In 3:44, you’ll learn how…
My neighborhood found out why I was getting a divorce.
How I ended up being grateful everyone knew.
Why it’s time for you to step into vulnerability and claim your courage.
Recently, my friend’s young-adult daughter was missing. She left home without a wallet, keys or phone and had been gone for almost 24 hours. I found out because I stopped by while they were talking with the police. I asked my friend, “How are you getting the word out?” She said, “My husband doesn’t want anyone to know. He’s embarrassed and wants to keep it in the family.” I told her, “People will want to help. The most important thing is to get the word out to as many people as you can and find her.” They posted her picture and a few details on Facebook. Their daughter was home the next day. She had some serious personal issues going on and felt overwhelmed. My friend told me they were grateful for the support they received from their family and friends.
My divorce situation wasn’t posted on social media, but the word did get out.
In September, 2011, my husband and I separated after 19 years together. I was presented with a situation I couldn’t live with. He was having an affair, and had been for years. And so began the divorce process.
You’ve seen enough movies about extra-marital affairs or you know someone who’s gone through it, so you’re familiar with what happens next…an agonizing ring of divorce fire.
The day it happened I called only a couple friends and my mom. There I was, 44, a second marriage blown up and another set of kids with divorced parents. I was embarrassed and ashamed.
My kids, 12 and 15, were devastated. But their innate need for love and compassion, whether they knew it or not, overrode any humiliation.
So what did my kids do?
They told everyone not only that we were getting a divorce, but WHY!
They held nothing back from anybody.
They told their teachers, coaches, dance instructors,
friends, friends’ parents, and the lady behind us in line at the store.
(Yes, that happened.)
I was totally unnerved with people knowing not only that my marriage had fallen apart, but that my husband was involved with another woman.
Me: “What do you mean you told them? How much did you tell them?”
My kids: “Everything.”
I freaked out. There are just some things a family should keep private, right?
How could my kids do this to me?
“Now everyone knows our dirty business and I can only imagine
what they’re saying about me!”
Well, it wasn’t long before they were helping me.
A neighborhood family invited my daughter to a fun day at the waterpark.
My son was offered rides to football practice by coaches and parents, almost daily.
Moms at my daughter’s dance studio bought her dinner when I forgot to pack it.
Caring adults listened to my kids and told them they could call if they needed anything or just to talk. A dance-mentor invited my daughter to a fun overnight event, even though we had missed the cut-off date for signing up. My daughter still holds that weekend as one of the best memories of her life. One morning I looked out my front window and saw a friend working on something broken in my yard. Someone must have told him I didn’t know how to fix it, and there he was.
Then there were those who bravely came forward and spoke to me about what happened.
That’s not easy. What do you say to someone going through end-of-marriage hell?
They told me their stories of loss, suffering and pain.
“I understand. Please tell me what I can do to help you.”
If I had isolated our family and forced my kids to keep our divorce secret,
as was my plan, these kindnesses would not have been available to us.
And our pain would have been made worse with fake smiles and phony stories,
all to keep up appearances.
Is there somewhere in your life where you’re keeping up appearances because you’re worried about what extended family, neighbors or coworkers will think?
I was trying to do that, until my kids stepped in and guided our family in the right direction.
Spiritual Teacher Alert!
“Shame needs three things to grow exponentially in our lives;
secrecy, silence and judgment.” ~Brené Brown
When you’re going through a ring of fire, especially when shame is involved, it’s hard to talk about what’s going on. But it’s ALSO hard to be the person on the outside of the situation trying to figure out how to help. In The Power of Vulnerability, Brené Brown explains that people will talk themselves out of stepping into vulnerability. ‘Oh I should give her a call but it’s probably not a good time.’ Or, ‘Maybe I can just make a casserole, drive by the house and have the kids run it up to the front door.’
Both situations are tough.
To expose a deeply sensitive situation is difficult.
“I’m not sure my marriage is going to make it past the kids graduating from high school.”
“My husband got a DUI and I have no idea how to handle this.”
“They’re laying people off at work and my department is next. What am I going to do?”
“My son’s struggling in school and has to repeat 7th grade. How do I help him?”
“My life looks good from the outside, but sometimes I cry myself to sleep. I feel lost.”
It’s also incredibly vulnerable to step out of the car, knock on the door, and say,
“I don’t have the words to make this any better, but I want you to know
if there’s anything you need or you just want someone to sit with you,
I will be that person.”
If you’re suffering or in struggle, consider talking about your painful situation with someone you trust.
“I define vulnerability as uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure.
To be human is to be in vulnerability.” ~Brené Brown
If you know someone who’s suffering or in struggle, call them or go to their home and see how you can help.
“You can’t get to courage without walking through vulnerability.”
To Travis, Nick, Damien, Adrian and Grace, thank you for your wisdom and love. We made it through the divorce.
Peace, love and light to you. 🌞
NOTE: Details of my friend’s story were changed to protect privacy.