Why doesn’t love live here anymore?

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One of the many perks of spending my summers in Spain is running into old acquaintances. Such was the case last night when the elevator I was waiting for opened to reveal two old friends.

After exchanging excited greetings, we found ourselves sharing a bottle of cheap Spanish wine while catching up. We discovered who was pregnant, who had a new grandchild, and sadly, who’d passed away. We found out who tied the knot, remarried, or filed for divorce. While this may sound like a typical gossip fest, I assure you it was not.

Why? Because what started off as a simple exchange of information, deepened into a high order discussion of identifying “the why.”

One minute, one friend was revealing details of her brother’s marital break up, and the next, the other was admitting she’d been in a loveless marriage for twenty years.

Wine glasses were quickly refilled to cover up the awkward silence that ensued. However, the question hanging in the air was, “Why?” The friend in question did not have an answer.

The conversation that followed was so interesting, my friends have allowed me to share our results. But first, I should point out that our first question was, how different is staying with someone in a loveless marriage from an actual divorce? The answer is, not much.

We identified that in both cases, the individuals have become distant; estranged. They no longer share common interests and exchanges of affection are either rare or nonexistent.

Conversation is limited to current events, the weather, and the daily conundrum.

They never make time for one another and everything else always takes precedence.

Romantic, intimate moments, and sex are just a hazy memory. They claim to be busy, tired, or stressed. One has a headache, the other has to get up early the next morning.

Time continues to pass. One year turns into five, then into ten, and before long, they’ve spent two decades in the company of someone who is nothing more than a roommate.

You’d think all things considered, they wouldn’t want to spend a moment in each other’s company, let alone a lifetime. Yet together they remain.

Our discussion revealed the typical reasons for this being so: religion, financial difficulties, and the famous, “it’s in the best interest of the children.” However, we wanted to go deeper. Much deeper.

We wanted to discover what had the power to hold two peole hostage and force them to wake up in a state of misery day after day.

We were convinced a justifiable reason existed.

I want to tell you we were successful. I want to tell you we had an “aha” moment, that one of us screamed, “Eureka!”. But alas, such is not the case.

We were more confused at the end of our conversation than when we started. We bid each other farewell, disheartened and frustated.

This morning, an empty coffee cup by my side, I continue to look for answers.

My brain tells me perhaps it’s fear.

Fear of the unknown.
Fear of abandonment.
Fear of starting over.

Or perhaps it’s conformity–blind acceptance that this is the hand destiny has dealt.

Or maybe people are just too tired, lazy, or believe themselves unworthy of something or someone better.

I’m certain each case is different. Individuals in these circumstances are sure to have personal reasons for remaining. However, something tells me many, if not all, have one thing in common. They all want to know why.

Have you found yourself in a similar situation, and if so, why do you stay?

XOXO,

Don’t you think you deserve it?

Happy New Year!
Image by Evan Leeson

A close friend called last night to tell me her divorce had been finalized.

Twenty three years of hardships and struggles had finally come to an end.

“I guess now I can tick the box that says single on my tax return” she said through her tears.

Hearing her sob on the other end, I felt confused.

During the two years it had taken for her divorce to become final, I had heard her talk about how unhappy she was, of how she felt like a prisoner in her home, how she wished she could break free.

Yet the day had arrived and she had welcomed it sobbing.

“What will I do now?” she wailed. “I feel utterly incomplete.”

For once, I was at a loss for words.

Should I tell her to host a party to declare her new state of independence, or should I voice the old adage of “This too shall pass”?

I did neither.

Instead, I listened to her fears of starting over, of finding her place in the world, of joining the ranks of single mothers who struggle to raise their children.

And when she was done, I simply said:

You’ve been given the chance to do something many women wish they could do but don’t.

You’ve been given the chance to start over.

To live your life the way it was meant to be lived.

Without restrictions.
Without disapproval.
Without someone policing your every move.

You deserve to be loved unconditionally, without having to act, be, or look a certain way.

You deserve to be appreciated, respected, admired.

You deserve someone who truly listens, and cares about what you have to say.

You deserve someone who doesn’t chastise you, tears you down, or reduces you to a state of invisibility.

You deserve someone who values your independence and encourages you to soar.

Someone who supports you, motivates you, and desires you.
Someone who thinks you’re perfect just the way you are.

Yes, my friend, you’ve been given the chance to reacquaint yourself with the old you.

The chance to leave behind the excess baggage that has held you down for so long.

The chance to resurrect the woman you were before, or reinvent a brand new you.

The chance to meet new people or reconnect with old friends.

The chance to process lessons learned and plan new adventures.

You are free.
Your life is just beginning

I thought long and hard whether to publish this post today and not one I had written on New Year’s resolutions.

Yet it’s today’s date which makes this post all that more significant.

A New Year–a new beginning.

Tabula rasa.
A clean slate.
A chance to rewind, fast forward, hit play.

This post goes out to anyone who is unhappy but unsure of what to do.

As you ring in the New Year, remember, you deserve to come out of the shadows and into the light.

You deserve to be all you were meant to be.

Happy New Year!

XOXO,

Is this book on your shelves?


cc licensed ( BY NC ND ) flickr photo shared by Jody Art

Dear Barnes & Noble Staff:

Divorce is ugly.

The couple in the relationship knows it. Their respective families know it. Even the neighbors know it. But more than anyone, the best friend knows it.

How do I know this? Because I’m the best friend.

I’ve scoured bookstores, the Web, and even yard sales, searching for a handbook that will show me the ropes.

And we’re not talking instructions on how to act, what to say, or how to listen.

We’re talking, a guidebook on how to dissuade your best friend from doing the absurd, the reckless, and above all, the crazy.

Best friends need an instruction manual that will tell us how to convince the soon to be divorcée that no, it’s not a good idea to buy night vision goggles so we can do a stakeout, in a rental car, waiting to see who comes in or out of a soon to be ex’s house.

We need to know how to prevent our best friend from climbing out on a fourth floor ledge, attempting to capture shots of her husband and his new squeeze.

We need to know how to talk her out of driving to a 24 hour Walmart at 3am, only so she can buy craft materials to make a voodoo doll.

And we definitely need guidance regarding how to prevent a best friend from posting an ad on Craiglist titled, “Hitman for hire.”

So yes, I’m at the end of my rope.

I’m desperately searching for an e-book, instruction manual, or any book whose title resembles something along the lines of “How to Get Through Divorce: The Best Friend’s Guide.”

Alas, divorce is ugly, but a prepared best friend can prevent it from getting uglier than it has to be.

If you feel you have any book on your shelves that remotely addresses this situation, I’d be grateful if you would let me know.

If you don’t, perhaps you know writers who are willing to write this type of book.

If however, you can’t assist me in any way with my plight, I’d like to offer my services to write a book, manual, or at the very least, a pamphlet, that will help other people in my circumstances.

I hope to hear from you at your earliest convenience and thank you for your cooperation regarding this matter.

Attentively,
A best friend who’s ready to hang herself with a real rope