Chapter 3: Lonely But Not Alone

With each passing day I began to feel more like I would possibly make it through. My good days started out numbering my bad days, and my horrible days were very quickly becoming memories. Of course there were those times when I was doing just fine; then I would see something, or maybe hear a song, or a rumor. I would feel my heart aching and falling apart; but usually a couple hours max, then I could brush it off and finish my day or night.
The divorce was final now, over and done. I was often encouraged (by well meaning friends) to get everything I could out of the divorce, but I didn’t want anything except my boys. My thinking at first had been to fight the divorce and maybe he would change his mind. With the wonderful advice from an aunt of mine who helped me see that you can’t “make someone want to be with you,” I stopped contesting the divorce. She let me know it was ok to “give up” the fight and regain some dignity in the process. I went to my attorney’s office and said, ” I’m not going to try and stop this any longer.” The moment those words left my lips, I felt a giant burden lifted from my back. Wow, I didn’t expect that! I thought it would feel opposite, but letting go of something you no longer have can be very freeing. Instead of hearing that door closing, I only felt a warm breeze of peace and comfort from another door that opened simultaneously; and I knew immediately I was doing the right thing. It’s nothing I had ever wanted, but the time had come. The divorce was finalized very quickly after that. Amazingly (through answered prayer), my love for the person I was once married to also had died. I can tell you the moment it happened, I remember it so plainly. I was in the car and had just seen him. Like a weight lifting off of my heart, the love I had held there for over 7 years lifted. I felt sort of flushed and almost confused, but only for a moment. Then I was flooded with peace; because I realized that not only had the love lifted, but so had the hurt, anger, and bitterness that had tried to seep in. In one supernatural swoop, I was free. Obviously it doesn’t always happen instantly like that, but for me it did. From that day on, I was never the same. Did I still feel sad? Yes at times but now I felt more lonely than sad. I no longer grieved for what once was; my burdens though still there, were much lighter and fewer. I no longer loved him. I had no idea that was possible, but what a relief.
Times weren’t easy but I began to find myself again; and along with that I found my smile.
I worked several different jobs (non of which were glamorous) such as cleaning houses and doing ironing for people. Also, much to my embarrassment, I had to have food stamps for a few months.
I’m not sure why I was so ashamed of that, (of course they were way obvious back then as you had to tear each one out of a little booklet) but I was horrified; and shopping in a small town where you know everyone can be a nightmare. There was one 24 hour grocery at the time and I would shop late at night (when the boys were with their dad) and I would just pray no one would see me, ha. Believe me when I tell you I have left shopping carts full of groceries in an aisle because I saw someone in the store and didn’t want to chance being in line to check out with them.
Though my parents lived 3-4 hours away, I had lots of long distance calls from them, as well as my sister and brother, checking on me and concerned. I had aunts, uncles, and cousins that lived close by as well as a multitude of friends. My support system was strong. There were those friends I knew I could call in the middle of the night when I had a hopelessness slip in; so even though I felt like the entire world was happily married with the exception of myself, the loneliness began to get better.
