Dating : Shit happens. Choose how to react to it. Message of hope from a single mum of four

h2>Dating : Shit happens. Choose how to react to it. Message of hope from a single mum of four

Lauren Ostrowski Fenton
Photo by Shelby Deeter on Unsplash

Im a writer, YouTuber, and podcaster. More importantly, I’m a single mum of four (including twins). Nine years ago my marriage ended. I loved my husband and I was devastated when it happened. Its taken nine years to realize that I get to choose how to react to the shit life dishes out. Im not saying that I have it all together but I know now that I hold the power to choose my reactions.

And you do too.

When I decided to write this article I wasn’t sure whether to call it ‘The day my heart broke’ Or ‘Shit happens. Choose how to react to it.’ The end of my marriage was pretty shitty so I chose the latter. Nothing like a poo analogy to accurately describe the pain. Don’t you think? Have you experienced a painful breakup? How did you manage the pain?

These days when shit happens I’m more likely to choose resilience over being the victim. But it wasn’t always like that. When my husband left I wallowed in self-pity like a pig in mud.

Photo by Motoki Tonn on Unsplash

The key is to realize no one makes you sad and no one controls your feelings unless you let them. Your state of mind can only be experienced in the present. What I mean by this is you can’t be happy yesterday. Happiness is a state of ‘being’ in the moment and by definition, you can only be happy today. The past can’t touch you unless you let it. Don’t get me wrong getting over my marriage ending wasn’t easy. At times I lay sobbing in a fetal position. But a little voice in my head kept saying

“You choose to lie down Lauren and you can choose to get up’

And so with time and with occasional failures and proverbial face-plants, I chose to do exactly that. You see I think we have limited control over our outside environment and we cannot change others. But we can change the way we feel about the events, people and experiences in life. And we can change ourselves from within. Controlling my feelings became about empowering myself.

At the age of twenty-one, my father met my mother, fell in love and has been in love with her ever since. He doesn’t love Mum in that cutesy friendship kind of way. Dad loves Mum in a passionate Romeo and Juliet way. That is without the tragic star crossed lovers ending. Dad is 83 year of age now and not well. Dad can no longer stand, dress or feed himself. Yet every day Mum places a cup of tea upon his breakfast table, their eyes meet and their hands lovingly touch. My father has taught me many things not the least of which is the value of loving commitment. Dad once said to me that a loving relationship has three commitments.

The first being our commitment to ourselves.

The second is our commitment to the other person.

And the third is each person’s commitment to the relationship.

Dad not only told mum he loved her he practiced love daily. He

listened to Mum,

he communicated with her,

and he was and is her best friend. Like one would practice the piano scales Dad would practice loving mum.

When I was younger I wanted to experience the love my parents have for each other. I wanted a ‘happily-ever-after’ but sometimes life doesn’t run to plan. We cannot control other peoples feelings or behavior. We can only control our own feelings. And we choose how to feel about the shit that happens around us.

One day I married. We bought a beautiful farm and had four amazing children together. But there was no happy ending at least not in the way I envisaged. I remember the moment my relationship ended. I was standing at the end of our long driveway. The afternoon sun was starting to set. The tall pine trees lining the front of the property were swaying. With a hand leaning on the gate he said

‘I am leaving you.’

I noticed everything around me. The small picturesque lake on my right, the gravel beneath my feet and the sounds of the trees gently moving. My family unit as I knew it stopped and there was nothing I could do about it. Yes, I wanted to change his mind. But sadly one of the harsh lessons in life is that changing a person’s mind is not within our power.

That day I felt that my heart broke.

I was wrong. That very same day I started to realize bit by bit that I had superpowers. Einstein was right when he said ‘In difficulty lies opportunity’. What is a face plant? It is those emotional dumps when life doesn’t run to plan and you go from happy to sad. Face planting along the journey of life is power for the course. It’s not about stopping the face plants but about bouncing back up. Realizing one’s power to choose how to feel is not an overnight process. As long as you get back up and keep trying you’ll be ok. I am not going to try to convince you that I have all the answers because that would be silly. But I do know its not about dwelling on what could have been. We deal with what is right now and then move on. Every day all over the world shit happens and perhaps we may be collateral damage. Ultimately, we choose how to internalize and perceive the events in our life.

Have you seen the movie ‘pretty woman’? Do you remember the final scene?

