Every year around the holidays, I start to see them, the stories in my Facebook newsfeed, the posts on Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn all with the common theme of dread for the newly divorced.
Some of these posts offer support, like the one I had planned to write introducing my fans to online courses I discovered about divorce (including one for men, by men that is not a “he-man” woman-hating club).
Every year, I see these posts, and sometimes I respond. One year I wrote a post about reasons I am thankful to be divorced; another year, I wrote about grief during the holidays. This year, I’ve decided to do something different and have a real conversation with you all about gratitude and divorce.
Have you met your unknown well-wishers?
I remember sitting at a table, pretending I was fine and reading a book in the middle of my divorce when a young woman approached me and offered me an apple. I saw she had looked over at me a few times, and although I wasn’t hungry, I accepted the apple with a thank you and had my faith restored in humanity.
A couple of hours later, the dam broke open on my emotions, and when I couldn’t hold it anymore, I left that building and began walking to my friend’s, wailing and gnashing my teeth along the way.
Another young woman stopped and asked me if I was OK. I cannot remember for the life of me what my response was, but I imagine it was something like, “no, but I will be.” On this difficult day, both women represented the unknown well-wisher. People we may never meet, see or hear, but they wish us well on our journey. In divorce, it can be difficult to recognize their existence, let alone have gratitude for them.
If you’re getting divorced, try thinking about your unknown well-wisher and what such an individual would say to you. You might find it comforting. Please read my note below if you are an unknown well-wisher to someone going through a divorce.
A Letter to Those Who Wished Me Well
Dear Unknown Well-Wisher,
I want to thank you for holding me in your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time in my life. You may not know that I made it to the other side, and though it wasn’t easy to rebuild, I think I rebuilt a great life. I didn’t know you existed back then, and even when I started to think you might, I couldn’t see you and express my gratitude.
If you were one of those two young women mentioned above, please know I did not give into my Snow White fear of eating apples from strangers, and your apple nourished my body and helped heal my broken spirit by providing me with the knowledge that people do in fact care about each other.
I also appreciate the boldness and courage it took both of you to walk up to a complete stranger and approach me, and that is especially true for the second woman who approached me as I was wailing. Though odd to me at the time, your boldness and courage have often inspired me to do the same for others when I’ve seen them suffering and think about my contributions to humanity.
I was living like a refugee, as is common during divorce, and you were able to give me safe harbor, even for a small amount of time. It may have been nothing to you, but it was the world to me.
To the many unknown well-wishers I had and continue to have that may never see this letter and may never know their contribution, thank you for the support and the continued efforts to provide it. Know that your efforts have not gone unnoticed and that you are appreciated.
In fact, I would love to meet you and be able to write a follow-up to this post about meeting the unknown well-wisher and learning more about what inspires you to do so.
I recently read that in Japan, when something breaks, gold is put into the cracks to seal them. I want you to know that although my life shattered like a vase, I re-arranged the pieces as best I could and then you sealed the cracks with gold. You helped me to create a beautiful mosaic with the broken pieces of my past (something I have always aspired to help others do).
I am forever grateful that you are the golden thread in my world. Words cannot express my gratitude.
Do you have an unknown well-wisher to thank? Are you an unknown well-wisher who’d like to tell your story? Leave me a comment below; I would love to hear what you all have to say about unknown well-wishers.