One of my favorite memories is one weekend when I had nothing in the house but peanut butter and cornflakes in the pantry. My food stamps had been delayed for some unknown reason. I went to work that day at Sonic and it’s all I could think of, because I knew they would not be in for several more days. If I remember correctly, a friend of mine came by Sonic with some story for why she needed my house key. 🙂 When I returned home from work later that afternoon, to my surprise my pantry was full, and I mean full of all kinds of groceries. It makes me tear up just writing about it. My friend and her sweet mom had decided to take everything they didn’t need out of their own cabinets to fill mine. Few things have touched me so deeply, and I’m still so humbled by that kind of love.
I learned that God was always there to supply my needs and those of my boys. My cousin and her husband would have us over often and entertain us. She and I would paint t shirts (I have no idea what sparked that haha), but it was good therapy. While we painted, the boys would play with her little girls.
I had the sweetest neighbors, mostly elderly people who took me under their wings and adopted me and the boys as theirs. Sharing the other part of the duplex with us…..one very thin wall away, lived a young couple with a small little boy. I would hear them sometimes at night fighting and a couple times him throwing her against the wall. I would lie there and pray for her and her little guy.
One Saturday night after Sonic closed at 1 am, I came home tired and ready to crash into bed; but as I pulled up I saw my neighbor sitting on the porch with her son. She was scared and needed help. Her husband had been drinking and had beaten her. I was able to get her help before she moved away. I saw first hand that there are worse things than being alone, and she was a good example of that.
I learned so much that spring, about letting go, choosing to move on, how tough I really was, and how being unhappy, unforgiving, and bitter will destroy you and let the other person off Scott free. I made an important decision to not drink of the poison cup of bitterness. Forgiving is not condoning what someone has done to you or what you feel they have done; it’s simply deciding that you’re not going to dwell on the wrongs, nor replay the hurts. It’s making a decision to trust God to take care of it all and understanding He doesn’t need our help. It’s choosing to move on.
At times I was tempted to let little weeds of anger pop up to justify to myself why I had every right to feel that way; but I immediately would feel the weights coming back on me along with all the baggage, and I realized I can’t afford to dwell in the past.
For my future was bright, free, and I had to be the best me possible…..that was the greatest thing I could do for myself. One thing for sure, I didn’t want to be where I was in life forever and began to have the drive and energy for bettering my situation. I started feeling a tad bit attractive again, I began to feel like a survivor, and I became determined to not just survive but to thrive. That would not happen over night, but it would happen!
I got pretty good at brainstorming and problem solving; so when the spring brought grass that needed to be mowed and I had no mower,I figured out that I could offer to mow one of my elderly friend’s postage stamp sized yard two doors down at no charge. In exchange, I worked out a deal to use his mower on mine. Problem solved!
I would take our laundry down the street to the laundry mat and then bring everything back home to hang it to dry for free on our little clothes line behind the house. I adjusted to a refrigerator that had to be defrosted (some of you will need to google that haha).
I learned how to sit on the front porch with my elderly neighbors and listen to their wisdom and advice. No wonder the greatest commandment in the Bible is to love one another. That’s what pulled me through.
I smiled more, laughed some, dreamed a lot; and daily my faith grew. I couldn’t imagine someone would love me and my boys again. Little did I know God was already preparing the heart of the man who would love me like I’d never been loved before….a stranger I had yet to meet.

