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
CH:† Do your children ever say the change was
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.