For the past few weeks, friends and family has had to listen to me ramble on about the pool I just added to my backyard. Hearing me one would think I had the most beautifully designed masterpiece installed. In reality, it’s an average oval-shaped, above ground pool. Nothing spectacular or particularly enchanting, and yet, the excitement is pouring out of every inch of me.
Today, I have a long list of things to do. There are work projects that must be completed, meetings to attend, a haircut appointment, and household chores. Today is like any other Monday, except it would have been my 30th wedding anniversary.
Thirty years ago today I said “I do” to the promise of sharing my life with another.
It was a beautiful day filled with happiness, love, laughter, and a world of possibilities.
Growing up, like most other young girls, I dreamed of the day I would find love. I had my entire life planned out. And for two decades, for the most part, I lived that life. But, as I soon learned, it takes two people to make a marriage work and ours wasn’t meant to be.
Recently, I was in a round table discussion in which we talked about interpersonal relationships. A repeating theme of the conversation was that people felt like they were replaceable, that there was no value given to them and/or a relationship by a friend, partner, family member, or employer.
Hearing so many people express the same feeling made me start to wonder if we have become a society of disposables. It reminded me of an expression my mother used to say: “Out with the old and in with the new.”
It seems like just about every aspect of our life today is disposable. We throw away televisions, computers, clothing, phones, food, furniture, and so much more.
By contrast, when I was growing up, we fixed everything. There was a neighborhood television repairman. We ate leftovers for dinner. We took our shoes to the local shoemaker for new heels. Baby diapers were cloth and appliances were kept until they could no longer be repaired. We drove the same car until it died on the road. And most marriages lasted “until death do us part.”
This month, July 8 to be exact, marks the eighth anniversary of the premiere of the Change Your Attitude…Change Your Life (CYACYL) radio show.
Back in 2009, I was going through a bit of an identity crisis trying to figure out my next move. I had given so much of myself to my family that I got lost. I had no career, my children were growing up, and my marriage was stagnant. It was during that time, from what I was feeling, that I had the idea to create a medium that would bridge the gap between people who needed information for self empowerment, and those who could provide it.
Eight years ago, my life was pretty ordinary – I was a wife, mother, daughter and sister – just an average woman experiencing what many wives and mothers feel. To this day, I cannot say from where this seed was planted. I had no special training, or no radio or business ownership experience. And yet, I wanted to take it on. Looking back, I must have appeared insane. A few told me I was, but I didn’t care.
Just when my career was starting to gain traction, my life took a tumultuous turn. Within a period of six months, my 23-year marriage ended, my mother died, my sister died, and my oldest son left for college. The life I knew ceased to exist. I was broken hearted, depressed, and exhausted. I didn’t see much of a future for me.
There are certain days of the year to which we attach expectations of how we believe it should be. New Year’s Eve. Valentine’s Day. A birthday. And, when those days don’t go as we planned, and our expectations are shattered, we can be easily devastated.
I have lived much of my life in fear of being alone. I always hated it and did anything humanly possible to keep myself busy; surrounded by friends and family. I’m not sure why, but I was never comfortable in my own company – I despised it – and so I tap danced. It’s only in recent years, by necessity, that I have learned to be content and at peace in my solitude.
But, even as evolved as I like to believe I have become, the prospect of being alone on my birthday rattled me.
My birthday week began with a celebration with lifelong friends and was slated to close with another group party.
But, on the actual day, as fate would have it, I was going to be alone.
Are you a giver? I am. I’ll do anything possible for anyone, any time. I have spent most of my life taking care of others, putting myself second, and sometimes, third, fourth or fifth. After many years, I found myself feeling hurt, rejected, used, and resentful. I created an unhealthy pattern for my life, for which I have paid the price.
While it is important to take care of others, it is equally important to understand your motivation. I thought it was my way of expressing love and affection. What I have come to learn is that, while part of it was from love, another part was my need to be accepted and loved. I was trying to make others care for me, so I gave to them and worked hard to please them.
The problem with my M.O. is that I was coming from a place of insecurity and low self worth. I was trying, in essence, to buy affection.
With the right people, the approach may work out as they are giving as much as you. But, with the wrong people, you will be left feeling alone, depleted, and even more insecure.
This morning, I received a phone call from a business colleague with whom I have forged a friendship. During the call, she informed me about her recent illness and shared the challenges that she endured. After hearing about her suffering and subsequent recovery, I said, “Oh honey, I’m so happy that you’re feeling better.”
After my statement, there was a moment of silence after which she replied, “Please don’t call me honey … it’s very condescending!” With those words there was a noticeable shift in her persona.
I must admit … her response took me by surprise, which was probably evident by my silence. The voice in my head screamed, “What the heck just happened? Why were my well-intended wishes met with scorn?” I had no idea what elicited her response.
Every sappy romantic can recall that moment in the movie Love Story when, after an argument, Oliver told Jenny he was sorry and through her tears she quivered and replied, “Don’t … love means never having to say you’re sorry”.
Anyone who has ever been in a loving relationship understands the point of that statement – unconditional love doesn’t require one to apologize. But, is it really a good practice to forego an admission of wrongdoing or hurtful behavior?
I say, no way! Love means saying you’re sorry!
According to Terry Orbuch, PhD, there are more than 100 million single adults in the United States today and four out of every 10 were already married once. Close to 50 percent of married people will become single again before the age of 50 – either through divorce or death.
Close to 50 percent of married people will become single again before the age of 50!
August 8 marks the fourth anniversary of my divorce. Growing up, just like most people, when I envisioned marriage, I saw the “they lived happily ever after” ending. Divorce was not in my frame of reference. My parents were married 56 years at the time of my father’s passing, and my grandparents made it to 72 years. They were my role models of what was to be – divorce was not part of my life plan. But as the old saying goes, “it is what it is,” and so I adapted.
With my divorce came many adjustments; some wonderful, some not so. One of the most difficult challenges that I’ve had to endure, and one, which to be honest, I never expected, was being relegated to the world of single womandom; the community of women who no longer get invited to socialize with couples. The outcasts that colonized together much like the lepers of Biblical times.