#1, to Laura. She’s in Flight Club. She’s young, and facing a divorce after a 10-year marriage. She has a very successful business in digital marketing. She’s one of the ones that makes me feel waaay out of my league in Flight Club, but she’s always been very giving and helpful to Jimmy and I. I knew she’d been having trouble with her marriage for months. I could recognize it in her expressions, her subtle comments, her energy (reminded me of me, when I was there). I half-avoided her for that reason. I don’t need a reminder of that, you know? I’m happy now, please take your misery somewhere else (yep, this is an actual thought I had).
This happened with Rachel, too. When she reached out to me in the wake of her break-up (as she did to several ALP4 folks), she said she wanted my support because I knew how to put oneself back together after a shattering break-up. At first I was like, holy crap, no I don’t! Ask someone else! And my other thought was: OK so I’m still trying to get myself to Happy, and I feel like I’m getting close, so, plz don’t bother me with this right now.
But that reaction was short-lived. I realized that, actually, I do know a thing or two about getting over a severely painful break-up. I made a TON of mistakes on my journey, but, ultimately, I found stuff that worked. I DID have something to contribute; by sharing my lessons and insights, I could potentially accelerate for Rachel what took me four years too long, or at least help make it a more fruitful (and less painful) process for her. Was I really going to hold that back from her? I knew I had no magic formula, she would have to find her own way, but I did have some powerful insights I thought would help her (get them TODAY in my new e-book, “The Art of Moving On,” on sale now for the low, low price of $44.97).
Once I stated corresponding with her and sharing these insights, I realized that it didn’t at all drag me back into that dark place. On the contrary, it reaffirmed my new life. It caused me to really appreciate all the work I did and the new love I had found. It also helped solidify all the lessons I had learned, which were still useful to think about.
A third thing came out of this — everything I said to Rachel was written. We never spoke on the phone. Now, I know the LP perspective is all about calling, and talking in person, because that’s supposed to be a higher or better form of connection. I don’t necessarily disagree (although, as a passionate writer who’s passionate about writing, part of me sort of does), but, I know that the best value I personally can offer anyone is in writing. From me, that’s the best thing Rachel could’ve gotten (which I think she knew), and an added benefit was she could keep going back to things I had shared with her if it helped her. That’s not to say my voice or physical presence couldn’t offer her any support or comfort, it’s just to say that that’s where my talents lie.
Anyway, back to Laura. When Laura shared on Facebook about her divorce and asked for private messages of support — a very brave, enlightened act — I was inspired. I reminded myself about Rachel, and that supporting Laura was not going to take away my “happy” in any way, shape or form (that thought is, in fact, utterly ridiculous, and comes from scarcity, but my mind nonetheless produced it so I’ve got to acknowledge it). So I wrote Laura a few paragraphs of the main things I learned and that worked for me — as well as some insights on what I would’ve done differently, so she could possibly pull herself through the daunting experience of moving on faster and more effectively than I did. I actually was more “experienced” this time, as I was able to look back and see what supported Rachel the most (based on her feedback).
Laura sent me a very appreciative reply, saying mine was the most thoughtful message she had received since her marriage had first started to fail.
Of course, that also told me I should have risked and been free and giving with my support to her a lot earlier. Not that I think my words to her are that significant, but even if they carry some significance, some comfort, some insight, what reason is there to hold them back? And what had held them back was my misguided, scarcity-induced fear that supporting someone who is suffering would take me out of my happiness somehow. I got to take a look at the price I (and Laura) paid for that.
Instead of “lessons,” I’m going to start talking about what I’m getting back from being in contribution (the lessons, after all, are evident–I was engaging in that exercise mainly to reaffirm them for myself, so I would fully take them in, but Jimmy has suggested to shift focus to this aspect instead).
What I got back was the joy of supporting someone facing pain I know all too well, the feeling of being valuable and useful, and evidence that my writing has value and can serve people.
