Light & Dark

IMG_6385.JPG

Healing comes with time. It’s true. Patience with yourself and the process is key to minimizing further pain and damage. That is a tortuous sentiment for a faced-paced woman like me. No human likes discomfort or waiting. Everyone wants to be healed immediately whenever sickness, pain or hardship strikes. But when we look back, we can see why it’s good to be patient and how much healing was needed and has come from time and the process. Truthfully, the steps that it took to heal would have been made the healing process more excruciating. Be patient with yourself.

IMG_6383.JPG

I’m thankful to have my friend Megan to document it each year. She shot my resurrection photos when I was in San Diego last summer, and shot some photos that I call “Light and dark” this spring.

IMG_6326.JPG

To me, these photos feel very honest of who I am. I’m a woman that seeks truth and the light, but I’m flawed and imperfect. I have a shadow that goes with me everywhere I go even though I stand in the light.

IMG_6325.JPG

I hope you enjoy these as much as I do.

IMG_6267.JPG
IMG_6268.JPG
IMG_6264.JPG

THIRTY-THREE

alex-res-208.jpg

The end of 33. I crossed miles of desert to stand where I began. A California girl coming back home. My feet touched the waters edge, the golden sun lit up the sky and the breeze blew through me.

alex-res-188.jpg

What lies behind me is a story of perseverance, pain, destruction, and death, and what lies before me has always been and will always be hope.

alex-res-51.jpg

Mile after mile, day after day, I crawled, walked, ran and was carried through the dirt. All that has kept me going through this year was the hope that being deserted in a desert surely couldn’t be the end, and I wouldn’t let it be the end. I would rather die. And if I died, I my soul wouldn’t settle for that either. It would only be a door to more. I just knew it in my bones, and I was right.

alex-res-119.jpg

Resurrection was waiting for me on the other side of surrender. New life, new beauty, new perspective, new heart, new mind, new family, new dreams.

alex-res-211.jpg

Much was taken from me, but more was given back. This is holy ground.

alex-res-56.jpg

I have no formula for walking through divorce. It’s a different path for everyone. But I will tell you the only answer is surrender. You can’t white knuckle this and you can’t do it on your own. You can try like I did, but hope in your own power is a mirage that will fade.

alex-res-129.jpg

It was by falling face down that I stood up. What was meant for destruction God used for restoration. And not just replacing knowing I am a good wife and mom. Oh no! Wounds that go deep from childhood were healed. Anything that challenged the notion that I wasn’t worthy of love, beautiful, significant, sexy, wild, fun...All of it was redeemed.

alex-res-113.jpg

You are staring at a woman I have never seen before yet was made this way. You are seeing a heart that knows no darkness anymore only light.

alex-res-173.jpg

And the biggest gift of all was eliminating any doubt that God is for me not against me.

alex-res-64.jpg

This is no esoteric bullshit. There is no guy filling a void behind the scenes. I still wipe butts alone. I still work two jobs. Plenty of challenges to come, but any flames will only refine me further. That I am sure of.

alex-res-230.jpg

“But Alex if you only knew what happened...” Trust me, friend, I know. ❤️ But you will rise. 🔥Take these photos as proof. 33 you are my favorite year. 34, see you tomorrow. 

alex-res-223.jpg

**Amazing photography by Megan Nicole Photo. Book your resurrection shoot with her stat!**

A Brave New World

991A7236.JPG

I was married at 22 years old. Other than four years of college living in apartments with roommates, seasonal jobs and internships, I never really experienced independence. I married Ryan a year after graduating ASU, and together we divided and conquered adulthood.

We essentially grew up together, and I took a lot of the domestic responsibilities. He did a lot of the finances, yard work and home maintenance. I did the cooking, shopping, decorating, children, etc. You can guess where I'm going with this...Well, now I'm alone, single and taking care of a home and kids and a job all by myself. There's a LOT of first that comes with this new life. 

991A7230.JPG

I've often thought to myself this must be how my grandmother felt when my grandfather died. Lost, confused, scared of the unknown...But the good thing is that I'm 33 and not 80. Things make more sense to me than an 80 year old woman, and I still have a lot of life left to live. So, darn it, I'm going to figure this out for myself. This is my real life DIY project. RIGHT?!

Some new things I have done since I have been single are.....(PROMISE NOT TO LAUGH)...But seriously, though...

1. Set up my own budget. I use Mint to help keep track of everything
2. Set up auto-pay on all my bills. I was really overwhelmed by this, and I was so scared I was going to miss a payment. Thank goodness for technology and auto-pay. 
3. Did a drive-thru car wash. Oh my gosh, I'm so embarrassed to admit this, but I have been scared of them for a long time. For some reason I was just scared I would miss the track or do something wrong. It was so easy. I have no idea why I was scared.
4. Used a leaf blower. They are actually pretty fun.
5. Cleaned my pool and pump
6. Painted and taped a wall by myself
7. Changed the air filters
8. Set up my health insurance and benefits
9. Set up a router
10. Lit the fireplace. Almost burned my eyebrows, but I did it. Hahaha!

Cheers to many more new things! It's a great feeling conquer your fears. It's liberating and it's empowering. What's a fear you have that you would like to conquer? 

