Feminism … Sexism … All the Isms

One cannot live one’s life based on what somebody else’s image of you might be. – Hillary

Isms, in my opinion, are not good. A person should not believe in an ism, he should believe in himself. I quote John Lennon, “I don’t believe in ‘Beatles’, I just believe in me.” Good point there. After all, he was the Walrus. I could be the Walrus, I’d still have to bum rides off of people. – Ferris

I know you could care less who I’m supporting in the primary. I would never pretend I have sway over your opinion simply because you read my blog. After all, this is one of my favorite memes:

However, I find myself having interesting conversations about why I am so passionate about Hillary. The thing is: She’s important. The fact a woman could possibly win the Democratic nomination, and please, Sweet Baby Jesus, become President … just, wow.

Some context would probably be helpful.

The man I dated in college was a Republican. More than that, he was a Right-Wing, Christian Conservative Republican. It was a rough two years. But that’s another blog post.

Three days after we broke up, I sat in a booth with my friends at our favorite bar and proclaimed, “I will NEVER date another Republican.” And, seriously, as if on cue, my future husband walked through the door.

For the next 20 years, political discussion were off the table. I am the former VP of the Young Democrats at Hall High School (class of 89!). I’m the the girl who sported a “Put Hillary in the White House” bumper sticker during the Clinton/Bush campaign. I’m the grown up who still tears up when she hears the words, “I still believe in a place called Hope.” But my liberal heart seemed no match for his conservative mind, and so we quit trying to share our beliefs. And I resigned myself to the fact that we’d always cancel out each other’s vote.


Now, I’m dating a man who is addicted to CNN. He records all of the debates on DVR. We text back and forth about how Trump terrifies us. We jokingly make plans to pick up stakes and move to Canada if he wins. He sends articles to me comparing Bernie and Hillary.

And I like Bernie. He’s fine. But having a strong, smart woman “this close” to being a Presidential nominee is too big a deal for me to ignore.

My first job post-college was as a teacher-counselor at a treatment facility for at-risk youth. I joined a team of five staff members responsible for “parenting” a house of 10 adolescent boys who were victims of sexual abuse. I was the only female staff member.

One day, we took the kids swimming. I wore a conservative one-piece bathing suit. Instead of getting in the pool with the boys, I supervised from a lounge chair in the sun.

That night, after the kids were in bed, our Director called a staff meeting. He scolded me in front of my male counterparts for “tempting the boys.” He quoted a popular rap song, saying “Ms. Cobb, when you laid back on that chair all we could think was … what’s the lyric? ‘Wanna put it in so deep, so deep put her ass to sleep’.” He laughed hysterically. My coworkers laughed and gave each other high fives.

I was 22. I was embarrassed. I was scared. I’d like to say I resigned on the spot. I didn’t. Instead, I learned quickly my male coworkers saw me as different, lesser – a “threat” to the young men we were supposed to be protecting and nurturing.

A few years later, another boss told me, “I have to hire women for your position, because I can’t pay men enough to raise a family.”

I once asked a male coworker if he had a preference on how I handled an issue. He looked me up and down, grinned slyly, and said, “Whatever blows your skirt up.”

Yet another male boss was so condescending to female employees in meetings some of other the men in the room would visibly wince.

I was raised in a generation of women who were told we could be anything, do anything, achieve anything. We were encouraged to “have it all.” We all tried. So many of us have been successful. But it’s been in spite of our gender, and it’s come with a whole lot of sexist bullshit.

I am encouraged by Hillary, who has endured an onslaught of insults in her lifetime – more than I can even imagine. She is a bad ass. She stands up to the status quo. She stares down the Old Boys. She’s smart, fearless and unapologetic. She’s been labeled a bitch, a cold fish, a lesbian. A man is never questioned for being a bad ass. Instead, we say, with awe, “Damn, he’s got balls!”

I respect those who question her agenda. I know she’s polarizing. I know there are some who believe she’s just a cog in the political wheel. I get she’s not necessarily advancing a feminist agenda. But I believe she has the mind and spirit to lead this country. And it’s time a woman got a shot at it.

Plus, my daughter is watching. Millions of girls are watching. They need to know the American dream applies to them, too. That they can be anything, do anything, achieve anything … even POTUS.

That’s why #imwithher.

