5 Words My Ex Uses to Describe Me

Let’s be clear. With any broken relationship comes some element of pain. We are created for connection, not disconnection. The story behind the breakup of my marriage is long and arduous. Some have suggested I need to write a book or screenplay, but I’m not sure I want the ‘truth is stranger than fiction’ element of my life showing up on screen! I say that somewhat jokingly, but it has definitely been no joke.

I can write today because years of work and healing have transpired. I’ve chosen forgiveness as a way of life. It’s the only option in my way of thinking. People will always hurt people, plain and simple. We are not perfect, no not one. As much as I extend forgiveness, I require it. My kids, my friends, my family – I’ve failed them all in some way, shape or form, at some point in time.

To give context to the magnitude of our reality, between the 5 of us (including my ex) we’ve experienced the trauma of addiction wreaking havoc in our lives, suicide (the kids’ half brother/ex’s son), suicidal tendencies of another kid, cancer, ‘dis’-abilities/diagnoses, one was victimized by a crime… I’m sure you’d agree that not one of those life events is easy to deal with. You can well imagine the upheaval, the intense pain, the harsh reality that our kids have been exposed to in their young lives. I watch in awe at their resilience, their ability to process what we’ve been through and still laugh themselves silly. We have come a long, long way, baby!

Oh yah, back to the name-calling. We’ve certainly had our share of it – not all nice. However, at the dinner table a few weeks ago my lovelies wanted us to take turns and use 5 positive words to describe each of the other 3. Where that came from I have no idea, but of course I was game to play along! Just as we started tooting each other’s horns the kids’ dad showed up so he joined us at the table. Kids being kids, they wanted him to participate in our little ‘game’ as well, so he did.

When it came time for him to describe me there was a pause, all eyes were on me. I took a deep breath and held it. I didn’t want to hear what he would say. As hard as we’ve worked to provide an amiable atmosphere for our children I wasn’t prepared to sit there and listen, but I knew it was a defining moment for my babes.

It was a defining moment for me too. Out of his mouth came these words:

  1. Extremely supportive
  2. Encouraging
  3. Responsible
  4. Caring
  5. Good Mom

Okay, so technically that’s 7 words. I will never underestimate the impact of that moment in the lives of my children. I don’t even need to attempt describing it because you know just how indelibly marked that will be in their hearts and minds, considering our history.

One truth they will carry their entire lives as a result, is that when brokenness and pain tear you limb from limb, healing can come. If you allow it. If you work at it. If you give it opportunity.

What kind of name-caller are you?


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  1. #1 by DeeScribes on November 3, 2014 - 4:23 am

    I’m so glad you shared your story. It is so important to be mindful of the labels and names we use for others. I’m glad your children had the chance to hear your ex use positive ones for you.

    • #2 by shandracarlson on November 3, 2014 - 5:58 am

      Thanks Dee, for taking time to read and comment! I’m beyond grateful my kids have been able to watch him change, grow and make good choices. I know that’s not always the case.

  2. #3 by robscriv on November 3, 2014 - 5:11 am

    Shandra I know how hard it has been to get to this point and it’s wonderful for your kids to hear him use such positive words to describe you. Personally you’ve grown so much since we met, you’re a much stronger and positive woman. It’s your time now and time to shine!

    • #4 by shandracarlson on November 3, 2014 - 6:02 am

      Thank you Rob, your encouragement means a lot :). Life is definitely different now than it was 7 years ago!

  3. #5 by Jennifer on November 3, 2014 - 5:25 am

    That was a wonderful post, I’m glad you got to experience that. Although the ex and I are not there yet, but I wish we were. It is always a good thing when you’re at a place where you can be respectful to each other, especially in front of the kids, that is the best time.

    • #6 by shandracarlson on November 3, 2014 - 6:07 am

      Thank you for taking time to read and comment, Jennifer! It’s been a lot of hard work for both of us and if our story can encourage others in some way, it’s worth sharing. Stay strong, be amazing!:)

  4. #7 by Andrea Moorcroft on November 3, 2014 - 7:23 am

    You are very brave. With strength and bonds like that you will all continue to get each other through. Thanks for sharing

    • #8 by shandracarlson on November 3, 2014 - 8:52 pm

      Thanks Andrea – for reading, for commenting and for encouraging! 🙂

  5. #9 by szojkah on November 3, 2014 - 8:00 am

    Love it! Your writings and sharings are extremely well done and appreciated. And I agree with your seven words. How impactful. Have an awesome week!


    Sent from my iPhone

    • #10 by shandracarlson on November 3, 2014 - 8:53 pm

      Thank you Heather, I’m pretty overwhelmed with the encouragement I’ve received. Enjoy your week as well!

  6. #11 by Saji on November 3, 2014 - 9:03 am

    Great post Shandra. There is nothing like healing of wounded hearts. I pray your scars help your kids become stars.

    • #12 by shandracarlson on November 3, 2014 - 8:55 pm

      Awww thanks Saji! I like that a lot … may have to coin that phrase if you haven’t already! 🙂

  7. #13 by fforwardflashbackmedia on November 3, 2014 - 9:39 am

    Well said! A reminder to speak positive and to speak life into each other. Being able to do that after the Hugh bonus step forward! Great post Shandra! 🙂

    • #14 by shandracarlson on November 3, 2014 - 8:57 pm

      Thank you Darlene, for your support and for taking time to read. We can get too easily caught up in what doesn’t work instead of what does, hey? Have a great week!

  8. #15 by Rayna on November 3, 2014 - 3:05 pm

    Great post! I can so relate to all the heartaches life can bring. What blessing to hear those words from his mouth…..maybe someday it will happen in my world. Until then I will hold on to all the words our Lord uses to describe me. Blessings!

    • #16 by shandracarlson on November 3, 2014 - 8:58 pm

      Thanks for taking time to read and for sharing. I hope it was encouraging for you, and you’re wise to hold on to those words of hope :).

  9. #17 by Helga on November 3, 2014 - 9:34 pm

    Thanks for sharing that.Your ex nailed it. You are all that and more!

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    "Here's to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round heads in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They're not fond of rules, and they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify, or vilify them. But the only thing you can't do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do." ~ Jack Kerouac
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