Divorce taught Elizabeth Lesser to take responsibility for her life.

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After 14 years of marriage, Elizabeth left her husband and became a single mother of two young boys. "I lost everything—my financial security, my self-image, my home…and in the depth of that loss, I found out who I really was," she says. "I began to find a genuine me that could withstand anything."

When faced with a difficult situation, Elizabeth says you can either break down or break open. "It's a decision you make," she says. "It's a commitment. [You say:] 'I am going through a very hard time. I'm not going to waste this precious experience, this opportunity to become the best me.' … You say: 'This has got to be for a reason. If it isn't, I'll just repeat the same mistakes over and over. I don't want to repeat them. I want to learn it this time. I want it to help me become a better person, a better mother, a better person in my relationship the next time."

Elizabeth says her divorce taught her to take ownership of her life. "I couldn't blame anyone for what had gone wrong in the marriage. I had spent a lot of time blaming my ex-husband. But I had to take the responsibility myself," she says. "I had to say, 'What does this have to teach me about me?' Not about him and not about how unfair life is. It wasn't about that. It was, 'What did I do to make this happen?' The pain is really looking at yourself and what you did to create the mess you're in. [But you need to] look at it head on, fearlessly, and say, 'Teach me. Teach me about myself so I can grow.'"
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FROM: When Life Breaks You Open
Published on January 14, 2009

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