54: Lessons from a Black Friday

The diamond is whole and complete and because it’s fractured, it creates more diverse beauty.

Yoga Teacher Telesummit by Eric Stoneberg

Two years ago, on Black Friday, my ex-wife, wounded by my behaviors, called my then Partner, and under the guise of “helping,” chose to share selective details of my Ugly and Shame maximizing the damage and wounding others.

And that was the first lesson: hurt people hurt people.

In twenty four months I have read lots and lots of books, hundreds of articles and watched hundreds of videos. I have spent 90 to 120 minutes in counseling every week for 22 months sorting out what is and isn’t mine.

I have actively embraced the experience and the opportunities, made amends where and how I can, and weaved something beautiful and meaningful from the grief, loss, and pain.

Here are a few of the lessons learned since that dark, unhappy, and personally blackest of Black Fridays.


An incomplete list in no order:

  • Kindness kills
  • Cars are broken, people are injured
  • Cruelty hurts
  • Time + intentions heals, it doesn’t fix
  • Caretaking wounds
  • Silent treatment sucks
  • Going along to get along requires lying
  • I’m not your Huckleberry
  • I don’t read minds
  • The Pursuer-Distancer Dynamic sabotages my ability to be patient and loving
  • When I hurt I lash out at people that love me
  • People are hypocrites
  • Playing Hero makes matters worse
  • Emails are the worse ways to negotiate difficult emotional issues
  • It’s safe to be wrong
  • Don’t feed trolls
  • Secure relationships and safe relationships are not the same thing
  • Despite all the loss, humiliations, trolling, and living out of my van for five months I’m resilient enough to face my pain, not run, and still build a future
  • Critics and trolls are jealous, insecure, and don’t actually care about me or C. They just want to be part of the story.
  • Friends call you out they don’t kick you out
  • The only way through pain is through the pain
  • The Drama Triangle is an ugly, dangerous, and damaging dynamic I too often embraced
  • I don’t read minds
  • We all carry injuries from the past into the future
  • I failed but that does not make me a failure
  • Not all friendships are friendships
  • I am not a villain or victim
  • Family of origin damage is real but doesn’t excuse my choices
  • My exes are not villains or victims
  • What matters is what I do today
  • You are what you consume
  • I don’t operate securely in a vacuum
  • I’m not responsible for other people’s feeling, reactions, thinking or choices.
  • When I go silent with a loved one it is about silencing my pain because I believe if I negate their existence I am negating my pain
  • Conflict is the Universe’s tool to drive change
  • Conflict transformation doesn’t happen with rigid approaches to avoiding pain
  • The only way to heal a broken heart is more vulnerability, not less
  • We all wear masks
  • I lie to avoid pain and vulnerability
  • I don’t read minds
  • Pain is not the enemy
  • Talk and listen to people like I love them, because I do
  • I’m not defined by my failures
  • My betrayal, secret-keeping, and escalating series of lies is a failure but doesn’t mean I am a failure
  • I’m willing to admit I’m wrong
  • Alain de Botton is my spirit guide
  • I’m willing to tell someone I’m sorry
  • I’m willing to take responsibility
  • The behaviors of my ex post reveal is consistent with her behaviors before the reveal but I excused her betrayals because of mine
  • It is important not to make any big changes in life when in pain unless you have too
  • I’m an excellent writer
  • Failure is feedback, not prophecy
  • “I tried a couple of social-media-hurt-reduction strategies over the past two years. The first turned out pretty awful: I responded.” Brene Brown
  • I can sleep in my van
  • I know where my heart belongs and I’m not afraid to admit it
  • By lying and secret keeping I am surrendering my power and self-respect to shame
  • By lying and keeping secrets I kneecapped my ability to choose my life
  • I’m a great travel companion
  • I have no place to judge other people’s failures or pain
  • Hurt people hurt people
  • Pain is not the enemy
  • “To my enemies: I hate myself more than you ever could.” (Alain de Botton)
  • Loneliness is not the enemy
  • The Way of the Thing is not the Thing
  • I like to explore
  • Healing is a ongoing process, with no destination or timeline
  • Forgiveness is a derivative of compassion
  • “The mind secretes thoughts like the body secretes enzymes.” (Tara Brach)
  • Also the heart secrets feelings like the body secretes enzymes.
  • Susan David is my spirit guide
  • My ex lied about her needs, wants, desires, thoughts, and feelings throughout our relationship
