My latest for eH! – Rule #6
“Many persons have a wrong idea of what constitutes true happiness. It is not attained through self-gratification, but through fidelity to a worthy purpose.” ~ Helen Keller
I recently read an article with a great headline that said something to the effect of, “Follow these 7 marriage rules from divorce attorneys … and never end up in their offices!” What married person wouldn’t continue to read that article? Who wants to end up in the office of a divorce attorney? Been there; done that. No more, thank you very much!
As I read through their list of the 7 “rules,” I found myself nodding my head up and down. I agreed with the list. I decided that the 7 “rules” would make 7 really great articles and here we are already at #6. If you missed the rest you can find them here: Rule 1, Rule 2, Rule 3, Rule 4, and Rule #5.
Rule #6 – Know that you won’t always be happy. Anyone who enters into a serious relationship thinking that everything will always be sunshine and roses is going to be very disappointed. Life happens. There are highs and there are lows, peaks and valleys, ups and downs! To falsely believe that you will always be happy is to set yourself up for tremendous disappointment, and frankly, an inability to handle the downs of a relationship when they do happen.
Sometimes the happiness disappears in a relationship because of relationship issues themselves. Other times, the happiness can disappear because of issues not in the relationship per se, but because of issues that impact the dynamic of the relationship and the intrinsic happiness of the individuals in the relationship. This could be one person losing his or her job. It could be one person dealing with a serious injury. It could be the stress of dealing with a child who is ill.
Regardless of the source of the stress or the unhappiness, how it is dealt with is of utmost importance. Recognizing and accepting that things will happen in our relationships that bring us sadness, or at least reduce our happiness, means that when these things happen, we are better prepared to skate through that season until we find contentment again.
When unhappiness finds you, do you retreat inside of yourselves and try to survive on your own, or do you lean on each other for support? Do you shut down, or do you open up? Do you batten down the hatches in your own survival mode, or do you recognize that two can be stronger than one?
Many people think that having to deal with unhappiness isn’t good. Most of us try to avoid being unhappy. The reality is that dealing with stressors in our lives, and dealing with periods of unhappiness, can actually serve to bring us closer to those who are important to us. When we are unhappy, we tend to be more vulnerable. That makes us more “human” and people respond to being needed and want to be helpful. When we are unhappy, we rely more on others. No longer are we invincible by ourselves, but rather we find we need to rely on others for support. This can actually serve to make our relationships stronger.
Think about it! Two parents dealing with a troubled teen. They can choose to shut down and fold into their own angst, or they can become partners and talk about how they are going to handle it together. Two lovers dealing with an unexpected bump in their road. They can choose to ignore each other and feign independence, or they can decide together how best to deal with this “issue” as a duo. Two spouses dealing with an unexpected financial crisis. They can process their stress and grief independently, or they can turn to each other for emotional support.
Most people don’t want to be operating in a cloud of unhappiness for extended periods of time. Those couples who recognize that stress is part of the natural cycle of life are going to be the stronger couples who survive that stress, and not the ones who are crushed under it’s weight. Those are the couples who choose to incorporate those moments as part of their story. They focus on what happened, and how they got through it together. Maybe it’s not about the happy ending. Maybe it’s about the story in between!
“The happiest people do not have the best of everything. They make the best of everything they have.”
What do you do think? When unhappiness comes along, how do you react? Turn in, or reflect out?
Here’s my latest for eHarmony – Rounding the Corner!
“It will always be okay in the end; if it’s not okay yet, then it’s not the end.”
I had coffee with a friend last week. She told me about her niece who is going through a nasty divorce. Her niece is angry. She’s hurt. She feels as if her life is over and that she will never be happy again. I know that in the moment it definitely does feel that way. It’s easy to think that life is over. It’s easy to wonder if you will ever be happy again. I encouraged my friend to tell her niece that she will “round the corner” and find happiness again in her future. I’ve seen it happen to practically everyone I know who has been through some sort of tumultuous situation. They ultimately “round the corner” and find peace and happiness again.
I love that term. I get a really great visual when I say it. I see someone coming around a very dangerous and scary curve, and then once they round the corner, it’s a straight-away along a beautiful flat paved road heading towards a perfect blue sky. Not sure why, but that’s the visual I see.