Proverbs 14:10
The person who shuns the bitter moments of friends
will be an outsider at their celebrations.

Galatians 6:2
Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ.

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Chapter 4: Singing a new Song

20140123-212416.jpgIt was a very hot summer in that brick duplex. It faced the west, no trees in the front yard to block the fierce sun. Seriously there were days we needed to go outside to cool off 🙂
We had a couple of small oscillating fans loaned by a couple of sweet friends,; but unless you stood by them with your hair wet, you only felt a warm breeze. Of course this was probably a blessing, making working out in the heat everyday easier to handle.
My heart was mending and by summer had, surprisingly, only the scars left to show where it had been shattered. One of the scars was my fear of trusting and loving again, traces of insecurities that come with divorce; but on the other hand, I had never been more secure in myself and what I was capable of with God’s help. I felt pretty tough.
I began to love my life again and accept it for what it was, but I never wanted to be comfortable staying there. I wanted a better life for my sons and I, so I began to take steps to bring it about.
I worked a lot of hours (mostly all weekends and sometimes double shifts) at Sonic that summer, rolling in the tips and walking with a spring in my step. During this time it was amazing how many people decided I needed to date again; and they just happened to have an uncle, cousin, brother, neighbor…..you name it. They would send them up to Sonic so I could meet them. Wow, I remember thinking more than once, “Do they really think I’m desperate?” (Haha). Let’s just say they were less than attractive to me. They came in all ages and sizes and brought to Sonic with them many awkward moments. We did have some good laughs over it at Sonic, for sure.
Every-time I thought I might consider dating, I had a reality check that there was no one around I was interested in; and I was not going to bring guys around my boys and mess with their little heads. I couldn’t see myself with anyone; but I knew if I ever could be, it would be different than before. Consequently, my weekends were spent working hard in the hot summer and letting my young 16 year old fellow car hop friends do the dating 🙂 I have such warm memories of that summer. That’s truly when my life began to change quickly, with every day better than the day before.
I signed up for nursing school (and was accepted) which was a huge confidence boost. I had been depression free for a few months at this point and had learned to be ok with being alone. I missed being loved; gosh, that felt like forever since I had.
One miracle after another happened in my life, such as a gift of money that was given to me, interest free and not to be repaid until after my graduation from nursing school. That loan completely paid off my car, bought me a washing machine, and the boys school clothes for the fall. This gift was given me so that I could quit my job at Sonic and go to nursing school full time. What a blessing! I still tear up when I think of the fact that God loved me enough to have someone help me like that.
Another thing that happened that summer was a lot of swinging done by Caleb and Charley on the (less than safe looking ) neighborhood swing sets. They were a ways down from the house through the back yard, and oh how they loved to meet their little friends down there and swing and play. I remember they had to come back every ten to fifteen minutes to let me know they were ok :). Some of the little kids were less than cared for and a bit more street smart than my boys, but they managed to hold their own. Caleb had just turned three and what an adorable three year old he was. Dark brown eyes and white blond hair, with a summer tan. He’s always been the singer of my kids (still is). It was only after my parents came for a visit one afternoon and my dad walked down with the boys to swing that I realized just how much singing Caleb did while swinging. Dad told me later how Caleb would swing and sing a special song over and over with only a few simple words….”I want my daddy to come home.”
My dad was so touched by this, as was I when I heard it. How my heart ached for this little guy. My dad decided at the time he would talk with Caleb about his song (which by the way I feel was a prayer). He asked Caleb about it, and Caleb explained that was what he wanted. My dad asked him if he had ever heard about step daddys? Caleb said, “Noooooo,” but his interest was peaked!! “What’s that?” he asked. So my dad explained and Caleb’s little face lit up with excitement. From that day on he never sang that song because he had a new song that he sang loudly in his famous little southern accent, “My mommas gonna’ buy me a ‘tep-daddy. ” I guess he figured that’s why we didn’t have one yet; maybe I didn’t have enough money saved. hahahaha I know God heard his prayer and he had someone in mind that would suit Caleb just fine as well as Charley. Charley was my little man, always looking after me and checking on me. My little elderly neighbor lady told me once that Charley had come over not long after we had first moved in and knocked on her door. There stood my handsome little Charley and he said “Miss Hazel, please start praying, my moms in the bathroom crying again.”
Every time I think of that my heart just breaks. I wish they hadn’t had to go through all they did, but I’m thankful God filled in the gaps that I sometimes left when I was so heartbroken.
Not all was sad; we ended up having a great summer, laughing, playing, working and healing…. preparing for our future. The boys started school the same time I started nursing school, kindergarten for Charley and head start for Caleb. Caleb would cry every morning and say,”Momie, I don’t wanta’go to ‘kool”. But he soon adjusted and Charley thrived.
Life had changed so much; our little house felt like home, because to us it was. It felt like I was seeing in color again after black and white. I would sometimes let myself think about the fact that maybe there was someone out there who was going to love me, and my boys…..I began to dream and hope and even pray that it would be possible. I wasn’t sure I could trust again, love without walls of protection, but maybe I thought, just maybe. One night in the late quietness, alone with my thoughts, I suddenly realized I couldn’t remember the last time I had cried. I was happy again, fully content, just loving the peace in my heart and mind. I too was singing a new song!
Ecclesiastes 3:11
He has set the right time for everything. He has given us a desire to know the future, but never gives us the satisfaction of fully understanding what he does.

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