If You Say You’re NOT Broken, You’re a Liar.

“I have no issues.” The boy says.

“What do you mean? You have no issues? Everyone has issues.” I say.

“Nope. Not me. I’m a happy-go-lucky guy. Nothing gets me down. I always stay positive.” He says.

“Yes, but something bad had to happen in your life at some point. Something that broke your heart?” I ask.

“Why would anyone want to think about those things. I prefer not to dwell.” The boy says annoyed.

“I don’t think it’s ‘dwelling,’ I’m just trying to understand you. We all have things that caused us pain. Things that taught us… ”

“Maybe you’re just a negative person? All you seem to want to do is talk about negative things. Maybe you’re the one with a problem?” The boy says a bit too angrily.

I had this conversation once, many years ago. I was young, and at the time, ashamed of my own brokenness. With the desperation of someone on the verge of losing it all I wanted to run from those things that made me human. That which made me me. I wanted to put the past in the past and be nothing but positive, too. Spoiler alert: It didn’t work. 

Back then I was too naive, too ignorant, too scared and ashamed to realize that all I’d been through, was really a gift. I didn’t understand that my brokenness was my strength. I didn’t know the simple truth which is: if you say you’re not broken, you’re a liar. Or worse, you’re in denial. And denial always manifests in ugly, ugly ways because no one can run from their brokenness.

We’re all broken. We’re supposed to be. Life is a series of breaks to your soul. Over and over and over again like ocean waves this life, and its heart breaks, break us. Because that’s how it is, and that’s how it will always be; birth, growth, death, rebirth. The more we fight this reality, this cycle of life and living, the more we suffer.

So I ask — why hide our brokenness behind fancy curtains, shiny things, and disingenuous status updates? What’s the point? Just SAY IT. 

The poet Rumi wrote, “Suffering is a gift, a hidden mercy.” I believe that. You, nor I, nor our next door neighbor cannot NOT suffer. But where’s the mercy? How are we to find the mercy in all this suffering? Because when you’re truly suffering, all you can think about is sweet, merciful relief.

So where is it? Where’s the mercy hiding, Rumi!? My answer… I don’t think you can find it. I think mercy finds you.

But first, you must submit to the randomness, the chaos, the complete insanity of it all. You accept that you have no control; that your will is not the will that will be done. When you do, mercy finds your sweet, beautiful, broken soul. And when it does, it lifts you up, out of the dirt, brushes you off, shines a light on your path, and keeps you walking.

Back then, back when I was a girl running from my own brokenness I tried like mad to cultivate a talent for controlling my environment; always attempting to decipher the randomness, minimize the chaos, and make sane the insane parts of me. Spoiler Alert: It didn’t work. 

Rumi also writes, “The wound is the place where the light enters you.” So without the brokenness, there is no light. And what would we be without light?

So to feel the light, to let sweet mercy wash over you, you have to let go. Let go of the way you thought life would be. Let go of the plans you so carefully made for yourself, your children, your future. Because when you loosen the white-knuckle grip on life… you might just find the sweet relief you’ve been praying for all along.

So all I want now, all I have ever wanted, but never knew I needed, is beautifully broken people in my life. I don’t care what you’ve accomplished. I don’t care that you make a million dollars a day, or drive an Audi or own two Breitlings and can bench press an elephant.

Show me your flaws, your scars. Show me your wounds, your perfect imperfections. Show me where the light shines through and I’ll stand there with you; sunglassed admiring the view. No judgement.

Over the last three years I have received a lot of messages from you about how much my writing has affected your lives in positive ways. How much it has helped you heal and feel less alone. If you haven’t sent me a message before, and you feel inclined to now, please do so. Show me your scars. Leave a comment here or send me a message through Facebook or email if you’d prefer to remain private. Speak your truth. Own it. I will not judge you. I will think you’re brave and beautiful and I will be a mirror to reflect your amazing glow.show me the places where the light shines through

That Girl vs This Woman: A Mom Going Through Divorce

My divorce didn’t begin the day the paperwork was filed a few months ago. It didn’t even begin the month before that when I KNEW I couldn’t do this another day. My divorce began over a year ago. It was a cold December night. I sat at my children’s bedside, one at a time, and cried telling them Mommy was so, so sorry.

