When Good Things Fall Apart

“Sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together.” ~Jessica Howell

I absolutely love this quote!  I’ve relied on it in the past to get me through some really tough times.  When I am going through a particularly challenging time, I remind myself to let go and let life handle the details.  When you’re going through a tough spot, it’s good to remind yourself to have faith that “this too shall pass” and life will be even better if you can take the lessons you are supposed to be learning from the experience and apply them to your life.

If I’m going through a challenging situation, I can get so stressed because I’m thinking about things so much.  It’s like a clenched fist–at some point, your hand will become tired from all the energy that goes into holding it closed so tightly.  If you allow your hand (your mind) to rest, your body can spend its energy elsewhere and your hand goes back to doing its own thing.  You can’t hold that fist forever–at some point, you must relax, but for how long do you allow it?  Does having a clenched fist (i.e. going over and over it in your mind) help or hurt you?  Could you use that effort, energy, and focus in more productive, positive pursuits in life?

Do your thoughts, words, and actions enhance your life or detract from it?

I read something this morning in my Marriage and Family Therapy readings about narrative therapy that I’d like to share with you.  Let’s say a major event happens:  You find out your husband cheated.  That is the action which is now in the past.  The meaning we place on it takes place in the past when it first happened,.  The meaning is added to as we think about it, and these thoughts of meaning continue onward to the present and probably to the future too if it isn’t processed in a healthy way.  Let’s say the meaning we attach to it is:  I can’t trust men/women.  I must be undesirable/not enough.  I’m so angry!  How could they do this?  All my dreams/hopes are gone now!  What now?  These different meanings have taken on a life of their own, separate from the action.  One person can attach the meaning of “I’m not good enough.”  Another can be downright angry and vengeful.  Yet another can say, “You know what?  I want to work things out with them.”  There’s the action–the cheating–then there’s the meaning that comes out of it which can be effective in creating a great life for yourself, or not so effective.  The action is done and over with.  We continue to bring it with us by the thoughts and meanings we’ve created from it.

If you change the thoughts and meaning you’ve attached to an action; you change your attitude, your behaviors, and the overall quality of your life.

One thing I would like to change about Jessica Howell’s quote is to take out the “Sometimes” at the beginning.  If you hold onto the past and on the ways you wanted to stay just the way it was, then “sometimes” is appropriate.  But human beings change.  Death/illness/job loss/divorce happens.  Even though these aren’t pleasant things, I believe that we aren’t meant to remain stuck in life at the point when they occurred.

Every challenge is an opportunity to learn more about yourself and the world around you.  Each challenge provides you with a chance to grow.

Breakdowns often create breakthroughs.

I have found through my own challenges, that for instance, although I would like to have my mother back and recognize my life would have been a whole lot different; I would probably not have my children or my new love of my life husband.  I might not have been pursuing a degree in Marriage and Family, and I might not be an Executive Director of a non-profit.  These are great things in my life!  So, if I didn’t get a divorce, would things have been good?  Uh, no.  Not at all.  So getting a divorce is for sure, the best thing that ever could have happened to me.  Not being a stay-at-home mom now because of the divorce?  Well, that was good, but I like being challenged by the work in my life.  I can choose to be resentful of the time lost with my kids, or I can focus on the positive aspects of it.  Besides, my kids get to see a new and empowered role model.

Parental alienation?  I really wish my kids didn’t have to go through this–and we parents didn’t have to either.  But, maybe they have life lessons they wouldn’t learn any other way except through this challenge.  I’m definitely a better parent in a lot of ways.  I’ve learned more about myself, more about my kids, more about the court system, therapists, and PA.  I remain hopeful that all of our kids will at some point have a great relationship with us, it just isn’t okay for some of them to have that at this time in their lives.

This quote asks you to look at the positive side of challenges instead of focusing on the negative and disempowering aspects of experiences.  Which, actually, goes along quite nicely with narrative therapy–the subject I’ve been studying lately in school.  We all construct stories of our lives–and how these are structured can affect our existence and the quality of our lives.  So those good things that have fallen apart?  How have they made your life better in some ways?  How have they enriched your life, or made you a better person?

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