06 January 2012

Writing a New Normal

Today's post is written by an outstanding woman, Melissa Taylor.  Isn't she gorgeous?  She is a dear friend of ours from Brooklyn and her story is so inspirational to everyone who knows her that we asked if she'd be willing to share her story of divorce & transformation here....  thank you, Melissa!


Danny and Mara are dear friends who I met while living in Brooklyn. They made such an impact on me in a critical point of my life, so I was beyond honored when they asked me to guest post.

My husband unexpectedly left me five years into our marriage.  As a stay-at-home single mom at age 25 in New York City, I had a new challenge ahead of me, one that took some major stumbling and humbling to overcome.  However, looking back a year and half later, it’s pretty amazing to see what’s happened as a result.  

I used to live in a state of what I might call “ignorantly blissful misery.”  I was content in my unhappiness.  Sound crazy?  And what’s worse, I THOUGHT IT WAS NORMAL!!  I criticized, complained, blamed, moped, victimized myself, and at least weekly would wake up with puffy eyes and pile of tear-stained tissues on my nightstand.  No wonder he left me, right? :)

It was actually less about wanting to be unhappy, and more about lacking the courage and determination to make real, lasting changes.  It felt so out of reach.  I would see beautiful couples like Danny and Mara who seemed to have the whole world figured out, and think, “That could never be me!”  Never.  So why try?

But this attitude only made things worse.  I recorded in my journal at the time that it felt like I was sliding on a downward spiral with my hands tied behind my back.  Not surprisingly, once my husband left, I was absolutely shattered.  However, at the same time, something really cool started happening.  I started figuring out what really makes you happy.  (And I hate to say it, but REAL happiness isn’t found in the happily-ever-after fairy tale where things happen just the way they should… something I still needed to learn.)  I think trials can be like cold ice water on an oversleeping teenager.  Shockingly uncomfortable, but so effective.

Mara invited me over, one divorced woman to another, and told me how it was.  So sweet and yet so bold.  She told me about how we can find peace through our trials, how we can be truly better for them, how when we have strength and patience and even joy in our challenges, we can feel like real women, not just girls.

Long story short, my husband came back, and then left a second time, just as unexpectedly to me as before.  And again, I found Danny and Mara sitting on my living room floor with homemade Thai chicken pizza telling me that I had it in me to truly be happy and an amazing woman.  They knew I would conquer this.  (And the pizza was yummy, too.)

Something clicked at that point.  I knew I needed to make some changes.

Here are a few ideas that have helped me as I have made changes in my life.  I hope they will help you, too, in whatever changes you’re going through:

  • With change, keep in mind, it sometimes gets worse before it gets better.  Like road construction, it’s a hassle at first, but given time and patience, the end result is more effective travel.  Or it can be like organizing your storage closet...you find yourself knee deep in knickknacks before you get all the shelves neat and orderly.
  • Have a clear image in your mind and BELIEVE you can get there.  Visualize yourself and your goal coming to fruition.  NEVER cut yourself down.  Your worst enemy is often yourself. 
  • Change takes time.  Give yourself some credit and be patient with yourself.  Say I’ll get there with time.  Imagine your life in as a line graph.  There are ups and downs, but when you stand back, you can see the real progress you’ve made over time. 
  • Never, never, never give up. –Winston Churchill.  The desire alone holds more power than we realize.  I love the story of The Little Engine That Could
  • We like to hold power over changes, but we can’t always.  Fortunately, a difficult change can sometimes lead us to just where we ought to be.  Have faith and trust.  Our loving God knows all.
  • Document your change.  I kept a journal for a couple years that consisted mostly of complaints and self-absorbed nonsense.  I was going to chuck it & start fresh with a more positive record of me, but then Danny and Mara suggested I keep it to show my personal growth.  It’s really a beautiful thing - to improve and become something we weren’t before and then to look back & see how far we’ve come! 
But mostly, turning my life to the Lord, feeling his unwavering love for me has helped me find peace, forgiveness, and even joy through my trials.

A move across the country, a full-time job, a divorce, and a year and a half later I find myself SO happy!!  Changes in circumstance, yes.  But the summit of it all was a change in my attitude.  I can see now how abundantly my life has been blessed!  I have my adorable, adventurous little boy, my amazingly supportive family and friends, this beautiful world God created, and the chance at living a life in it to learn these things!  LIFE IS SO GOOD!!!