Muscle Memory

After all of the darkness and sadness, soon comes happiness. – Survivor, Destiny’s Child

I started going to my early morning boot camp again in December. Before you assume this is a post about physical exercise, healthy living, or failed New Year’s resolutions, let me assure you it’s not. Stick with me, here.

Several years ago, I worked out with my trainer Susan in a 5:15 a.m. class two days a week and at home with videos five days a week. By the end of six months, I was in great shape. I ran my first 5k (turns out, it was my ONLY 5k, but who’s keeping score?). I had definition in muscles I wasn’t aware existed. I could complete a hardcore workout and not even be sore. It rocked.

This time around, I feel every minute of my 45 years. My muscles protest loudly as I stretch them and push them to do things they haven’t done in ages. But here’s the thing: my muscles remember what they’re supposed to do.

During my first class, I was amazed I could still do push ups and full sit ups. Not very many, but I did them. As Susan called out exercises, my mind kept telling my muscles, “Oh, there’s no way you can do that one. Seriously. Don’t even try.” But muscle memory took over. My muscles gave my brain the finger and kept going.

The workouts are excruciating at times. My muscles often scream in protest. But for the most part, when I’m in class, I’m giving it all I’ve got. If I’m lucky, my muscles will remember exercise is supposed to make them more firm, less flabby. We’ll see.

All this pushing, pulling and stretching isn’t confined to my abs, glutes and biceps, though. My heart muscle is also getting quite a workout these days.

Almost a year ago, I wrote a post exploring the capacity to love. Riffing on a video featuring Oprah and Bishop T. D. Jakes, I maintained that I have a pint-sized capacity for love versus a 10-gallon capacity. It made sense at the time, but I’m not sure I believe that anymore.

Looking back, I think my poor little heart was simply worn out. It had been through a lot, after all. It had contracted in self-defense, self-loathing and sadness. It had one purpose at that point: just keep beating.

If you’d asked me this time last year if I thought I’d find love again, I would have laughed. And yet, here I am. My little heart is stretching, pulling and pushing in ways it hasn’t in years.

Some days, it’s painful. It’s too hard to balance kids, work and our relationship. It’s frustrating we don’t get enough time together. My brain often tells my heart, “What on EARTH are you doing? Stop that! You’re not healthy enough. Don’t even try.”

Thankfully, my heart muscle is perfectly capable of telling my brain to go to hell, and it stretches a little more every day to make room for this amazing person. Just like it did during boot camp, muscle memory is taking over. My heart is remembering what it feels like to be happy, to be alive. It’s remembering it’s healthy and strong. It’s remembering how to love someone and accept love in return. It rocks.

To borrow the incomparable lyrics of Destiny’s Child, my heart’s a survivor. It’s not gonna give up. It’s not gonna stop. It’s gonna work harder. No matter what my brain says. It’s a workout. But it’s worth it.


New Normal

The alarm goes off at the usual time. Time to make the donuts, she thinks. She chuckles, remembering that’s how they used to start every morning, with one of them quoting the old commercial from the 70s.

In the bathroom, she stares intently in the mirror, leaning close to examine her eyes. Red again. She thinks back on the previous night. Too much wine? Nope. Tears? No, thankfully. She’s past that stage, for the most part. Although this morning, she does feel a bit more fragile than usual, like there’s something simmering beneath the surface. She chalks up the bleary eyes to allergies and pops a Claritin.

In the kitchen, she brews a single cup of coffee in the Keurig she requested for Christmas. It proved difficult to make a single cup in the 8 – 10 cup Mr. Coffee machine. She grew tired of dumping out the leftovers every day once the morning caffeine consumption was cut in half.

She makes breakfast. Wakes the kids. Gathers uniforms. Dries her hair and puts on makeup, jockeying for a spot in the bathroom mirror. Her daughter insists on sharing the master bathroom with her these days, leaving the other bathroom to her 14-year-old son. The boy’s bathroom and the girls’ bathroom, her daughter quips.

Carpool. She knows she should engage the kids in conversation, but she’s just so tired. The kids seem tired, too. They ride in silence, content to have a few more minutes of solitude.

Traffic. Parking. Another cup of coffee at the office. Chit chat with coworkers before sitting down to check the day’s schedule.

She has a meeting at 10 a.m. with a jeweler. She’s decided it’s time for her to sell her rings. She’d asked his permission first, since the large one with the diamond had belonged to his mother – a gift from his father on the day she gave birth in 1969. He told her to go ahead and sell it.

