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My Spiritual Journey as a Single Mother:
Sheila Ellison interviewed by Connie Hill

In her workshops, bestselling author Sheila Ellison teaches divorced mothers how to revitalize their energy, self-worth and spirits as individuals, as women and as mothers.In The Courage To Be A Single Mother, Ellison offers a refreshingly real and honest book that uses her own stories and those from dozens of other women healing from divorce.

CH:Tell me how have you dealt with your own self through the divorce?

SE:I joined a single mother's support group.That gave me a place where everyone was going through the same thing.A person crying one week would be helping another the next.We start in this grief/despair place and after a year so much has happened.One woman who had moved from grief said, "you know what, reorganizing, selling my house and moving is a good thing."The support group taught me that it takes time.You deal with yourself as kindly as you can for as long as it takes.

CH:I've been divorced and I think you never totally get over it.You go on but it's still there.

SE:That's because it's a death.I use the grief process of dying in my book because something has died: a relationship you have based your life on has died and you are healing from it.I still go to my single motherís group and they laugh at me because I'm

getting married, but I am still a single mother with all the issues that go with that--I just have a partner.But my new partner is not replacing my children's dad, my new partner is for me.

CH:In some ways having a partner makes it easier, but in many ways it's a lot harder

SE:Yes.I'm working on a new book about creating relationships after divorce.It will be about how to maintain who you've learned to be through the divorce.There is also a section in my book about asking for help.What we forget in our society is that others actually have the compassion and desire to love people, but we don't ask for help.†† We separate ourselves.Often people feel so sorry for a person and wish they could help, but they don't want to insult them by saying "Gee you look like you need help" and make them feel incompetent.One mother sent me an e-mail the other day.She said there had been a broken closet door in her house for 3 months until she couldn't stand it any more.She finally called a neighbor and he was thrilled to help.

CH:What is the most positive thing you've learned through your divorce?

SE:Finding out who I am, apart from my family's ideas of me.The divorce forced me to define who I am across all areas--my talents, what I liked- not just what I'm good at, how I wanted to be a mother, different from my mother.My youngest child is autistic and that diagnosis came at the same time as the divorce. When everything fell apart I said, well if I have to put all of these pieces back together what do I want it to look like this time.I found that I lost my need to have things look good and it's never come back.That's a huge thing.

CH:Did you find that over time you look at it differently, maybe not as a failure now?

SE:I know everyone hates the word failure but my marriage failed.However, you can fail and still come out learning great things about yourself.It wasn't a mistake--I was meant to be in that relationship.That failure brought me to a very low place that allowed me to build something completely different. I learned a ton from it and I had to grow up.

CH:Do your children ever say the change was positive?

SE:Yes, in little snippets.When we ran out of money we moved into a garage studio apartment.It was humiliating for the kids.But I still made the choice because I did not want to leave the community where they were born.It was more important to me than being in a structure that looked better.What they learned is that they bring themselves to any situation and, no matter what, they can feel the same amount of happiness.What a great gift for kids to learn that early.

CH:If you were able to pick the few things you wanted people to get from this book what would those things be?

SE:First, that they may fall into despair in the beginning and hit bottom, but they'll learn how to survive and live again, putting the pieces back together in a new way.Single mothers also need to learn what brings passion and happiness into their lives that does not relate to the kids, and I'm not talking about another relationship. Women need to find something that brings them happiness before they go into another relationship, because they won't be whole otherwise.You cannot be whole unless you know what brings you joy, things you can look forward to when you wake up in the morning.

CH:What can people expect in the workshop?

SE:My goal is getting them to start at today, building on what they have, their talents, what they might want, how to set a goal, letting go of what they have lost.I would like to end with support group directions.The goal is to leave with the name and number of people they can be in support groups with.

Sheila Ellison will be at New Renaissance Bookshop on August 4th and August 6th.†† See the Calendar of Events or call 503-224-4929 for information.
Connie Hill works at New Renaissance Bookshop and is a local astrologer. She can be reached at 503-291-8229 ext. 2 or