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When Life Blows Up on Every Level.

7 years ago mine did and I survived.

I make it a rule to never take advice from someone who hasn’t been there, so I’ll share with you what happened, and then I’ll share how I got through my own personal tunnel of hell.

In a 30 day period I lost it all: my money, love, health, a baby, beloved pets, security and pride.

My boyfriend at the time broke up with me while I held the still dripping, positive pregnancy pee stick; his response to having a baby with me was to end our relationship and share that he hoped to tile his kitchen and travel that summer.

I lost the baby at 9 weeks and suffered an extreme crash of hormones.  Being in my early 40′s, I realized this was probably my last chance to have a child.

To make matters worse; 48 hours after losing the baby I learned  my bank accounts had been emptied.  I had 40 cents  in my pocket when I stood at a blinking ATM on that early July morning.

Seems someone had sued me out-of-state and due to a loop-hole in the serving process, I never received notice, and didn’t show up to defend myself.  When you don’t show up its as though you’re admitting guilt and judgements were issued – every account was emptied.

A week later, I was faced with putting my 16-year-old pet down, only to be followed by the rapid decline of my other 15-year-old pet 10 days later.  If you’re like me pets are family. This was a loss beyond words.

My health was shot and continuing to decline, my mind was a mess, my heart-broken and I had 40 cents to my name.  My father  died years ago and I had been the one helping my mother financially.

I was in my own words, lost.

Ancient cultures understood the dark night of the soul as a time of transformation.  A time when personal strength is tested and the knowledge you’ve gained over the 1st half of your life is drawn up from the depths of your being and utilized.

In this culture it’s considered a Mid Life crisis.  We get face lifts and sports cars. Couples run screaming from others divorcing, neighbors turn a blind eye as neighbors go to foreclosure, and fair weather friends back away quickly.

Instead of community support and wise elders to lean on, we’re left alone isolated by shame.  What could be viewed as a phoenix rising is considered contagious drama.

For me, only a handful of people knew what was happening while most thought I was suddenly nuts.  In the past I’d been the person others leaned on for advice and financial help.  Now I was an empty vessel without a financially secure family for support. I looked like hell and felt worse.

When I woke in the morning I wasn’t sure what to mourn; the relationship or the baby?  My 2 pets or my financial security?  My health or the fact I could be homeless in a week?  (my biggest fear in life~at this time a reality)

The grip of your biggest fear in the face of utter despair is a cold sharp knife that cuts deeply.

What I learned:

  • If you’ve always been the strong one other people lean on, there’s a lot of growth when you ask for help.  I learned who my real friends were and I learned I was loveable even when I wasn’t perfect.  Had it gotten to the point of my moving in with family or friends, I know there would have been growth.
  • The thought of selling everything and starting over was in a tiny way freeing.  I realized nothing material mattered. My only fear was losing my remaining 2 pets if I had to couch surf.
  • Because I tried to hide my pain by going to dinner with friends pretending I wasn’t hungry– since I had no money to spend–  I learned who truly cared and was in tune with my subtle changes.  Lucky for me, a friend handed me a small amount of money unsolicited to get by while I got my head on straight. Her generosity helped me understand the phrase “While you may only be one person in this world, you may be the world to one person”.
  • In business, I’m required to be clear and strong.  You can’t be broken and effective at the same time so I learned to fake it until you make it. By faking my strength, even my smile, I slowly felt both again.

  • I witnessed the miracles of the universe.  Suddenly those cereal boxes and toothpaste samples coming free in the Sunday paper were valuable.  With the help from my friend, I was able to cover my rent long enough to start billing in my business even though extras weren’t an option.  Gone were the monthly hair salon trips, extras like cable, Internet and dog treats.
  • I realized how wasteful I had been with food, clothing, and coffee shop stops. I rode my bike a lot that summer without gas money and reasoned with my car loan and insurance agents for reduced monthly payments while witnessing the kindness that comes when we admit defeat.