Everyday is a new chance for changing your path & starting something new.  Take a quick second to ask yourself, "What can I do to make my life better today?"  And then, even better, "What can I do to improve the quality of someone else’s?"  Plan it.  Do it.  Embrace it!!

My new “normal” life is so extraordinary!  So rich and full and beautiful.  I look forward with hope to a New Year, and wish you all the best with your changes in 2012.  May you be very, very, very happy!


P.S.  Does anyone out there want to share their story of transformation here on the blog?  Please let us know.  We hope this can be a place of inspiration for many.   Thx!  - Mara


  1. Oh Melissa, how I miss you. Kills me that it didn't work out for us to get together in TX. Blast the flu and ear infections that plagued our Christmas vacation. At least it happened at my mom's house where we had extra help, a washer/dryer for all the regurgitation, and 2000 sq ft of comfortable space to roam and relax. Anyways, we miss you and thanks for your story, you have been an inspiration to me from the start. I have never seen anyone handle such trial with such hope. I want to be like that, like you, like Mara. You ladies...I love that I can call you friends!

  2. Melissa, Melissa. I think you're amazing. Thanks so much for sharing your wisdom. I have thought about you and admired you and missed you. I am so happy that you are doing well. I would love to catch up with you sometime soon.
    And also, I'm still holding out hope for Jaden and Lila. He's such a stud.

  3. "She told me about how we can find peace through our trials, how we can be truly better for them, how when we have strength and patience and even joy in our challenges, we can feel like real women, not just girls."

    I read this line and thought, "yes!" No matter what, there are going to be trials and it is what we do with them and what we learn from them that matters. Lately I'm struggling with feeling like a real woman and not a little girl.

  4. Oops. I meant to also say thank you for sharing your story! It's good to know that people can overcome trials and learn from them and be even happier than before!

  5. Melissa,
    What an inspiring story! You made a choice and in turn have a beautiful perspective on living. There is a point where we realize we can stop throwing the fit over what's gone "wrong" in our world- moving from little girl to woman is quite the revelation! Thanks for sharing.

  6. Thank you for sharing your story, Melissa! I linked to it on my blog just now so other women who are facing the same thing can find your story. You and your little guy are adorable. I am also doing better about being happy even during trials. It's a much better way to be!

  7. Wow Melissa, thank you for sharing this. I have always been so impressed at your power to look at the positive and I totally admire that. You and Jaden look wonderful and I wish you both the best in 2012!! Love, Tracy Phillips

  8. You are amazing, Melissa! I miss you--- but I'm so glad to know that you are happy and well. This post is so beautifully written. Thank you for sharing your story. We need to keep in better touch! If you are ever in the San Diego area, please give me a call! I'd love to see you and little man and hear everything that's going on in your life. Love, Stephanie Marston

  9. Thank you for sharing! I am going through a divorce as well and it is so refreshing to see families who have been through it and come out on the other side happy and healthy! It's all about attitude and the choice to be happy and believing in good things to come!

  10. Melissa, thank you for sharing! Hugs to you and your lovely young man, and a hope that we get to run in the same race someday... In the meantime, keep it up!

  11. "Sometimes it gets worse before it gets better". How much I need this as I sit in the home my husband moved from just today. It is a different situation, I asked him to leave. He lied to me about everything from whether he did the dishes to telling me he was in school when he wasn't. Among other things. It finally got to the point where we no longer had a relationship and I had to move on. As I sit here in such an empty home that we bought just 6 months ago, bawling because I don't know how I will ever pull through the next few months, this is just what I needed. I know that things will get better, but they curretly seem to be so much worse. Thank you Melissa for your words and Danny and Mara for creating such a sancutary for the broken hearted. This was the first place I looked when I got home tonight and knew I would need words of wisdom. You must have been inspired to post this today because it was just want this heart needed.

  12. My goodness. She is gorgeous, and that little boy is just delicious. I LOVE LITTLE BOYS!

  13. Melissa, thank you for being so candid about yourself. It is really helpful and inspiring. You have such an amazing life ahead because of the strength and honesty you are sharing. Thank you!