I had lunch with two colleagues the other night. As it frequently does when a group of women get together, our conversation turned from simply professional dialogue and friendly niceties, and transitioned to more vulnerable and connecting conversations. One shared how her ex-husband had cheated on her, and now three years later, she was just beginning to re-enter the dating world. She shared how she had been so blind-sided and hurt by his unfaithfulness that it had taken her a while to recover. Then she uttered the words I love to hear. She said, “But … I’ve rounded the corner and I’m so thankful that he did that to me. I am so much happier now than I ever was before.”
The other colleague began to share her story. She had once been engaged. Shortly before the wedding, her fiancé shared that he had cheated on her. They postponed the wedding, and tried to work through it together, but she discovered that he was still cheating on her with the same woman. What?!?! Needless to say, she was devastated, and called off the wedding for good. It took her a while to get her groove back after being hurt so badly. She is now dating again and in a wonderful relationship with a great guy. She said, “I was so angry and ruined emotionally. I never thought I would trust anyone again, but here I am now, happier than ever.” She, too, had “rounded the corner.”
I spent several hours many years ago with a neighbor who had been through a brutal divorce. I ran into her at the grocery story a few weeks ago. We passed each other in one aisle and it was obvious we were both trying to place each other. I love the irony because by the time we literally rounded the corner in the next aisle we both recalled each other. “How are you?” I asked. You guessed it. She said, “I’ve rounded the corner and I’m doing great. Life is really good and I’m so happy being independent.”
Rounding the corner doesn’t just apply to surviving divorce. It applies to any challenge that life presents to us. For many of us, not getting into the college of our dreams, or surviving the loss of a job, or dealing with the death of a parent or a dear friend may throw us for a loop. We may wonder if we are ever going to get our groove back. I read in my devotion this morning that faith is blind trust that everything will be okay again. That’s a great description. We all need to believe that and have faith that we will eventually round the corner, and when that happens, we will look back on whatever lessons life threw at us, and be able to learn from them, grow from them, and move on from them.
For some people, rounding the corner just comes with the passage of time. For others, it comes from talking with a therapist, a minister, or a good friend. For others, it comes through intense self-reflection, and a desire to look towards a new horizon in the future as opposed to being stuck treading water and being sucked backwards.
“There’s a trick to the ‘graceful exit.’ It begins with the vision to recognize when a job, a life stage, or a relationship is over — and let it go. It means leaving what’s over without denying its validity or its past importance to our lives. It involves a sense of future, a belief that every exit line is an entry, that we are moving up, rather than out.” ~ Ellen Goodman
What about you? What unwanted and unwelcome lesson did life throw at you? Have you rounded the corner yet?
My latest for eHarmony … Helped Me Grow
“The best lessons are the ones we learned the hard way!”
Yup! My divorce sucked (that’s the best word for it). It was a really, really bad time in my life. If you have ever been through a divorce, or a really bad breakup, you can likely relate. It’s not an experience I would wish on my worst enemy. But, always an optimist, I can say that my divorce helped me grow. Hindsight is 20:20, right?
The period after a divorce, or after a big breakup, can be a time of tremendous personal growth. Some people say, “But I don’t want to grow … I want my relationship back,” but life happens, and many times the breakups and the heartbreaks we endure are handed to us unilaterally. It’s what we do with those lessons that really counts. It’s those lessons that help us to grow, and like it or not, growth is good.
Regardless of whether you wanted (or needed) any more opportunities for personal growth in your life, it pays to reflect on these experiences when they do happen to you (and they will!).
1. What did I learn as a result of that breakup? It’s really tragic when you go through some kind of breakup and fail to learn anything from it. There is always a lesson to be learned. It may be a lesson about what kind of person you dated/married. It may be a lesson about the kind of energy, focus, and priority you expected in the relationship, or the level of energy, focus, and priority you accepted in your relationship. It may be a lesson about what part of your authentic self you were willing to give up in exchange for that relationship.
2. What was my part in the failure of that relationship? If we go through any sort of failure and don’t turn the mirror around and look at what role we played in that failure, we lose out! It’s called personal accountability. It’s recognition that it takes two to tango. I have had people say to me, “I had absolutely no part of my breakup. He cheated on me. He left me.” Yes, I get that, but … don’t you think you can still look in the mirror and come up with some sort of accountability in the failure of that relationship? It may be as simple as “I picked the wrong guy,” and even that is an acceptance of your part of the failure, and taking that as a lesson learned may mean that you avoid picking the wrong guy again and again in the future. We’ve all seen people who date (and break up) with the same clone of a person over and over, right? Ask yourself, and answer yourself honestly, what could I have done differently or better in that relationship? And, will you take that lesson and apply it to your next relationship?