She sits quietly at her desk for a moment, trying to identify the ache that’s starting to spread in her chest. She used to numb moments like these, staying busy in order to avoid feeling whatever she was feeling. Filling up her hours with work, volunteering, appointments, chores just so she wouldn’t have to face the sadness, worry, anxiety, fear.

These days though, she white-knuckles through the discomfort, asking herself questions until she gets at the root of the matter. Is she worried about the kids? Is it something at work? Is it money? Does she miss being married? Does she miss him? Is she just overwhelmed? Today, it’s none of those. Or maybe it’s all of those. She can’t figure it out.

Bad news, the jeweler says later that morning. It’s a nice size diamond but the color and clarity aren’t all that great. I’m afraid I can’t give you much for it after all. She figured. The rings are lovely and unique, but more sentimental than anything else. She thanks him and heads home for lunch.

She attends a meeting, her first with this group. She’s welcomed with open arms and hugs by the women there. She tries to stay focused, to listen and learn. Keep it simple! someone says. She has to laugh. Simple? Where on earth does that fit in to my life? she wonders. Nothing’s simple when you’re a single working mother of two teenagers.

She stops by another jewelry store on her way back to work. Again, she’s offered far less than she feels she should take for the symbol of the last 17 years of her life.

She can feel the ache spreading, rising in her throat. She calls her brother, who answers laughing about something unrelated. I’m not doing well, today, she says. There’s absolutely no reason for me to feel this way. Nothing’s different from yesterday. Nothing’s changed. 

The tears are coming. She chokes them back.

He listens to her. He says things like some days are just harder… take it one day at a time… you’re doing fine. He tells her a story that makes her laugh hysterically. The ache starts to fade.

More laughter with coworkers. Crossing things off the to-do list. It feels good to be productive. She texts back and forth with a friend, smiling at the utter silliness of the thread.

After work, she goes to the bank to sign paperwork for a loan extension. Only three more payments to go, her banker says cheerily. And you don’t have to make a payment this month. The tightness in her chest loosens a little more.

She gets a great report from her daughter’s voice coach and an unsolicited hug from the usually cranky preteen. Back home, she turns on Pandora and dances in the kitchen while she cooks. The fragile feeling is almost gone by the time her son walks through the door from baseball practice, saying Hey Mama! How was your day? in his deep voice.

Laundry. Dishwasher. Tidying up. She tucks her daughter into bed with a hug and kiss. She walks through the house, turning off lights, double checking the locks on the doors. She stops at her son’s room. Don’t say up too late, she says, kissing him on the top of his head.

She gets into bed, arranging all the pillows how she likes them simply because she can. The dog jumps up and settles into his spot at her feet. Her son comes in and flops on the bed next to her. She strokes his hair, marveling at how big he is now, feeling lucky that he still comes in every night to say ‘night Mama before heading off to his own bed.

She thinks back on the day, remembering how fragile she felt this morning, how she scoffed at the word simple, how she almost cried, how the laughter, the hugs, the smiles, the dancing in the kitchen brought her back to life.

I was vulnerable today, she thinks, but I’m grateful. I’m grateful for my family, for my job, for the roof over our heads, for the food in the fridge, for the gas in the car, for the dog at my feet.  

She turns out the light. One long breath in for four beats. Hold it for seven. Let it out for six. She sleeps.


Ghosts and Grace

“They are only a ghost if someone alive is still holding on to them.” –The Secret Garden

“The church and people can break your heart. God never will.” — Rev. Carey Stone

I really should have seen it coming. I’d been a getting little too big for my britches. On more than one occasion, when a concerned friend asked me how I was doing, I had smiled broadly and replied emphatically, “I’m great! I really am. I’m doing great.”

I wasn’t lying. I have felt more confident, more secure, genuinely happier over the last few months. But looking back, something was off last week. I was super busy at work. We had activities after school every night. There were no margins in my days. I just felt … meh.

I couldn’t put my finger on it, but I didn’t have time to be still and listen. Instead, I put on my armor of busyness piece by piece, activity by activity, office hour by office hour. So, I really shouldn’t have been surprised when the armor cracked Sunday morning.

A few weeks ago, my dear friend asked if I would come to church with her to celebrate her installation as youth ministries leader. Sounds like an easy thing to do, right? Here’s the catch: four years ago, this church, and many of the people in it, broke my heart.

