I have a tiny Christmas tree I set up every year in my apartment in Washington, D.C. It’s a simple one, with red velvet ribbons and translucent glass spheres that glow when I turn on the little white lights that adorn its branches. I top it with a beautiful vintage silver reindeer ornament I found in a Western Maryland thrift store years ago.
I can’t look at my tree without thinking of one of my closest friends, Beth. She knew me before I left my ex-husband. She was standing next to me watching the sun set outside our favorite dive bar in Frostburg, Md., when I first said those words out loud: “I think I want to get a divorce.” She held my hand when I pierced my belly button, a painful act of defiance I endured while deciding if I also had the courage to start over. And she brought me my Christmas tree, something she found at a yard sale, during one of the darkest times of my life: when I was waiting out a year of separation before my divorce was finalized in the State of Maryland.
It goes without saying: when you are going through a divorce, your friends save you, again and again. They take you out for cocktails. They listen to your dating horror stories. They reassure you that you will get through it — the paperwork, the financial stress, the lonely nights when you’re not sure who you are anymore, the mornings when it’s hard to get out of bed.
My list of these friends is endless, and not a day goes by that I don’t feel incredibly grateful they came into my life and cheered me on when I wasn’t sure I would make it. Some examples:
- My friend Caresse, who came over one day and watched “Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce” with me for five hours straight, drinking wine and making me laugh. She no longer lives in D.C. but is one of the strongest, most real ladies I know, and I still text her with random life updates. She’s very dear to me and someone I admire greatly.
- My friends Chad and Jessica, whom I met one night in a whiskey bar. I was sitting there drinking alone, feeling sad and uncertain about my future. They were celebrating their first wedding anniversary and asked me to take a photo of them. We still laugh about the grim expression I had on my face in response to this request. I ended up confessing to them that night I was going through a divorce and they took me under their wing, reassured me they were also survivors of divorce and older, broken relationships and had still found each other. Now several years later, we continue to get together and cheer each other on in life and love.
- The tribe of my heart of hearts, Alex, Miranda and Justin, my D.C. friends I knew before I even moved here who introduced me to wonderful places in the city and wowed me with their brilliance, charm, career success and passion for life. Miranda and Alex are now a wonderful couple, and Justin is forever my knight in shining armor. I can reach out to any of them at any time and get their feedback, friendship, love and support. So lucky to have them in my orbit.
- My friends Robyn and Laura, who came into my life unexpectedly when we all connected at a mutual friend’s happy hour. There are many reasons I am grateful for them, but one of the most powerful ways they helped me was when I had my heart broken for the first time after my divorce. We were sitting there enjoying copious amounts of rosé and I literally started weeping and couldn’t stop. That was how bad it was. They also came over one night when I was at home crying over this same terrible guy, just because they knew I needed them. Since then, we’ve all unexpectedly had major changes in our lives and haven’t seen each other as often as we wish, but I will always love them because they are wickedly funny, smart, creative, beautiful women who inspire me with their badassery.
- My gorgeous, elegant friend and coworker Tinesi. Our paths crossed because we both work together and one day she noticed me leaving my desk and returning with my eyes a little redder than before. We realized we were both going through a divorce at the same time (I had to get up and cry in the restroom a few times, that first year), and it created a strong bond between us. I admire her for so many reasons: she’s a successful entrepreneur, a busy mom with beautiful children, a fashion powerhouse. But mostly because she was an empathetic human being at work during a time when my heart really needed it. I actually wrote about her on my blog, you can read about how awesome she is here.
- My friend Elsa, whom I also met through work. She’s wildly successful and unbelievably busy, yet always makes time for me when her travels bring her to D.C. She’s also been a staunch supporter of Bride in Reverse, sharing it with her own networks and offering me great advice on my career path and writing ambitions. I adore her and appreciate her enthusiasm, fearlessness and pursuit of her own passions and causes. She’s amazing!
- My lovely friend Jane, another coworker who became one of my very best friends. She has taught me so much about the importance of mindfulness and how becoming yourself is a journey you approach with gratitude and empathy.
I think we should all recognize and celebrate these friends in our lives.
So today I’m declaring a special holiday for them: “Thank a Friend Who Helped You Survive Your Divorce” Day. December seems like as good a time as any: the holidays can be very stressful and emotional for all of us, and also a solid reminder that love and friendships are the truest gifts any of us will ever need.
If this idea of honoring friendships that found their way into your life during your divorce also resonates with you, take the time to reach out to these friends today. Post a photo of the two of you on social media, along with your thoughts on why they matter to you. Text them, FaceTime them, call them. Let them know they matter to you and have helped you become who you are. Tell them you will be there for them, too.
Thanks so much. Cheers to all the Brides in Reverse out there. ❤