I remember that night as clearly as I’m sitting here typing this now. My daughter was three and a half. She was still in a toddler bed. She was close to the ground and I sat on the floor. I held her small hand which was still tucked under the fleece blanket. “I’m sorry baby.” I cried quietly at first. “I’m so sorry Mommy couldn’t keep this family together. I never wanted this for you.” And then the tears turned to shaking sobs. Next, I went to my son’s crib. The same.

It took more than a year to actually file, but if you’re a mom, and you’re heading toward divorce, the first thing you have to reconcile is what about the kids? There is no greater concern, and there is nothing you wouldn’t do for the sake of their well-being. Of course you’re scared for them. What will they think? How will they react? Adjust? What will this mean for their lives? It’s enough to paralyze you… and I was, for a long time.

Then, at some point, you realize your children will be okay, but only if you’re okay, too. Because you are no good to them depressed, playing small, and living in a shadow. And so at some point you must accept what a divorce will do to them so you can save yourself. It’s an agonizing decision, but you know in your heart that everyone will be better off in time. It takes a mountain of faith.

Your children inform every next decision. Of course there’s the worry over money. Can I do this? What sacrifices will need to be made? Where will I live? What will I do? Only when those HUGE questions are answered do you even begin to contemplate what this means for you; as in you, the woman.

And that’s where I am right now.

What now?

As I begin to sift through a decade’s worth of rubble from my life – ideas, memories, feelings of long, long ago are making their way to the surface like something ancient encrusted in rock. Things I liked to do. Conversations I liked to have. Ideas I entertained a million years ago. The ways I thought as a girl are poking through my consciousness like barbed wire through linen. Remember that time you took off to Chicago in the middle of the night on a whim to see a friend? Remember when you loved to go dancing all night? Remember when you used to dance on the bar? Remember that girl who could talk to anyone, about anything? Remember staying up all night doing just that – talking? 

Right now that girl is running head long into this woman, and there’s a reconciliation going on.

that girl vs this womanThat girl was mighty insecure. That girl was achingly alone and scared. That girl was frightened of intimacy. Yes, that girl was fun, and spontaneous, and threw caution to the wind, but that girl didn’t always land safely on shore. That girl was funny and whimsical and wild to a fault. She has a lot of great memories to show for it. That girl was intelligent and trusting, but she was also needy and naive.

This woman has responsibilities. This woman is no longer insecure, or desperately lonely, or scared of being vulnerable. This woman is cautious, confident and capable. She is witty and wise. This woman wants for many things, but does not need for much. She is no fool.

These two factions are sparing it out in my head — the girl I was, and the woman I am — and it’s causing a bit of a ruckus in my life. That girl is fighting for face-time, and this woman is trying to talk her down with reason.

This woman contemplates that girl, petulantly bouncing her hip in her short skirt and high heels, while sitting back in her cozy sweater and sensible flats. That girl is dying for a chance to strut her stuff. To prove to the world that she still has what it takes, whatever it is.  And this woman is sitting back, with her cup of tea and her books trying to remind that girl that she already does. But this woman does not shout or demand. Because this woman is patient, and kind, and forgiving to a fault. But that girl pouts all the same.

I’m not going to lie. That girl has won a few battles. But this woman is wise enough to know that this life is long, and yet, much too short for war.

So they carry on; circling each other like territorial hens to scratch it out another day knowing that no matter what happens, the one thing that overrides them all, and always will, is being Mom.

Because if you’re a mom going through a divorce, there is nothing of greater importance. Nothing.

When a Newly Divorced Mom Goes to Vegas

I got lucky. So lucky.

