I was the first to wake that morning.
I was still reeling in the painful aftermath of learning that my husband of nearly two decades had been living a double life. The father of my three sons, and the man I had built a life around, had been having an affair for almost three years.
I stood lifeless in front of the bathroom mirror, looking for any resemblance to the woman I once was. The woman who — until six weeks earlier — embraced life’s challenges with huge exclamation points. A woman who had thrived on saying “Watch me!” to doubters and had built herself up by overcoming obstacles. This time was different. Overcoming this obstacle wasn’t about conquering a challenge or achieving a goal. It was about leaning into fear.
My life was slipping through my fingers. I was now dissolving into the type of woman I had spent years pitying and unconsciously judging. They were the mothers of my children’s friends and the wives of my husband’s business associates — hell, one of them was my mother! Women who appeared lost in the identity of a man. They were simply going through the motions each day. They were sacrificing their dreams, talents and — in my case — self-worth for someone else’s in order to maintain the status quo.
The night before, over a bottle of wine, my best friend had asked for my advice. She had been dissatisfied in her marriage for years. Now, she and her husband were building a business together and were at odds over the company’s direction. She wanted to develop a new product line. He wanted her to sit back and let him run the company. Her boundless enthusiasm around this new venture was palpable. It was clear she was ready to fly. Yet, it seemed she faced choosing between stepping into her greatness and pleasing her husband to save their marriage.
My advice to my dear friend was simple, “Play it small and let him shine.”
She sat silent. I did, too.