August 10, 2021

“When Life gives you Lemons, make Lemonade”: my Journey from Dysfunction to Rose-Colored Glasses.


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This article was inspired by a text I received from a 30-something friend who feels like a daughter, sister, and girlfriend rolled into one.

Life brought us together because we had similar battle scars. Life keeps us together because we teach each other how to turn them into our greatest asset. We know what we don’t want because we didn’t have it growing up. Our family dynamics are painfully similar. So we intrinsically understand each other in a way, others may not. Our superpower is flipping the script and telling our story in a way that fuels us, rather than disables us.

She read my article The First 50 Years of Marriage are Always the Hardest and sent me this message, “Did you write about growing up with unhappy parents/dad/how you didn’t want that life for you/kids yet?” To which I responded, ”Not yet, but good thought.”

So I dedicate this to my sweet Ali who continues to believe in love, in all of its forms, no matter how many times life would have her doubt it.

It is my great privilege to mentor a beautiful girl who got swatted back and forth quite a bit by family dynamics. I’ve felt that sting. I have watched you rise up from the mud and blossom into an extraordinary lotus. You are the sweetest mama to your baby boy and every time he smiles, he radiates the love you have surrounded him with. Bravo to you for setting aside your personal experience without bitterness. Here’s to a lifetime of delicious lemonade making, the sweeter the better. May the recipe remain in your heart always. Cheers to you, my silver lining sister.

I am a silver lining girl.

I came out that way. You can find me on Instagram as rosiecoloredglasses. Most people would tell you that is how I see the world. It is a choice I make every morning when I wake up. Mind you, I still wear glasses so I can see clearly. I simply added a rose tint to the lens. The prescription for my glasses is ”What good do you see? What sh*t do you see that you can turn into fuel? What do you know that you draw on to improve your vision?” I see the glass half full. I am grateful that there’s anything in the glass. I might even comment on how beautiful the glass is.

You could say that I’ve had more than a few opportunities to grow in my life. Some would see them as obstacles to overcome, but that perspective makes me feel bad on the inside. I am grateful for the family the universe chose to give me. Growing up in the environment taught me exactly how and how not to raise my children. I had a front-row seat to dysfunctional relationships all around me. I watched games being played. I learned that if I wanted to be in a “happy” home, I’d have to choose a partner who shared that vision. We would motivate each other.

I was the only student in my elementary school with divorced parents, but I wore it as a badge of honor. Home wouldn’t require so much of my mental and emotional resources and that was worth all of the adjustments that came with starting over.

My bruises were on the inside, and I missed a sense of love and comfort. So how did I make love and happiness my top priority as a wife and mother? I just did. It’s really that simple.

I knew the alternative because I had lived it. That wasn’t an option. I chose to learn from the hardships that came my way. Each and every time I had a hurdle to jump over, I took a moment afterward to digest, “What did that experience teach me? What was the lesson?”

I’ve never really been a “Why me?” girl. It is fairly easy for me to see why certain chapters of my life existed. I was the only person who could decide whether to tell the world my sad story or to pull up my big girl panties and write my own. And that is what I did.

The chain of family dysfunction would end with me. I would make decisions that supported what I needed for my children, and the first one was “Who shall I partner with?” I considered the qualities in my now-husband long before they were needed as a father. I believe that we teach people about love by demonstrating it—in our spouses and our children. It is imperative that you both speak the same love language. It may manifest in different ways and that keeps things interesting but ground rules have to mean something. If you are only talking the talk, it’s a waste of your breath. Step up and walk the walk.

I encourage every spouse and parent to think about what their mission statement is for their relationship.

What is the bottom line? What are your nonnegotiables? What do you insist upon? Where are you willing to meet in the middle? The most important thing a person can do to ensure his/her dreams come true is to be aware of what those dreams are.

Most people go through life hanging on to the bumper of a car that someone else is driving. They end up wherever someone else takes them because they aren’t clear where they want to go. I decided early on in my childhood that I was going to be the driver of my own happiness. I would think outside the box and take whatever I needed along the way.

I’m 58 years old. I’ve been married for 33 years and I have two children who I not only love but genuinely like. I wouldn’t dare take credit for who they are, though I think they would credit me with being there as they navigated their life’s journey. They are 27 and 24, and I continue to be a sounding board when they are making life choices. I needed my mom more in my 20s than I ever did in my teens. The stakes were higher and the consequences more far-reaching.

It is entirely possible to choose the opposite of what you had. Credit life’s challenges with being your greatest teacher. That has been the recipe to my current state of bliss—sprinkle love wherever you are, dream big dreams, and when life starts to squeeze, make lemonade #withacherryontop.


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