbie Callait's 'Try': I have been listening to this on repeat as I sit in the carpool pick up lane at my daughter's school and start to feel anxious because that 20 minutes in the carpool lane is often my only quiet time to think about life. I turn it on when I look in the mirror and realize I was brave enough to fight my eating disorder and get myself in recovery months ago and now I'm here---and it seems like just yesterday I was there. And then I start to worry because am I good enough? Am I pretty enough? Am I smart enough? Am I a good mother? Am I worthy of someone marrying me and taking on the responsibility of my children? Will I be wonderful enough that a man would choose to do that when he could marry someone who doesn't have kids and an ex husband?

These are real thoughts and they run through my head a lot. A lot.

"You don't have to try so hard. You don't have to give it all away. You just have to get up. You don't have to change a single thing."

I feel so unworthy of dating. I feel so unworthy of love. But Colbie helps me remember how hard I'm trying and how I don't have to do that. The right guy and the right friends will love me not for how hard I try but for who I am---for who I am right this very moment.

Christina Perri's I Believe is also at the top of the list. Everytime I hear the last line of the chorus, I can feel in my heart the exact words being sung.

"I have died so many times but I am still alive."

Because I have died. I have felt loss and abandonment and insecurity times a thousand this year.

But I am still alive. I am still fighting. I am still moving on with my life.

I'm trying to be the mom my kids need and the provider they need and still be me and do things for myself.

If you're wondering how well that's working for me, refer to my mention of anxiety above...

But this is life and I'm fighting through it. I'm still breathing. I'm still waking up every morning.

These past few weeks have had a lot of hard moments intertwined with the normal busy chaos. I was planning a trip to Las Vegas with some friends and in that same week, Spidey started having meltdowns that I was leaving him so much.
I tried to spend quality time with both kids before leaving but as I drove away that night, I felt so much guilt. Because although I knew I needed some time to myself, I felt like the worst mother for walking away at the worst possible time.
I was having an incredible time. The days were some of the best I've had in a long time. But each time Spidey would call and cry, I would feel so torn between relaxing and just getting back to him and holding him.
Each day, I was laughing and relaxing and having some of the best conversations with some of my favorite people and each night, I prayed so hard that Spidey would feel comfort and that he could just enjoy his time with his dad.
Just leaving on this trip was brave for me. I have never been on a girls trip that didn't involve family members. I knew that when we started planning this, it would be tricky. Because although I have a few friends I tell everything to, I have so very many friends who mean so much to me and I've never been a fan of "clicks".

But it ended up being totally fine and I'm grateful for that because I worried about it. And I'm not the only one who worried about it.
These girls have been through a lot with me. Three of them spent the evening at the temple with me the night my husband left me. The other two have been equally incredible this year. I know this trip wasn't just planned by me and it definitely wasn't for me alone but it certainly was a perfect way to remember where I was a year ago and look at where I am today.
These friends were some of the first to know what was happening as my separation turned into divorce and they have checked in on me, even when I just wanted to stay in bed all day and cry.
Visiting the Las Vegas temple was high on my list and I'm so glad we fit it into our weekend because it was one of the highlights. I had the opportunity to really feel peace and relax and I stopped worrying about the kids for a while and think about what I needed in those moments.
Did I mention I was brave enough to wear my Porn Kills Love tshirt as we walked down the strip of Las Vegas?

The second we decided to go to Vegas, I knew I wanted to wear this shirt because this subject is something I believe so strongly in.

This is something I will never back down from. Ever.

As fearful and intimidated as I get around people, I just cannot take a back seat when the subject of pornography is brought up.

This week, in my Philosophy of Sexuality class, we watched an amazing video by the XXX Church about how porn kills. It was powerful and yet, I already knew what most of my class would think about it. As the video started, so did the snickers. The girl in front of me kept whispering to her neighbor, "That's so dumb. Porn kills what?!" and I wanted to shout, "PORN KILLS LOVE! IT KILLS MARRIAGES AND FAMILIES AND CAREERS!"

