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The Courage to Love Again

Creating Happy, Healthy Relationships After Divorce

The Courage to Love Again by Sheila Ellison
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For many divorced women, the prospect of reentering the dating game is a daunting one. Too often they are afraid of another failure and of not being able to get past their own feelings of inadequacy. This fear of intimacy with another man keeps many single mothers from sticking their toes back in the relationship waters. The challenges of raising children, supporting a family, managing household chores, and money concerns only make moving on with life that much harder.

Now, Sheila Ellison uses her warmth, wisdom, and personal experience to provide women with the tools they need to overcome the inner and outer obstacles to finding healthy, happy love. This book will show you how to find the courage to look at your mistakes, accept your choices, forgive yourself, and go on to a place of self-acceptance and love.

Part One explores the inward journey-how we learn to love and to accept who we are, and how to gain the courage to get rid of the old patterns and make room for new ideas and dreams. Part Two is about the outward journey toward a healthy new relationship. This is the exciting part, where you put your newfound self-knowledge into action.

Miracles do happen! says Sheila Ellison. You do deserve it all, and you can have it all if you follow the steps presented here. The Courage to Love Again is your blueprint to finding an enduring, loving relationship.

HarperCollins; October 2009
224 pages; ISBN 9780061974748
Read online, or download in secure EPUB or secure PDF format
Title: The Courage to Love Again
Author: Sheila Ellison

Chapter One

Picture Your Life

Suzanne walked down the fruit aisle for the second time. Pausing at the nectarines to squeeze, holding on to her cart, she twisted to look over her shoulder at the man standing by the salad dressing. God, his butt looked great in jeans. She had spotted him first looking through the wine, followed him to the soup, then to the cereal aisle, and now to the fruit. Looking down all the time at her cart full of whatever she grabbed to look inconspicuous.

Batteries, that was what she came in the store for, Brian's remote control car. She hadn't gotten the batteries, couldn't forget those. The kids were gone for the weekend, but she'd promised to fix that car while they were gone.

Rough looking, torn jeans, tanned skin, ruffled hair, and a warm smile.

He did smile back by the soup, she thought. Could be married, though; he's too cute to be alone.

She watched him grab a loaf of sourdough and head for the checkout. Still squeezing the nectarines, Suzanne felt her head spin. She began to panic. Should she leave her cart behind and position herself at the magazine rack? Could she let him leave the store without getting a number?

This is ridiculous. What am I thinking? Why would he be interested in me? I have two kids, haven't dated since my divorce, I'm thirty-seven years old, and can't bring myself to talk to this man that I've been stalking for the past twenty minutes. I am acting like a teenager, she said to the stack of magazines as he headed for the door. She dropped the magazine and followed him.

"Excuse me, I don't generally approach strange men in grocery stores, but, in case you aren't married, I'd like to give you my phone number."

"I noticed you in the store. I'm Will -- and you are?"

"Suzanne, nice to meet you. Do you live around here?"

"I do, I'm on my way to a friend's party," he said, holding the wine and grocery bag up for her to see. "Would you like to come with me, or should I use this number later?"

We can all remember that feeling of looking at a man and feeling an immediate attraction, wishing he were single, wondering what his touch might feel like. We want to look into eyes full of desire for us and experience a life shared with someone who fully knows who we are. Even if the last experience of romance ended in divorce, we still want to date, to be intimate, and to find the courage to love again. The loss experienced in divorce is a sinking process in which most women feel they have sunk to the lowest place they could imagine. In order to move from that deep sense of failure, anger, and sadness, we need to be able to change direction. How do we redefine our direction? We imagine something new -- a life we can look forward to. We use all our mind's power to create a new picture of our life.

It is difficult to imagine something beautiful and fulfilling when our marriage has either crashed and burned or just slowly sputtered out. We have spent years building an understanding of who we are in that one primary relationship. Then love ends, and we have a choice: either we can blame divorce for our difficult life circumstances, or we can create a new picture of the life we want and then allow that picture to inspire us on the journey. The picture we create needs to be specific. It needs to have enough fantasy to tickle us with courage and enough reality to allow us to believe it is possible. If we can see our lives as a journey toward a destination of our own choosing, then it is much easier to live each day, to do what we have to do in order to support ourselves and our children as we keep taking steps in the direction we want to move.

Suzanne had a picture of her life, and that picture included dating, so she made a decision to go for what she wanted and face her fears. She could have let Will leave the grocery store without approaching him, telling herself there would be another opportunity to meet a man she was attracted to, but instead she seized the moment.

Each of us has the same choice. We can let our dreams motivate our actions, or we can let our fears and inadequacies lead the way. We are all afraid to move forward, but we can't let fear sit in the driver's seat or we will lose the power to create meaningful lives full of love.

What are the dreams you have for your life, and how do you begin to dream again when your last dreams didn't come true? These may seem like simple questions, but at this point in your life you know nothing is simple. You have to consider your children, your financial obligations, whether you have to or want to establish a career. Before you were married, you had the freedom to choose where you wanted to live, what you wanted to do, and with whom you would spend your life. Now those choices seem to have narrowed or disappeared, replaced with adult responsibilities. Much of the sadness I felt following my own divorce centered on this feeling of being stuck in a life that seemed to hold no hope. So much of my time was spent figuring out how to survive -- like how to pay for food -- that dreams for the future seemed a waste of energy. In fact, when I did let my mind wander, I would start to feel a dull pain as the spiral of guilt rose to the surface, followed by sadness. I really missed the...