When the Roof Falls In
One evening the following January, Janelle came home from work to find a foreclosure notice posted on her front door. Even though she'd known it was coming, her stomach knotted, and she thought, "This is it." A month later, the bank called to inform her that she had to move.
"I loved that house," Janelle says. "It was the all-American home, a place where I thought we would stay for at least 10 years." Yet all those months leading up to the foreclosure had been so stressful that when it finally happened, Janelle did feel a bittersweet sense of relief. Her pastor had told her something too. "What you need is a home, not a house," he said—advice that really struck a chord. The Pereiras found a smaller place to rent, settled in, and had another baby.
Janelle continues to work for Coldwell Banker—ironically, with foreclosures—and today is often the person who must knock on the door to deliver the bad news. It's a job she doesn't shirk. "I really relate to the homeowners, some of whom are very sad," she says. "I usually share my story, telling them that while it's hard to relocate and start over, they will get through it." Her old house? It sold to another family for $155,000. "I can sit around and be depressed about it—which I did for a little bit—but eventually I had to move on. I don't feel ashamed. It's just a part of life. I believe I had good intentions."
Dr. Boss' Analysis: Live with paradox
We often get stuck trying to fix what can't be fixed. But resilience lies in learning to live with less-than-perfect outcomes. An exercise called "both/and thinking" helps you get there: Instead of an all-or-nothing attitude, you embrace the paradox that two states of being can be true, such as "I am both distressed about my lost hopes and dreams and confident I can find new ones." Janelle offers a couple of examples of this. One was acknowledging that she was sad about losing her house and, at the same time, relieved about no longer having to struggle every month to hang on to it. Another example was her realization that yes, she went into foreclosure, and yes, she is still a good and responsible person. Janelle also turned to her faith, which can provide insight into one's circumstances.
From the January 2009 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine.