Not long ago, while on assignment for a story I was writing, I was mocked by a sticker.


A stupid, little, heart-shaped sticker was affixed to a window over the desk of the woman I was interviewing. It was so stupid, and so little, and so heart-shaped, I lost track of my interview questions and began fixating on the sticker and its sinister message.

It was an evil sticker. Trust me.

“What if you did something really brave today?” it asked in its pretentious, mocking, accusatory tone. (Clearly, that’s how the sticker would have sounded had it spoken the self-righteous words it was sporting on its sticker tummy.)

But the question was so stupid, it was insidious. I found myself tormented, feeling stupid and little myself (though definitely not heart-shaped – more like an apple, sadly…).

Sure, it was a stupid little question. But as I sat there, pretending to take notes and feigning interest in what the woman behind the desk was saying (and literally, to this moment I can’t even recall the point of the interview), I began to ponder.

What had I done that was really brave?

Turns out, quite a bit. I sat there and had a total, Oprah-style “a-ha” moment. Indeed, I had done some pretty brave things, but only in hind-sight could I truly recognize the power of these seemingly inconsequential actions. The upheaval that was inspired by the discovery of my ex-husband’s betrayal created such a whirlwind, such a tornado in fact — probably an EF-5 on the Enhanced Fujita scale, I’m thinking — that I found myself constantly adapting to the new landscape into which I was thrown. And then uprooted again. And thrown. And again uprooted. You get the picture.

Here are a few of my superhero highlights (take that, stupid little heart-shaped sticker):

  1. I crossed over that invisible boundary, the line in the bed, so to speak, and began sleeping on “his” side. I decided to stop being afraid of expanding my horizons — even those on my bed — and threw an arm, then a leg, outside of my matrimonially allotted sliver. Symbolic, yes…but huge, nonetheless.
  2. I stopped being ashamed of being divorced – and in fact, I learned to embrace it (this blog is testament to that). While being divorced does not define me, it is yet another piece of the complex puzzle that comprises me. It is part of me, yet I no longer live in fear that people can see the scarlet letter “D” that I was convinced had become irreversibly emblazoned on my chest.
  3. I returned to my maiden name. Having an established reputation in a small town, this was an important decision — and took some serious thought. I had created a successful writing business that in the blissful, naïve stupor inspired by a decade of matrimonial commitment, I had named Dahle Consulting. So obviously, that had to go. But an even bigger consideration was the idea that I would no longer share the same last name as my children. However, I realized that I have contributed far more than a few silly letters to their identity, which helped inspire my decision to re-embrace my former, pre-marriage identity (and shirk the name that now only inspired shudders of disgust).
  4. I decided that people are like socks. Crazy thought, I know, but follow along here: You know how, when you’re folding laundry, you end up with all these white socks? They’re practically identical — except in the smallest of details (the ribbing in one is wider than in another, the seam along the toe line is more pronounced in this one that that, etc.). Well, invariably, I end up pulling a pair of socks from my drawer before going to the gym, and I realize they aren’t exactly the same…and having a wee bit of a Type-A personality, this makes me just a wee bit (read: tremendously) crazy. But then I realize: They seemed a good fit at the time. So, there you have it: I think we’re like socks. There may be one that is closest to a “true” mate, but there are many that fit the bill. My ex wasn’t the closest … but he was a good fit (or at least I thought as much) for almost 14 years. Now I’m looking for the next match. Let’s just hope he’s not rolled up in some fitted sheet and lost forever (which is as creepy as it is potentially tragic)…
  5. I embarked on a serious, long-term relationship…with a guy! (The end of that sentence is important, considering that post-divorce, many women attribute what happened with “a guy” to “all guys” and thus turn to the “non-guy” side.)

Now it’s your turn: Divorced or not, what have you done recently that has been really brave? It could be big (like making a move, changing jobs, having a child) or seemingly insignificant (remember, I’m the girl who made a big deal out of having a monogamous relationship with my shampoo).

After all, we all need to embrace our bravery — and together, maybe we can show that stupid little heart-shaped sticker that mocking people is unnecessary. And heartless. And just plain mean.

Leave a comment below…pretty please?