It's one of the first life lessons we learn: for every action, there is a consequence.
We cry. We're fed.
We try to walk. We stumble.
We touch a hot stove. We get burned.
It's something that is so inherent, so deeply imprinted into our brains that we don't even think about how many hundreds, thousands, of times a day we go through the action/consequence do-si-do.
Truth is, everything we do causes a ripple effect. Some are tiny, one-ringed little plops on the surface of the universe. Others are like earthquakes, causing shockwaves that reverberate across our emotional, and physical landscapes for what seems like eternity.
Last night, I got a message from a friend on facebook. I was out on a date, and checked my phone as we left the theater after seeing "Skyfall" (kick ass movie, my friends...kick.ass.). The friend is someone I've known for several years, we met when my now 18 year old was in elementary school with her son. Not close, by any definition, but according to the facebook, we're friends.
It was one of those things that shocks you out of the lull you're in. Pulls you out of the comfort zone and back into the cold reality of life. One second you're babbling on about Daniel Craig's amazing shoulders, the next second you're reliving your divorce.
The message said:
"Are you related to XXXX?" Insert the name of my ex-husband's newish wife in place of XXXX. Insert fist into my gut, too, while you're at it. Because that's what it feels like, even after 6 years have passed, to have that name intrude into my day.
I hesitated a second, wondering what the protocol was for answering messages such as this. I wondered why she was asking...are they friends? Did XXXX mention me to someone? Do I take the high road, and just respond with a simple "No."?
Of course this is how I answered:
"She's the skank my husband left me for. So I guess in a way we're related. Ha." Because I am usually a high-roader, but last night I decided to test the driving conditions on the low road. Conditions were, as they usually are, slippery. I felt badly about that answer almost as soon as I sent it, hoped I hadn't crossed a line or started something nasty.
She quickly typed back:
"Is she in the xxxx business? Young?". Again with the fist to the gut. Young? I remember when people would use that word to describe me. Will the insult of being left for someone younger ever lose its sting, its strength?
I confirmed both things in my next message:
"Oh yes. And yes. Why?? Did you cross paths?" I was still wondering how this all came about.
I won't divulge any more of my friend's responses, since it is, after all, personal. But the gist of it is this:
My friend works in a certain industry. So does the woman who is now married to my ex. This certain industry has boards and associations and things of that ilk. My friend belongs to them. So does the woman who is now married to my ex.
One of the boards that they both belong to had a Christmas party this past week. At the party, someone started chatting up my friend. The name of my ex-husband's newish wife was brought up. Conversation was had.
Now, here's where I get to the relevance of actions and consequences:
Remember what I said about how everything we do causes a ripple effect? I mean, everything. From the route we take to the grocery store, to deciding to buy a coffee instead of having a cup at home...from the people we decide to be friends with to making the choice to get involved with a married man. All of these things can, and will, make a ripple.
How big of a ripple, you ask?
Big enough that someone you work with, someone who has seniority, loads of experience and yes...some power in your industry may just happen to notice that you have the same last name as one of her acquaintances. She may ask this acquaintance about it, and she may find out things about you that perhaps aren't positive things. The kind of things you most likely don't want someone in your professional life to hear.
And if you really want to know all about the ripple and how it spreads out and over and onto pretty much everyone and everything in your life, I'll tell you this:
Woe unto you when that person with whom you rub shoulders with, professionally, has also been the victim of "another woman".
Because that particular ripple, my friends...that ripple never really goes away.
Every day we find ourselves having to make choices. Big choices, little choices. Choices that will affect you, those around you, and even people you haven't met yet. The consequences each one of these choices creates vary. You may choose to take a wrong turn and end up being late for an appointment. You may choose to eat that iffy sushi and end up spending the rest of the day in the bathroom. Or, you may choose to screw a married person and a few years down the road your dirty little secret becomes not so secret.
When my kids and I part ways for any length of time, I bid them adieu with these two phrases:
"I love you!" and
"Make good choices."
Because the choices we make are so very important. Don't you agree?