I could feel my heart beating all the way from my forehead to the tips of my toes. I felt like the video was going on forever and I wanted it to end because I knew what would happen next.

When it finally ended three hours eight minutes later, my teacher asked what our thoughts were and without another second, my hand shot up in the air. I took a deep breath and said something very similiar to this:

I know that my opinion won't be very popular among this class. I could hear the snickering and the confusion of what porn kills. I could see the eye rolls and the shaking heads. And I get it. Before last year, I didn't quite understand what pornography was capable of either. But my marriage was ruined because of pornography. My husband left me last year and my kids have had to endure our divorce and all of the pain that comes with their feelings of abandonment. Porn kills love and even if you think that statement is dramatic, I am living proof that it can be a true statement.

Pornography addiction has caused enough trauma in my life that I no longer am willing to sit in a room and not share my opinion if the subject is brought up. I knew I would not have an audience of people who understood what I have lived through but I will never regret that opportunity I had to share a part of my story with a room full of young college students.

I used to view pornography as bad mainly because of my religious beliefs but I never really knew what an addiction to pornography is capable of doing to an individual, to a marriage, and to a family.

There were some hard moments, walking around Vegas and seeing pornography and a lot of other things that made my heart so sad. This really is the world we live in.

I guess if I could just have one wish come true from all of the things I've learned it would be that each and every one of you who decides to click on my posts and read my words will do whatever you can to protect your families from pornography. And also that you'll love the people around you and have compassion. We can't understand everyone's situation but we can make a goal to try and remember that everyone has a story and everyone has trials. Try not to be hard on the people around you.


I am still alive tonight, friends. Although I've been so broken for so long, I see healing and the possibilities that come with moving on. When I look back on everything I've done this past year, I am hopeful that this next year will be full of even more growth.

God stretches me and teaches me and I am trying my hardest to learn what He wants me to learn.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

And God Said, "Slow down!"

 Once upon a time, I was in the school counselor's office trying to figure out how to graduate from community college by May 2015. It was decided that I would take 17 credits Fall '14 and 15 credits Spring '15 so that I'd be ready to graduate and transfer to ASU.

I chanted the, "I can do hard things" quote in my head over and over again as I signed up for 6 classes and tried to figure out a schedule that worked for my life.

Sigh...

It took most of the summer. I kept leaving the task for another day because it was stressing me out.

Sometimes being a single mom sucks. It was so dang hard to find a schedule that would fit the classes I need and keep us in a mostly normal routine.

I finally did it and signed up for all Tuesday/Thursday classes, all during the day---except for one stupid class that I could only find on Thursday nights.

I figured the sacrifice would be something I could handle for four months. And the thing is, it was possible.
But right when school started, I decided to go back to work. And right when I decided to go back to work, Spidey started preschool.

And right when all of this happened, Spidey started crying a lot when he would get dropped off to babysitters.

And my mom guilt became a huge burden because all I wanted to do was quit everything and stay home with him all day, every day.

So let's recap:
A week into my new job and school starting, I was ready to throw it all away.
A week.
 Well, God knows me. He knows I won't just quit, even when things are really frickin hard. He knows I'll kill myself until I get everything fit into our crazy schedule.

I'm the least perfect perfectionist in the entire world. Our house is crazy, our schedule is crazy, and my kids are sticky-faced and wearing mismatched shoes.

But I'm really hard on myself and I try to fit it all in and get it all done.
 Well, due to some unforseen circumstances, I was dropped from my Thursday night class. When I found this news out, I had a moment of panic and I just wanted to crawl in a hole. But following my panic, I felt an incredible amount of peace come over me and I felt like God was saying, "Slow down!"

He knows how busy we are. He knows that it's hard for Spidey to get used to having a working mom. And I feel like he found a way to teach me that it's ok to slow down a little bit.

I can't be a super mom. I can be the mom that my kids need but I really can't be much more.

Most days, I'm just hanging on by a thread. I've been struggling a lot lately and I just can't seem to find my bravery that everyone else seems to believe I have within me. I'm not giving myself breaks. In fact, I've been pushing myself harder than ever before.

