How to Heal a Cold if You’re a Perfectionist

…in 10 easy steps.

  1. Begin by complaining you don’t feel well so other people around you know that you are definitely sick.
  2. Go home early and post pictures of yourself on Facebook being sick so people know that you are definitely sick.
  3. Start to feel guilty about the fact that you went home early (even though you are definitely sick).
  4. Begin thinking about all of the things you could do if you just got up for a few minutes.
  5. Get up for a few minutes.
  6. Realize you’re definitely still feel sick and go back to bed.
  7. Begin thinking about all of the things you have left to do and wonder if any of them could be done from a laptop in bed.
  8. Get up and get your laptop and bring it back to bed.
  9. Try working from bed but remember you’re definitely sick.
  10. Take cold medication and try to go to sleep, but lay in bed feeling guilty about how much work you didn’t get done.

My Dog Licked My Toast

It started first thing this morning.
I woke up, showered, and made myself a piece of toast. It was Ezekial bread, to be exact. You know, that ridiculously expensive bread that is supposed to be better for me so I pay the 6 bucks a loaf even though it’s probably the same as just buying Pepperidge Farms? That toast.
I set my toast on my nightstand when I leaned over to pull my wet hair out of my towel, only to discover my dog Walter was licking my toast. Now, Walter doesn’t have very many teeth so brushing them is an impossibility. For that reason, his breath is unusually horrendous. This single piece of toast was probably work about $0.50 and my dog was ruining it with his dead-fish breath.

I made it to work on time, though I was starving. I started a new workout routine last night and so I knew I needed to eat. Instead of going and getting myself something nice to eat, there was leftover caramel-covered popcorn in the office and I decided to eat a handful of that.

It’s pretty similar to a slice of Ezekial bread, right?

As the day wore on I spilled coffee on my white shorts (who wears white shorts?!), I overbooked myself and forgot to eat lunch, picked up lunch for a few of us in the office and then ate it so fast that I gave myself heartburn, and by about 2pm my body had the shakes and the chills.

“You look tired,” one co-worker said. I wasn’t tired. I slept great last night. And I really wanted to make it to my gym class since I JUST FREAKING STARTED THIS NEW ROUTINE.

I took an ibuprofen and a sudafed, drank a bunch of water, and charged ahead full-speed.

Until an hour later.

My husband called me to let me know he was on his way home from out of town. “What’s wrong?” he asked.
“I don’t feel good.”
“Oh. Are you a

t home?”
“No, I’m at the office,” I said.
“Go home, then. Right?”

I spent a tremendous amount of time and energy trying to feel well enough to get to the gym because I said that I would. I fought through my work because I made promises I needed to keep. I still had to get to the post office to mail a book and get a check to the pest control company. Oh and Open House at school is tonight…

Go home, Erin.

It’s my biggest flaw. I make plans and then hold myself to them with such fervor that it rarely occurs to me…I don’t have to.
I don’t have to go to the gym.
I don’t have to finish my work or go to the post office or (gasp) go to Open House.
I don’t have to do anything.
I can just go home, drink Emergen-C, have soup, and then go to sleep if that’s what my body needs. The worl

d will still turn, the post office will re-open, and my child will still get into college.

I’m writing this because I want to make sure no one else misses the opportunity to go home. As much as it feels like you cannot simply go home, you can. Everyone else, everything else can wait until you’ve taken care of yourself. I know, I know. I didn’t think it could all wait, either. I’m telling you. It totally can! It turns out that most of the population does, in fact, continue thriving without you being present!

Now, will my son’s new teacher think I’m a slacker for not coming to Open House?
Maybe!
Will it be even harder getting back into my gym routine now?
Possibly!
Will the person waiting on me to send them the book be really, really, really mad I didn’t send it today?
TOTALLY COULD HAPPEN!

Also, though, despite all those maybes, I’m a human being who gets to decide when and who she takes care of first. It would be fantastic if someone was standing next to me all the time saying things like, “Erin! Time to eat. Erin! Let’s have a rest. Erin! Sleep in today!” Alas, as it turns out, that someone has to be me.