How I did it:

  • Each morning I forced myself to think of 3 things to be grateful for before letting my feet hit the carpet.  If I didn’t do this, I would begin my day in the depressed way I had ended the day before.  Soon I began doing this before bed and found that nights got easier.
  • When the magnitude of my situation would hit mid day, I forced myself to get outside, go for a walk and notice something beautiful.  When life is bleak even the smallest gifts like the song of a bird or color of the sky can jar you up a notch.
  • I listened to or read something inspirational daily.  I couldn’t control the world around me but I could control my inner emotions.  Yes I cried a lot, but I balanced those moments with what I was grateful for and kept moving towards what I wanted~stability again.
  • If I felt desperate and scared, I would imagine my worst case scenario:  I would loan my dog and cat to people I trusted and couch surf, I would go on antidepressants, I would ask a friend if I could share dinner with them.  Once I knew my worst case scenario, I was able to relax a tiny bit and  focus on what I was grateful for~often times the worst case scenario back up plan or the fact my dog was laying here next to me loving me no matter what.

When life blows up there is a crystal clarity that comes:

  • All of the issues you’ve been hiding behind with your job or your money or your relationship are out there in the open.
  • In the middle of the night, I learned to pray for help and learned to listen for the answer.

And in the end, most of all I learned that when we’re broken, we’re really just broken open.

I became the seed that sits in the dark, damp earth waiting for spring while deciding in which direction to send up a sprout.  When life unravels, we’re all that seed needing to trust that the darkness we’re temporarily residing in, will in the end move us towards our next fertile direction of life.

~If you enjoyed this, please like, tweet, share or pin.

Main photo via: photo credit: VinothChandar via photopin cc
all others by Sprout by Rawich, woman’s face by graur codrin. phoenix rising from


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32 Responses to “When Life Blows Up on Every Level.”

  1. theresa April 26, 2013 at 5:08 PM #

    i, too have been slammed…and there was once a wise person that said, “life flattens everyone.” for the past several years i have been my own personal tsunami and its been interesting to see the friends left standing on the beach, holding out their hands. i won’t list the things suffered, but i will end with the stage IIIa ovarian cancer that i have been wrestling with the last two years. and yes, i’m a single mother of three…but, after a slow recovery, the cancer has given me a purpose-i want to shout-out to all women that there are 4 other cancers besides cervical that there are no tests for. inform yourself, know the symptoms and pass the word. me- i’ve got a lot to share before i take my final bow.

  2. kevin December 22, 2012 at 6:39 PM #

    Thanks for sharing, I learned many good advises from this article. My story is kind of similar but yours is more extreme. I was once arrogant and reckless because I thought I’m better than most people. I eventually failed in business and even gone bankrupt. Lucky for me I have a friend who helped me survived by letting me borrow some money. My mom also let me borrow money to pay my debts. It took me more than 6 months to pull myself together. I have a four year degree with no employment record thus the first practical step I took to fix my situation was to become a waiter at some Asian restaurant. Humiliation and defeat I believe are the ingredient to become successful. I learned many hard lessons during those times. Anyway, Merry Christmas! :)

  3. Ana Mariza July 25, 2012 at 9:22 AM #

    Thank you so much Tamara. I reposted this on my facebook, because I know how much it touched me to hear your words and see in front of me, in black and white, exactly what I have been going thru. And that feeling of being alone, and afraid that people will think you are nuts, and that they will merely categorize what you as going thru as a “mid life crisis”, not because you want acknowledgement of what is happening, but I know I sure could use the support from a deeper place of understanding and knowing, like you said having the elders to lean on. Those that have been there before you, and can encourage you thru it all. I somehow know I have done it that way before, otherwise I wouldn’t have the longing for it in that way. And yet, I know it is perfect the way it is now. Tears of gratitude … from my heart to yours, I am Sending HUGS.

  4. pam July 24, 2012 at 6:42 PM #

    Thank you so much. You just saved my life.

    • tamara July 24, 2012 at 7:29 PM #

      Pam we have all 100% been there at some point. You’re just honest enough to admit it. You’re not alone.

  5. Joanne June 18, 2012 at 2:38 PM #

    Our story is almost the same as well as the level of transformation. Though there is no way to describe that effectively-I find now that tears flow more out of gratitude then any other feelings. Grace is my best friend, and she can bear it all. Thank you for sharing your story. It brings strength.