A couple of months ago, just after my first appearance in family court, when I was at my lowest of lows in life, I also took on a new job. Shortly after, my boss started rumblings about a conference in Vegas. I prayed. Please, please, please take me. 

After he asked me to go, I think I hung up the phone and cried happy tears. How lucky was I?

Before this trip this week, I had been to Vegas twice. The first time was just passing through, and the second time was almost exactly a year ago. I went with girlfriends. Last year in Vegas, I was married… faithfully. I wore my ring and told any man within my vicinity that I was taken because I was not the cheating kind. After that trip, I came home, regretful and slightly depressed about the lack of freedom in my life.

Newly Divorced Mom VegasBut this time, there are no regrets. Of course, this time… there was no ring, either. There were no self-imposed rules. No limits. No chains. No reasons for walking away and saying, no, I can’t.

And there’s no need to lie. I got drunk on freedom. I was intoxicated by the possibilities. I got high from the ability to go, and do, and be whatever I wanted. It was liberating in a million different ways.

My boss is a nice guy, and exceptionally, happily married. We’ve worked together for a while now, and we clicked from the start, but this was the first time I’d met him in person. He’s 6’4″ and has the personality of a big, safe, teddy bear. I told him he was by body-guard. We had a signal if I wanted him to save me from bad conversation.

We poked fun at each other like brother and sister. He liked to tell people I was recently divorced because he knew what would happen.  A smile would spread across their face because it’s true; there are clichés about newly divorced women, and I have found myself representing each one of them. I possessed the devil-may-care attitude; the desire of freedom, and perhaps the need to be careless for the first time in a long time.

Freedom and independence used to be characteristics I put on the highest level of virtue. I spent the larger part of my teenage years grounded to my room because of my propensity to break the rules in the name of independence. My parents knew that taking away my freedom hurt me the most, and they were right. It was painful.

I was a wild spirit back then, but over the course of the last 12 years I let that spirit be eroded away, and not in the natural ways of age and matrimony. My sense of self was worn down like rock under a constant stream of dripping water. The incessant, methodical drip, drip, drip of precise words and actions over time had me falling down into a dark hole. And then I grew comfortable there, like moss.

But Vegas threw me a rope and I grabbed it with both hands, and legs, and all the strength of someone stuck in a hole would need to get out. Now, as I resurface into the world, the light is so bright I can hardly see. It’s like being born again. I’ve been shoved into the abyss for so many years that now I’m squinting trying to adjust to this bright new view. My equilibrium is WAY off. It’s scary, and not scary at all.

So after four days in Vegas, and coming back to a life with light in my eyes, I also had to come back to being a single mom of two toddlers. Talk about a reality check.

I was nervous picking them up. Did they miss me? Would they know that I felt different? Would I be able to be the Mom they’ve always known? The Mom they need? Was I more selfish now?

After six days of no contact, the moment they walked out the door and ran toward my arms – worlds collided. The new me smashed right into Mom-me and it was… okay. Good, even. They nearly knocked me over with their love and their “I miss you’s” and “I love you’s” and “I’m so happy you’re home,” and I knew then that everything was going to be okay.

I clawed my way back to the light, for me. It is part of my rebirth back to myself and it was going to happen eventually. And I will admit, I was selfish and wanting in Vegas. But I needed that, and for the first time… I don’t feel guilty about a thing.

But this is not without a price. I’ve already been judged for my public displays of “I’m so happy I’m divorced!” postings. And I’m certain that some people will read this and call me horrible names while making their own assumptions. But part of climbing out of this hole is not listening to what others have to say and trusting myself. And I will probably fall under these weak and shaky new legs… but I’ll do so while standing in the light.

Today is my birthday. I don’t say that to generate a stream of well-wishes, but I am 36 today. I think it’s about time I know who I am, and what I want… and don’t want.

Because if I don’t know that… how can I teach them? Because no one should ever have to grow cold and still inside a hole of darkness. Not when life is full of so much light. 

Vegas, baby.

Sinners WelcomeCome one, come all.