I don’t mean for this post to sound casual or indifferent because, clearly, both of these circumstances were life-changing. Still, with the passage of time, I’ve gotten an even greater perspective on what helped me to push through two of the most difficult times in my life.
Let’s start with a basic understanding. I hope that no one ever has to go through what happened to me, but unfortunately, bad “stuff” happens to all of us. Some of the bad “stuff” can be nothing more than a flat tire, a missed flight, or a toddler’s temper tantrum in the supermarket. Annoying, yes, but life-changing, probably not so much.
But a house fire that destroys your home and all of your possessions, or a divorce that breaks apart a life that has been created, I would hasten to say that’s the real big “stuff” or at least it was for me.
So, what’s the secret to coming through both situations as unscathed as possible? Well, here’s what worked for me:
When my home burned down, my first and frankly, only, thought was that my family was safe. We didn’t have our home, but we had each other and did not suffer any injury. At that point, everything else seemed insignificant.
I knew that I had a strong support group and I’d be able to lean on their generosity until I got back on my feet. That means my Mom put us up until we found a rental home and was ready to pitch in as much as needed to help out with the girls. My friends stepped up to the plate and offered clothes, toys, other things to tide us over until the major shopping could begin.
Because I’m an Allstate agent, I knew that I had excellent coverage, and I also knew how to start the claims process. I didn’t waste a moment and found that being active was also a great help to my mental health.
The fire was no one’s fault, and I didn’t waste a second playing the blame game. I have always found looking around for someone to blame to be a waste of time and energy and when the circumstances require that you reach deep into your storehouse of energy, you realize you can’t waste one iota of it.
But a fire is different than a divorce with divorce being much more personal and emotionally damaging than the loss of material items.
Here too I found myself leaning on family and friends for their support and love, and to hear me out when I needed to vent.
My major focus in both situations was my young children and I wanted to make certain they experienced as little upheaval as possible.
In my divorce, I made certain to stay positive and friendly when discussing my soon-to-be ex-husband. He was and is a good Dad and I never wanted to spoil the relationship my girls have with their father. It might not have worked out for us, but that didn’t mean they couldn’t experience the love and affection that their Dad was more than willing to give them.
I rebuilt our home that burned down, so my girls could return to the house they remembered. My ex-husband and I determined that joint custody was best for the girls, and we agreed to be as flexible as possible. The fact that we live down the street from each other may sound horrible for some, but the fact that the girls can bike down to give their Dad some home-baked cookies is a big plus that can make any discomfort easily accepted.
As for what plays out in my head. I’m a positive and optimistic person and I find no pleasure in being unhappy. Still, I have those moments too, and what moves me out of my funk are the following:
Exercise, including running, yoga, and my trusty Peloton
Meditation, to help settle my mind and enable me the opportunity to “just be”
Work, to keep me active and focused on helping others because that is what I do best
Friends, family, and my partner, because I love them, they love me and really, what more do you need
I hope you NEVER have to experience either a fire or divorce, but what I have just suggested can help in all situations. Do you have any suggestions to share?