It had been my church home when we moved back to town. We chose it because it was attached to the parochial school where I attended K – 8 and where we enrolled both kids. I dove head first into volunteering, both for the church and for the school. Soon, my entire life and all my heart revolved around those few city blocks in downtown Little Rock.

All that came to a screeching halt when the Vestry and the Dean voted to close the school with two weeks left before graduation. I’ll spare you the ugly details. If you need the back story, you can read more here.

Needless to say, my heart was shattered. My faith took a beating, too. I carried around a mental list of all the people who’d been present at that closed-door meeting. I held grudges for every snide comment, every harsh word and every cold shoulder. I played the blame game … a lot.

Man, that was a heavy, heavy burden. Over the years, I laid it down bit by bit. I thought I’d made my peace entirely.

And yet.

Sunday morning marked the first time I’d attended a service there since the last school graduation in May 2011. Here’s what I had hoped would happen: I’d walk in the back of the church; inhale the familiar smell of furniture polish, candle wax and mustiness; see the gorgeous stained glass windows whose designs I’d memorized as a child; hear the organ music and the tower bells and my heart would soar.

That didn’t happen.

As I walked up the steps, I was tense. I tried to breathe deeply and relax. I entered the church and saw a woman I’ve known since I was in junior high. We chatted. She hugged me. Then another old friend was at my side … and another. So far, so good.

Just after the first hymn began, I started seeing the ghosts.

In place of the boy carrying the cross, I saw my son on the night he served as Crucifer in the Christmas pageant. I looked over at the hand bell table and saw figures of children — remnants of the school’s hand bell choir. I saw my daughter and her classmates flying down the center aisle in angel costumes. I heard my children’s voices — and mine own as a child — emanating from the choir stalls. I pictured the sanctuary with the dimmed lights on the eve of my own 8th grade graduation. Instead of listening to every word of the sermon, all I could see was my dear friend the school chaplain standing in the pulpit during that final graduation, imploring us to “stay on the vine.”

Although I was distracted, I wasn’t yet overcome. However, one of the chosen hymns during the service was “I Want to Walk as A Child of the Light.”  On a good day, at my own church, with no ghosts swirling around me, I have a hard time hearing that hymn. It was the traditional closing hymn at every Cathedral School graduation. As the proud parents, teachers and student body sang, all the recent graduates walked down the aisle carrying candles, symbolically sharing their light with the rest of the world as they moved on to new schools.

On this Sunday, the moment the organ started playing the familiar tune, my tears started flowing. I fled for the back door, running from the ghosts lurking in every corner. There, on the steps of the church, I broke down into heaving sobs. I was shocked. I didn’t know there was that much grief and sadness still left in me.

I thought I was “Great! Really great!” Apparently not.

After church, I went for a long walk to shake the ghosts. I thought about my friends who’d stayed at the church after the school closed. Their hearts were broken, too. Yet, they’d stuck it out. They hadn’t run away. They’d grieved at the appropriate time, so the memories didn’t turn into ghosts.

Slowly, it began to dawn on me: I was surrounded by ghosts in that sacred space for the simple reason that I was still holding on to them. When the school closed, I hadn’t given myself time or permission to confront my pain. I’d done what I had always done when things got really hard: I numbed. I got busy finding new schools for the kids. I got busy scheduling summer activities. I got busy at work. Anything I could do to stay in motion so I wouldn’t have to be still and know the pain.

Suddenly, I realized what had been tugging at me all week. It was that voice in my head that I’ve been trying so hard to listening to these days. The voice that says, “Slow down. Look around. Be present. Be grateful. Acknowledge your imperfections. Lean in. Let it hurt. Be you.”

Last week, I drifted. Instead of living intentionally, I’d allowed the hustle and bustle of life to overwhelm me. It took a big cosmic “ha!” in the form of a simple hymn to bring me back. It was as if God said, “Oh no you don’t! You’ve still got work to do, missy. Here. Let me show you.” 

I don’t believe in coincidences. I believe in moments of grace. There was a reason I chose to witness my friend’s installation into a new church position on the exact same day that hymn was chosen. I needed to hear it. My heart needed to break wide open again, just for a moment, so I could face the pain head on this time. That, my friends, is my idea of grace.

During my walk, I processed a lot of grief. I’m sure there’s still more there. Only time — and more trips to that church — will tell.

By the time I returned home, I had a smile on my face and grace in my heart. There was no darkness, only light. The ghosts were gone. And these were the words I was singing in my head:

I want to walk as a child of the light
I want to follow Jesus …
In Him there is no darkness at all
The night and the day are both alike
The Lamb is the light of the city of God
Shine in my heart Lord Jesus

Peace be with you.

