This is a story about changing my divorce fury into gratitude. So here I was. Home from my heart-filled weekend in Denver with Angie, Oprah, Gayle King, and Daybreaker and my husband had a fever. Not just any fever, a 103-fever with a side of difficulty breathing. I did what most wives would do in this situation– I took care of him. I brought him soup on a tray. I checked his temperature and made sure he was drinking plenty of water. I let him sleep it off in the guest bedroom while I tended to the children, the house, my job, our dog, cooking, cleaning. You get the point.
After several days of this routine and a trip to the ER where they refused to test him for COVID (this is March 2020), he developed pneumonia. As it turned out, once he started an antibiotic treatment, his fever dissipated and he started to recover. I was in that guest bedroom picking up the tray of food one day when he told me that he had filed for divorce while I was in Denver, and that he needed me to sign the decree. That’s right. After a week of tending to him and his health, he dropped the bomb that I had been trying to avoid for the 8 months prior: he had filed for divorce…while I was gone to Denver… and then he let me take care of him for a week.
I was furious. And heartbroken.
And of all the mother-loving days of the year, it was St. Patrick’s Day, which, having lived in Dublin California for 13 years, was a day that we took to celebrating very seriously. For many years in our Dublin lives we hosted a house full of friends, green beer and merriment. One time, we took our St. Patty’s day celebration over the top and hosted a Talent Show! But I digress….Of all the 365 days, why this “lucky” Spring day? Schools had just shut down and the world was upside down. I could hardly breathe as I tried to wrap my head around the fact that he had filed for divorce. It was really over. He was really done with me, with us, with our life. And my Oprah 2020 vision of my RISE felt like a cruel joke.
Fast forward 10 days, and we were in mediation and we decided that, in the best interest of the kids, he and I would take turns between living at home and living at a studio apartment in town. Every 2-3 days we would rotate between the apartment and home while the kids would have the stability of living in one place as we sorted out all the logistics. It’s hard for me to mentally go back to that studio apartment in my mind. That’s where I grieved the hardest. That’s where I felt what it was like to be alone for the first time. That’s where I taught the end of my school year through Zoom and tried to keep a positive attitude for my students who were losing their senior year. No prom. No Senior Barbecue. No signing of yearbooks. No graduation. It was all so, so heavy and sad.
But if you know me, you know that I’m the type of person who looks for the good in every situation. So natrually, I wanted to turn my divorce fury into gratitude. Where’s the silver lining? What’s the positive spin that I can take out of this lesson? Perhaps to some, I’m TOO positive. I’m Princess Poppy from Trolls. I cry sparkles and search for rainbows after the rain. And the funny thing is, I often find those rainbows….because I’m looking for them! Around the time that I was living in “the Antler Den”, Jason Mraz came out with a new album called “Look for the Good.” The album cover is a mirror, framed by a rainbow and is based on Mr. Roger’s teachings of looking for the helpers when times get rough:
“When I was a boy and I saw scary things on the news, my mother would say to me “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping”. –Fred Rogers
Turning divorce fury into gratitude
The album couldn’t have been any more timely. So in between my rounds of crying, journaling, reading and watching Grace & Frankie, I would put on my headphones and go on walks in search of something beautiful. And like Elizabeth Gilbert did when she first tried to pick herself up from ashes of her young life, I wouldn’t go home until I did. It was springtime and the flowers were blooming and the birds were singing. They didn’t have a care in the world about Coronavirus. They were just happy in the moment, singing their ode to the beauty of the world. Sometimes it was the sun on my face. Sometimes it was sidewalk chalk messages. Sometimes it was seeing a family play ball together in their front yard. Sometimes it was seeing friends socially distanced on a porch, sharing a glass of wine. Sometimes it was the water. Sometimes it was rainbows from the front porch of my apartment. There is always beauty out there if you’re willing to look for it. And luckily, my life’s training up to that point had set me on a path that knew of no other way.
People done gone crazy, People done gone mad; People done forgotten the superpowers we all have.
We were born to love, not hate.
We can decide our fate and look for the good in everyone and celebrate all our mistakes.
If there’s a silver lining (silver lining), you still have to find it, find it!Look for the Good, Jason Mraz
As I wrote about in my post called “Wisdom of Winter”, my pandemic lesson is to own my convictions. My first and foremost conviction is encapsulated in this song: live life with an attitude of gratitude. With all that I am, I know for certain that gratitude is essential for me each and every day: on the good days when finding things to be grateful for is easy and also on the dark days, when I have to dig deep and go on a quest for something good. Thanks to a book called Simple Abundance, I have been keeping gratitude journals since I was in my early twenties and sometimes I write my daily gratitudes down, and sometimes I just mentally take note of them in my heart.
Today I’m grateful for the creative space to share my thoughts. And I’m grateful to each and every person who is taking the time to read this. I’m grateful to have a forum where I can transmute my divorcy fury into gratitude. I know that my life is better when I look for the good. So yeah, I may be an overly optimistic person, and I’ve come to realize that I like myself that way. Sparkly Princess Poppies are needed in the world and Eeyore’s are too. We’re all in this crazy thing called life together and we may approach life differently, and that’s OK. Rainbows need the rain. What’s something good in your life today? Be as specific as possible and see what your heart wants to reveal to you. I’d love to read about it in the comments below! And if you need a boost of inspiration, play a little Jason Mraz. He cries unicorn tears too.