66: Finding a Way

66: Finding a Way

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Time to Thrive

Finding a Way

Happiness quite unshared can scarcely be called happiness; it has no taste.

~Charlotte Brontë

Having shared my heart and home with my fiancé for almost fifteen years, I was devastated when he informed me that he was ending our relationship and moving out of our home within twenty-four hours. I had to put my heartbreak on hold though, as I needed to focus on how I was going to buy the house from him and continue to pay for my daughter’s college education while being self-employed.

After a critical analysis of my financial status, I realized that I was relatively close to being able to buy out the house that I had cherished for all those years, but was going to have difficulty meeting my daughter’s college expenses. As my daughter had always been a bright and dedicated student, I did not want to impede her education, so I looked at my options. While getting a roommate wasn’t my first choice, I realized that my empty guest room would be very suitable for someone who needed a temporary, comfortable living arrangement.

With much trepidation, but with a resolve to finding a way to make things work, I posted a listing for the extra room. I was pleased to find one roommate who had to move into the area to take care of his father who had stage IV liver cancer. As it turned out, the house became a sanctuary for him, as he was able to find peace in my beautiful back yard to endure the struggles he encountered during this emotionally painful time.

After his departure, my next roommate also found added benefit from my home. He was transferred to the area by his employer and arrived at my home in a state of disarray, both physically and emotionally. He was almost 100 pounds overweight, was in the middle of a divorce, and was having to assume a major responsibility in a new location for his employer.

This roommate benefitted from my guidance in helping him lose seventy-six pounds, which he has kept off for several years. In addition, my back yard also provided a soothing environment for him to work through the end of a thirty-year marriage.

While my roommates received benefits from living here, I was afforded the opportunity to pay for my daughter’s education as well as focus my efforts on healing my mind and heart from the loss of my relationship.

I found the inner strength to boldly attempt an option that I might not have explored if my desperation did not motivate me. What I learned from this process was much more than I anticipated. From my first roommate, I learned about sacrifice and the power that love of a parent can give us. He left his job and his home to travel to a part of the country that he had no interest in. He literally put his life on hold so that he could be available for his father. He took a minimum-wage job to make ends meet, which afforded him the flexibility to spend as much time with his dad as possible. He conducted himself with compassion and dignity during one of the most difficult times of his life.

He taught me that while I might have been struggling, I could still choose how I wanted to behave. I could have crouched in a corner feeling sorry for myself. Or I could, like he did, face the situation realistically and let the love I had for my child guide me to deal with my circumstances with compassion and dignity.

My second roommate taught me that with determination a person could achieve great things. His commitment to his weight management and fitness program was admirable, and he did it without complaint and with consistent perseverance. He also taught me that when life gives you a new opportunity, you can choose to allow fear of the unknown to hold you back, or you can take a chance and see if there are additional benefits for you to realize.

My daughter has graduated not only from college, but also from Le Cordon Bleu in Paris and has started her own culinary business. Seeing what she has accomplished at such a young age is reward enough for the choices that I made.

In addition, my heart and spirit have not only healed but also blossomed. I have taken the time and made the commitment to myself to heal and move forward. There were times when I wondered if I had the inner strength to once again reach a place of peace, contentment, and joy in my life. I have to thank my roommates for helping guide me in this journey and my daughter for her daily reminder that with compassion, dignity, determination, and perseverance, life can be filled with the riches that matter the most.

~Judith Fitzsimmons

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