  14. Thank you for sharing your story. It can't be easy to think again of the hard times you've gone through. I truly empathize with you as I was left unexpectedly before, and it was me who had to do the moving out. I was in shock when my fiance woke me up before leaving for work one day and simply said that he couldn't do it anymore and wondered if I could leave by the time he returned from work. There was no discussion, it was simply over. As I loaded all my stuff into my car, I said that I would make one of my dreams come true no matter what. That dream was going to Barcelona. By the next year, I enrolled in an educational program there and was on my way. My first night in Barcelona, I go to a restaurant, and funnily enough meet someone enrolled in the same course. To make a long story less long, I never used my return ticket and we have been happy & married for 7 years now, with 2 wonderful kids. The old adage must be right, “When God closes a door, somewhere He opens a window.”

  15. Melanie - You made my heart just about burst. I remember the first night I was in the home alone after he left. In fact, I'll never forget it. Nothing can compare. It felt so very empty. One thing a friend told me.....EVERY person either is going through a trial right now or will go through one someday. Yours is just right now. Live through it as best you can - - think of those you admire - even those from history or your ancestors who faced a lot....and decide to be like them. We'll be rooting for you!!! May you feel joy from learning more and more what you're capable of.... Sending you all the encouragement we can from Brooklyn.

  16. Pam G - that is one of the sweetest stories EVER!! WOW. Thx for sharing here. I love what you said! I know many that are still waiting for their "window to open" so to spk....so I thought I would just add that I think in a spiritual sense, the windows are ALWAYS open to us! Even if your life isn't working out so dreamy, you can still be "spiritually delivered" and that is one amazing thing to happen. Thx, again, Pam!

  17. Mara, I couldn't agree with you more. I think your blog is one of those "windows." I have recently started following your blog when I read about it on stephmodo and found your truthfulness to yourself so inspiring. As hard as some things we go through are, getting through them does show us what we're made of, AND capable of. God leaves our hearts open to boundless opportunities, and sometimes hurt is one of those opportunities. You and your husband help show us that we all have the potential to live full & beautiful lives.

  18. Pam - ahh. My heart is full. Thank you.
    Loved this: "As hard as some things we go through are, getting through them does show us what we're made of, AND capable of. God leaves our hearts open to boundless opportunities, and sometimes hurt is one of those opportunities."
    So perfectly said!

  19. I love this! I love reading about other women falling down and getting back up, but then those are the women who are vocal about it. My heart breaks to think of all the women who have been broken and can't get back up, but no one knows. I guess before going through my own personal tragedy, I was somewhat naive to the pains and sorrows of the world. Of course I would hear stories, but I was young and I thought, "Well, they're adults. They can get over it." But now I've experienced too, and it's completely riveting! And even when I read stories like this, I think, she is so strong and beautiful! But I bet she still has days that hurt, but she's fought for herself so far, so I know she won't give up. I would love to share my story of transformation on your blog. Sometimes it feels so nice to get thoughts out, especially to a crowd of people who have no idea who I am.

    1. Chantel, thank you for taking the time to create this very thoughtful response, and for expressing a desire to share your own story. I can already tell you have some great insights. Please send us an email so we can coordinate a little.

  20. What a beautiful post by a seemingly beautiful and courageous woman. It takes so much fortitude and hope to start life over again, at any age. Melissa, I only wish you beautifully divine surprises in the coming months.

  21. I just stumbled across this blog- I don't even know how, but I think it was meant to be. I've been reading it from post 1 for the past 2 days and I can't stop!
    I am currently going through a divorce after my husband has basically left a second time so I can definitely relate to this post. It hits SO close to home when Melissa describes: "to live in a state of what I might call “ignorantly blissful misery.” I was content in my unhappiness. Sound crazy? And what’s worse, I THOUGHT IT WAS NORMAL!! I criticized, complained, blamed, moped, victimized myself, and at least weekly would wake up with puffy eyes and pile of tear-stained tissues on my nightstand."
    It's exactly how I'm feeling now, and it's how I felt the first time around too. Last time I got "better" after all of the misery and started to believe in a happier self, just in time for him to return to my life then 2 years later repeat the pain all over. This time I'm stuck in this misery and it's hard to imagine anything getting better again, just because of the circumstances. I know I need to look at the positives in my life and focus on making the life around me as good as I want it to be, but it's so much easier said than done. The emotions are too new and raw and as soon as I think "I can do this, I can get through it" I'm slipping back to "I miss my husband and want the future we dreamed of together, one that I have lost forever." We've been in each others' lives for 17 years and I don't know how to live without him in my life; I don't know that I want to. Day by day...right?
    Your posts have been inspirational and have given me a glimpse of hope. Maybe as I continue reading I will build more.


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