3. What did I rediscover about myself after the breakup? So often we give up a part of ourselves in our relationships … particularly in those relationships that ultimately fail. Don’t you think there may be a correlation between failure in a relationship and those relationships where we aren’t true to ourselves? Can you think of a relationship where you either intentionally or inadvertently gave up things that were important to you? Did you give up on people, or things, or activities that used to be meaningful to you? One way to successfully move forward after a breakup is to rediscover those passions that you may have repressed while in that relationship. It can be very rewarding and fulfilling to rediscover your hobbies, your interests, your talents. Did you stop hanging out with certain friends because your “other” didn’t like them? Did you stop engaging in a certain hobby because it took too much time away from your “other?” Did you give up on fulfilling your own dreams in order to help your “other” pursue his/her dreams? When you are true to yourself, you will naturally become more authentic and more confident. These lessons learned may enable you to not sacrifice yourself in future relationships.
“You cannot erase the past. You must let it go. You cannot change yesterday. You must accept the lessons learned. From lessons learned come better life.”
What about you? How did you grow after your breakup? What lessons did you learn? What did you rediscover about yourself?
Here’s my latest for eHarmony – Live for Yourself?
When someone is rude to you, keep a smile on your face. When you stay on the high road and keep your joy, you take away their power.” ~ Joel Osteen
I love to travel. You get to see people, places, and customs that you would not otherwise see. I had the opportunity to travel to Italy on business this week. My room wasn’t ready when I arrived so I had to check my bags into the luggage check. Not to worry, I welcomed a good walk around town and some fresh air to clear my jet lag after flying all night.
There was all sorts of activity and commotion around the baggage check and it took me a moment to decipher what was going on. I couldn’t imagine why there was so much luggage in the hallway (and I was hoping my bag wasn’t going to be left out in the open, but rather securely placed behind a locked door). Then I noticed a young woman loudly directing the bell-hops all around her, and I realized that all of these bags belonged to her. She had at least six different garment bags and five suitcases – seriously! (And here I was, pretty proud of myself for making it to Italy for a week with just a carry-on roller-board). As I assessed the absurdity of the situation, and tried to figure out if she was someone famous (!), I heard her say to the bell-hop, who was struggling to get all of her bags on the luggage cart, “You need to eat more; you are very weak.” I was appalled. I waited for her to laugh or make a joke, but she was very serious. How rude. I made sure I was extra-polite and gracious to him.
Fast forward 24 hours and I was waiting to board a train. As is so common in Europe, there were a group of passengers enjoying their last smoke right outside the train door. I was navigating my way between these passengers, when someone else came barging through and pushed on board. I noticed a tattoo on her arm as she grabbed the handle in front of me to hoist herself onto the train. It said, “I live for myself.” Yup, apparently you do!
These two incidents were aberrations on what was a wonderful trip full of gracious people. By graciousness, I encountered countless people who forgave me for butchering their beautiful language, who helped me to figure out where I was going, who showed patience with my ineptness at understanding the train schedule, who insisted on taking a “real” photo of me standing in front of the beautiful architecture (so that all of my photos weren’t “selfies”!), and who ensured that I had a wonderful visit to their country.
These incidents made me stop and pause to think about rudeness vs. graciousness. Both take the same amount of time. Frankly, both take about the same amount of effort. But, but both have such a dramatically different effect on those who are the recipients of the rudeness or the graciousness, and on those around them who witness it.
It made me turn the mirror on myself and question how often have I been rude to someone because I’ve been having a bad day or have been in a hurry. I hope the answer isn’t too often, but if we’re being honest, I know I’m guilty. We are all rude at times, but my commitment is to try and limit these times to as few as possible (working towards “none,” of course).
“If you can’t be nice, be quiet!”
My stream of consciousness for today is simple: don’t be rude. Your parents taught you better. Your teachers taught you better. You teach your kids better. You know better. Nobody likes be treated rudely. Nobody likes watching rude people. It creates a visceral reaction and builds negativity.
Here’s my link to dating! Your date is watching. If you are rude, demanding, and ungrateful, your first date may choose to make that your last date as well!