TIPS FOR SURVIVING: FIRST WEEKS OF SEPARATION

007.JPG

As I have been sharing about my journey of my sudden separation and divorce, women have come out of the wood work in similar places unsure of what to do. Many of them have written to me in the first days and weeks of their husbands sitting them down and telling them they are leaving. I remember that day all too well, and I remember the days and weeks following were the hardest of my life thus far. I was dealing with shock and trauma, and I had no clue what to do. So, this post is for those women, future women who will find themselves in this spot and for the friends that are walking with them through it. I hope it helps...

It was July 3rd. Our kids happened to sleep over at their grandparents the night before, and we were having a lazy morning just the two of us. I sat down at the kitchen table to make some day plans for our day off, and Ryan sat down across from me. I asked where he wanted to go, and he said he didn't want to go anywhere that day. He then proceeded to tell me had been doing a lot of thinking, and then the words came that he was really unhappy in our marriage. He told me he didn't have fun with me anymore, that he didn't enjoy spending time with me, and that he felt we were incompatible. He felt that we would both be happier and our kids would be happier if we were apart. He told me reconciliation is not an option, and his mind was made up. Of course, I had so many words and I was shocked and confused, especially after recently celebrating our 10 year anniversary. Granted, we had been in marriage counseling for almost three years prior to this moment, but I had been doing very well in my personal counseling.I asked him to help me understand more, and he agreed to go to counseling to help me understand, but again, not to reconcile. 

Those initial couple of days were incredibly difficult. I had to entertain family for 4th of July and pretend everything was okay with a gun shot wound to my heart. I cried so much those days, but I had to be strong for my kids when they were around and not show there was any concern or reason to worry. 

When we got to the counseling office he proceeded to explain again his feelings and decision. The counselor recommended that we meet with a family therapist to help learn what we best for our kids for separation and how to talk to them. We did that a week later. Our counselor also recommended separation at that time since Ryan had already chosen, so he moved in with his parents and I stayed in our home. The kids stayed with me during the week to keep routine, and on the weekends went over to his house so that I could have time to grieve and recoup. There's more to the story, but those are the logistics of what happened in the first couple of weeks.

If you have found your self in this devastating turn of events this is what you need to know. This is traumatic. This is similar to experiencing the sudden death of a family member. The situation is out of your control because the decision is controlled by another, and yet their heart is beating. It is extreme rejection. It is life altering. it is shocking. It is traumatic. Therefore, your body and mind are going to go into survival mode and experience a trauma response. This is how it felt:

- I was numb. I was like a ghost and then I would full on break down when I knew it was safe to let go (no kids around, no people around).
- I started having panic attacks. I started hyperventilating to where I couldn't control my breathing for 5 minutes or so. Scariest shit of my life. I thought I was having a heart-attack and dying. They would come on when I would see Ryan and be in close proximity. 
- My hair started falling out in clumps. (I also have autoimmune disorders and stress aggravates them)
- I couldn't eat. I was physically ill. I started throwing up, and I couldn't eat. I went from 128 to 118 and I'm 5'7". That's waaaaay too thin. 
- I couldn't sleep. I was exhausted from so many sleepless nights. I would fall asleep fine, but I couldn't stay asleep. As soon as 2:30am or 3:30am rolled around I would wake up suddenly. Truthfully, it still happens every night. More about that below...

If you are experiencing these symptoms. You are normal, but here is what I did to combat them.

1. I got a counselor. Part of your panic is that you don't know what to do. They will help you figure out what you need. 
2. Told my best friends and my family. They needed to know to encourage me with phone calls, text messages, to come and sit with me, etc. Don't keep it a secret from close, trustworthy peple that can help you and are for your marriage. Don't share with people that are going to be divisive. 
3. Made an appointment with my primary care doctor. I shared with my doctor what had happened, and she prescribed Zophran for nausea. It helped me have more of an appetite. I also got anti-anxiety meds to use as needed. I actually haven't taken them at all, but it was a comfort to have. I honestly should have taken them when I knew I was going to see Ryan because I would have avoided some serious panic attacks that scared my children. I would also recommend getting an STD test if that's applicable to your situation.
4. Ate liquid foods. Peanut butter, banana and chocolate smoothies were the only thing I could eat. I think I survived on a week of those. 
5. Got childcare. Babysitters and family chipped in to help give me some self-care time and kept the kids having fun. 
6. Went to church - My faith is what sustained and continues to sustain me. It puts my fears at ease and gives me wisdom. 
7. Wrote out my feelings in a journal a LOT. You'll want to text and talk to your spouse, but I would advise only doing that when you are stable to avoid more damage and hurt.
8. Avoid oversharing to kids. Sought out advice from therapists specializing in childhood development. Don't wing talking to your kids. Seek wisdom from professionals that will help your kids adjust the best through this process. Make sure both parents go together. 
9. No need to make lawyer calls right away. Don't panic! Divorce proceedings can't happen without you. Ask for a month of time to catch your breath, sort your emotions and feelings and needs. 
10. Avoid triggers. I only watched happy sitcoms for a long time. The airport was a hard place to be for me because it was a lot of happy couples and families. Avoid places and things that are going to send you into panic. 
11. Exercise. Let your stress out through exercise. It's good for your mind and body. 

More resources to come. Please feel free to email me if you have any questions. alexandra@avestyles.com