  • Compassion for others is a derivative of self-forgiveness
  • Self-forgiveness is a derivative of self-compassion
  • I’m a lot of things but I’m not a narcissist
  • I loved my ex and I betrayed her love, trust, and faith
  • I betrayed my Love, life, and self
  • I misunderstood my relationship with people I considered friends
  • You cannot fix other people
  • Venging is a lazy form of grieving
  • Donuts are not health food
  • I feel responsible about the needs and wants of other people more than my own
  • I am ashamed of my needs and wants so hide them because I am trying to be safe from abuse and rejection
  • “As a man is, so he sees.” (William Blake)
  • Hurt people hurt people
  • Pain doesn’t change you, pain reveals the injuries and wounds that need attention
  • Running and intense physical activity relieves a lot of emotional and mental anxiety
  • I’m not pursuing people, relationships, forgiveness, approval, acceptance, team, or tribe
  • The Way of the Thing is not the Thing
  • Some people will never get to the pain because they are too busy blaming
  • I am responsible for my own healing.
  • I am not responsible for other people’s healing
  • “Feelings are data, not directives.” (Susan David, PhD)
  • The happiness that matters is the happiness I live with in the moment
  • Anger is natural, intelligent and necessary for surviving and flourishing. (Tara Brach)
  • My friendships matter
  • I’m not nice and I never claimed to be
  • I am kind but not perfect.
  • I’m not responsible for other but I am responsible to others
  • The audience is entitled to nothing
  • Saudade
  • Mono no aware
  • Never not broken
  • I got this
  • Own only what is true not what people imagine is true
  • Hurt people are intent on misunderstanding
  • Listen and talk to her like she is someone I once loved
  • Carry only what is yours
  • Disappointment happens
  • Hurt happens.
  • Loss happens
  • Good people do dumb things
  • Akhilandeshvari, The Always Broken Goddess, is my spirit guide
  • You will hurt people you love
  • People that love you will hurt you
  • Life isn’t an exact science.
  • We aren’t entitled to happiness. We experience happiness. And then sadness. And then happiness. Then sadness. Repeat.
  • I made heartfelt contributions to my community because it is who I am
  • Knowing joy requires knowing sorrow
  • Pema Chodron is my spirit guide
  • I believed in my ex, her art, and her heart
  • You can capture imagination but you cannot capture love
  • The language we use to frame the obstacles also frames the possibilities
  • A mistake is a positive opportunity to explore new skills, relationships, and places
  • Embrace the opportunity, own the mistakes
  • I was good and attentive to my exes’ boys
  • When you love someone, no matter how angry, you don’t put them on the street to sleep in their van in December in Wisconsin, keep their things, and spread slander
  • There’s far more going on with my exes than I will ever know
  • There is far more going on with me than I will ever know
  • People are complex
  • The best relationships work smoothly 31% of the time
  • Goal: Unconsciously unskilled –> consciously unskilled –> consciously skilled –> unconsciously skilled
  • I love my ex and if she called today I would make time to listen and talk to her like she is someone I loved
  • I’m responsible for what I say and do, I am not responsible or what you think about what I say or do
  • Your opinion of me is none of my business
  • I am worthy of love
  • I am worthy of forgiveness
  • I am worthy of compassion
  • I am worthy of companionship
  • I bring valuable qualities, strengths, and power to my relationships

The Places I Carry

Places I’ve been, places I remember, and places I imagine.


The Wisdom

The wisdom that has spoke to me.


The Symbols

The symbols that speak to me.

6 thoughts on “54: Lessons from a Black Friday

  1. I think it was a 2 way street with you and C ending. But I’m so glad you’re close to healing, or feeling like you’re finally getting your life back together. Beautiful photos too, by the way. Lessons are learned, we learn to move on from the hurt. Keep driving my friend! Hope you had a happy and lovely thanksgiving ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Loved this post, so many things you have learned, and the one that made me giggle: I learned I can sleep in my van. Glad to have found you as a cyber friend my friend, wouldn’t have happened without the crap! Hope you had a good thanksgiving, looks like you had a reflective one, and that’s always a good thing. ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

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