I had the pleasure of being interviewed by my friend and business coach, Jon Dwoskin (@thejondwoskinexperience) recently and it really got me thinking about my own divorce from years ago.
I often write about relationships, dating and love, but our most important relationship is the one we have with ourselves. It wasn’t until after my divorce that the relationship I had with myself grew to become stronger than ever. And after listening to the interview with Jon, I realized just how far I’ve come.
Jon asked me to describe myself in one word –no easy task. We both came up with “resilient.”
Becoming resilient is a skill that seems to develop only when met up with adversity.
But we know that, right?
What’s so crazy these days is that the current generation seems to be raising their children in a way that avoids any and all distress by paving their paths with worry-free solutions to almost everything.
The kids of today are not taught how to take responsibility, have accountability or learn how to handle even the tiniest of struggles.
I get it, we love them so much. But it’s almost equal to having them live in a sealed room protected from germs.
When hardships are completely avoided in childhood, the resilience skill is never developed and the steps to prepare for real troubles are skipped – which leads to a weakened ability to bounce back when the hard times inevitably do occur.
We all know life includes some difficult times. Whether they happen at an early age, middle age or end of life, the one thing you can count on is not getting through life completely unscathed.
Not one of us.
Which brings me back to my previous marriage and divorce …
I had a relatively happy and fun childhood, and there are not many struggles I can easily recount.
Yeah, things here and there. I had the standard colds, went through the awkward teenage years, experienced some mean girls – but nothing noteworthy or life-altering.
Looking back, it was a privileged childhood.
When I got married at 23, I hadn’t needed to learn resilience because the truth is, I never really struggled.
So, I didn’t even know I had it in me when I was faced with a divorce that sort of came out of nowhere. I had three very young children and I didn’t know how to live alone or raise them all by myself, while also staying open to finding love and a suitable partner.
It all seemed so overwhelming at the time.
However, those very difficult times shaped me into the woman I am today – a woman I am very proud of.
Now that my kids are mostly grown and I’m out of the trenches ‘per se’, I empathize so deeply with divorced mothers more than ever. As prevalent as divorce actually is, it’s still so hard to handle everything that comes along with it.
I used to hear women on their soapboxes (who never had a clue about being divorced or raising kids alone) judge how certain “divorced mothers” should behave.
It was often comical to me, because until you’ve walked a mile in someone else’s shoes, you should never judge them.
Many people often ask me how I found my resilience and strength. I usually chuckle because it sounds like it suddenly appeared on a scavenger hunt.
But It didn’t.
Growing up, I always heard my father tell stories about how he jumped off a train that was headed for a gas chamber. Just 11 years old, he had been put into a cargo train with hundreds of others and covered with Nazi soldiers on the roof.
He was such a young boy.
I used to look at my own son at the same age, often with disbelief that any child so young could be faced with such adversity.
But my father, being a very smart young boy, knew he was headed for death. Instinctually he headed for the back of the train, making his way through the many people all headed for the same fate, where he found a glass window so small that a toddler could barely fit through.
He said he knew if he didn’t break the window and jump, he was going to die.
All those years later he used to tell my sisters and me that we were the unknown reason he had to stay alive, that in his heart he knew life had something very special in his future.
And so he kicked out the window, barely squeezed through it, and jumped off that train going 80 mph. As he hit the ground and tumbled down a hill, the train stopped and the soldiers began shooting at him.
My father survived.
I have used that story throughout my life as a tool in overcoming my own obstacles. I tell myself, if my father could jump off a train and survive, I can handle this or that.
And along the way, I’ve come to realize that resilience is a skill made stronger by the Seven Cs.
Confidence: Knowing that your choices matter.
Competence: Building skills that substantiate what you deserve.
Character: Doing the right thing and having integrity even when you’re in a bad place.
Connection: Knowing you have a strong support system even during hardships.
Coping: Knowing how to handle stressful situations with positive strategies.
Control: Staying disciplined enough to not fall apart even when challenged.
Contribution: Asking for help when needed and helping others when they need it.
In the end, when all else fails … always remember that a diamond is merely a lump of coal that did super well under pressure. And quite truthfully, we all have the ability to be one.
Until next time,
Born and raised in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, Karin has a BA in sociology, with a minor in psychology earning honors at Michigan State University. Along with certification in relationship coaching, Karin is an international blogger and past columnist. She is currently accepting clients and advertisers and can be reached @[email protected].