  6. Julie May 9, 2012 at 5:43 AM #


    I just found this post and it struck home on so many levels for me…. I went through something very similar. Pregnant at 41, miscarriage, boyfriend hitting the road, bankruptcy.. Luckily I still have my two dogs but they are older so that day is coming as well. What helps more than anything is knowing that there is someone out there that knows EXACTLY how I feel. Helps me feel supported by you even though I know nothing about you beyond this post. It helps me put one foot in front of the other day after day, even when I wish I could just give up. I have never attempted suicide but have thought about it many, many times. I am in counseling now with a wonderful therapist so hopefully I will get through it all and stay alive! Thanks so much for your post, and I am a lifetime subscriber as of this very moment.

  7. anton March 14, 2012 at 12:07 AM #

    It was hard to see at the time but Misters Buddha, Nietzsche, Pavlov and Dąbrowski were all smiling on you. When you’ve been reduced to nothing you may, with mindfulness, become anything.
    You’ve done well.

  8. Helen November 28, 2011 at 1:07 AM #

    I have just seen this blog and read it with great interest, as well as the comments that followed. It made me realise that the real world is perhaps best represented in our own true words of what life is really like and not in the visual world that we walk around in where a lot pretend that all is wonderful, or, that we assume all is going well for others.

    A few of your comments have struck a chord in me, especially the one about your fear of ending up as bag lady or homeless – this has been a fear of mine for a very long time but it has never happened and though I have always rented, I’ve managed to pay my bills and live in really nice places. The other comment that caught my attention is about giving wise advice to people yet we struggle at times to take on our own message. I often find it much easier to be strong for others but fall apart when it comes to myself, or perhaps it’s my way of releasing what needs to be released, yet at the end of the day, I go to bed and rise the next day with one foot in front of the other, literally, riding out the journey of the dark soul. I seem to have had a few dark soul journeys and I wouldn’t mind a change with some light heartedness, love and laughter.

    I have certainly found out who my friends are over the years and having put in so much unconditional love and acceptance to my relationships, my naivete did not see the imbalance or end coming.
    Anyway, thanks for all the sharing. It heartens me and good to know there are like minded people out there.
    Peace and love.

  9. Linda November 10, 2011 at 9:07 AM #

    I too have experienced a meltdown of what I thought my life would be. In a matter of months everything was different. Emotionally I couldn’t catch up. I took a nose dive and like you I am usually the rock. Just about everyone ran from me except a few close friends. I wasn’t pleasant to be around. I finally went into my cave and did not come out for about 9 months.

    I will never be the same and I can see that is a good thing now. I lived a small as I could and I was surprised how easy that was. Friends and strangers gave me stuff without me asking. I managed. Things are better now and am transformed. Thanks for sharing your story.

  10. mary-ellen November 9, 2011 at 9:27 PM #

    wow awesome that through all the darkness you learnt to reach to the light. To God our creator who is close to the broken hearted. I also found God through my valley of the shadow…or rather He found me?
    God bless,

  11. Natalie November 9, 2011 at 3:40 PM #

    Thank you for sharing your story. I went through something similar 4 years ago and it has helped me grow tremendously.

    This was the key sentence in your post for me: ”What I know for sure is that if you’ve always been the strong one that other people lean on, there is a lot of growth that comes from asking for help.”

    Oprah once said: ”Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down.”

    • tamara November 9, 2011 at 9:59 PM #

      OH my gosh, i love that quote Natalie. I’m going to post it with credit to Oprah on the fb page right now!! Thank you for reading and I’m sorry to hear you went through something similiar…sigh. <3 Here's to standing back up!

      • Natalie Dzepina November 10, 2011 at 4:37 AM #

        Glad you liked it. It popped into my head as I read your post. As for my own woes, it’s part of the journey… Some times it’s awesome, and sometimes it’s not, but if you’re able to step back and tell yourself that ”this too shall pass,” you can learn more about yourself and grow. :)

  12. Illy August 18, 2011 at 2:38 AM #

    Hello Ms. Kerner,

    Thank you for sharing. I’ve had a lot of bad spots recently, I quit Medical School because of a terrible family problem affecting my studies and I was relatively aimless for many months. I wanted to find a job to start things but there aren’t that many jobs hiring Psychology majors. My mom was constantly on my back and would sneak in a low blow about my abilities and what I can do. Despite the support of friends and an intensive reevaluation, I was still terribly lost and one of my greatest fears now encroaching heavily was growing old not having contributed something good to this world.