Here’s my latest for eHarmony: Girlfriends!
“Reminder: your girlfriends will probably outlive your husband. So find good ones.”
My sides still hurt from laughing so hard! I just returned from spending a long weekend with five friends who I have known since elementary and middle school. The six of us met between 4th and 7th grades. We’ve known each other over 30 years. It’s been four years since we have all been together. That’s an entire college experience (I’ve told my kids that college is a four-year gig, and not to expect any sort of five-year plan, but I digress!). In spite of it being nearly 1500 days since we had last seen each other, we picked up right where we left off.
Between us, we have shared marriages and divorces, births and deaths, laughter and grief, celebrations and failures. If we go way back, we’ve shared electric blue eyeliner, curling irons, Sassoon jeans, and lilac prom dresses. We know each other. We accept each other. We love each other.
Even though we don’t experience the day-to-day with each other like we do with our friends who are in proximity to us, we seem to have a stronger bond. I sometimes wonder if many friendships aren’t born, and sustained, out of proximity and ease. Those are the friendships that don’t survive change. One person may move away, or the kids no longer play on the same sports teams, or the person switches jobs, and suddenly those people who were our closest friends, the ones we saw weekly, if not daily, who knew what we did day-in and day-out, are no longer a part of our lives. Real friendships endure all of those changes, and more!
The six of us weren’t always BFF’s. Back in elementary school, middle school, high school and college, we drifted in and out of each other’s lives, but we were always there for each other. In fact, even today, we don’t all talk regularly. Life gets busy. We are wives. We are mothers. We work. Life happens. We don’t know the daily inner workings of what is going on with each of us, but rather we get together every three or four years, and suddenly time and distance disappear in a nanosecond. We don’t need to know what happens in the day-to-day to understand where each other is coming from in her life, and that is what truly matters.
Last Saturday night, the firepot was lit, the wine was poured, and as we sat on the back porch talking, we realized that 5 of the 6 of us have already lost our fathers, yet all of our mothers are still alive. The experience we have had with our parents supports the claim that women tend to outlive men. It was a sobering thought.
At this point, we have known each other longer than we have known our husbands. Heck, these girlfriends outlasted my first husband, saw me through my divorce, were there as I started dating and married my second husband, and are still by my side. There is a good chance that we may outlive our husbands (as our moms have outlived our dads).
My point is this! Our boyfriends and our husbands are important, but so are our girlfriends! They both play a different role (in spite of so many people who say they are married to their ‘best friend’ – I get that, but it’s different! You know it is!). Yes, date, search for the perfect person to partner with in your life, perhaps even find a ‘best friend’ to marry, but don’t lose sight of the importance of your girlfriends in all of this. And men, you want your girlfriend or wife to have a good support team of girlfriends. Trust me! It’s an outlet you want to encourage!
I brought a photo to show the girls last weekend. It was of the 6 of us sitting on the back porch at my parent’s house. The year was 1984. We took another photo last weekend of the 6 of us sitting on my back porch. 2014! Thirty years later! I wouldn’t be one bit surprised if 30 years from now we are taking another photo sitting on someone’s back porch … or maybe it will be of us sitting in white rocking chairs on the front porch of the retirement home!
What do you think? Life is busy! Dating takes time! How do you cultivate and maintain your friendships?
My latest for eHarmony … Laughing Without Fear of the Future!
Proverbs 31:25 says the Godly woman “is clothed in strength and dignity and laughs without fear of the future.”
I don’t know about you, but during the midst of my own divorce several years ago, there were many days, weeks, and months when I didn’t feel like I had the strength I needed to make it through. There were times when I felt my dignity was being put to the test. After all, I was “never” going to be divorced. And, having someone you love decide he no longer wants to be married to you can be a huge hit to your personal sense of dignity. I certainly wasn’t laughing without fear of the future because I had no idea what my future would hold. I was scared of the future. Suddenly the dreams and plans I had made for our family were completely discarded, and I had to create a new reality.
Nope. Looking back, I would say I was sorely lacking strength, dignity, and fearlessness.
Since that time, I have come to know this Bible verse. In fact, it’s one of those verses that I now lean on. It makes me smile! To remain faithful to God, to know that He does indeed have a plan, and to know that He doesn’t make mistakes, brings me incredible comfort. In fact, I actually have this verse hand-stamped onto a necklace that I frequently wear (as in almost every day!).