You’re totally allowed to show up for yourself first. You’re allowed to say no. You’re allowed to let other people down. You’re even allowed to make them mad. But you must take care of yourself first. Starting now. Promise?

I’m now going to take a bunch of cold medicine with a giant jug of water, snuggle into bed with my dogs, and wake up to see how I feel in the morning. (Heck. Maybe I’ll sleep in.)

Go Where You Are Wanted

Recently, I was listening to an audio class taught by my sweet Kundalini yoga teacher and she said to her students, “Go where you are wanted.” It stopped me in my tracks. Folding my husband’s boxers on the bed in our room I stopped, set the boxers down, pressed pause on my phone, and repeated that phrase to myself.

“Go where you are wanted.”

It’s been 5 years since I’ve been separated and divorced from my first husband. We have done a stellar job rebuilding a new relationship, a co-parenting relationship, that I believe could win awards. (And I do believe there should be awards for co-parenting.)
What I lost in my divorce was my best friend, Karen. She was my blonde twin, my sister from another mister, the truest and most authentic friend I’d had in my life to date. Karen felt very torn between my ex-husband and me during our divorce, and in the end it seemed that she chose him.

This was more devastating than my divorce.

I spent a long time wishing and praying for Karen to come back into my life. So nearly 2 years after our divorce, I reached out to her. It was just a text message but it took courage summoned from my toes to send it. I didn’t know if she hated me or if she missed me or if she even really thought about me anymore. To my utter relief, she replied.
Our exchange was brief and kind. She even used one of our old “just us” jokes and I felt so close to her.

I waited 6 months to hear from her again…

When she did get back in touch, it was to tell me that she was sorry my dog had run away. I guess someone told her what happened. My dog was back by this point so I told her thank you and filled her in. That was it. There was no more after that.

I missed her so much. I missed my friend. I thought about her almost everyday.

A year later, my gynecologist found a lump in my left breast. I was completely terrified. Several friends took me out to dinner to hold me and feed me beer while I panicked and cried. I texted her after a few of those beers, somehow hoping my fear of having breast cancer would inspire her to be my friend again…

By this point I had a new husband. Kind, handsome, and supportive Ryan was there for me throughout the process of mammograms, ultrasounds, and an ultimate “all clear” diagnosis. He held my hand and wiped my tears. I was covered, surrounded, and loved.

But I still missed my friend.

It was almost another year later when she reached out to me. Karen reached out to me. I was overjoyed. I couldn’t wait to catch up with her. We had an hour-long conversation and it was just like old times. She told me she loved me and I told her I loved her back. We were getting this friendship back on track and it was all that I wished for.

The next day I texted her pictures of my wedding. She sent me pictures of her new dog. We were making jokes and giggling and everything felt amazing. “My friend is back,” I told my husband.

That was 2 years ago, and it was the last time I heard from her. I feel a stinging pang of sadness every time I think of the last text message I sent her that received no reply.

Until I heard the words, “Go where you are wanted.” It stung me for years until this moment. Until the day I was folding my husband’s boxers on the bed and I heard the antidote to the sting. “Go where you are wanted.”

How often, I suddenly realized, I have spent time knocking on the doors of those who don’t want me, trying to convince them I’m worth it. Years I’ve spent worried, wondering what I might be able to do to make myself valuable enough for their attention.
Family members.
Friends from high school.
People at work.
Holy cow, I’ve never been a person lacking friends and love. And yet those people who love me have gently stood in the wings waiting for me to finish standing onstage before those who don’t love me, tapping dancing my ass off in hopes that one of them might clap.

It is perfectly ok for people to not like you, to not want to be friends with you. There’s no need to be angry at them for not liking you. It’s just their opinion. But for some reason, our human-selves find it important to prove that everyone can and will like us instead of something far easier – letting those who already love us LOVE us!

It is not selfish to go where you are wanted, either. It is self-love and self-care to allow the people who love you to love you hard, and to gently release those who don’t without sewing their feelings about you to your Girl Scout Sash on the way out.