So God said, "Slow down." and all I could do was nod my head and realize that He is right.
I have my whole life ahead of me. I'm only 26 years old and my kids are still young. We can slow things down a tiny bit sometimes. As much as I want to rush through school and be able to provide a better life for my kids RIGHT NOW, I feel a whole lot of peace tonight as I think about how rushed we already are.

I can do hard things...but I don't have to push myself farther than I need to right now.

It's ok that I need to slow down. It doesn't make me weak. It just makes me human.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Back To Work!

 Four years ago, I was faced with a really hard decision.

Keep working or quit my job.

At the time, Petey was 2.5 and Spidey was 9 months old. It had been really difficult for me to continue working since Spidey had been born but I knew that is what our family needed me to do at that time.

But 9 months into his life, the possibility of staying home became more of a reality. I prayed about it and decided to put in my two weeks at Gilbert Pediatrics.

And for the past four years, I have been a stay at home mom.

I have loved so many things about these past four years. I have loved being with my children and taking them places and having more freedom to make our own decisions of what our day would look like. I have loved watching them grow up from babies into school-age children and being their main influence during these times. I realize just how lucky I am to have had these past four years.

Then a year ago happened. And when a year ago happened, I was faced with another heavy decision---keep staying home or go back to work. And again, I found myself on my knees, pleading with my Heavenly Father to find a way for me to continue to be with my children. With all of the issues they have had, they needed me this year. I don't doubt the decisions I made.

But now I am in a different situation. A year has gone by and I have a child in school full time.

Then my baby decided to go and start preschool...
Really? Is he really old enough for this?

And last week, my sister asked if I would be willing to help her catch up on some billing things down at Gilbert Ped's and I told her that would definitely be a possibility for a few weeks.

And I can't even describe to you how everything has fallen into place. From the preschool schedule to the babysitting to the timing of this job, it has all kind of worked out.

I could do it for two weeks. I knew I could. Even though I wouldn't be there to pick up Spidey from his first day of preschool, we would get through this and he probably wouldn't even care.

But after working most of the day on Friday, I started thinking about how much I love working for my dad's office and being in that environment and I started budgeting and looking at the financial difference it would make.

And so I made a proposal to my sister and my boss and asked for a part time job.

So now I work.

I am a working, single mother of two and a FULL TIME STUDENT with 17 credits.

I might lose all of my hair by the end of the semester but I know that this is what needs to happen right now.

My mom guilt has set in and I made a phone call to Spidey when he got to the babysitter's house after school today to see how preschool went. Of course, he talked for about 5 seconds before handing the phone back.
 It is REALLY hard for me to think about the fact that I am leaving him 5 days a week between work and school and then I have to give him up every other weekend. I am going to miss our leisure mornings together, snuggling up on the couch and talking about life. This kid has been my life for the past four years. My identity has been mother and I have loved it. I still love it. But now I have other identities.
 Just as it was hard to let my big girl go to school ALL DAY, it is going to be an adjustment to get used to being away from my boy.

I feel so incredibly lucky to have the opportunities that I do and there may be a day where I am a stay at home mom again.
But for now, I will make the most of the afternoons I have with my kids and the weekends we get to spend together.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Bright Effects

 In the past year, I have been through a hell I didn't think I'd ever have to go through. I just didn't. But really, who plans their divorce before it happens?

Anyway, I realize how much I've been focusing on the hard lately---mostly because lately it has been hard---but there have been some pretty incredible things that have happened in the past year.

In January, the word I picked for 2014 was brave. I knew I would need to be brave as I pushed forward through a divorce and school and motherhood. I knew I would need to find myself this year and battle my eating disorder more than I've ever had to before. I knew I woud need to face my fears and make grown up decisions by myself.

It has been a year of hard and it has been a year of brave.

A month or so ago, my friend, Jacy, posted something on her blog that caught my eye. It was a special day her and her friend, Shay, had been planning for a while that they were giving away to two lucky women. All I had to do was send in an email stating why I could benefit from this day.

