“This is the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” -Vicktor Frankl (holocaust survivor), author of Man’s Search For Meaning
This quote has been the single most influential teaching of my life. And for me, and countless of others I have guided, it has literally been the difference between happiness or misery, life and death.
I grew up in a loving, and seemingly perfect, family. And then our world came crashing down. First, when I was fifteen years old, after years of battling depression, my paternal grandmother killed herself. Although this was obviously a tragedy what was even more tragic was the way my family handled it. We weren’t allowed to talk about it. In fact you we didn’t talk about any of what I now called “the Dark D’s” - depression, disease, divorce, death.… Each of us, in our own way suffered in silence, but none more than my dad. Slowly, in that dark silence he began to unravel, throwing away his business, his friendships and his marriage. And then, nearly two decades after my grandma killed herself, my dad followed in his mother’s footsteps and threw away his life.
To say this was horrific doesn’t begin to do it justice. My father was everything to me; he was my dad, my friend, and my role model. And if this were the only example I had in my life of how to deal with (or not deal with) the Dark D’s perhaps his footsteps would have become mine. However, I have been blessed to have had another example in my life - my mom. Whereas my father came undone, particularly after his divorce, my mother, on the contrary, came together. She picked herself up after my grandma’s suicide, reimagined her life after her divorce, and at every one of life’s turns, trials and tragedies went inwards with honest introspection, took responsibility for her part, took control of her feelings, and took the necessary actions to grow at each and every turn. Whereas my dad became a victim, my mother, became pro-active, she became powerful, she became truly free.
Of course my parent’s examples are extreme, but they are a stark reminder of the divergent paths we always face. Two people, facing such similar situations, can come out with entirely different realities - in this case one became reactive and the other proactive, one was enslaved and the other was liberated, one literally died and the other, on every level, woke up, found her voice and lived her life - and it all comes down to a choice.
My friends if you are contemplating divorce, in the midst of a divorce or within the aftermath of a divorce –
Do not deny the darkness; do not run from the darkness; and do not succumb to the darkness.
Rather, rise up, make a stand, make a choice.
Choose to acknowledge the darkness.
Choose to face the darkness.
Choose to work through the darkness.
Choose to be reborn within the darkness.
Choose to become what I call a “Spark Seeker” – someone who faces the Dark D’s committed to discovering, creating or making the darkness yield sparks of love, life and light.