I have not reached out to my friend again and, at this point, I never will. She is not a friend anymore, anyway. My friends are here. My husband is here. I can see where I am wanted with more and more clarity everyday. And I have less and less interest in those who do not want me.

Go where you are wanted, my friend. Take a look around and starting noticing who is really rooting for you and go there. It is the juice of life. It is the sweetness of life. And it is where you were meant to be: square in the middle of love.

(Thank you, Sat Siri, for being the inspiration behind this.)

 

 

 

 

 

God is my Publicist

During a marketing meeting with my publishing company last week, it was explained to me that in order for my book to “make it”, I would need to hire a publicist. This costs in the range of $15-20,000. They explained to me that famous people don’t get publicists, regular people get publicists and then become famous. 😲
As I flipped through the news online this morning, I saw a flash of Kim Kardashian in some sort of plastic dress, eating an ice cream cone while her husband patted her behind. “Oh,” I thought. “They stage all of this. Every last minute, don’t they? Literally none of this is real…I’m so naive.”
📚Now, I’m not sure how book publicists work and how many appearances in plastic dresses they’ll suggest I make for the good of sales, but I do know that unless this book sells a whole lot of copies, I don’t have the money to pay a publicist. And without a publicist, it’s next-to-impossible to sell a whole lot of copies.
🐔Chicken.
🥚Egg.
Publishing is a massively subjective field. The manuscripts that get pushed to the top of the pile are almost all thanks in part to someone having a good day. New York Times best sellers lists are, in some part, written based on book sales, but also written based on who is writing the list that week. (Seriously.) Amazon rankings are due in part to reviews, and authors often manufacture good reviews to shoot their books to the top.
What I’m saying is…there is no good and wholesome way to go about selling a book that I have found so far.
As I wrote out my plan to get my book in front of as many people as possible without paying a publicist this morning, I heard this phrase in my head – God is my publicist.
Holy crap. (Pun intended.)
🙌God is my publicist.
Whatever happens, wherever the book goes, whatever it is, I will do everything humanly possible here on Earth to see it through. But in the end, no matter who I hire, God is my publicist.
And we’re breathing…
P.S. Can I borrow $20k?

My 7 year old is my Guru

“Why do you always say I learn from my mistakes? Do I always have to get in trouble to learn stuff?!”
My son was hanging out the car window waving at neighboring cars in traffic until I scolded him to close the window and put his body in the car. “We don’t know those people, Abe! We don’t know if they are kind or safe, and we surely don’t hang out of car windows.”
“Sorry, mom,” he said before laying that first line on me. “Seriously though, mom. Why can’t I learn from something that’s not a mistake?”
It was a really fair question. And without wanting to turn this into long and drawn out “teachable moment,” I tried to leave out my own historical findings as a human and distill my words. “You know, you say ‘making mistakes’ and ‘getting in trouble’ like they’re bad things.”
“They ARE bad mom,” he rolled his eyes.
“Only if you choose to see them that way. What if making mistakes is actually awesome because, like you just said, it’s how we learn new stuff.”
Sometimes as a mom I even surprise myself.
While my child continued rolling his eyes and feeling annoyed, I thought back to all of my mistakes that led to learning really big things. I’d say the biggest mistake was getting married because I thought I had to. Married was what I wanted to be. The man I married, my son’s father, was the obvious choice because I loved him and he asked me. That mistake was never a conscious thought. I didn’t make the mistake while thinking, “This isn’t a heartfelt decision at all. This is a ‘Keeping up with the Jonses’ decision.” Of course, not. I whole-heartedly thought I was doing the very best thing, and it took years to tune into my conscious mind and understand where I went wrong. (It probably took him years to figure out the same thing.) But I learned so many huge lessons from those mistakes. Now in my second marriage, I understand what they mean when they say, “When you know, you know,” and also, “Marriage is difficult.” I understand because I’m here. I’m in it. Consciously. Fully.