To believe that I am a Godly woman means I am clothed in strength and dignity! Feeling clothed in strength and dignity is pretty cool. It feels like a cloak of armor. Perhaps that is too medieval of a reference. Perhaps it’s more contemporary to say it feels like being snug and secure in your Spanx!
To believe that I am a Godly woman means that I am able to laugh without fear of the future. That feels amazing. Being able to laugh confidently at something which is unknown, simply because you know you will be able to figure it out, is pretty cool. This isn’t nervous laughter. It’s not a slight chuckle as you look around to see if everyone else got the joke and you’re trying not to let on that you didn’t get it. This kind of laughter is real. It’s contagious. It’s addicting! This is the kind of laughter that says, “I am confident.” Bring. It. On.
Many of the people I meet who are going through their own divorce story are exactly where I was many years ago. They don’t feel strong. They don’t feel as if they have their dignity. They certainly aren’t laughing without fear, but rather are scared and crying because their lives are now one big unknown mass of change and confusion.
I try not to be too Pollyanna’ish and tritely tell them, “It will get better.” It will, but no one wants to hear that, especially in the midst of their drama. Instead, I try to inspire them to take the high road and keep their head up with their eyes focused on the future. As time passes, their strength is restored, their dignity returns, and they do learn to laugh without fear of their future. Time and time again, I have seen men and women discover a whole new life waiting for them which they would never have known existed had it not been for the divorce. New homes. New careers. New hobbies. New relationships. I’m a testament to that. I’ve discovered new careers, new hobbies and new relationships since my own divorce! It’s been a learning experience, and a load of fun, often leaving me reflecting that “this is how it’s supposed to be!”
One of my greatest joys is when these same men and women circle back to me years later and are full of strength and dignity, and fear is not in the house! Instead, they are filled with joy and laughter because the future they were once scared of is turning out not to be so bad after all!
What about you? Are you cloaked in strength and dignity, and laughing without fear of the future? What’s holding you back?
My latest for Huff Post — a fun look at how I survived my own divorce!!
If there’s ever a time you need a little distraction in your life, it’s during the divorce process. That’s why we launched our Divorce Care Package series. With each post, we’ll show you what things — books, movies, recipes — helped others relieve stress in the midst of divorce, in the hopes that a few of their picks will serve you well, too. Want to share what got you through your divorce? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet @HuffPost Divorce
Writer Monique Honaman did what we’d all like to do during divorce: She took the high road with her ex and not only survived the separation, but came out stronger because of it. Below, Honaman, the author of The High Road Has Less Traffic: Honest Advice On The Path Through Love And Divorce, shares what got her through the hardest days of her split and tells us about the sweet way she pays it forward to other women experiencing divorce today.
My latest for the Divorce Support Center! Other Side of Me
“In nearly every religion I am aware of, there is a variation of the golden rule. And even for the non-religious, it is a tenet of people who believe in humanistic principles.” ~ Hillary Clinton
I was on a flight last week that was delayed due to weather. This led to our circling over Atlanta for more than an hour. Of course, we started to run low on fuel (typical summer afternoon flying into Atlanta.) We were diverted to Birmingham, Alabama to refuel then flew back to Atlanta, ultimately arriving 4 ½ hours late. To add insult to injury, once we landed, we had to sit on the runway for 30 minutes before we were able to get a gate to deplane.
As you can imagine, tension began to run high and some of the passengers got a bit rude and inconsiderate (to put it mildly.) Had these passengers asked themselves, “What is it like to be on the other side of me right now?,” I’m not sure they would have liked the answer.
The following day, I had a meeting scheduled with someone of whom I had never met before. He had reached out to me asking if I would spend some time with him to share ideas on career next steps. I agreed to meet with him and fit him into an already tight schedule. I hustled to get things done that morning (remember, I hadn’t even gotten home until 1:30AM due to my travel delays), drove the 43 minutes to where we had agreed to meet and, you guessed it, he didn’t show up. I checked my email and he had sent me a message 11 minutes prior to when we were supposed to meet saying he couldn’t make it. Seriously? No more advance notice than that? Had he asked himself, “What is it like to be on the other side of me right now?,” I’m not sure he would have liked the answer.