Taken at the final Cathedral School graduation in May 2011 by fellow classmate Nelson Chenault.

Taken at the final Cathedral School graduation in May 2011 by fellow classmate Nelson Chenault.


Keeping Score

Warning: sport metaphors ahead. If you’re not into baseball … please keep reading anyway. 

My son has been playing baseball almost year-round since he was seven years old. I feel like there should be a support group called Baseball Mothers Anonymous. We’d work our own set of 12 steps. Something like:

Step One: admit we’re powerless over baseball and that our weekends have become unmanageable.

Step Two: come to believe that a power greater than us (i.e. the coach, the umpire, the commissioner) could restore us to sanity.

Step Three: make the decision to turn our lives over to a higher power  … or just accept the fact that all our days and nights will now be spent sitting on bleachers, working concessions, celebrating wins, commisserating losses, and washing mud out of clothes.

You get the picture. It’s a unique club. One that I resisted joining for a long time, but now I admit defeat and proudly own it. Hi. My name’s Jennifer. I’m a baseball mom.

This year, my son moved from little league to high school ball. As players move up over the years, the fields get bigger, the rules get more sophisticated, the coaches get louder and the stakes get higher. Players have to earn playing time and starting positions. And there’s a shift from just counting wins and losses to actually keeping stats.

I volunteered to keep the back-up scorebook. I thought, “Hey, I’ve done this before. I know how to count balls and strikes. I know when to color in the little diamond to count a run. I can do this!”

But here’s the thing: keeping score at a little league game is a far cry from keeping score at the high school level. Suddenly, you’re expected to record errors, passed balls and wild pitches. There are certain symbols for called strikes and earned strikes. You have to note when someone gets caught stealing, catches a pop fly, has an unassisted out. There’s math involved. And I was told there’d be no math in life, so it’s been more difficult than I’d anticipated.

What’s really been tough for me, beyond the math, is the concept of not just keeping track of wins and losses, but keeping stats for individual players. It’s suddenly very personal. Or at least it feels that way to me. It feels like that scorebook is a big book of grievances to which players, coaches and parents can refer to determine who’s at fault for a loss.

Who’s at fault. Keeping score. Recording errors. It’s all too familiar.

Throughout my marriage, I mentally recorded basic wins and losses. I’m sure all married couples do this to a certain extent. Sometimes you win. Other days aren’t as good. Some years are great. Others are a struggle. That’s normal.

I’m the first to admit that I made some pretty bad mistakes. My husband made mistakes, too. That makes sense. We’re both human. We aren’t perfect. But somewhere along the way, we started keeping a much more detailed scorebook.

At times, I felt like the scorebook was always on display and the coach was always pointing out the bad plays. There seemed to be a culture of “you did something bad to me so now I get to act awful to you … for a long time … and hold your guilt and shame over your head … forever.”

Yeah, it wasn’t healthy. Namely because we could never get to the point where we just chalked up the loss and started a new game. We never make a concerted effort to embrace a clean, fresh page in the book with no errors, no pop flys, no called strikes, no wild pitches. Sadly, we had to end the series altogether to get a fresh start.

Now, we both are starting new games, albeit in different stadiums. He seems genuinely happier, although I know he misses his kids terribly. I’m feeling healthier and stronger by the day. We’re easier on each other when we see each other. It’s as if finally after all the years of keeping score, we just don’t have to anymore. And finally, instead of focusing on the errors and missed plays, we can look at the scorebook of our marriage and see the RBIs, the double plays and the beautiful grand slam we accomplished together: our children.

Play ball.

Crisis Communications 101 (or How Not to Be an !@# When Your Friend Gets a Divorce)

When I started this blog, I hoped it would become a place where others could find good writing and possibly some comfort in knowing they aren’t alone in feeling messy and imperfect. I did not realize how much you people need me. Sheesh.

I got this email today from a friend seeking advice:

Dear JennCobbNito,
I just learned that someone I consider a good friend separated from her husband. What do I do? Should I reach out? Should I wait and let her break the news on her own? I assume she’s in crisis mode. If it were any other kind of loss, I wouldn’t hesitate. HELP!
Feeling the Feels

(Disclosure: I didn’t really get an email. It was a text. And it really wasn’t signed “Feeling the Feels,” but names have been changed to protect the innocent!)