#2, to my cuddle-bear. Can you tell we made up? What I did for him was this: I got support with our issue from others (a novel, cuh-Razy concept, I know). I have a hard, hard time with getting support, and it’s mainly about “looking bad.” I really don’t want people to know I don’t have it all together, that my marriage has “problems” (it sounds so Big, I immediately imagine catty newspaper headlines: “KYLA AND JIMMY: TROUBLE IN PARADISE?” Or: “KYLA AND JIMMY: LOOKS LIKE THE HONEYMOON IS OVER!”).
I mean, we have to live up to that honeymoon picture of us kissing on horseback, you know? That’s a lot of pressure (Facebook pressure, the worst kind). I can’t go around talking about “issues” in our marriage, we’ll be outed for the complete sham that I sometimes worry we are!
That worry, of course, comes from my fear, distrust and anxiety about what happened in my past marriage. The good news is, every time Jimmy and I successfully work through something hard, that insecurity gets chipped away at; I see, every time, that the one thing we couldn’t be more solid in is our devotion to each other and the life we’re building.
Anyway, Jimmy requested long ago that any time we get in an argument, we pause and seek support from someone else. This time, I finally did it. I also initiated that request this time. I reminded him of that commitment and asked him that we both promise to do that before talking. So, I talked to my mom (risky; she hasn’t done the work and sometimes she judges Jimmy–other times she supports him so fiercely it’s like she’s his mom and not mine), Naomi and Brandy (hard — two strong, talented women I look up to; I don’t want to show them my mess).
The result was, like, incredible. All three were judgment-free, open and understanding. All three gave me perspective that I was completely blind to. I’m arrogant in my belief that I can understand all sides of any situation and any personal interaction — turns out NOPE, I can’t (surprise!). My mom gave me great perspective on what Jimmy may be experiencing as a man that was dead on. Naomi and Brandy helped me see how harsh my delivery had been with him, and how I was still coming from a “blame” or “victim” standpoint rather than getting responsible. I also got that I was sending him really mixed messages about what I wanted from him, and that him getting a second job was a product of his desperate attempt to decipher my mixed messages and do what he thought I wanted. And finally, I realized my pressure-inducing expectations and “conditional” support were totally at odds with what I truly wanted to give him.
I got home, we talked things through. I went first, armed with a WAY better understanding of my own mind and of where he was coming from.
He opened up like a goddamn sunflower, it was remarkable. This morning he got up at 6am to go play golf with a friend who’s in town–his morning moodiness was completely absent (sure, he was going to play golf and not to work, but trust me he hates mornings so much it doesn’t really matter). He had taped an “I ❤ You” note to the fridge. He was beaming. He felt heard, understood, loved — and so did I. The results were astonishing. He was a different person. An empowered person.
So the challenge now is to keep that sunflower watered, and shower it with lots of love and light.
So, first, a HUGE thank you to Naomi and Brandy! What I got back was getting to connect with you all, understanding how arrogant (and, frankly, ignorant) my “I don’t need support” story is, how bad I can be at self-evaluating and self-coaching, and how much value there is in swallowing your ego and sharing with folks what you’re struggling with. What I also got back was seeing someone I love so much BEAM with happiness. There is nothing better on this earth than that.
I also got to thinking about how this connects to Laura’s Facebook post sharing publicly about her divorce. There is this concept of “over-sharing,” “don’t air your dirty laundry,” etc. But, when I think about the legacy I want to leave with my marriage, I want people to know about our struggles. Not because I want sympathy, or attention, or to make me or Jimmy look bad, but because it opens the space for others who are facing similar struggles to feel less alone, less like “the sky is falling.”
Also, our horse photo — and all the photos of love, romance and intimacy between us — are indeed authentic. They’re not a “sham” at all, they represent the incredible love, joy and bliss we have with each other. But, it’s really important to me that people know that behind those photos, and in between those moments, is work. The perfect moments are our results. Too often people think in-love couples are just “lucky,” they fell into it, found the “right person,” etc. As a result, too many people break up and give up the second things get hard because “it’s not supposed to be this way.” I want our message to be that actually, great relationships don’t fall on your lap out of nowhere. They’re created, worked for, and earned–as most (all?) of the truly wonderful things in life are.
#3, to me. See #1 and #2 above. As usual, Jimmy was right — the better I get at contribution, the less this category makes sense.
That’s all folks! Happy Saturday!