I recently had lunch with a dear friend I have known since kindergarten. We sort of lost touch along the way. Life happens, friends come and go, seasons change, yada, yada, yada. The last time I saw her, I was going through a divorce. I recall sitting at the restaurant, pouring out my soul to someone that seemed to have it all together and wondering how on earth my world turned upside down and left me wading through a nightmare of destruction. The contrast between our lives was palpable.
Due to the devastation of my divorce, putting our family home on the market, going back to work, putting my children in daycare and all the fun changes one must make when one’s spouse decides he just doesn’t want to be married anymore (he is happily married now, by the way; to the wonderful woman he was dating at the time he told me he didn’t want to be married), I sort of hid out for a period of days, weeks…..months.
My friend and I lost touch, each focusing on our own lives and separate journeys.
This same friend, at the time I was going through my divorce had met her Prince Charming. Funny how the Ying and Yang of life tend to be more apparent in times of great distress. She soon announced she was getting married and of course, I was invited to the wedding. As hard as it was to attend that wedding (my first wedding post-divorce), I went. My Mother accompanied me. I felt like I was walking into a battlefield, quite honestly.
Not that I wasn’t happy for my friend. She deserved all the happiness in the world. However, being in a church, surrounded by happy people, all seemingly in love and doting on each other when I was at the absolute rock bottom of the barrel, was the furthest thing from a good time I could imagine. But I showed up. That’s what you do in life, right? It may hurt. It may monumentally SUCK BALLS. But sometimes, whether you want to or not, you just have to put one foot in front of the other and simply SHOW THE FUCK UP.
My friend and I didn’t necessarily rekindle our relationship at that time. She was happy and in love. I was unhappy and hated my ex-husband with a passion quite possibly stronger than the love I ever had for him in the first place. My friend was just starting her journey of love and laugher and I was left wallowing in the dismal depression of divorce.
Fast forward five years. I saw a mutual friend at my son’s basketball game. This friend happens to work with my friend and told me she was getting divorced. I was absolutely stunned. This is not the kind of girl that gets divorced (of course, neither was I). I mean, having been through it myself, I realize it can happen to anyone. Anyone but her! She’s too perfect! She says the right things; does the right things; dresses to a tee; works in public relations; is social and fun but also mature and responsible.
The guy she dated, fell in love with and got married to was divorced and had a daughter which I know my friend loved like her own. I simply could not believe it. The straw that broke the camel’s back was when our mutual friend told me that her ex-husband had ended things in a text message. A fucking TEXT MESSAGE! Can you imagine? At least my knight in not-so-shining armor had the balls to tell me in person that he was done.
I really wanted to reach out to her. But having been there, I knew the depth of despair, embarrassment, anger and millions of random feelings circling around one’s mind at any given minute.
I was afraid to reach out. I felt it had been too long and if I reached out now, it would look like I was being insensitive and taking advantage of her vulnerability.
We actually started messaging a bit on Facebook. She never mentioned her divorce but we both said the cliché, “Hey, we should have lunch soon!”. I think both of us wanted to, but with a hesitancy to actually make the plan. After a few weeks of doing the plan/not-plan circle dance, she finally threw a couple of dates out there and I snagged one. We had a plan to reunite.
Friends, I was scared. I didn’t want to drudge up any of the emotions I knew must be swirling around in her life at present. More realistically, I didn’t want to drudge up any of the emotions I thought I had long ago put to bed, but still obviously had some residual anger and hurt lingering in the hidden recesses of my soul.
But I showed up. And let me tell you, I am GLAD I did! We talked. We laughed. She cried. I almost cried (but I didn’t want to ruin my eye-liner). We reconnected like no time had gone by at all. I understood the feelings she was having. My heart truly went out to her. Yet I wanted her to know the present feelings will not last. Things will get better. She will be happy again! The same things people said to me in the midst of my divorce (I sort of wanted to throat punch them and spit in their eye. Just one eye, not both. I’m not a monster)!
Isn’t it crazy how life changes? One season you are barely holding on in the depths of despair, like I was five years ago. Like my friend is currently. The next season you are at the height of glory. (I don’t know that I would go that far, but I am pretty damn happy in my current life circumstances). Annnnnd, I hope I didn’t just jinx it.
I do believe that it is our responsibility as human beings to use the hardships we have been through and the lessons we have learned along the way to help others going through similar experiences.
I have had others reach out to me whether dealing with divorce, miscarriage, death of a loved one, any life tragedy that can knock one down. Everyone gets knocked down at least once. And probably way more times than once. The trick is, when and how to get back up. That is where others’ encouragement, inspiration and love comes in.
I was so thankful to be there for my friend. I am not sure how much help I was (if any). I hope that knowing she is not alone and others have been there and moved forward was a bit of encouragement for her. I know I will need the same for life’s future tragedies, transitions and seasons of change that are unfamiliar and uncomfortable for me.
It is not always clear why bad things happen to good people. However, it IS crystal clear to me that when bad things happen, we can either wallow in our wounds or tap into our faith, spirituality, family and friends to bring healthy, healing, rejuvenating beauty from the unavoidable ashes of life’s seasons of destruction.
Amannda Maphies has always gone by Manndi; and yes, it has two n’s. It is actually a perfect moniker for her as she’sa bit (more than a bit) zany, wacky, crazy and loves nothing more than to laugh at herself and share that laughter with others. Manndi works fulltime at the UMKC School of Pharmacy, has two boys, William (10) and Waylan (8). She loves to write so she recently started posting on Facebook about her daily adventures about everything from being a single mom of two wild and crazy boys to dating after divorce, to more serious topics such as the loss of a loved one and suicide awareness. She trie to infuse humor, relatability and a touch of inspiration into each of her pieces. One day, she will compile them for a memoir of her life. Manndi’s life motto is ‘live a life you would want to read about’ and she strives everyday to reach others with her words. She feels that you are only as happy as you choose to be and she CHOOSES happiness over all other emotions. She is honored to be featured in a publication named ‘Positively Positive’ because that is truly how she strives to live life.
Image courtesy of Hannah Busing.