Are we so very fragile?

My friend called me late at night with the worried tone in her voice she usually gets when contemplating global warming or the potential extinction of the Western Lowland gorilla. But the object of her concern was not global. Instead, it sat just a bedroom away, in tears.

Her college-aged daughter was weathering a breakup. Now, there are breakups and there are breakups, right? This was not the love of her life (although she may have thought so, temporarily). This wasn’t even a “nice” guy. Oh sure, he appeared to have the credentials any parent would love—handsome, charming (when necessary), bright, athletic—but those very things had made him a complete cad. He never really had to work for much—the grades, the girls, the summer job at his father’s firm. And it showed.

Without all the gory details, her daughter (we’ll call her J) had been dumped—and had realized her boyfriend had been anything but faithful. When I walked into her room the next night, she was into what I think might have been her second pint of Rocky Road (an oh-so-appropriate break-up choice—I applauded it in my head).

Given that I had just finished an unpleasant and unsavory run-in with my own cad, my friend thought I could share some wisdom with her daughter. “I need a warrior princess,” she said. “And honey, you know I’m no warrior princess. You’re 5’2” of pure feminine mettle.”

I was not sure if I felt like Xena, but I certainly felt competent enough to help J. I dragged her daughter out of her bedroom and to my house for dinner. I didn’t poke or prod– just let her sit while I cooked. I hummed as I worked and laughed at my dog’s attempts to wheedle some ground beef out of me.

“Didn’t you just go through a breakup?” she asked me.

“Sure did,” I replied.

“So why do you seem so happy?” she asked, bewildered.

“Because I am, honey. I dodged a bullet. The Universe came through for me again,” I said, giving her a smile. “I ignored my radar with this one. Convinced myself I was interested because it was summer and I wanted a playmate to do all those summer things with. I ignored a few warning signs because of that. He turned out to be a liar and a cheat, but I get to walk away from his muck–he has to live with it. All that means is that I should have listened to my gut. I didn’t. The Universe stepped in early—I was protected.”

“Huh,” she said. “But doesn’t it hurt that he wasn’t straight with you?”

“It only hurts him in the end. Not me,” I answered. “I did not give him my heart and soul. I at least knew better than that. I was kind. I was human. But I wasn’t stupid. And neither were you.”

“Yes, I was,” she wailed, bursting into tears. “I feel so stupid.”

I took a deep breath. How to say it in a way that makes sense at 21?

“Listen up, Toots. You are bright. Attractive. Kind. Giving. There will be many Tony’s in life—cads and the like—but there will also be bright, attractive, kind, giving men. Some improve with age. Some remain a permanent adolescent and you will learn to spot those like a fly in butter. But you will end up with the sexiest of men—a man who is masculine enough to be kind, gentle and strong all at once– because you know who you are.”

She took in what I said, stirring her iced tea.

I knew she was ready for the finale. “Are we so very fragile that one man who will make his own misery drags us into it?” I asked. “Trust me, being Tony will be its own version of hell. That boy has a lot of ick on the way. But you, my dear, you will reap what you have sown. Karma, babe. Pure karma.”

“Mom always calls you a steel magnolia, Kristine,” she said. “She says you’re feminine but strong and that’s a rare combo.”

Oh my dear girl, not so rare. An army of us exist. And I think I just added one to the ranks, if the smile on your face is any indication.

Booyah. Chuck that Rocky Road and bring on the Empower Mint.




31 Comments Add yours

  1. ntexas99 says:

    Found your blog by way of Judy. (hope the insertion of the hyperlink worked … sorry if I messed it up … not so bright technologically, but like to let folks know how I found them).

    Loved how this was a potent reminder that even in the midst of a painful transition, we can often find our strength in our ability to believe that things really do work out the way they should, and trusting this can help us accept the bumps in the road, even when it hurts. We humans have amazing resiliency, and the more we recognize and are reminded of that fact, the easier those transitions become. Great post!

    1. candidkay says:

      Well, thankful for Judy’s rec and for your kind words:). Resiliency is a beautiful thing, isn’t it? Once we get to it. The getting there bit is sometimes the ugly part . . .

  2. So fantastic. Dinner at your house must be awesome. I loved getting to be there in the kitchen for this convo. Thank you for taking us all there! Get it Princess Warrior!!

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you! My kids don’t always think dinner at my house is awesome :-). Far too healthy and full of Mom wisdom that they don’t always want to hear. But I’m hoping these are the memories that stick when they get older!

