August 11, 2020

3 Ways I Cope With Grief

I briefly mentioned in my comeback post that my ex-husband, Tim recently passed away. I've talked about him before on my blog a few years ago, so I think it's important I address this enormous part of my life. I will be short on what happened, but I will be 100% completely honest. I will not lie about the state of our relationship or the reasons he passed away to preserve his memory because I believe they are all important lessons I have learned and lessons I will need to teach my children one day.

Tim and I divorced in 2019 after almost four years of marriage and two beautiful children, both boys, Cooper (4) and Callum (2). Our relationship and marriage were less than perfect but we did have many good years together before it deteriorated. Our issues began for many reasons with fault on both sides, we had grown apart after having children and were no longer compatible. But a huge factor in the demise of our marriage was that Tim was an alcoholic. His addiction not only changed who he was as a person, but how I viewed a lot of things in my life. Our values no longer matched. As much as we all want to believe "love conquers all", realistically love is not enough to sustain a marriage. A marriage takes hard work, selflessness, mutual respect, honesty, trust and partnership. We lost those things along the way.

 I made multiple attempts to beg Tim to seek professional help for his addiction, even after our divorce. He was not ready to address that he had a problem. Unfortunately, we cannot help people who do not want to be helped. It was when I noticed his addiction began to put my children in dangerous situations, it was time to end our marriage. It became clear to me things were getting worse and I needed to protect my children.

I was fair during the divorce. My goal was not to ruin Tim's life or take him for every penny he was worth like most assume divorces go. I simply wanted us to part ways and start new lives co-parenting. I had hoped my following through on divorce would be enough to encourage Tim to turn things around and seek help, but it turned out it made it much worse.

In the year following our divorce, Tim slowly became more forgetful, irresponsible, and flaked on me and the kids many times. He became very hostile toward me a few times, stalked me for a brief period, and continued to verbally abuse me. I had to distance myself from him as much as possible not only for my safety but for my mental health. Toward the end of his life, Tim and I were mostly cordial, but our relationship was strictly about the kids and nothing else. We did not chit chat, we were not friends. We were parents of the same kids. I hated that this was how it turned out, but it was necessary.

On May 17, 2020 at 2:14am, Tim passed away alone in the hospital after his liver failed him.  We were unable to say goodbye to him properly because of COVID-19. His addiction caused his body to crumble and he could no longer go on. He lost his life to an alcohol addiction, regardless of how you want to spin it. That is the truth.

I say that multiple times in that way because I am still processing this news myself. There are some days I feel I'm in denial and don't even remember this has happened. Some days I am extremely angry at how preventable this could have been with the right support. Some days I am heartbroken, because this was not the life we were supposed to have together as a family. Some days I feel guilty wondering if there was more I could have done to help. 

The reactions I've received from friends and people who knew Tim are mixed. Some give me hugs and share their sympathies understanding the position I'm in and how much I did care about him, regardless of our divorce. Others tell me shame on me for "speaking ill" of him after his death. To that, I say to please have some perspective and empathy. There are now two little boys who no longer have a father. Two little boys that I will raise alone. And one day I'll need to have a conversation and explain why their father isn't able to come to soccer games or the school play. Or why they cannot drink excessively like all their friends do. And I won't lie. They need to know because addiction is hereditary. They need to know they'll need to be more careful.

What you also need to remember is it is not up to YOU how someone else grieves. Grief is personal. The amount of time and the way some grieves is not your choice or place to judge. Until you've walked in my shoes you will never understand. 

I'm doing anything I can right now to keep it together. I've found some things help more than others the I hope can help someone else coping right now.

1. Writing and Sharing - Some people won't agree with my way of managing grief. I prefer to share my story with people. I find it extremely therapeutic and I find comfort when others can relate and feel solace in knowing someone else feels the same as I do sometimes. It makes me not feel so alone.

2. Self-Care - I've been trying to make a conscious effort to care for myself and my body more. I don't want to fall into a depression or slump. I want to keep moving forward. Mentally, I need this. My kids need this. They need and deserve the best version of me. I am taking time to rest, take care of my skin and my health, getting fresh air. Anything that brings me joy.

3. Acceptance - I find honesty to be important in this situation. Many of Tim's family and friends have told me things like "we don't really know if that's what caused his death", "your kids don't need to know that version of him." No. That's denial and that's not reality. I'm not going to live in a place of denial. I fully understand people cope in their own ways and I will never judge someone for that. But these are MY ways of coping and I chose to accept reality. Because I lived it. I lived with his demons. My children lived it. They deserve the truth. I pray that lessons can be found in the truth and I can hopefully save someone else's life with that.

There is no right or wrong way to cope with loss. And loss doesn't have to mean death. It could be loss of a job, a friendship, a relationship, a dream. Anything. You decide how you feel, not everyone else. Stop letting people make you feel guilty for feeling human emotions in response to life.

If you or someone you know is struggling with alcoholism or other addiction, please seek help for yourself or them. You CAN fight it. You CAN be a survivor. You chose your own life.

Below are few resources available to you:

Nationally - SAMHSA National Helpline

Nationally - National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism

Locally -  Phoenix House

August 4, 2020


We are programmed as kids to believe that true happiness is found in the arms of a lover. We grow up watching movie after movie about princesses being saved by strong men. Then as teenagers, rom-coms tell us that we should ignore obvious red flags in partners because everyone is flawed and love conquers all. Then you grow up with the pressure to get married, have babies, and not be too old doing it. 

It's exhausting. And I'm here to finally call bullshit on it all! So let's talk relationships today...

For those who know me well, I've always been boy crazy and a serial dater. While it's not something I enjoy being known for, I also am not ashamed to have a big heart and that I am hopeful. Over the years, the boundaries I've set for myself in relationships have changed, as they should with age and experience. I've learned to narrow down what I'm looking for (and what I'm not). I've been in manipulative and abusive relationships. I've been in wonderful relationships that I wish didn't have to end. For each and every man that's ever been a part of my life, I am thankful. They have helped shape me along the way. 

All of these lessons are well and good. But something I wished I'd learned about myself sooner is that I am enough.

I'll say it again. I AM ENOUGH. I'm more than enough. Some might even claim "too much". But I love those parts about myself. And as soon as I began to love that about myself is when I started to see the quality of my relationships change. 

Reentering the dating pool as a single mom has been a challenge. It's not just you in the car anymore, and you have to find a co-pilot willing to be OK with the passengers you're bringing along. Additionally, after divorce there is this immense pressure put on you and the you put on yourself to find the "right" person. People share sweet encouraging sentiments like "you're going to find someone great! You deserve a good man!" And they are right, I do. But what I've come to learn is it's OK if I don't find someone great, or "the one". For once, it's more important to me that I find someone great in myself first and that I show my children that it's OK to be a lone and not to settle. 

In every relationship I've had, the common theme I've always found with what went wrong is not that someone cheated, or that I was being disrespected, or there just wasn't any connection. To me, the common thread has always been how I felt about myself while in those relationships. Weak, compliant, oblivious and anxious. It's a version of myself I hate seeing appear, but also has been a huge indicator for me when things aren't right. When I feel uncomfortable and unnatural, it's time to let it go. 

I don't need to be in relationships that do not serve me. I don't need to go looking for "the one". When the universe wants me to have it, it will make its way to me. Until then, I'll continue to find more things about myself that I am proud of and improve the pieces I am not. That's plenty enough for me.