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Lessons from Linda
Meet Single Mother Linda

Most young women have grand visions of their wedding day. A perfect blessed event marked with the mass at church, the white dress and long train, the reception, wedding cake and relatives.

It's a part of life, an important and special occasion that takes hundreds of hours to plan. Never in those hundreds of hours of planning does anyone imagine that the marriage could end in divorce in just a few short years. It certainly never occurred to me.

I have a strong belief in the institution of marriage and I take it very seriously. For Catholics it's a special sacrament, a religious celebration. Some marriages end for nothing other than selfish reasons and are without any real basis; this is very disappointing to me.

We have become accustomed to disposable marriages. It's difficult for me to comprehend the fact that some people are able to marry, divorce, remarry and divorce several times. I don't have it in me to survive another divorce.

On the other hand, some divorce survivors are able to overcome the pain, depression and overwhelming sense of loss. Thankfully, I am in this category.

These survivors learn to rediscover themselves and may even find out they are better people without the ex-spouse. The divorce, though incredibly difficult to recover from, actually could be the cause of a great many positive life changing experiences. As they say, "when a door closes, a window opens."

This little anecdote, told to me by my sister, was actually something that got me through many, many difficult moments. It's been nearly eight years since my divorce and I've had my share of challenges. However, I know that there are plenty of single women, single moms in fact, that are presented with incredibly difficult situations that I have never had to face. Situations I can barely imagine.

I count myself very fortunate. I am lucky to have a very strong support system. My family is strong, loving, caring and always there when I need them. And I can't even imagine what my life would be like without my children. They are my "everything."

We've managed to come through divorce together and remain strong and healthy and happy. In fact we have been called "a force", the three of us. I liked hearing that.

My kids were very young at the time of the divorce, ages four and six. They don't remember their dad living with us. I remember the incredible guilt I felt just looking at them feeling that I had just removed any chance of them growing up in a "normal" family environment. It was devastating.

Later, I would learn to think differently about this with the help of a counselor. Though it took a very long time for me to come to terms with this, he helped me understand that though my kids weren't going to have a similar growing up to mine, it didn't mean it would not be happy. That when they got older, they would have their own happy memories, they just wouldn't have MY memories (of growing up with a mom and dad at home).

Now my kids are twelve and fourteen. Though they are in the tween and teen years, we manage to get along very well. I think the fact that I chose to seek help early (during the divorce) helped me to keep the situation under some control. We all went to counseling.

My counselor referred me to a church called Willoughby Hills Evangelical Friends Church where they hold a Divorce Recovery Workshop. I attended the eight-week session and I can tell you it was well worth it. It helped me to connect with other people experiencing the same things I was.

It helped me to realize that I wasn't alone. There is also a Single Again Workshop that I may sign up for.

They also have a Mended Rainbow workshop for kids going through divorce and my kids attended. The people at Friends Church are incredibly giving and wonderful people to talk to. And yes, I am still Catholic and go to a Catholic church. You don't have to join the Friends Church to take part in the workshops there.

Catholic churches also hold divorce workshops but as I understand it this one has been in existence for quite a long time and has a good reputation. It's important to know when to ask for help - and even more important to get it.

Being a single mom has its challenges but I try to stay positive and I always keep in mind that I am raising young women who will some day be moms too (like the John Mayer song says " Mother's be good to your daughters too").

So I'm glad to be able to contribute something to ClevelandWomen.com. Single moms definitely have their share of stories to tell. I look forward to sharing more.

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