Uncle Roy

I do not have a fancy house or amazing car or a six figure salary. But I do have something money cannot buy–I have an Uncle Roy.


Having an Uncle Roy is like having a dial a therapist, quite literally because he is a therapist and he always answers your calls. Even if it’s 2:00 a.m…especially if it’s 2:00 am.

Uncle Roy listens. Then he says something profound. Then once you’ve calmed down, he says something witty. And before you know it, you’re feeling centered again.

I have wanted to write about Uncle Roy for awhile, but I don’t know if any words I say can do him justice. I mean, how do you begin to describe a person who invested hours of his time in order to save your life?  The main thing I can tell you is this: everyone needs an uncle Roy.

When everyone had given up hope that I would leave an abusive marriage, Uncle Roy didn’t. When everyone was so sick of hearing me sing verse 742 of the same damn (metaphorical) song and dance, Uncle Roy still gave me the microphone and  said, “Sing louder, because you need to hear yourself. You need to hear your story and realize what’s really going on.” When everyone else told me that my situation freaked them out, Uncle Roy remained calm. When others backed away from me, Uncle Roy came closer.

Everyone needs an Uncle Roy.

When I started to date after my divorce and had dating anxiety, Uncle Roy made me laugh when I told him and Aunt Jeanne about some of the odd and strange men I met through online dating. I laughed and laughed until I couldn’t possibly be hurt or resentful or anxious anymore. Everything that didn’t work out was just too damn funny to be upset by it. But this just amazed me–how my uncle’s jokes could transform a situation that felt like a tragedy into something hilarious, all the while showing empathy at the same time. That’s a GIFT. “When you’re laughing, you’re healing,” he says.

When I became involved in a new relationship with a guy I really liked, my PTSD would sometimes rear its ugly head. It was during these times that my uncle taught me the important truth: “Healthy relationships are not fragile.” And this is what that means: there’s no need to overanalyze things that you did or your partner did or to fear that little mistakes may tear things apart.  Because if it’s healthy and good and the right fit, it will naturally work. And if it’s not, it will start to unravel. This is the natural order of things. You must let go and let it unravel if that’s what it starts to do.

Uncle Roy taught me that I don’t ever have to have all the pieces of a puzzle or all the information I’m seeking to make an informed decision. He taught me this: HOW YOU FEEL about a situation is enough to know how to proceed. If you continually feel unhappy in a certain relationship, your feelings are enough evidence to end it. If you continually feel anxious or resentful towards someone, that’s important information to pay attention to.  If you wake up in the morning and never want to go to your job, that’s a feeling that you need to deal with. If you look out your window and can’t stand where you live, that feeling is information.

You see, these are things that many of us don’t learn growing up. But it’s never to late to learn them. It’s never to late to listen to yourself. And it’s never to late to believe you have everything you need to solve the problem you’re facing.

Uncle Roy has not had a life without hardship. Without divulging too much of his personal info (however, he doesn’t know I’m writing this, because he cannot operate a computer), Uncle Roy went through a painful divorce in his twenties. He experienced the heartache that many involved fathers feel when they can no longer see their children everyday. He felt a deep devastation of betrayal in his life and it took hard work to just keep doing the next thing and not allow his depression to devour him.

But he did it. He woke up everyday, and did what he thought was the right thing to do. And just kept doing that again and again. He eventually turned his shit into fertilizer in his practice as a therapist. He began to help people understand that by doing the next thing, they would survive.  He continued, and still continues, to help others understand the fundamental philosophy of what he refers to as the acronym T.A.K.E., which stands for Tolerance, Acceptance, Kindness, and Encouragement–what he considers to be the foundation of healthy relationships.

I talk about my uncle all the time with others, because I love him.  And also because what I want people to understand is this: you only need one person in your corner. Just one.  And while I do not want to minimize all the incredible people who have played a role in helping me to change the trajectory of my life, Uncle Roy was so pivotal when I was at my lowest of my low.  And he was just there, showing up for me, and somehow never doubting that I could be my own hero.

All you need is one person.  Just one.  I love you, Uncle Roy.

Just Do the Next Thing. 

Being a divorced, single parent is just the weirdest thing. 

There are a lot of weird things in life. Some things only have felt weird to me for a season–like becoming a parent. The whole first six months of that, I was like, “Holy crap, you mean they just don’t stop crying? And they don’t sleep? And my LIFE HAS ESSENTIALLY BEEN TAKEN OVER BY THIS TINY BEING?”

But, I got over the weirdness of that. It took me about six months, as I mentioned, and my brain adjusted to the fact that I was a real mom. I was responsible for this tiny, remarkable being, and by golly, I was determined to get it right. 

But this divorced, single parent thing? Meh. Not so much.

I wrote about my journey towards accepting my divorce here.  I think I did a pretty fabulous job at grieving the loss of my marriage. I also think I have done a pretty fabulous job at being okay with where I’m at in life; I’m definitely okay with telling others that I’m divorced. I’m definitely okay with talking about the mistakes I made in my marriage and accepting responsibility for them. I did all that hard work through therapy, reading, and intense reflection. 

But watching my daughter walk out the door and get into my ex-husband’s car every other weekend? 

I’m not good at that. 

I cry. I don’t cry in front of her, but I call out, “I love you,” close the door, watch her skip to his car, sit down in my rocking chair and cry. 

I feel so alone in that moment. And it’s not about being physically alone. It’s about this feeling that no one understands my suffering in that moment. You may be thinking, geesh, Emily–“suffering” is a strong choice of word there.  But THAT, my friends, is my suffering. 

The experience of watching my child walk out the door of my home and prepare herself mentally to transition over to another home for a brief amount of time, while knowing that the rules and the way the households are run are totally different–THAT is my suffering. 

This is why I sometimes ball up on Sunday mornings when I’m child free in my bed and hit the snooze button until noon. Not because I need that much sleep; but, because I am sad for my child. I grieve that she doesn’t have the normalcy of a childhood that I did. I grieve that I am not with her. I grieve that I don’t know what she’s doing in her other home. I grieve that she has to transition all the time between two homes which is just heartbreaking to me. 

So it’s in these moments, like I had this a.m., that I literally put my hands on my heart, and say to myself, “This is hard. It hurts. Give yourself this moment to cry. And then, go and do the next thing.” 

Whatever that thing may be–now go and do that, Emily. You must do that next thing. And then the next, and the next, and so on. 

So now I’m going to the laundromat. Because that is my next thing. 

  
And as a sidenote, when you feel sad, google “suffering quotes.” I know… You’re probably thinking– won’t this make me feel more down? No, it won’t, because you will be reminded that suffering is part of the human existence. Here are just a few I found this morning:

“To hurt is as human as to breathe.” -J.K. Rowling

“Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seated with scars.”-Kahlil Gibran

“If you’re going through hell, keep going.” -Winston Churchill

“Something very beautiful happens to people when their world has fallen apart: a humility, a nobility, a higher intelligence emerges at just the point when our knees hit the floor.” -Marianne Williamson

“I thought faith would say, I’ll take away the pain and discomfort, but what it ended up saying was, I’ll sit with you in it.” -Brene Brown

So, my faith is with me here in this laundromat. And I know that when I feel that overwhelming sadness, I will once again, put my hand over my heart, recognize that the moment sucks, and then do the next thing. 

And the next thing. 

And then the next. 

And then, you’re okay again. I’m okay again. 😎