I find myself breathing a lot these days, simply looking around at our new home, closing my eyes and really taking in the last few years. Moments spent standing on the deck in Australia, looking out over the ocean. Remembering the smells, the wind blowing in my hair, the salt air. That feeling of adventure and excitement as we boarded a plane in Nashville two years ago, simply carrying four one-way tickets and 8 suitcases.

Mornings spent sipping coffee and watching kangaroos at the villa in the vineyards when we first arrived. Our holiday to the beach that resulted in our next move. Learning to drive on the other side of the road and going the wrong way on a round-a-bout more than once or twice. The first time I went to the shops alone, staring at the aisles of unfamiliar labels and foods, feeling like a complete fish out of water.

As life began to settle, things that were once foreign became familiar. New friendships were formed. Life was happening. It was my new normal.

And when it all came crashing down, it shook my world and me to the very core. 

On a camping weekend away with friends, where I woke up early to work and literally brokered a 6-figure publishing deal from the picnic bench, to later that day, I sat crying at the water with one of my dearest friends. From one end of the emotional spectrum to the other. The weeks and months leading up to that moment and my girlfriend looking at me and saying, “Jenn, you need to go home” were hard. Very hard.

Heartbreak comes in many forms. Sometimes it is the sudden loss of a loved one or a long drawn out goodbye for health reasons.  Sometimes it is the end of a relationship or friendship. Sometimes its seeing our children hurting. Sometimes it’s the loss of our careers and that piece of our identity that was once attached to it. And sometimes it is realizing that you need to love yourself more.

I have friends who have walked with me through the last decade of my life, getting a front row seat to the ups and downs that came with being married to someone who struggles with alcohol and addiction.

I was talking with someone recently and when they wanted me to engage with them in an angry diatribe about my situation and the circumstances that prompted our move, I simply told them I wouldn’t allow myself to go down that path. When I explained that every decision I have made has been done with love and consideration at the forefront, they turned that anger around on me – insisting I was a fool.

Granted, they apologized later and said they were having a rough week, but it got me thinking – how many other people are going through life choosing anger?

Don’t get me wrong, there are many things that have happened that have made me angry. I certainly own moments that I am not proud of. But when all is said and done, remaining angry is a choice. It’s your choice.

Just last week, my children and I watched the movie A Wrinkle in Time, which is a great example that children can understand about the “dark” taking over. We talked about how when you allow darkness to consume you, anger is what happens. It is okay to be angry, but there are healthy ways to let it out and let it go. When you hang onto it, you change. You lose a piece of yourself. You lose your light.

It is a lesson that comes easy when addressing our children, but what about as adults. Particularly when it comes to relationships.

Life is hard and can present painful situations. And while the natural “go to” when you are feeling hurt is anger, think about how much more we all stand to gain if we approached these things from a place of love and acceptance instead. In all aspects of life, really.

We are all human. We all make mistakes. We all stumble from time to time. We are all just doing the best we can. Sometimes relationships end. Sometimes friendships end. Sometimes two people who truly care for one another simply can’t make it work. But why approach those things with anger and hatred?

I was having coffee with another friend a few weeks ago. She has walked through a lot of moments and life with me, and now that we are back on the same side of the world, we talked openly about what happened. The catalyst for what brought us home. Three, not four.

A health crisis comes in many different forms, it doesn’t have to be cancer or something we can easily define. Sometimes crisis comes in the form of mental health, the disease of addiction stealing the very essence from another human being. If you have never dealt with addiction, you cannot understand the emptiness that consumes the eyes of those struggling as they fall deeper and deeper into it and the path of destruction that follows. The empty stare from the person next to you, unrecognizable and incapable of being present. And there is nothing you can do. You didn’t’ cause it. You can’t control it. You can’t cure it. It’s something I wish nobody ever had to experience, but sadly, I know many are.

I gave up everything to go abroad on the promise of a new beginning, that this would never happen again.

A pill that hasn’t been easy to swallow, but one that I hope in being honest, might help others.

If you allow yourself to be swallowed by anger, that is exactly what your life will look like. Walls up. A distant heart. A lack of hope and joy. An emptiness that consumes you.

I choose love. Period. And sometimes love means letting go of what we thought our life was supposed to look like and redesigning it, one step at a time and one day at a time.

I don’t care how broken my heart may be, how sad the circumstances might get, I will never allow myself to fall into despair. Life is both too short and too beautiful…even in all its brokenness.

Here’s to a new week and sending virtual hugs to anyone who is struggling – be it in their relationships, their friendships, through illness, or heartbreak. Please remember, we are all going through something. The world has enough assholes. Be nice. Choose love.

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