Edward Lewis: “So what happens after he climbs up and rescues her?” Vivian: “She rescues him right back.” Pretty Woman

Richard Gere climbed up the balcony to rescue Vivian and she rescued him right back. I wanted to inhale that movie I loved it so much. I wanted to be the hapless victim and be rescued by a prince. But life’s not like that. What is a victim? A victim is a person who has come to feel helpless in the face of bad luck or ill-treatment. A victim expects others to come to the rescue. Life taught me not to be a victim and that the only prince charming in life is myself. I learned that no one can break your heart unless you hand it to them on a plate. Now I’m keeping control over my own heart. We are the rescuers so let’s get busy and rescue ourselves.

I used to overthink stuff. I became at times anxious and would fear what might happen. I would think about stuff that may have happened or may happen until I because lost in a jungle of overthinking. In reality, shit may happen and does happen, you will be ok. Take it one step at a time, breathe and process one thought at a time

‘I am woman hear me roar’ Hellen Reddy

*Feel free to replace the word ‘woman’ with any gender.

At times when I am struggling

I look in the mirror and say these words.

I empower myself by listening to my inner voice.

I create quiet reflection time

and meditate daily.

I also speak out loud sometimes and counsel my self.

This generally occurs during my daily walks. I get this may look a little strange to passers-by but it works for me.

Do you counsel yourself? What works for you? I would love to hear from you.

“Anger, resentment and jealousy doesn’t change the heart of others — it only changes yours.” Shannon Alder

When I am stressing over the daily grind my son says to me.

‘Heh Mum Its all G’

*Translation ‘Its all good. You will be ok Mum’

When he first said that I was slightly horrified. For a moment I thought that he was referring to something sexual. I worked out that this is a common millennial phrase offering support and comfort.

I now take my son’s advice and

try not to overthink the small stuff.

At times I visualize my self taking the emotional baggage off my shoulders. I remember not to allow pain to define me.

There is always something good about life from a cup of tea to a comforting hot shower. Be thankful. Practice gratitude.

How do you let go of pain?

We each need to find wellness in the situation we have now. We each have our own story. I look after my wellbeing by practicing meditation daily.

I practice meditation while washing dishes, waiting for the jug to boil or while waiting at the checkout.

I sit in the action of each blessed breathe and focus on the present

I count the gifts in my life.

I keep a gratitude journal

It’s not about finding perfection in life. It’s about making the life you have work for you.

When I was a child Mum told me ‘Birds of a feather flock together’.

If your friends are negative, don’t get you or are not supportive then find people who are.

Remember we can’t change people only ourselves.

Hang out with people who express empathy, care for others, and mirror your values.

Changing ourselves is our superpower. Life is too short. Be with people who inspire you and reflect who you are.

Thinking that hearts break is at times a romantic way to avoid taking responsibility for giving our power away. I learned this the hard way. We have the ultimate power over our mindset. Humans are incredibly resilient animals. Yes, we fall but we also mend well. So

get back up, brush yourself off and take one step at a time.

Accept others, Watch your thoughts and avoid judgment

Avoid thinking something is right or wrong. I know It’s tempting to see stuff as right or wrong but that’s just not how life is. Accept life as it is and choose how to respond.

No one makes you feel anything. That, my friend, is your job

As my father committed to my mum so can we commit to our own lives. Set goals, make decisions, and commit. Don’t expect it to work out every time. It won’t. Life is not like that. Terrible stuff can happen to good people. When life blocks your toilet of life grab the plunger, get dirty and clean it up. You will be ok. Pain is weak in its very transience. It doesn’t last. Don’t allow pain to define you. Somewhere in this pain is an opportunity waiting to be found.

How am I now? I’m ok. Life is not perfect but it’s pretty good. I make a moderate income on your tube, I enjoy drinking English breakfast tea. The kids are doing well. Everyday life gets a little better. You see sometimes in life you will get it right and sometimes you could do things differently and that’s ok. Know that your superpower lies within yourself. It’s about practicing those powers and getting back up when you fall down.

Did you see the Marvel superhero comics movie the Endgame? I did. Why do we love marvel heroes? Because we can choose to see ourselves in the lead characters; defiantly realizing good over evil. In real life, we can be our own superhero and decide, just decide how to react to the events in our life.

So lets put on our flowing superhero cape and learn to fly. I believe in you.

What do you think?

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