I didn’t know you can’t microwave metal until I did it. I didn’t know internet lines run underground until I cut one with a shovel. I didn’t know high heels sink in dirt until I wore a pair to an outdoor wedding. And while all of these caused inconvenient experiences in my life, I learned from them. So how can mistakes really be all that bad? What if mistakes are actually awesome?!

Truth be told I hate making mistakes. I hate being wrong. But I convinced myself in the car that afternoon that, once again, changing my mindset would probably change the way I feel about mistakes.
“Mom! Check out my mistake!” Later that night, my son showed me a picture he drew.
“Where’s the mistake?” I asked.
“You can’t see it. I made the mistake, learned from it, and decided to turn it into something better. Now you can’t even find it!”

Hi. My name is Erin, and my 7-year-old son is my greatest teacher. Everyday.

I’m an (cough sputter spit) author

When I moved to Los Angeles at 22, I planned to pursue acting. I was an actress for 13 years prior. My experience and training were phenomenal for a person of my age.
I hopped from agency to agency, trying to find representation. Everyone told me, “Great headshot. Great work. Come back in 6 months.”
My bank account suggested I didn’t have 6 months, so I started applying for jobs. Real jobs. Jobby jobs.
At one restaurant interview I explained that I could only work nights because I was an actress. I needed my days free for auditions. It felt…awkward.
I wasn’t an actress. I didn’t even have an agent yet. No auditions. No reel. And because saying it wasn’t true, I subconsciously abandoned the intention of ever becoming an actress. And I never did.
I’ve regretted that for 15 years.
When people ask me what I do now, it feels very strange to say I’m an author. I don’t have a book to show them. I don’t have a published article or even a pamphlet. Can I technically be an “author” if I’ve got nothing to show for it yet?
When I get nervous about that title, I try to remember telling that interviewer, “I’m an actress,” but never believing it. I’m going to have to see this one through if I want to own that title. I’m going to have to believe I’m an author before I am one.
I got a smidgeon of confirmation in my email. The publisher has my book and they’re running their first content eval. It will happen. It is happening. I will have a book to hold up when I say “I’m an author.”
Until then, I’m an author. For real. Starting right now. I refuse to look back in 15 years with more regrets.
#imanauthor

When I Move, You Move

Something new has clicked.

It all started when I decided to gently walk away from my job.
Well, no, it all actually started when I tried to buy a gym.
No, really it all started at the Writers’ Conference I attended in October.
Well, no it all started over the summer when I found out about the Writers’ Conference.
Eh. It actually all started when I decided to start blogging more regularly last year.
Actually, maybe it all started when I figured I would chase after my own dreams when the 2017 ball dropped…

(Spoiler alert – It started then and even before all that.)

What’s clicked for me over the past year is while setting every last domino up for a spectacular display of gravity and momentum is necessary, it is not the final step. The final step is moving.
Pushing the first domino.
But the real clicky moment for me was when I realized that I need both – The set up and the push.

I spent so much time last year journaling, listening to podcasts, watching The Secret over and over again, praying, focusing on gratitude, and sometimes full-on tantrumming about what I want. And what I want is not so hard: tons of money, a fulfilling career, plenty of freedom, and an adventurous, healthy, loving family. (Easy peasy, right?!) But with all that intentional focus, I didn’t see a single thing moving me in the direction of what I wanted. I saw that I was still working for other people making just enough money to cover our bills while my husband built his business with no way out to get to what I wanted.
I did try to take action. I applied for jobs, of which I was awarded none. I tried to start my own copywriting business, which fizzled before it started. I tried to start about 3 other businesses, none of which it appeared I could commit to. What I figured out (in hindsight, not at the time) was that all my action was based in fear and in force. I began by moving from a place of fear that I would never have the things I want, and continued the momentum of moving by forcing things into place in order to get what I want.

It turns out, that didn’t work.