    Then one day, I encountered this quote which flipped a switch in my head. “What Would You Attempt to Do If You Knew You Could Not Fail?”. For some reason, it directed me to return to my Alma Mater to get a Masters to guide my career change. I’m still terrified of making another mistake with my career choice but I do my best to remember— and empowered by your article even further— that no amount of darkness is ever dense enough to snuff out the light we all carry.

    Thank you very much.

  13. Lydia August 5, 2011 at 3:11 AM #

    We have different case, but yes I understand what you felt in those difficult moments. I’ve been there before. When I read your story, I feel like I return to my old days. Thank you for sharing your story. Forgiveness is also important to celebrate our ‘today.’ God Bless You…

  14. Ali June 9, 2011 at 10:02 PM #

    Wow… thanks for sharing. You really have a gift for sharing. You write so well…. very honestly. When I had a baby with Down Syndrome seven years ago… you would think that friends would press in and help. He has health issues as many people with DS do. But no, many so called friends fell away or even ran away. And through the years people so often just don’t want to know how hard things are in most cases. Caring for someone 365 with special needs can be very demanding. So many doctor visits, I research alot and give supps, special diet, surgery, up in the middle of the night so many nights trying to keep him alive…. it’s stressful. My teen daughter has been such a gift. But we find ourselves kind of “spent” and worn out now. Like we’ve been through a war. We need healing. Money is a challenge. I have a husband who works but things are so tight… you do come to appreciate simple things. Hey …. the lights are on!! For me…. God is my Rock. I’m learning new things…. like He wants me to trust Him cause He loves me so much. He made me and has great plans for me and my family and friends. There are so many bad things happening on this ol’ Earth. But I choose to be a lover, helper and friend. And I choose to trust my Maker. He knows what’s going on in my life and will work it out. I’ll do my part…. love Him, others and myself and heal. :) Thanks so much for sharing. God has good plans for you. XO Jeremiah 29:11

    • tamara June 10, 2011 at 8:19 AM #

      Thank you Ali….much love to you and your family.

  15. Robert April 5, 2011 at 8:47 PM #

    I originally commented on Feb 10th. At the time, I commented something innocuous like “beautiful writing…’ because I could not say what I really thought, I was too raw.
    The truth is, your story, it brought me back to life. Just reading it opened me up, made me feel less alone in the experience I had recently been through. Bad. Dark night of the soul.
    I think guys, at least this guy, we don’t talk about it when it hurts, when things get tough, when, despite every effort, every single part of my life went sideways. I tend to get to get real quiet and stay to myself, even if its tearing me up inside, even when I’m flat out of answers. So, your magnificent story hit me like a bolt of light. I was struggling to understand something I could hardly bear to face, and was able to, well, understand myself better through your words. Your story was that for me. I just wanted to thank you, and let you know that it had such an effect; that you helped someone back to wholeness.

    • tamara April 5, 2011 at 9:02 PM #

      Thank you so much Robert. I’m deeply moved by your response. Thank you for keeping your heart open and for being brave enough to share.

  16. Laura April 2, 2011 at 5:19 AM #

    Just finished reading your story. My heart was hurting for you. I’m glad you shared it with us.
    It’s eye opening how quickly someone’s life can change, but how someone deals with it can change the outcome. Proud of you.
    P.S. whoever he is he is a big jerk-off! You reap what you sow!

    • tamara April 5, 2011 at 3:42 PM #

      Thanks Red! It was a tough lesson to learn but I grabbed the gifts and ran. :-)

  17. Kara-Leah March 14, 2011 at 6:04 PM #

    Great to read… such a common experience, and it never ceases to amaze me how it shows up differently in different people’s lives.

    Yet when it happens to us… we usually feel all alone like we’re the only ones. We struggle to make sense of it all… down the track a bit, it starts to become clear that all this loss serves a purpose.

    Like you say… “… when we’re broken, we’re really just broken open”

    • tamara March 16, 2011 at 10:10 PM #

      Thank you for reading~ Yes, it shows up for all of us doesn’t it…in one way or another; we are all so connected. I’m glad you resonated with it.

  18. Robert February 10, 2011 at 9:45 PM #

    That was a beautiful post. Thank you for writing it.


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