Over the past month, I was subjected to an evaluation. It got me thinking about the mistakes I made in the past, the mistakes I am making currently and the mistakes I will make in the future because I am human. I always say, “When we know better, we do better.” My wise wing-man told me today, “Man, I can mess up a lotta stuff too– just human nature: make mistakes, learn, try again, fall down, get up, move on, life’s learning cycle.”
It took me 40 years to learn this and I’m still learning.
I have made a career out of doing better. You see, when I first filed for divorce I felt like that Gone with the Wind famous quip, “I don’t know nothin’ ’bout birthin’ no babies….” Except that I knew nothin’ about raising these boys alone. I prayed long and hard to save my marriage. I did everything I knew how to do, and saving my marriage and keeping it intact for my children is and will be one of my greatest unanswered prayers next to healing my mother from breast cancer. As many of you know, my marriage failed and my mom died. Two whoppers of unanswered prayers.
I think back to those days when I was building my company and my kids were babies and my mom was so sick… The one thing I lacked at that time was sleep. I was reading a compelling article today by my dear friend and mentor Dr. Suzanne Phillips on Psych Central where she wrote “Every study has indicated that cognitive thinking, mood, energy and judgment are impaired when a person is exhausted.”
In my quest for understanding myself and forgiving myself for my mistakes, that statement gave me peace and not an excuse. I finally understood why in those days I was so emotional, so tired, my thinking was way-off at times and I made more mistakes than normal. And I can make a lot – crash-and-burn San is not without merit. I had a fender bender. I had bad fights with loving friends like my wing-man who only wanted to support me. Does it make me a bad person, a bad friend or a bad parent?
No, it makes me a hurting, exhausted parent grieving and suffering too much loss. In an attempt to mitigate the pain of betrayal and loss, I invited every expert I could on my shows – who I now know were the gifts to my unanswered prayers. During the midst of all this drama, I was invited to host two radio shows on motherhood. In front of me were experts in all the sorts of problems I was having, my kids were having, my company was having. It was a cornucopia of advice, support and guidance. It would not have happened if “crash-and-burn San” didn’t jack-knife.
I look back to the person I was and I am so thankful for the unanswered prayers. Even my mother’s passing, if she wasn’t going to get well and continue to suffer, it was a blessing she was finally at peace. I feel her everyday and when I am particularly low she sends a Blue-Bird to the park where I walk to cheer me with up. At least I like to think so.
If I were a stranger, or a therapist, or a counselor, I would tell “Sandra from the Past” that she did the best she could with the skills she had at the time. And when she knew better, she did better, so don’t beat herself and congratulate herself for bringing her shame and suffering to the media with solutions from experts so we can all do better because we know better.
When my wing-man told me today that it’s “life’s learning cycle”, it made a lot of sense. And, if you don’t want to believe it from me… listen to the old Garth Brooks song “Unanswered Prayers.”
Sometimes I thank God for unanswered prayers Remember when you’re talkin’ to the man upstairs That just because he doesn’t answer doesn’t mean he don’t care Some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers
Bouncing with Style is about taking ownership over where you are going and where you have been. Doing better because we know better is a universal condition. It goes hand in hand with kindness and forgiveness. It doesn’t matter the mistakes you make, it matters what you do after you make them. And your prayers may go unanswered, but know that some of those unanswered prayers are the biggest gifts of all.