As I doled out advice on how my friend should respond, we both realized that I have some decent wisdom to impart. As someone who’s fresh off the separation/divorce boat, I’m close enough to the situation to remember how I wanted people to act and far enough away from my own moment of crisis to have some clarity.

Although each situation is different, I do think there are some basic rules to follow. And so with no further ado, here are my tips for times of crisis. Otherwise known as, “Four Rules for How Not to be an Ass When Your Friend Gets a Divorce.”

Rule #1: Comfort In, Dump Out – I didn’t invent this one, but it’s just so good. If you only remember one thing from this post, let it be The Ring Theory. In a nutshell, your friend who is separated or divorcing is at the center of a crisis. S/he is surrounded by co-centric circles. Depending on how close you are to the person, you might be in the innermost circle, or the next level out, and so on. The rule is: you put comfort into the center of the circle. You dump negative thoughts and words into the outer circles.

Example: When I was in the anger stage of my grief (more about those stages later), I did a lot of blaming, bitching, whining and crying. Occasionally, a close friend or family member would add his or her own blaming, bitching and whining. Most of the time, this actually made me feel worse. Open criticism of my soon-to-be-ex-husband didn’t ease my pain. It just added another layer of confusion and guilt.

What I really needed to hear instead was, “I am so sorry. This totally sucks for all of you. I am worried about your family. I am here to listen. Do you need some chocolate? Or a beer? Or some wine?”

To recap: bitching out, wine in.

Rule #2: It’s Not You, It’s Them – When my husband and I finally decided to separate, there were only a few people I had the energy to tell immediately. Our children. My mother. My brother. My father.

Next on the list, and equally important, were my aunt, my closest friends, my coworkers, other friends who I really wanted to tell myself … but I couldn’t get around to everyone in a timely, tidy manner. I just needed to put one foot in front of the other, take care of my kids, go to work, repeat.

If you find out from a secondary source that a friend is separating or divorcing, please don’t take it personally. It’s really not about your feelings. My ex-husband and I had ZERO conversations about making sure our friends weren’t hurt by our separation. We were completely focused on our children and our own broken hearts.

When you do learn the news, reach out with kind words. Offer comfort. Prayers. Pizza. Wine. Whatever. Wine. But then back away slowly. Your friend will feel better knowing that she doesn’t have to worry about telling you and that you’re now on her team. She’ll reach out when she’s ready. Trust me.

Rule #3: You Can’t Fix This So Don’t Even Try  –  In subsequent texts, my friend and I had this exchange:

Her: You’re absolutely certain it’s not up to me to save their marriage?
Me: I am quite certain.
Her: Because that is my instinct.
Me: No, no, no.
Her: Got it.
Her: But maybe if I just had all the details I could FIX THINGS.
Me: If they can’t, you can’t. If therapy professionals can’t help them, you can’t.
Her: Sigh. Wish I could.

Yes, I know you wish you could. We all wish we could take away pain. I get it. But you have to trust that your friends have done everything they know how to do to save their marriage. And if they haven’t, then that’s still something that only they can control.

Again, offer support. Offer kind words. Offer fried foods. Offer wine. But don’t offer to mediate, relay messages to the spouse or even pass him a carefully folded note in study hall.

Rule #4: Hang On for a Wild Ride – A divorce is the death of a marriage. There’s a grieving process. One day, your friend will be crying and heartbroken and in denial. Days, weeks, months later, he or she will be mad as hell. Eventually, the acceptance will start to sink in and the healing can begin.

Your job? Just hang on. Ride it out with her. Hold her hand while she cries. Stay on the other end of the phone as long as he needs to talk. Go with her to the top of the tallest mountain around and let her scream our her anger. Let him be bitter and pissed. Stand by her side while her world burns down … and then lead the round of applause as she rises from the ashes like the Phoenix.

Because let’s be honest, this person’s life is never going to be the same. And this person you love? He or she will never be the same. 

And here’s a little secret: while this divorce truly isn’t about you … your life will change, too. Your friend will need you in different ways than before. Your definitions of love and marriage will be tested. You might even find yourself holding your spouse a little tighter and a little longer, thanking God it’s not your marriage that’s ending, praying it never will be. 

And that’s not selfish. It’s life in crisis.  Crisis, by definition, is “a time of intense difficulty.” It’s just a time. It’s not forever. For your friend or for you.