I clicked off of Jacy's blog and was so excited to see who would be announced the winner. I never intended to email her. I just couldn't see myself spending a whole day with two people who intimidate me because of their awesomeness and then have a photoshoot of MYSELF at the end of the day.

Nope. It wasn't happening. Not even a little bit.

I would think about that giveaway a few times a day and would see Jacy and Shay post about it to get entries but I just kept pushing it to the back of my mind. I probably wouldn't be picked anyway so there really was no point in writing an email.

But on the very last day of the giveaway, I saw Jacy post a link to it and I decided I should just send a quick email. What could it hurt, right? I realized the day of Bright Effects was just days after my one year anniversary of being on my own so I chose to write about that.

Here is the email I sent:
"On August 24th, it will be exactly one year since the day my husband left me. This year has been full of pain and heartache and feelings I DID NOT want to feel. There have been beautiful days and some of the ugliest days I've ever experienced. I have struggled to find my own self-worth and figure out who I am as a person, and not as the other half of a marriage. I am struggling to believe I am good enough and that the people around me truly do like me as a person. It's hard when the one person who should've loved you decided you weren't worth their eternity.
But because I am hopeful and trying and brave, I am going to write down what I have learned about myself this year.
My name is Suzanne and I have learned that I can do hard things. I can sleep in a bed by myself, in a house where I am the only adult and still feel safe. I can pay my bills and budget and work as hard as possible to still be able to stay home with my kids most of the time. I can be in school full time and juggle a half day kindergarten schedule, a preschool schedule, and a crazy dance schedule. I can hold church callings and maintain friendships with women who don't exactly understand what I'm going through but love me anyway. I can help other women who are struggling and in need of a friend. I can love people that I don't quite understand.

I can be a brave warrior.

I am a brave warrior.

In the past year, I have learned more about doing hard things than ever before and although I wish my painful journey was over and that the light was shining brightly ahead, I have hope that someday I'll find that light and that I can share that light with those around me who need it as much as I do."
 
Days later, I received an email telling me I had been picked as one of the lucky recipients.
 
Panic. Happiness. More panic. A lot of smiling. A little more anxiety. A photoshoot? No way. I couldn't do it. Someone else should do it. Someone skinnier. Someone more beautiful. Someone who has been through harder things and deserves it more.
 
But Shay talked me through a little bit of my panic and I was set.

As the day approached, I was stressed out about finding a babysitter since my ex-husband AND my parents were out of town that day. I kept thinking maybe that was a sign that I should forego the day and stay with my kids but because I have some pretty amazing friends, a few of them took my kids that day so I could enjoy myself.

It was finally noon and as I pulled up to Jacy's house, the front door opened and Jacy and Shay were both hugging me and voicing their excitement for the day they had planned out.

We started the day with a group therapy session with Angie Whitman. I wasn't sure what to expect because it's taken me TWO YEARS to really open up to my current counselor {true story} but it went really well. Angie is very relatable and friendly and I loved the things we were able to talk about.

After group therapy, we headed over to a pilates studio...what?!! The funny thing is I wasn't as nervous about this part since I go to the gym a lot and feel like I'm in better shape than I have been in years. But oh my goodness gracious, when we walked in the machines were super INTIMIDATING. I have never seen contraptions like those before! But wow. Wow. WOW! Melissa Olsen of Core Body Pilates is seriously incredible. I am still sore.

We finished our afternoon at Kneaders for a delicious lunch before heading back to Jacy's house for the next part of our day.

I hopped in the shower and when I got out, the hair stylist, Thom, and make up artist, Nella Brenner, were ready for me.

Breathe...you can do this, Suzanne.

I was so nervous!


But as you can see from the bottom left picture, I did it. The hair stylists took off an inch or so of damaged hair and then styled it and the make up artist gave me a new look.

I think the funniest part is when she said, "Suzanne, you're probably going to freak out when you look in the mirror because you aren't used to filling in your eyebrows." Umm, yeah, she was dead on. It was something I had to get used to. But she did an AMAZING job and I felt incredible when it was over.

