Where The Orange Rhino Went, Part 3: 2016

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.
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

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12 thoughts on “Where The Orange Rhino Went, Part 3: 2016

  1. I am so sorry you were going through that alone. I am in that place now too — up against the boulder — and it is so much work to put on the happy face for the kids and pretend things are okay. It is half of my total energy each day just to put on that smile, which doesn’t leave much energy for everything else. My kids are older now — 14, 11 and 11 — and it is easier, because they don’t need the same unfailing energy they did when they were little. I could not have done this in 2015 either.

    I can see you’re getting a new perspective on what happened back then, in that dark blur. And I hope you can rewrite the story of it for yourself. Because you were showing strength, even when you thought you were failing or giving up. You were conserving energy for your family. You did not have the energy to give away to random commenters; that single rude comment was just the tipping point for you. And while we considered you such an inspiration and a cheerleader for our own parenting, you didn’t owe us anything. If we had been a community that gave as much as it took, we may have been able to help give you strength when you needed it — but that’s just not where our social media network or community was back then. I hope we can be more supportive going forward. But in case the negative commenters get loud again, please hold your boundaries, and don’t give more energy than you have to spare.

    It’s so nice to hear from you again!

    • Thank you Emily and I am so sorry to hear that you too are up against the boulder! You nailed it with the energy – and that is Part 4. There is only so much energy to go around and it does take so much to just smile in those circumstances. I am thinking of you all – message whenever so that you aren’t alone! I appreciate your support here – I like it here and you all gave me so much that not being present didn’t feel right. But I am back and indeed re-writing the story and figuring out how to not yell at myself!! Thank you again for taking the time to read my story and for commenting, but means a lot to me!

  2. Thank you for sharing so honestly. When I found you in the early days it was what I needed to break the cycle of being a yeller. Now my son is 18, and sometimes I still want to yell at him, but the community that you created, I truly believe, has made the relationship with my son what it is. Thank you for creating the Orange Rhino. Thank you for your honesty and reminding us that not yelling is not the only goal. I am so happy you are back so that you can help even more people break the cycle of yelling.
    Life is hard sometimes, but how we deal with the hard times is the true reflection of who we are…you got back up. You are strong. Your message is an important one…yell it (the good , excited kind of yelling) so that more people can hear it!

    • Oh, you gave me chills with this. Thank you so much for the lovely sentiment and for sharing your story. I love that your relationship with your son is in a good place and that you did that!! This community is a special place. So glad to be back! Thank you for still being here and reading today, it means a lot to me!

      • Thank you for bravely sharing. My ex-husband left in 2016. I too had 4 confused,sad kids at home. I totally understand the devastation, even when it’s a mutually agreed separation.
        I am so glad you came back. You are in no way a fraud. You are honest and human. We humans are imperfect creatures, and that is ok. That self-chatter can be so cruel and mean though. I try to remember to speak to myself as if I was talking to a loved friend. And call myself our with a loud ‘stop’ when I’m not.
        Please be kind to yourself too and remember there are lots of us here who admire your honesty and bravery. We have your back. Kindness and love will always prevail. Xx

        • Oh, I feel for you! It is devastation and doesn’t just go away! I am glad to be back and appreciate your words about being a fraud. I am imperfect indeed and that is way easier than being perfect 🙂 I am working on not yelling at myself so much because it isn’t kind at all. Thank you for being here and taking the time to read and comment; it means a lot! Hope you are doing well, all these six years later! xoxo The Orange Rhino

  3. Oh my goodness….I’m sobbing! Your beautiful, precious boys!! ❤❤❤❤

    I had wondered if that was the “sh*t” you had to drop!! I can understand how that swept your feet from under you especially on top of all the negative comments you’d had thrown at you. I havent directly been through it but my parents got divorced when I was 17 so I’ve certainly seen the trauma divorce can cause up close!

    I wish I could jump through the www and give you a huge hug! I hope that you can now focus on all the positives of The Orange Rhino and bat away any negativity that rears its ugly head!

    Oh…funny thing…I found an old diary from 2015 earlier today and there was a bit where I’d been to see my therapist and I was talking about what she’d said about looking for the triggers to understand what makes you “blow” and then I wrote “just like the Yellow Rhino says…or is that Orange…..hang on I think its Orange” 🤪🤪🤪 made me giggle but made me think about what a huge impact your book and your Facebook page had on me back then…even if I couldn’t remember what colour the Rhino was 🤣 x

    • Thank you for reading Andrea and for continually being here! Yep, that was the sh*t and yep, it is traumatic! And your story about your journal is absolutely priceless. I love it! Thank you for sharing it. I can’t remember my kids names on a good day so not remembering a color feels about right hahahaha. Thanks for your beautiful comment, hope you have a good day! xoxo The Orange Rhino

  4. You’re human! And you’re back! Thank you for sharing today. You are decidedly *not* a fraud . You are a striving mama who has been (and likely still are) in the trenches of divorce, grieving, a pandemic, and crushing external and internal demands of being a woman and mother in this culture. Oh! And raising four children!
    We don’t have be to be perfect (or even close) to still be really effective. I had incredibly romantic notions of who I would be as a mom and I come up short on the regular. This is HARD. When I yell, I apologize to my girls (who remind me that I don’t want to be a yeller). It’s okay for them to know we have limits and breaking points. It helps them be more forgiving of themselves, too.
    I see your striving, your vulnerability, and appreciate your update immensely. It’s okay. You still inspire. Big hugs.

    • Thank you so very much Robin – means a lot to me and I can’t possibly write a comment back that is as beautiful 🙂 No, we are not perfect, nor do we need to be and yes this culture makes it hard!!!! And well, it is hard to start off with! Thanks for sharing about your girls – I love how they remind you that you don’t want to yell. Teaching them in the moment! Thank you for reading and for being here! xoxo The Orange Rhino

  5. You have a beautiful heart…for your kids, for all of us reading your messages of inspiration….you are a blessing to me, thank you xx

    • Wow, thank you Kasia for such a loving comment. It means so very much to me. We are all a blessing to each other and so grateful for all of you and this beautiful community! Thank you for writing and for being here. Have a wonderful day, xoxo The Orange Rhino

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