If you missed it…
Part One: Internet Wins
Part Two: A Second Chance
* * * * *
Since 2015, I have felt guilty and disappointed and ashamed for just basically dropping The Orange Rhino blog and community. I don’t quit when the going gets tough, it just isn’t me. I might take little breaks, but I don’t quit (unless it is a bad situation to be in.) Except here I basically did.
For seven years, The Orange Rhino has been in my head, nagging me with her presence, taunting me with her presence. Not like she did in my early Orange Rhino days when I was trying to not yell – then, then her presence was welcomed. Then she would say kind things like, “You got this! You can do this without yelling! I believe in you. It’s possible. Way to go! You did it!”
No, no, no, I wish this is what The Orange Rhino had been saying to me these last seven years!
But no, the last seven years? Well, she didn’t say anything mean per say, she just has hung out silently while my brain yelled at her not so nicely for she, me, didn’t have the energy and determination to charge forward with confidence towards, well, anything! So, the negative thoughts came and came and came…
There were the ones about being a quitter…
“Why are you quitting? You don’t quit.
Come on, just write again. Do it already.
Are you really going to let all your hard work just go?”
I tried so hard to challenge this narrative but it was really hard to because well, the evidence at the time was that I indeed, was a quitter. So, these negative thoughts about being a quitter stayed and kept me away.
And there were the ones about essentially being a loser…
“Are you really going to let those nasty comments get to you?
Just let them go already. Why can’t you? What’s wrong with you?
Maybe those book reviews and comments were right. Maybe you are ridiculous. Maybe you have nothing good to offer, nothing good to share.
Maybe those emails from the non-supporters were right, you share too much negative stuff about your life.
You are not an inspiration, you just bring people down.”
I tried so hard to challenge this narrative too, but unfortunately, I truly believed most of the thoughts because well, the commenters weren’t far off – I didn’t have anything to offer. Forget not being able to offer the “right” content they were seeking, I couldn’t offer anything because I was EMPTY inside. Freakin’ empty. I had nothing to give. I had nothing inspiring to say. I couldn’t even inspire myself to not be a quitter, how could I inspire anyone else? And I was learning in real time that sharing about my true feelings about what was going on in my life made people leave, so I certainly didn’t want to offer up my truths here and lose out more. So those negative thoughts about being a loser stayed and kept me away.
And then, then there were the negative thoughts about being a fake, a phony, a failure.
“Why are you yelling again? Why can’t you stop? Don’t you even care?
You wrote a book about not yelling and here you are, not following your own book.
You are a failure.
You are a letdown.
You are a FRAUD.”
And these thoughts? These thoughts I couldn’t challenge at all. They were loud and were being yelled at me constantly. Why? Why did they have such power? Because there was one comment out there, one comment that hit me on such a deep, personal level that it ever-so-easily latched on to my own thoughts, just giving them more staying power. That comment? It more or less was,
“even The Orange Rhino can’t actually stop yelling. She said she could, but she couldn’t. Go here and read how she failed at her own goal.”
Blech. This comment? This made me feel like a freakin’ fraud in a way I never had; it made me feel worthless. Why did this hit me so personally compared to all the other negative comments out there you ask?
Well, the person who wrote what they did, who shamed me for yelling again, didn’t know why I finally broke and yelled.
They didn’t know the real deep, painful and personal reason why after 520 days of not yelling, I “broke.” They didn’t know I was broken at the time. They didn’t know the heavy secret I was carrying, the struggle I was having, the immense pain I was in on day 520 and that I still felt in 2015 when they made the comment.
Oh, and they also clearly didn’t read my book title or my book which was about self-forgiveness and how being perfect isn’t the goal and that at the end of the day, it is all about yelling less and loving more. (Nope, not bitter lol)
No, this commenter didn’t know that the reason I yelled on day 520, and the reason why I couldn’t find the strength or determination or confidence to rise above all of my negative thinking and the negative comments out there was because…not only was I already feeling like a pretty failure in the Orange Rhino world – I was “failing” at keeping my blog and book alive, I was “failing” at continuing to not yell, I was “failing” at providing the right content and meeting readers expectations – but also I was “failing” at
My marriage was failing.