And then it was time for the photoshoot.

EEEEEK!

I want to sit here and tell you that I was excited for this part or that I was overjoyed when I got the pictures back. I wasn't. I'm pretty hard on myself and I wasn't a fan of the pictures when I first looked at them.

The talent I was a HUGE fan of...Shannon was absolutely incredible and her work is amazing. But me IN the pictures? Not. So. Much.

But I have since embraced my pictures and I posted my favorite one on Facebook.

I know my Heavenly Father loves me. I also don't doubt that my friends and family love me. The tricky part is loving myself. I'm not there today. But I hope I get there soon.

I picked a few pictures to share with you today.



^^^favorite^^^

Sylvia was the other winner of this special day and I am so glad I met her. It was nice to be doing this with someone else.
The photographer snapped a few pictures of us together at the end and we had a bit of fun with that.

Sylvia is TALL...and when I leaned in to her, my head was on her boob. So we reenacted that moment but switched it around below...
...because I just can't be serious all of the time! :D
Sylvia is gorgeous inside and out. I loved being with her most of the day and getting to know about her life and all of the bravery she has faced.
We ended the evening with a gift from Jacy and Shay which was a picture frame with an amazing quote in it.

I am blessed.

Today I know I am blessed.

I was so lucky to be picked for such an incredible gift from Jacy and Shay. They are some really incredible women and I am so glad I know them.

With this new beginning and this new year of being on my own, I know I can do hard things. I know I can be brave, even when it feels so dark and lonely around me. I know I can fight for myself and give my kids a good life.

I can do this.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

My Goodness

I feel like Suzanne today.

Even among the depression and the heartache and the painful memories, there are days where I feel like me. The real me.

The girl who loves to make others happy and doesn't tell herself she is selfish. The girl who reads books to her children and gives them extra snuggles at night. The girl who exercises because she loves her body, not to punish herself.

This is me.
School started yesterday.

School started and my anxiety kicked in full swing. Ok, fine, the anxiety kicked in the night before.

I went to my math class and was welcomed by a bubbly, tiny young woman who made us decide what shape we identified with most and then showed us a Ted talk on having grit. I really hope her personality, as cheesy as class felt, will be helpful to get me through this math class. Have I mentioned I hate Alegbra?

Then I headed to the class I was nervous to start---Philosophy of Sexuality. I know it's going to help me become a better therapist. I know I need to take this class. I am just not excited about the sometimes explicit material and the open discussions about SEX. Part of the reason is because it's intimidating to talk about sex with people I don't know and trust but a bigger part of the reason is in regards to the trauma from my failed marriage.

But I did it. I focused, I read through the required material today, and I finished my first assignment. And if you're waiting for me to stop tooting my own horn, it might not happen yet.

I have spent my morning doing things Suzanne does. Spidey and I jogged the neighborhood at 7:15am. We played with our bunnies and fed them breakfast. And I finished my work out while my boy watched PBS.

I even cleaned the family room.

I'm figuring life out. I hate it some days. I love it other days. But at least I seem to be figuring it out.

There are two parts of me and today I am Suzanne.

TODAY I AM SUZANNE.

That is such a victory, friends.

Because depression and anxiety have taken so much from me. When I feel like me, I NEED TO CELEBRATE THAT!

So today I celebrate who I am. I celebrate the brave things I conquer and the good things that I do. There is good within me---a lot of good. And it doesn't counteract the bad, it isn't a replacement for the bad...it is it's own thing. I am good because I am compassionate and funny and loving.

I am a good person.

This is me.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

One Year Stronger


I've written this post a hundred times in my dreams and today it is my reality.

On this day, a year ago, I held the phone close to my ear and begged with the man on the other end to help me understand the lies and the secrecy that I had found out had been happening for months. And the phrase that pierced my soul was the answer I received.

"I don't care about you anymore."

I went numb. I tried so hard to protect my heart from shattering. I didn't yell or scream but tears fell down my cheeks as I looked in the rear view mirror at the two perfect children who were giggling with each other, completely unaware that their lives were about to change forever.

