The Lessons in Our Choices

Eunice Brownlee
3 min readDec 21, 2018


“I don’t know how you do it.”

“Your strength amazes me.”

“Wow, you’ve been through a lot.”

“I don’t think I could handle all of that.”

I am so tired of hearing these things. They are all well-meaning efforts at empathy, but every one of them grates on me like nails on a chalkboard. It’s not that I don’t understand what the person uttering these words is trying to say. It’s that they don’t understand my pain, yet they feel compelled to say something because no reaction would be taken as heartless and uncaring.

To say I’ve been through a lot in the past half decade is an understatement. I watched my parents’ lifelong marriage crumble into unsalvageable bits. My dad went to jail. My mom took everything and moved to the other side of the country. My siblings and I were left to clean up a mess that was not our doing. Relationships were fractured. Some were left beyond repair.

As the dust of that life-changing time settled, the father of my child was accused of child abuse. The description of what happened was so violent and so shocking that I didn’t understand what was happening at first. After that, we dove into a months-long court battle until he finally accepted a guilty plea. The short window that my daughter had gotten to build the relationship with her father I had been hoping for since the moment she was born had closed. Again, relationships were fractured. Some were left beyond repair.

In the midst of that drama, I was fired from the job I loved. It was a stupid termination; a technicality that allowed the company to avoid paying a severance for my years of service. I was bitter and yet, relieved. A lot of changes at the company allowed me to see exactly where I wanted to take my career, and that my opportunities if I remained were limited.

Life-changing events are stressful. That’s why it’s suggested to limit the major ones after one is had — a marriage, a baby, a divorce, a death, a job change. Because all of that stress will eventually kill you.

To admire someone’s ability to weather the storm is kind, but it’s kind of empty. While we admire someone’s respective strength, we are also saying that we aren’t worthy of the lesson that will come from the challenge. We feel…



Eunice Brownlee

tales of a grown ass woman (still) trying to make sense of it all.