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…