Page 36

Grand Traverse Woman

A new career helping others on the same path


Reclaiming your best self after the devastation of divorce BY DONNA SMITH

I PULLED out of the driveway, not able to see the highway through the tears. My husband of 30 years had just told me he would be happier alone, following a path in life that did not include me. Working out our differences was not an option for him. Truth be told, it was not an easy marriage. We had problems early on that were never dealt with, just swept under the rug. Still, over the years I was starry eyed and always thought things would improve. I thought that becoming empty nesters would finally give us that time to reconnect. I thought he and I would be together forever. In disbelief, I pulled off the road and into a hotel for the night. Tears came in gut wrenching buckets. I cried myself to sleep, only to awaken after a few hours with more tears... Somehow I would have to re-route my life.

of work to do on the inside during this time. I began reading and listening to anything positive I could get my hands on. I knew I could not do what I had always done in the past: negative selftalk, focusing on the problems and taking all the responsibility for everything and everyone around me. Sound familiar? Those old habits had only led to the overwhelming chaos that was crushing my spirit. Realizing I also needed to feed my soul, I enriched my spiritual side by reading the Bible, praying, and rededicating to my gratitude attitude journal. I had to learn all over again how to be consistent with the habits that I knew were healthy. Interestingly, as a counselor—my work was in family and addictions counseling—these are all things I had helped others work through successfully. But this time I needed to do the work myself.

right in front of us, calling from our inner voice. During my healing I didn’t simply learn how to change my critical inner voice. I also got back in touch with my inner intuitive voice. I discovered it never left me all these years: I was just running over it and letting outside thoughts get in the way of my God-given gift of discernment. Getting re-attuned has led to discovering wholehearted, authentic living. I heard the terms “wholehearted living” and “authenticity” many times over the years, but somehow, they didn’t sink in. They do now! Wholehearted living and being authentic, as I now understand them, mean being intentional: Living in the present moment, being aware of who I am, who I am created to be, what my purpose is, and a deep desire to see beauty in the ashes that I called my divorce.

A new location

A new outlook

A new freedom

This journey has not been easy. There have been lots of tears, guilt and taking blame for more than my share. I continued learning about codependency and what that looks like for me. (I call co-dependency “a reality of responsibility run amuck!”) But finally, I had the realization that I am human, not perfect and most importantly, not responsible for anything but me! Realizing this was the biggest part of my healing thus far, as it took the weight of the world off my shoulders, and opened the door for real healing to begin. I have been able to soak up all the positives.

Another huge part of healing is forgiveness. I didn’t realize how important this is. It seems like something that is counter-intuitive. Why would I let someone who deeply hurt me off the hook? Yet, forgiveness is for ourselves. When we are caught up in un-forgiveness we are allowing the other person or situation to have control over us. Forgiveness doesn’t mean saying it’s OK; it’s saying I am OK. What they did or said is not right but it has no control over me today. It does not define me or my life. This is empowering, and taking back the control that we do have is crucial; I continue to grow in this area daily.

The first thing I thought of was where to move. I am fortunate in that my mom retired to Traverse City, so I felt pulled to move here from North Carolina. It was May so the area was healing with its beautiful landscape, wonderful water all around, and friendly people. I don’t think one could ask for a better place to begin a new life. I was blessed to have several lifelong friends who I knew would have my back. One in particular, Kathy Freeland, ended up being my “growing partner” for the beginning of my self-discovery journey. The love I have been receiving from my tribe of friends over the last seven months has been amazing. I have found a sense of peace I have never experienced before.

A new habit I found support on the outside, but I had plenty


March/April '17

A heightened intuition Now I see that there are so many aspects of living moment-to-moment that I have control over, that I never realized. When we are struggling on any level in our emotional well-being, it’s difficult to see what is

A new career Deciding the best way to create this new life, for me, has been to recognize that my creativity was simply dormant for a long time. As my mind


Profile for Grand Traverse Woman Magazine

GTWoman March/April 2017  

Inside: Career Profiles Meet the 3 Janes Resale Shop How-To Women Who R.O.L.L. A Mountain of Change Get & Keep Volunteers!

GTWoman March/April 2017  

Inside: Career Profiles Meet the 3 Janes Resale Shop How-To Women Who R.O.L.L. A Mountain of Change Get & Keep Volunteers!