What did work was all that intentional focus. That work I did at the beginning of the year was my set up, my perfectly squared dominos. My desires, my wants, my wishes were all stacking up in a perfect line in front of me; I just couldn’t see the results yet. Like Mike Dooley explains, when you enter a final destination into your GPS, you follow the instructions it gives you. Sometimes you get re-routed. Sometimes there’s a slow asshole in front of you in the fast lane that really pisses you off. Sometimes you have to stop to pee or your mom calls or you need some beef jerky. And if you continue following the directions, you LITERALLY won’t know if they worked until you arrive at your final destination. You’ll have ZERO PROOF that you’re going to get to where you want to go until you arrive. But before you do any driving, you must first set up (enter your final destination) and then you must turn your car on and put it in drive.
What’s important is you move. That’s when you push the first domino.

So all that thought and prayer and journaling led to some blogging because it felt good, and 2017 was the year of feeling good. Soon after I committed to more blogging, an email from Hay House Publishing inviting me to a Writers Workshop. At the time, it looked more like an obstacle than like the perfect next step. It cost big bucks, the hotel was expensive, and I didn’t know if I’d even learn anything new. But I moved because it felt more right than wrong.
Being at the actual Writers Workshop felt SO right and stirred up SO much excitement that I was unstoppable!!! Until I realized that my day-to-day work and life would probably keep me from ever finishing my book. That’s when I was offered the chance to buy a gym.
I got SO excited at the idea of owning my own gym that I threw caution to the wind and went in full throttle. I hired a really expensive business lawyer and educated myself and gathered information and was SO ready to start this new part of my life!!! In fact, I quit my job because I was positive this was going to be THE THING!!!
Turns out, it was not the thing. Ha! And I was left without the income I relied upon and without the dream gym and without a book and without a reason to go on living, etc etc etc, and other dramatic phrasing as well.

Then. One day shortly after losing the gym and leaving my job, it clicked.
I moved, and it worked.
I took risks that felt REALLY right, and despite the outcome not APPEARING to be what I thought it should be, I suddenly realized it was everything I prayed for.
Being an author allows me the chance to make tons of money, be fulfilled in my career, feel free, and have an adventurous, loving, healthy family. I moved and it resulted in a string of events that has led me here: it’s January, my husband’s business is doing so well that he can cover our bills and then some, and I now have the time and freedom to finish my book, publish it, and start the next one. I’m on the journey RIGHT NOW and it’s leading me toward the perfect life (as far as I define a “perfect life”). I’m in the middle of the route and it’s WORKING! I feel perfectly led to exactly where I’m supposed to be with absolutely no idea what “where I’m supposed to be” is or how it will all turn out.
What a delightful, horrifying concept.

But as Brene Brown says, “The opposite of faith is certainty.” I have complete faith that this path will continue to lead me to all the places I want to go, despite the fact that I have no proof it will work until I arrive. And in the everlasting words of the theologian Ludacris, “When I move, you move.”

Just like that.

Your New Year’s Resolution

Dear Friend,

Hiya.

You might call me God. Or maybe the Universe. I might be your Higher Power or The Mother. Maybe, to you, I’m a Goddess or The Creator or The Source.
If you don’t call me by any of those names, then you likely know me as “a coincidence.”
Either way, there’s no judgement here. I just wanted to say hi.

I wanted to mention that you’re here to enjoy yourself. You’ve got the chance to seriously love life, if you want to take that chance. (And it is a chance.) It all feels very risky; I know. It feels like it’s all or nothing, or maybe like it could possibly go wrong. It feels like you might be labelled a “sell-out” or a dreamer or a loser. For the short time you’re here, those things are a big deal. That’s why it’s really, really, really hard to believe that taking that risk that feels so right (but, if it isn’t, could potentially ruin your entire life) is worth it. Easier to just stay still. Fewer projectiles at risk of hitting you when you stay still.
Good news, though. This isn’t a “jump and everything will work out” message. You can jump, but everything might not work out. Not at first. You could jump and everything could fall apart and take a year to put back together. (That’s a skin-your-knee lesson.) Still, though. Jump.
You could also spend some time preparing yourself for the jump. Get a nice parachute, a delightful instructor with years of experience, and plenty of back-up plans. Did you know that preparing to jump is totally ok, too? (It doesn’t actually man that you didn’t “really want” it. It means you decided to limit your chances of failure first. Kinda smart.)

