NOW, WHAT DO I DO?
I was sitting in the parking lot of a KFC and Taco Bell, and I couldn’t stop crying. I had just left my attorney’s office after having signed the dissolution of marriage papers and pulled into the closest parking lot I could find before my emotional dam burst wide open. How did I suddenly get to this point? Divorced? Everything was going to be different now. What about the kids? How am I going to afford all of this? What the hell happened to my life? A hundred questions poured through my mind and a thousand tears ran down my face as I sought to make some sense of this nightmare that was now my new reality.
I sat for what seemed like an hour or more, watching the parade of cars moving through the drive-thru line. I silently longed for the mundane existence of those strangers going about a normal day and ordering tacos or chicken sandwiches for lunch as opposed to the miserable circumstances I now found myself in. I glanced in the rearview mirror and the face of a broken and lost man peered back at me. My tears had exhausted themselves, and through a shuttered sigh I simply asked: “now, what do I do?”
This moment seems as real to me today as it did when it happened many years ago. The deep well of emotions, the fear and uncertainty are palpable and eerily familiar as I write and recall that day. It can still bring tears to go back to that place even though my life has moved on and even though I am happier than I could have ever imagined. Had you told me in the parking lot of that fast food restaurant that one day I would laugh deep and wide again, I would have dismissed you. Had you told me that one day I would find peace of mind, heart, and soul and that I would even find love again, I would have cursed and mocked your cruelty to even think such foolish impossibilities.
But, 15 years later….it’s all true. My life looks so much different than it did then. And that’s the point. When we are caught in the chaos, when everything we knew is suddenly upside down and our heart feels squeezed out of our chest, we can’t look ahead with hopeful possibility. How can you think about tomorrow when you’re simply trying to figure out how to get through today? The answer is simplistic and difficult at the same time because the journey through divorce and recovery is not easy. There are no shortcuts to healing the right way. You have to do the work, deal with the emotions, accept your responsibility, forgive yourself, forgive your ex, deal with the emotional baggage, rebuild your life, your finances, and on it goes. There are a thousand steps, a thousand choices, and each one must be lived out day by day. You stack them like Lego bricks, one after another until you have built something remarkable, a new life…a better life!
Eventually, you will be okay, then one day you will be good, then great, and then finally, one day you find yourself having moved a lifetime away from ‘now what?’ When that day comes, it’s an amazing revelation, not because it’s impossible, but because you realize you are stronger, more resilient and more responsible for your happiness than you once dared believe. I can tell you that ordering a taco or a chicken sandwich holds a significant and somber place for me now, and sometimes as I drive up to that speaker to place my order, a smile can’t help but break through.