When I was in the throes of divorce depression, I started seeing a therapist. During one particularly ugly session, I broke down and wailed, “Why is this happening? What was all of this for?” She was silent for a minute and then said, “Perhaps there are people that will need you one day. Maybe you’re going through this to eventually set an example for someone else."
"I'm sorry, what? I can't even brush my own teeth without crying," I thought. "And what, praytell, might my great example be? How to screw up your life in 35 years or less?"
But lo and behold, six months later I began getting messages from people going through painful divorces. One at first, then ten, then more. People who said they had seen me go through my divorce and wondered how I had handled it so gracefully. Gracefully?! I'd been eating grape jelly sandwiches and watching Snapped for literal months on end.
The point is, these people had been observing me without my knowledge. They called upon me in their time of need. They shared their separation stories and pain and looked to me for guidance. To be trusted and offer solace in this way not only helped me come to terms with my own grief, but it has been one of the greatest honors of my life. Jelly-stained bras notwithstanding.