"You don't cook enough. The house is almost never clean. I can't do this anymore. I want to separate."

I barely remember these words. I fought my insecurities. I tried to doubt them. I tried to remember that I am still worthy of love and acceptance.

But I couldn't do it. 

Instead I believed him. And in doing so, I blamed myself for ruining my children's lives. I couldn't see a good life for them with divorced parents. My parents weren't divorced and I had never really seen good examples of divorce situations. My kids were going to be ruined. I was so worried that because I hadn't been good enough, my children's lives were ruined.

I went to my best friend's house and melted in her arms. I could hardly spit the words out. Because it certainly isn't easy to say, "My husband just left me.". I felt ashamed and scared and so incredibly defeated. I didn't know how to react. I didn't know what to say or do.

We ended up at the temple that night. I received a blessing from my best friend's husband. We talked until midnight. And then I drove to my parents where my kids had fallen asleep and I laid awake on the couch, crying and pleading with God to turn back time. 

This couldn't be happening. 
I didn't sleep well for days. I cried late at night as I wondered what was going to happen. 

As much as I tried to keep it from happening, my children have each had their hearts shattered this year too. It happened at different times, in different ways, but it did happen. 
There were so many nights of comforting my sensitive five year old as she pleaded with me to bring him back home. There were nights where she yelled at me and blamed me. There were nights where my four year old would tell me he didn't love me and that all he wanted was his dad. He would scream that he no longer wanted to live with me. 
Each kid has been angry. Each kid has needed me to hold them all night long. Each kid has learned at their very young ages that sometimes life just sucks and it isn't always fair.

I put on a brave face in public but every day, I would come home, fall onto my bed, and literally shake with fear. I felt anything but brave. 
I know without a doubt how I got through this year, even though I often throw my hands up toward the sky and ask Him, "Really?! Now this?!" 

Today as we spoke about faith in Relief Society, I was reminded of how my faith has changed so much in the past few years. God has placed building blocks that have prepared me to get stronger with each trial that I face. I learned through infertility that sometimes even when we desire something really good, like more children, Heavenly Father doesn't always give it to us. I learned to have faith in Him and His plan for me. 

Divorce has been the same way. My faith in God's plan for me has been something I've had to rely on because most of the time, I have no clue what my next step is supposed to be. 

Without faith in God, I would have completely broken a year ago. Without faith in God, I know things would've been much worse. 

God has helped me through some of the darkest nights I have ever experienced. He has helped me to smile when all I wanted to do was spew swear words and punch walls. He has sent some of the most incredible people to comfort me and remind me that I am never alone.

I couldn't have made it through this year without my friends. I don't care if that is super cliche to say, IT IS THE TRUTH! 

With divorce comes a lot of speculation from the peanut gallery. I've heard a lot of advice this year that I just couldn't apply to myself. I've heard opinions from all different sides about whether this was right or whether we are just a couple of really stupid people. The thing is, no one knows but us. And even moreso, no one knows but me. I have prayed so many times this year for things to be different. I have prayed about whether divorce was of the devil. And without a doubt, I can sit here and tell you that it isn't. As much as I believe in marriage and as strongly as I am devoted to the covenants I've made in the temple, Heavenly Father has helped me to face my fears and sign divorce papers, completely separating me from someone I loved so much. This isn't some on a whim decision that was made without faith. It took more faith for me to sign those papers than anything in my life ever has. 

I've done a lot of things alone this year. I've made a lot of grown up decisions and nurtured my children as their hearts broke and learned how to live on my own. It has been a scary year. I have had to face a lot of fears this year.

But I have become stronger this year.

A huge part of me is still in disbelief that it has been a year. I'm still full of anger and I don't always deal with divorce in the right way.

But each day, I get up and I try. I try to be brave. I try to help others. I try to be a good mom. I try not to judge. And I figure for now, that is good enough.

And someday, I won't be so full of grief for the life I used to live and the life I live now. 

Today we are one year stronger. We know we can do hard things.