But the point of all of it is to love your life. And you can. You can literally love everything about it. Whether you prepare your brain and spirit for all of that loving first, or you just jump and deal with the fact that you’ll probably hit a few rocks on the way down, you can love it.

So lets get detailed:
Hate your job? That’s ok. Find a job you know you’d hate even more and you might like this one a little better. And while you’re in the business of learning to like your job a little bit better, you should look for another job and ask some friends about where they work and watch movies about people who do things differently from you and decide which parts of those movies you like. You won’t hate your job forever if you don’t keep it forever.
Hate your relationship? That’s ok. Watch a little Maury Povich and then find some things you can plainly see work well in your relationship (like maybe your partner doesn’t have any illegitimate children with other people?). Open a door for him/her. Pull out a chair. Cook a meal or pack a lunch. You might find out you don’t actually hate your relationship…you just hate the way it’s been lately. Or, maybe you do hate it. In that case, feel free to leave it. Or go on Maury.
Hate your dwelling? Definitely move. Don’t listen to them when they tell you it’s a “bad market” or “not good timing.” They don’t get to decide when it is good for you. If you can’t find another place, keep looking. You’ll know it when you see it.

It doesn’t matter what you aren’t loving about life right now. It can all change. Just decide to change it and then don’t panic when it doesn’t change tomorrow. (It probably won’t.)

One last thing – 2018 isn’t “your year.” It’s not the turning point or the new beginning or the perfect time. You get to pick all that stuff whenever you want. But picking it now would be the best time ever.

Resolve to believe you can and should be your version of happy all the time. Best resolution I can think of.

Love you,
God/Universe/Higher Power/The Mother/Goddess/The Creator/The Source/A Coincidental Blog

JUMP

My husband has this uncanny ability to face fear right in the face and march right through it.
I have an uncanny ability to cry during This is Us.

When he decided to open his own business a year and a half ago, I decided it would be my job to help him. I worked tirelessly, day and night, for weeks getting his licenses and insurance policies and payroll set up. The problem was that I hadn’t ever done anything like this before, so not only was I incredibly stressed out, I was terrified.

Terr. I. Fied.
Three words.

If what Bear was doing, starting this business, didn’t work…there was no safety net. There was no back-up plan. There was absolutely nothing guaranteeing that I was doing any of this right or that it would work.
My stress levels got so high that I literally lost my hair. A third of my hair.

And every time I looked at him, sitting over on the couch with a movie playing and his laptop in his lap, I felt incredibly resentful. He didn’t look scared. He didn’t look stressed. He didn’t even look tired. And I couldn’t understand why I was the ONLY ONE freaking out…

Let’s be honest. It doesn’t even look like he’s going to make it…

Now, as I embark on my OWN major risk-taking experiences for the first time in my entire life, I can look back and see what he was doing. He was doing what every great guru and business coach says to do: he created a vision, made a plan, and executed without acknowledging the possibility of failure. Because he simply didn’t need to deal with failure until he’d failed. And nothing, yet, was failing. He grew faster than people suggested he should, not to prove them wrong (though that his a great motivator), but because he knew exactly what he was doing. He envisioned all of it long before it happened, so while we were all feeling surprised and rushed, he’d had it all planned out well in advance.
Granted, my husband’s brain is very, very, very different from mine. I think about steps. Linear steps. I think about the map, the order of operations, and all the possible outcomes. He thinks about all of that and more, all at the same time, with attachment to none of it. So I am most definitely not comparing the two of us. But what I am starting to realize is that making moves, any moves, leads to massive chain reactions. Making no moves leads to a very safe, predictable life. And that can be nice. But if my 10-years-in-the-future self looked at me right now and told me either to move or stay put, what do you think she would say? And how disappointed do you think she would be if I chose to stay in the same place and put the pressure on her to make the moves?

I don’t like change. I don’t like instability. I don’t like not knowing whether or not something is going to work. But as Mike Dooley says, when you put a new address into a GPS and you start driving, you literally don’t know if it worked until you arrive at your final destination, and not a moment sooner.

