My bank account was empty and my marriage officially over. All of my belongings jam packed into boxes and stuffed in the back seat of my ’95 Honda Civic. Aside from a few books and my I Love Lucy DVD collection, I didn’t keep anything else from our old place.
It’s not that I didn’t have anything. I had lots of things. I just didn’t want them. They reminded too much of what we once were: happy, and in love.
But we weren’t that couple anymore. Now we were just angry bitter people. He was using drugs and buying them with our savings. After a few months of trying to help him and save our marriage, I walked away. We were officially broken. And inside, I was broken too.
So now, here I was, a divorced twenty-something with no furniture, no savings, and a box full of Augusten Burroughs memoirs. Oh, and a spot in my childhood bedroom at mom and dad’s house of course. Great, huh?
Having your life physically fall apart in just a matter of months isn’t the worst part: It’s believing that you will never be able to put it back together again.
My life was a big Humpty Dumpty Disaster, and I had no idea how to fix it.
In case you’ve never been there, let me tell you what happens when your life gets turned upside down out of nowhere. Whether you lose a job, end a long term relationship, or suddenly find your house in foreclosure, disasters usually go like this:
You feel hopeless. You start believing you will never be happy again. You form this idea that you are a miserable person who will always be miserable. You feel angry and resentful for the pain you are carrying. And you fall into a scary pitiful version of yourself you didn’t know existed.
You feel stuck, heartbroken, and angry. “I never asked for this.” or ‘Why me?” are very common mantras.
Ever been there? You know what I’m talking about.
And while other people may not feel like the world has ended, you sure as hell do.
The truth is, as painful as those moments are, having your world turn upside down can be the best thing that ever happened to you.
You just need to let it.
Before my “Perfect Life” shattered in front of my eyes, I was living with rose colored glasses on. I didn’t see it then, but looking back six years later, I can see how truly unhappy I was. I was successful, happy, and loved by everyone else’s standards but my own. I wasn’t “truly fulfilled by my life” but I didn’t realize until it was taken from me.
To everyone else, my life was “perfect.” At least that’s what people told me. I had a “successful” career as a television news producer. At least that’s what other people said. I was a married young twenty-something who lived a loving happy wonderful life. At least that’s what other people saw.
When my marriage ended I was able to take off the rose colored glasses and see my life for what it really was: Something that caused me more unhappiness than joy. I had a life that I was “trying to make work,” rather than a life I truly wanted.
My life was never perfect because it wasn’t the life I wanted it to be.
I was never actually successful because I wasn’t pursuing my passion.
I didn’t feel wonderful or full of love because those qualities were only based on other people’s standards.
Picking up the pieces of my life and rebuilding myself became almost like a big art collage project. I was able to remove all the clutter, the garbage, the unnecessary and the negative; I started filling my life with all the things I truly wanted there. I recreated my life.
Looking back, six years later, I realize that I didn’t just leave a broken marriage: I left a broken life. And having the chance to rebuild it was the best most wonderful opportunity I ever had. It was a chance at a fresh start and new beginning: To makes something of myself that I truly wanted.
I am no longer in an unhealthy relationship. I have a new amazing partner who loves me (side note, he just proposed last week and I, of course said yes!)
I am no longer a news producer. My life experiences have led me to abandon my unfulfilling career and become a life coach for a self improvement company for women.
And most important – I am no longer pretending. I am no longer hiding.
I am self-confident and happy and fully in love with my life.
Now I am living. And that would have never happened if my life didn’t totally fall apart first.
The lesson here is that sometimes there’s a deeper lesson to be learned. Painful experiences can be a blessing in disguise. You may not ask for it, you may not expect it, and you may even curse the world now for letting it happen: But years later, you can look back smile, and chant a new mantra:
“Everything Happens for A Reason.”