You know that moment near the end of the Disney movie “Tangled” when Rapunzel’s sitting in the tower; it’s after her big adventure and now she’s sad because she thinks Flynn Ryder has betrayed her trust. Rapunzel has returned to the safety of the only home she’s ever known with the only person who ever loved her. You know when she starts seeing all the signs – the suns she has drawn like keys on a map – the suns, like memories of her heart, start illuminating themselves, and she comes to the painful realization that the one she thought loved her was really the one with their boot on her neck this whole time? In storytelling, this is called “the insight moment.”
Then, do you remember how she stands up to the person she thought was her “mother” and realizes, “It was you. All along it was you?”
I know exactly how she’s feeling in that moment. That insight moment is devastating.
But in real life, when you see the dark side of the one person you thought loved you, it doesn’t end as well as it did for Disney’s Rapunzel. Then again, nothing is like the fairy tales, is it?
In real life, you shut down. You start questioning every decision you’ve ever made and every person you’ve ever trusted. You put your therapist on speed dial. You look sideways at anyone trying to give you a helping hand, because if you could have been so wrong about love this whole time… who are you to judge who really loves you?
It’s so easy to become jaded after an unimaginable betrayal. It’s easy… and safer. It’s most tempting to build walls around yourself and shore up your heart with barbed wire and court orders. It’s frighteningly easy to lose faith in all humanity when the one person you’ve trusted, is not who you thought them to be… all these years.
But Mr. Roger’s sage wisdom for scary times says, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”
Never in my life have so many friends, family and strangers extended me compassion and love after I announced I was getting a divorce.
You see, there’s this club. A club I never wanted to be in. When I saw its members, I ran for the hills just in case whatever they did to be in that club was contagious. It’s the divorcee club. Those who are in it… you know. All you have to say is, “I’m getting a divorce,” and suddenly, the members are there… wanting to help; feeling your pain; eager to give you a hug and offer advice. It’s truly amazing. These members. These helpers.
I’m almost two months into dealing with the reality of divorce and I’ve decided, I’m not going to dwell on the misjudgments I’ve made in the past about trust and character… I’m going to look for the helpers.
As I sat in the courtroom after my hearing, and while waiting for the paperwork to be filed; after hours of wringing my hands and negotiation, I collapsed into the empty last row. I was behind a pillar and out of view from the bench when I started to cry… uncontrollably. It came so fast and furious I was caught off guard. Stupidly, I hadn’t brought tissues. I tried like hell to stop it. My attorney would be back at my side any minute and I had to get the tears under control. I turned my body around, almost sitting backward toward the wall. I lifted my shirt collar and wiped away what I could, but the tears just kept coming. I started to shake a little.
A woman in the row in front of me, just to the right of the pillar turned around. She said, “here honey,” and handed me two Starbucks napkins. I have never been so grateful.
To that anonymous woman in family court, to my friends who held me steady while I signed my name on the dotted line, to my mother who never failed to answer her phone no matter what time -for more than month, to my cousin who wore this path before me and bought me a liquid lunch while giving me sound advice, to the mom at preschool who grabbed my arm and said “call me”, to “Josh” the utilities guy on the phone who helped me sort out a sticky bill, to the friends I haven’t spoken to in years who have called and emailed, to ALL of you who poured out their messages of love and support on my blog and Facebook… thank you.
Thank you for not letting me build my walls. Thank you for restoring my faith in humanity. Thank you for being the helpers. I couldn’t do this without you because as strong as I am… I am nothing without the GENUINE love and kindness of others.