Later that afternoon, I was speaking with a woman in Denver. She is divorced and has been dating a guy for the past 15 months. Interestingly, she and her ex (who also has a steady girlfriend) are beginning to think they still have feelings for each other and they are starting to “date” again. Both are now dating each other (again) and their new partners (who, of course, don’t know about this) simultaneously. If they ask themselves, “What is it like to be on the other side of me right now?,” I’m not sure they would really like the answer.
Late last year, one of the ministers at our church presented a message entitled, ”What it’s like to be on the other side of me?” It was a great message, and it really made you think about your behavior and actions. Have you ever asked yourself, “What is it like to be on the other side of me?” Have you ever taken the time to really think about how others see you, perceive you, and experience you? Would you want to be waiting on you in a restaurant?
Would you want to be ringing up your sale at a store?
Would you want to be your friend?
Would you want to be the flight attendant or gate agent assisting you?
Would you want to be your own customer?
Would you want to be dating you?
Would you want to be married to you?
Why or why not?
We are frequently able to rationalize our own behavior and come up with really great excuses for why we act certain ways or do certain things. BUT, if we are really (really) honest with ourselves and look at things through the lens of the person across from us, I think we often find those excuses and rationalizations backfire. We know that we wouldn’t want to be treated that way. This isn’t a new concept at all! While world religions tend to differ greatly in their beliefs and practices, they all tend to share a common idea around “doing unto others what you would like them to do to you.” This “Golden Rule” can be found in Christianity, Buddhism, Confucianism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, to name but a few. It’s a staple amongst the world’s greatest philosophical minds. It’s a basic tenet of human behavior.
What about you? Who are you putting out there? What have you learned about yourself throughout the process of divorce? Do you like the road you have taken, or are you unhappy with who you have become? Do you get a different answer if you ask yourself, “What is it like to be on the other side of me?” If your answer isn’t one that makes you feel good or makes you proud, you may want to rethink how you are coming across, how you are presenting yourself, and how you are treating others. At the end of the day, our goal should be to be able to look in the mirror at that person on the other side of me and like who you see! Smile!
Brave! – Here’s my latest article for eHarmony … April 2014.
I just read a book that I have to write about. In fact, I think every single woman should read it. If you are a widow, it’s for you. If you have been through a divorce, it’s for you. If you have friends who are widowed or divorced, it’s for you. Anyone who has experienced a “loss” will be able to relate to this book and will get lost in the stories. Do I sound cliché if I say, “I laughed, I cried…?”
Written by Sue Mangum, “Braver Than You Believe: True Stories of Losing Love and Finding Self” is the story of six newly single moms who write about the worst event in their lives. Three of the six women found themselves widowed, and the other three found themselves confronting divorce. None of this was part of anyone’s “plan” for how their lives would play out, but as we all know, our “plan” often fails and we have to come up with contingency plans pretty quickly.
There are several things I loved about this book.
One, it wasn’t just six sad and tragic stories of six different women. The substance of the book comes from a year’s worth of emails that were exchanged amongst the women as they looked to create a safe space in which to grieve. They called themselves, “Single Moms After Loss: Talking Advising Healing Laughing Crying” or SMAL TAHLC (small talk!) for short. Nothing was off limits – which led to many of the tears that I shed, and the laughter that I shared – as I related to things with which they were dealing. The stories are crafted together in a brilliant roller-coaster of a ride.
Two, I loved how I nodded my head in agreement over and over as I read the book. I truly felt like I was a part of the group, or sitting around chatting over coffee with these women. I haven’t been widowed, but I have been divorced. I remember things I felt and thought during my divorce. To read these same issues being addressed by these women provided honor and validity to these emotions. We aren’t alone in going through life’s trials and tribulations. Others have forged a path. We can learn from each other. There’s comfort in knowing you aren’t alone, and you gain strength from seeing others persevere, survive, and thrive. It gives you hope and faith to see others travel through such dark times and come out alive and vibrant.
Three, I loved how no subject was off limits. These women address the questions that I know went through my mind, and so many other women with whom I speak. Things like: “Will I ever have sex again? (heck, I even have a whole chapter in my first book about this one!), “I thought I was religious, but is there really a God?,” “When should I tell my children that I’m dating?,” and “Wow…I’m happy…is that allowed?”
