22: Endings Are Beginnings

22: Endings Are Beginnings

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Tough Times, Tough People

Endings Are Beginnings

In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.

~Robert Frost

Seven years ago, I was living in a cushy little bubble... luxury condo on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, a beautiful little boy attending private school, a successful Wall Street husband, nannies, a driver, a housekeeper and all the so-called “comforts.” It appeared picture-perfect. It all came to an abrupt halt one morning, when I received a call that my husband, a prominent investment advisor, had been arrested for securities fraud.

Simultaneously, our bank accounts were frozen, our assets were seized and our salacious story of demise was being played out in the media like a soap opera. I remember the terror of standing before the ATM at the bank unable to access even a dollar. I was left with whatever funds could be found in my wallet.

Within days, stories of blackmail and extramarital affairs were revealed in the newspapers. Court-appointed trustees were suddenly marching through our home, taking an inventory of personal items. Realtors were lined up to confiscate and sell our apartment. My life had been flipped over as it went from literally one extreme to another overnight. Suddenly, the perfect picture faded away as if someone was holding a finger on the delete button of my keyboard and in an instant it was gone.

My new reality was filled with lawyers, depositions, court dates, accusations and assumptions as certain friends and business associates faded away. My new life left me bare, raw and exposed. I was forced to take a good look at myself in the mirror.

During the drama, I stood by my husband with the staunch determination of a protective Mama Bear. I believed him and believed that it was my job to support him through this no matter what. Initially I was angry with all the lawyers, judges, clients, employees and even friends who challenged me—I felt under attack and victimized. I ran on adrenaline.

Anxiety and fear permeated the air around us. Fear is a vice grip that will ultimately manifest physically within you. There are no coincidences in life—listen to a headache, a backache, difficulty sleeping, low energy, etc., and ask yourself, “What’s really going on here? What am I truly afraid of?” My stress was so traumatic that I entered into premature menopause before my fortieth birthday. All I wanted to do was crawl back into the comfort of my bed, pull the 600-thread count Frette duvet over my head and wake up realizing that this was some bad dream. I had entered a new reality. My grandmother used to tell me, “God never gives you more than you can handle.” There were many days I felt as if I was teetering on that brink.

I ended our seven-year marriage, my husband was incarcerated, and I was left to raise our son with no child support. I didn’t see the gift in it all when I was forced to move home to live with my parents at forty-one years old and commute by train daily with my kindergartener, one and a half hours each way, so that he could complete his school year and I could work from a friend’s office. It was a humbling experience for my ego. Initially it was difficult for me to accept support from friends and family, let alone money. I had much to learn.

When I finally opened myself to receiving, I assumed a new role of victim with great fervor. It was easier for me to blame others for what had happened in my life than to look inward and ask myself what opportunity this was presenting. I had become a victim, and went from one extreme of never wanting to speak about my story to the other extreme of telling anyone who would listen—as if those events defined me. Victims are stuck. Their feet are firmly planted in self-pity, preventing their ability to move forward.

The truth is that we all have an inner voice to help us navigate life’s paths. We know when we are honoring this voice and we know how to hide when we don’t want to hear it. I always say, you can sweep your troubles under the rug, but eventually you will trip over them. We may not understand why everything is happening to us at any given moment, but we can have a willingness to approach it from another angle.

I had a burning desire within me to forge through this, to not stay bound to this place of utter despair. My paradigm shift did not come easily; they never do. Therapy, energy healing, self-help books, kinesiology, horoscopes, yoga and candles... I was receptive to anything that would facilitate this shift. By calling forth the virtues in each of these, I facilitated healing. I am no longer hiding from my intuition, my heart and my inner voice, forces that I had previously denied or not fully acknowledged. I no longer see myself as a victim.

The purpose of sharing this is not to exploit my drama, but rather to celebrate the gifts that emerge if only you have your eyes open and your heart prepared to receive them. There is an “ah ha” moment when the lights go on. We are never quite familiar with ourselves until we are brought to our knees. Looking back, I realize that I needed to experience the deconstruction in order to prepare for the reconstruction of my life.

Clichés are clichés for a reason. They speak of Universal Truths. “That which doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” Amen. But first you must choose; choose to explore what brought you to the crossroads; choose to take a step back with the willingness to look at things differently; choose to recognize the gifts around you. Once I opened my eyes, these gifts were everywhere, in all forms, in all sizes. My happiness was not found in the bricks and mortar of a luxury apartment that I had previously placed so much emphasis upon. I have chosen to see what I have gained, not what I have lost. Although my bank account may be small, my life is abundant.

And now... seven years later, I find myself in a crazy little farm house nestled into the mountains of a small town with the happiness that my previous life did not hold. Stories always have a beginning, a middle, and an ending... but I am only in the midst of my life. All endings give way to new beginnings. I know that had I not gone through all that I did, I could not have arrived at this moment—so I am profoundly grateful for the ride. I am now in the relationship I have waited my life to find. My little boy is thriving. There is a peace within our family and home that transcends any financial reward. I am still working on my personal financial recovery. Don’t get me wrong, I miss my money, but I am no longer a passenger in the backseat of my car. I am the driver, my eyes are open and I am accountable for my actions. It is a wonderful journey.

~Kristen Eberhard

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