Last night was the big Second Grade Spelling Bee at our son’s school. Despite the long hours of study and practice, unfortunately our little speller did not get the result he wanted. As most of you already know, there is nothing worse than seeing your child cry and in pain over something that you, as a parent, cannot control. It is even more painful when your child calls himself a failure. Our little guy won the First Grade Spelling Bee last year and so I know he was hungry for another victory. Brendan and I consoled him as best we could but being the overachiever that our son is, he still took it pretty hard. On the way home, Brendan said some thing that really struck me and which I think can apply, not only to a sad 7 year old, but also to those going through the divorce process. As tears streamed from our son’s eyes, Brendan turned to him and said: “You are stronger at this moment than you were one hour ago. It’s easy to win but it takes a strong person to handle loss. It hurts but you are still here. You made it to the other side.”
These are some big concepts for a little kid to grasp and I am not sure how much of it he really understood. As for me, Brendan’s words resonated. I thought not only of Brendan and I when we reached our lowest point, but I also thought of my many clients who, when they come to me, feel as though they will never survive the divorce process. Many feel like they have failed. Many feel despondent about a future that is seemingly bleak, many feel that they will never make it to the other side of a divorce. In a way, this all dovetails with Brendan’s “Into the Wild” post. The divorce process puts us into uncomfortable and unfamiliar situations, but there can be some unexpected positives that come from such seemingly negative circumstances.
As Brendan so wisely stated, there is strength in adversity. As much as we would all like to go through life with happy times, it is in difficult times that our mettle is tested. When we learn to sink or swim. Do we let the hard times pull us down or do we rise above the circumstances? How can we recognize and savor the good times if we never experience the bad times? Admittedly, the decision to divorce is hands down one of the hardest decisions to make. There are feelings of failure, sadness, and despair. Fear runs rampant. You wonder how you will ever make it through when your beating heart has been ripped from your chest. You wonder when you will ever see the light again. What will the future hold?
But, you know what? You aren’t a failure. You are a person who is experiencing a particular aspect of life. It’s tough, but you are tougher. You are sad, and that’s ok. Cry it out. Stop your car on the side of the road, run into an open field and scream at the top of your lungs if you want to. Feel the hurt. Then, you stand up, dust yourself off and you put one foot in front of the other. You walk with your head held high because you did your best. You put in the work and no matter the outcome, you know that you put in the work. That’s what counts. Eventually you make it to the other side. You see the light again and you realize that you are not defined by the moments in which you have fallen but rather in the times when you picked yourself up and walked again. Always moving forward. True champions do not wallow in their failures; rather, they revel in the opportunity to overcome their challenges.
So it is in this way that we take our lessons from the youngest among us. Always do your best and put in 100% effort. You are not defined by your perceived failures but rather by what you do in the face of adversity. You are stronger at this moment for having been through the hard times than you were before you experienced the pain. No matter how bleak the outlook, you WILL see the light again; and, when you do, the future sure is so very bright.