Aren’t all of our lives a soap opera? It was fascinating to gain an inside perspective in so many areas … often times like slowing down to watch the car wreck on the side of the road! I learned new things too. The divorced women shared “insights” as the widowed women started to date … often times “trusting” men who were still married, but who assured them that it was “just a technicality.” As we learned, that’s not always the case! Then there were the well-meaning friends, who just didn’t get how insensitive they were being! These were the women who were still married (and hadn’t endured the grief of losing a spouse to death or divorce) who said things like, “You are so lucky you get to do what you want when you want and don’t have to report back to anyone,” or “You are so lucky that you get ‘free’ time whenever your ex has the kids … what I wouldn’t give for some time alone!” I know I heard things like that when I got divorced.
If you are looking for a quick read, and an inspiring and relatable story, this book is for you. I bonded with the women in the pages of this book, and loved it when each ultimately accepted her new reality, and in several cases, discovered what Life 2.0 had in store for them. Yes, happiness is allowed, and you will find it again!
My latest for eHarmony:
“At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.” -Albert Schweitzer
If ever I have had my own light go out, it was during my divorce. It was completely snuffed out and I was left in the dark. It was very dark. Lonely. Sad. But certain people entered my life and gave me a spark that served to rekindle my light, and before I knew it, my light was back at full power … and then some.
I love the quote I started with by Albert Schweitzer because it speaks to being grateful to those who have helped to relight our flames. Our own light can go out for so many different reasons. It doesn’t have to be from divorce. It can be through death of a loved one. Dealing with a sick parent or child. Losing a job. Heck, even just getting sucked into the winter doldrums and feeling like we have nothing to look forward to can make our light start to flicker.
Have you ever stopped to think about those people for whom you are grateful because they have helped to rekindle your flame? My list was (and still is) huge! To me, there are three categories of these people!
One, there are the people who were there before, during and after whatever crisis was serving to dim my light. These are the people we typically think of and turn to when life gets tough. My mom. My best friends who I see all the time. My best friends who live across the country and whom I only see every few years. These are the people who have truly “done life” with you! They know all the back-stories; they know all the relationships; they know all the underlying soft spots, pet peeves, and weak points … and they love you unconditionally in spite of it all.
Then there are the people who enter your life at a certain point and intersect with you for a specific period in time and then leave again. Have you ever wondered what purpose they play? Were they only supposed to play a short, but important, role in helping you to rekindle your flame? These people really don’t know much about you. They don’t necessarily know the “real” you or the “whole” you, but they are able to pierce through all that and they seem to know what to say and when to say it! Perhaps they are more bold and honest with us because we don’t have a history, and likely don’t have a future. There is less at risk. We love their honesty and often times they are the ones who are able to get us jump started!
Lastly, there are those people who enter your life at the time of crisis, make such an impact, and rekindle such a huge light for you that you know they will forever remain a fixture in your life. I tend to think that friendships which are forged during times of great change and stress are stronger. I think that’s why I feel like I am able to pick right back up with friends from middle school and high school, often times more quickly than I am with contemporary friends where the friendship was forged as adults. As a teen, you go through so much together. It builds a bond. I think the same goes for contemporary friends who go through a life-changing experience with you. It’s no longer building a friendship over bunco and dinner out with the spouses every other month, but rather building a friendship over an affair which leads to divorce, or over the sudden illness and death of a parent. This is real stuff – this is life done together – not just idle chatter about “The Bachelor” or Justin Bieber’s latest antics.
As I think back over the people who helped me to rekindle my light, I am incredibly grateful. The “old” friend who made sure she was at my side during pivotal points in my separation when she knew the shock of it all would be overwhelming. The “period-in-time” friend who had herself gone through a divorce and who helped me through the process, then left my life. My “new” friend who on the first day we met had me in stitches with her sarcasm and her prediction for what my future would hold, and to this day remains a dear friend. I am grateful for each of them.
It is important to be intentionally grateful for the people in your life who have helped to rekindle your flame.
More important, however, is your intention to be sure that you are lighting other people’s flames yourself. Do you try to be that person who helps to rekindle other’s flames when their brightness and luminosity are starting to fade? Do you lend a listening ear, send the sweet card, offer the joke to make them laugh, buy them a coffee, watch their kids for a few hours, go for a walk with them, or simply find some other way spark their light? Think about it: whose spark have you rekindled lately?
Think of it this way: “When you find yourself in the position to help someone, be happy and feel blessed because God is answering that person’s prayer through you. Remember: Our purpose on earth is not to get lost in the dark but to be a light to others, so that they may find way through us.”