And I was devastated.
And my soul was destroyed.
And I barely had the strength to show up for my kids.
So yeah, the comment pierced me to my core. My feelings of being a fraud, a fake, a phony, a failure just escalated. It was as if I someone kicked me while I was already down. No kind of, actually, that is exactly what happened. I was down on the ground from the weight of the marriage boulder I told you all had grown a little in 2013 but that now in 2015, it had grown a lot. I was just too afraid to tell you all then, because well, I didn’t want to admit that the boulder was so big. I wanted in to be a little pebble I carried around.
But it wasn’t. It was heavy and obvious and couldn’t be missed. It couldn’t even be tripped over. It made you fall down. Repeatedly.
That heavy marriage boulder wasn’t the only thing keeping me down. I did my best to get up, to move forward with confidence, but every time I literally tried to be The Orange Rhino – for the sake of my sons, myself, and my family, something in life made it harder. Something would happen that needed all my energy and attention and focus…something that made it hard to take care of myself, to warmly manage my reactions. My son was really sick. Then I tore my ACL, got a blood clot, and literally needed to learn to walk again. Then my other son needed more support from me.
And then finally, after my struggling kiddo was doing better and I was walking more confidently, it all came crumbling down. My feet were knocked out from beneath me
My body, my marriage, had held together long enough to get my youngest through his medical stuff and my other through his stuff, and me through my physical stuff. But it was over.
My marriage was over.
My now ex-husband moved out in April 2016.
I know divorce is far too common so maybe saying that I am divorced and that is my big “story” seems like nothing. But let me tell you, it isn’t. Unless you have walked in the path of being divorced, or had a front row seat of someone going through a divorce (and even then, it isn’t a full experience) it is hard to fully grasp the depth of pain that can come from a divorce – even one that is mutually decided on.
Yes, our decision to divorce was mutual. It was the right choice for us. We worked really hard for several years to get our marriage to where we each wanted and needed it to be. But we both ultimately knew that our kids deserve two happy parents and we could both best be happy and be the best parents we could each be by no longer living as a married couple, but by living separate lives.
And yet, oh does it fuckin’ hurt even to this day. Six years later this month.
My ex-husband (EH) moved out on a Friday late in the month. I still remember that night way too vividly. Not the part where we told the kids – that is a blur, a moment not to be remembered. But the moment when he officially left our house for his new place, when he walked into the garage and into his car. I stood by the hood of my dirty minivan watching him get in his car, slowly backing out of the garage. When I heard the click of the garage door starting to come down, I too came down, but much more violently. I collapsed down onto the hood and pounded it while the tears began to pour out of me. My face became covered in dirt from the car as I screamed “Don’t leave. Don’t leave. Please don’t leave!” Even though it was a joint decision, it was painful nonetheless and even that is an understatement. I slid down the hood and fell into a heap on the garage floor, landing right besides three bags of trash. Which is exactly how I felt in that moment. Like trash. I sobbed and sobbed and sobbed. And then it hit me, “I have no one to even help me up off the ground. I am alone. I am all alone.”
Turns out I wasn’t alone.
Bless my childrens’ hearts who at the time were 9, 7, 6 and 4. I went to bed that night – all alone in a huge king bed – except that I wasn’t. There were two little bodies in it when I got there J And when I woke up, four little bodies had brought me breakfast in bed. Breakfast of champions I might add. Strawberries, blackberries and raspberries with whipped cream and they even attempted to make me coffee. Breakfast even came with a cut out heart with their names on it. It was impossible not to cry, but happy tears this time! They brought breakfast for them too, popcorn! Then they all got in bed and my oldest said,
“We thought you might want to watch one of your movies this morning. So, we decided to watch Frozen with you.”
And at that moment, like Olaf does when the sun comes out, my heart melted. The love these boys showered me with that moment, even when they too were writhing with pain and sadness and confusion, will never be forgotten.
Part 4: The Aftermath of 2016
(c) The Orange Rhino, 2022