I have a few opportunities in 2018. One of them is to publish my first book with Hay House publishing (which will happen). There are others, too. And so I’m trying to be like my husband: see the vision, make the plan, and execute without paying much attention to the end results until I get there. I get waves of deep-stomach anxiety a few times a day. I feel angry that I’m even being given these opportunities because it means I have to grow out of my comfort zone (and I like it in here). But guess what? This all fell in my lap. It landed and I can literally choose to move it over and walk away if I want to. And I want to. But the truest part of me want to see what happens. So I’ll keep moving and it if all goes to shit, I’ll start a GoFundMe for my mortgage.

The Affair

On our way home from Thanksgiving with family, I got a text from one of my closest friends asking me to come over. It’s unlike her, as she’s not really the touchy-feely type who likes visitors. She’s more the, “If there’s a problem, let’s solve it. I’ve got notepaper and shovels,” type of friend. I told her I could come over after we got back into town and that’s when she dropped the bomb…
She’d just learned her husband had been having an affair.
I gasped so loudly that Bear repeated, “WHAT? WHAT? WHAT?” in the truck as he drove, and I couldn’t seem to get words out fast enough. The rest of our three hour drive was filled with silence and a bunch of “Oh my God” and “What the fuck?!”
This wasn’t the couple from whom you’d expect this news. This wasn’t the day on which you’d expect this news. (Is there a proper day?) This was completely blindsiding. And if I felt blindsided, I couldn’t imagine how my friend felt.

I immediately started feeling my divorce PTSD kick in. I was never cheated on, myself, but I know all too well the massive implosion that happens when you get those divorce papers in the mail or, that very specific moment when you realize that you’re definitely getting divorced. Me? I was sitting in our kitchen in the house we bought together at about noon on a Wednesday, and a weird little voice spoke in my head and said, “There is no coming back from this. You’re going to get divorced and move out.” It could have been my dad speaking, who died almost 30 years ago now. It could have been God, but it didn’t sound like the one I usually talk to. Whoever it was sent a MASSIVE rush of fear, anxiety, anger, and acceptance all at once through my body. It was the turning point: the moment that I stopped praying I could fix the things we’d both done to screw it all up and, instead, started walking through the war zone that was my life to get to my new life.

Getting the phone call that someone I knew well and trusted implicitly had cheated on my friend made me wonder, “Do you not realize that it’s not just your spouse you affect with your behavior?” I started feeling angry that he hadn’t once thought about how it would all affect his friends and family, not just his wife.
Of course, being the ever-inquisitive one looking for the other side of the coin, I started googling. I wanted to find out why people do this.
As we all kinda already know, I found a million articles to suggest there is no one reason why something like this happens. There are opinions, well-researched books and articles, and a handful of podcasts (all of which I listened to) on the subject. The through-line amidst it all is that the reason never really matters. The way both people handle it afterwards is what matters. And there’s no right way to handle it, either! So by the end of my 5-day crusade to understand why this was happening to two people I cared for so much, I came to the rock-bottom conclusion that there is nothing to understand. There is only picking up and choosing how to move forward through the war zone to get to the next life. As Esthere Perrel, a famed infidelity researcher, said, “This marriage is over. Now you get to decide if you’re going to start a second one together or not.”

I quietly mourned all week, for my friend and for my first marriage. It seems whenever my divorce PTSD gets triggered, I have to mourn it all all over again. I am in such a better place, such a stronger marriage than I was 5 years ago, and yet I still struggle to love and accept that I didn’t end up with the picture-perfect life I’d so hoped for.
The more I let go of the “picture-perfect” though, the more I figure out that there isn’t really ever such thing. Sure, you can experience it for a while, but life has a way of happening. Stability and stasis aren’t the norm. Change and growth and constant updating are the norm. And the sooner you can get used to that, the easier it is to be happy even when things aren’t picture-perfect.

Were you ever shocked by someone you knew who was having an affair? How’d you handle it? Did you say something? Did you try and save the friendship?

Big hugs to my friend if she’s reading. Keep pushing forward. I’ve got a notebook and two shovels.

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