Strolling the streets of Ridgewood during the Chamber of Commerce's Spring Sidewalk Sale on Thursday, I happen into Bookends. Naturally, I turn toward familiar titles that I love, like The Last Lecture and The Alchemist.
Randy Pausch, in his book The Last Lecture, delivers lessons to the world about life, parenting, marriage, relationships, but most importantly, how to LIVE. I love this book. It's quick, sharp, to the point, and for me, it reminds me of the simple things we often forget. It reminds me that there are too many people in the world who don't appreciate what they have until it's gone, or until it's "going." Until they don't have much time left at all.
DC Murphy and I discussed this week's topic at length. It's a lot easier to write on a subject that is close to my heart. This week in particular, I had a lot of time to "myself" (Alone, meaning, working 12 to 15-hour days surrounded by 300 delegates at a business conference), so I did have a lot of time to think. When I allowed myself to do so, my thoughts went to how at peace I am with myself—although in the midst of one of the greatest crisis I will ever experience.
To quote Paul Coelho in The Alchemist, "To realize one's destiny is a person's only obligation." Well, it took me 41 years to figure mine out: Love thy self.
For those of you unaware of the challenges I have faced, my sister passed when I was 17, and my boyfriend, best friend, and first love died when I was 19. I have two children who have struggled with autism—one who has overcome it, and one who still has some work ahead of him. My husband had an affair with his best friend's wife, and Murphy's son tragically passed on this past January at the tender age of 2. I watch Murphy struggle everyday with enormous courage and strength and pray to God I can give him just an ounce of support, just a little extra nudge, just something that's enough to get him going, something that may help if anything at all.
So, I am away at a business conference this week, overworked, stressed, worried about the kids, and worried about Murphy, who struggles with deep pain and emotion and is tending to my children in my absence, and for some reason I am thanking God everyday for my life. I wake up with smile, and truly love my life. Why is this? Here's why:
- I love myself;
- I have a partner who truly loves and accepts me for who I am; and
- At 41, I am finally comfortable in my own skin, and don't give a damn what anyone thinks.
The truth is, I have started a list of all the beautiful things Murphy has said to me lately, and I simply overwhelmed by the love and acceptance I receive from him. Here are a few quotes:
- "You are so beautiful;"
- "I love watching you dance;"
- "You are every man's dream come true;"
- "Thank you for loving me;" and
- "I love coming home to you and your children."
These are not "once in a while" quotes. This is the new life I lead with my new love. Now, here are some old quotes from my ex-husband (yes, these are actual quotes):
- "Why did you cut your hair?"
- "You look like a dinosaur when you dance—what are you doing?"
- "Do you need Pepto Bismol? If you're trying to look sexy it's not working, you look sick;"
- "Can you get lipo in your hands?"
- "I wonder how you would look if you just shaved that bump in your nose—not a full nose job of course, just a little "shave" on that bump."
OK, we are responsible for our own actions, and for reasons unbeknownst to even myself I have no idea why I married this man to begin with or stayed married to him for so long. However, when you are married to, or in a relationship with, someone who is constantly criticizing or putting you down (and you allow it), you forget who you are, you forget how to love yourself, and you forget how to live.
It was not until I left the negativity, abandoned the burden, and allowed myself the freedom to be who I was, how I was, and whatever I wanted to be, that I was truly at peace with myself. What's interesting is now I dance every day. There is music always playing in our home, and we often dance around the house for no reason at all. I have learned to live and learned to love, and it all started by simply being me.
"The Big D. in Bergen C." is a weekly column written from the perspective of a divorced male and female.