The holiday season is upon us. It’s a time when people gather to celebrate with those we love. As the song states, it can be the most wonderful time of the year, but, it also can be the loneliest. If you have lost a loved one or suffered a breakup with a spouse/significant other or friend, the holiday season is a constant reminder of the pain.
I know that pain all too well. It wasn’t that long ago that I spent most of my time grieving the loss of my mother, sister and marriage (all within a period of six months). During the holidays (and to be honest most any other day), I would scroll through social media posts, watch TV shows and commercials, and long for the fun and love shared by friends and family. Everyone appeared to be living Hallmark moments, except me.
Grief at any time of the year is painful, but it feels especially traumatic during the holidays.
I recently had a conversation with grief expert, David Kessler, in which we spoke about the stages of grief and how the feelings that accompany a loss can be heightened during the holiday season. While it’s natural to try to suppress the painful memories, according to David, “Healing doesn’t mean forgetting, it means remembering with more love than pain.” And, he says, that happens with time.
To better understand what you may be feeling, David explained the stages of grief, which were created and adapted by he and Elizabeth Kubler Ross. David cautioned that these stages do not necessarily occur in order and they may repeat.
Eight years ago this month, I published the first issue of 24 Seven magazine. I had never untaken anything on my own of such magnitude.
What was once a seemingly crazy idea, has blossomed into more than I could ever have imagined. The magazine’s pages have been graced with the wisdom of so many inspiring and influential thought-leaders; people who are making a real difference in the world. And, each has entrusted me with his or her words.
I spend most days on autopilot, never really grasping the scope of where my brand is going. On some level I understand it, but on another, I am totally amazed.
This morning when I visited our digital hosting site, I learned that the October issue, from this site alone, was viewed more than 739,000 times. Nearly one million people opened my publication. I would be lying if I didn’t admit that I am humbled to know that this “little” digital magazine is touching so many lives!
I recently learned that my ex husband got engaged. After living for more than three decades with this man in my life, I must admit, hearing this news was a punch in the gut. I spent the next two days with a horrible feeling surrounding me, you know that uneasiness you get in your stomach after someone close passes away? My body was on edge, I shook inside, and could not shed the anxiousness of impending doom. Even with all of the horrific things that transpired between us, I had an emotional reaction to his engagement.
I’m not really sure why I felt the way I did. I knew he was dating someone exclusively and we haven’t been part of each other’s lives for six years (as he severed all ties when he met her), and yet, I felt a tremendous sense of loss. Loss of the life we were supposed to live, loss of the family I so desperately wanted, loss of many dreams.
I thought I had grieved the divorce and moved on, my life is on a wonderful trajectory and I’m happy, but, there I was again, right in the middle of the pain. Divorce truly is the gift that just keeps giving!
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.