  3. Good advice to that young lady. When my youngest (at the age of 18)broke up with her first “true love,” I wound up driving home from work and breaking every traffic law in the books because she was so upset. But she survived and then met someone new whom the entire family acceped. That lasted several years, and they broke up over the issue of whether or not to have kids (she wanted, he didn’t). While she was upset, of course, she weathered it like most of us do – a call to mom and a comforting dinner (with wine). Recently, she began dating someone totally wrong for her – a Google search showed he had prior domestic abuse issues! When she eventually listed to everyone and dumped the AH, she simply said, “Dodged that bullet!” I’m happy to say that at the age of 26, she is now in what appears to be a stable relationship with a mom-approved gentleman.

    All women (for that matter, men, too) need to realize that everyone will experience numerous relationships before finding the one that sticks. Knowing that helps us get through the worst of them.

    1. candidkay says:

      We are wired for healing and learning, I guess. I would just prefer to learn through joy rather than pain :-). But unfortunately, I think all of us signed up for both in this life.

  4. nimslake says:

    Beautiful! Love the choice ‘Rocky Road’. And we can be Xena when we need to be. 😊

    1. candidkay says:

      Amen to that! Sword and all:).

  5. Amy says:

    All flags waving here!!! You ROCK!! Fabulous outlook, fabulous advice!! xoxoxo

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you, friend! The world at large shows me good men everywhere. Online dating, on the other hand . . . oy. I hope she never resorts to that! 🙂

  6. When I was recently dealing with a selfish cad of my own (a continuing situation in some ways…he won’t quite disappear on me), a friend gave me this advice. “Imagine that what you have just told me is the story that one of your daughters has just come to you with. What would you say to her?” she said. “Give yourself that same advice.” Easier said than done, however…but last night that same friend said this: “Whatever you decide about him, we are there for you…always and forever…even if you decided to marry the cad, we would be there for you.” We all need friends like this, who will talk straight, but forgive us if we don’t make the decision they would make for us. You’re that kind of friend too, Kristine, I can see that. J and her mother are both lucky to have you.

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you, Lee! Again I wish we could share a glass of wine together and chat into the wee hours :-). We are both far too wise to remain with someone does not have her best interest at heart or cannot seem to serve them the matter how hard he tries.

      1. One day we might be able to do just that! Stranger things have happened, and who knows when my travels might bring me your way! The universe works in mysterious ways 🙂

  7. Rocky Road, Steel Magnolia and perspective! No girl should leave home without it! Brava 🙏🏻😇😇🙏🏻

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you:). They should sell kits, right?!

      1. Ha exactly! Start your own 😎😃😎

  8. Elaine says:

    Cheers to your smart friend for calling in Captain Steel Magnolia for help! Thank you on behalf of all females for teaching another sister how to be strong and smart! You Rock! All 5’2″ of you!

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you, friend:). I love the way you put things! Always on the positive angle . . .

  9. Love love love this post. Her mom was so right to bring you in.

    1. candidkay says:

      It’s easy to be the hero when you’re not the mom :-). When I have the mom hat on, I get the same pushback she does!

  10. I so enjoyed this! Thank you so much for sharing. J is a very lucky girl to have such a warrior in her life 🙂 Way to go Ms. Empower-Mint!
    You helped pick up my spirits as well.
    With Respect, Hope, Joy and Love, Carmela

    1. candidkay says:

      I’m glad I picked up your spirits! Even if just through the ether:). Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

  11. My daughter came home crying over the guy she’s been living with for 2.5 years. I gave her brownies, a soft blanket, and offered to have him whacked. I know people who know people. She didn’t want me to whack him and then she started talking on the phone with him. In the end I told her to go back to him – she wasn’t done with him yet. The following week she called to thank me. I said no thanks were necessary because I didn’t actually get to have him whacked. That made her laugh. My work here was done. :o)

    1. candidkay says:

      The definition of a good mother–someone who can talk about hit men while baking brownies:). LOL. Funny–even when we know something is not right, there are often lessons we know we still have to learn. Usually painful. And we go back. I hope hers are as painless as possible. Thanks for stopping by my blog:).

  12. Masqued says:

    Reblogged this on How Many Masks? and commented:
    Tuesdays I’ve decided to Reblog posts that I have found well-written and inspiring. Candidkay gives some wonderful advice on recovering from relationships in this posts. I love her perspective.

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you so much! For the reblog and your kind words. I hope your readers enjoy and feel their own internal warrior princess:).

  13. George says:

    It always means more from someone who’s been there and can communicate the truth in a direct but understanding way. She and her mom are lucky to have you in their lives.

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you, George. Her mom is one wise woman but as anyone who has ever been a daughter or raised one knows–sometimes it’s hard for a daughter to take advice from her mother:). My mother (of six girls!) would have attested to that:).

      1. George says:

        My wife, of three girls, would second that..:)

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