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I’ve never really told this story before. It’s a sad story because I was sad at the time it happened. In fact, I was more than just sad, I was heartbroken beyond words and desperately lonely. The dreams I’d had for my life had been shattered, ground into dust, and cast to the wind. They weren’t coming back. There was no putting them back together because they no longer existed. I’m not going to get into the details because they don’t really matter. What matters is how I felt and who I no longer was or would ever be. The Universe, the Divine, God, Goddess, whatever you want to call it\them, had delivered a punch to my gut the size and weight of a cannonball. I cried on a daily basis, multiple times a day.

On the outside, I smiled. I carried on. I went to work every day. I tended to my kids and my household. I did all the things a happily ever after kind of person does. Inside, however, was a dark and hollow void of broken promises and a life of deception. “The truth will set you free,” they say. For me, the truth was crushing and destructive. I hated the truth, but I hated living a lie just as much but felt I had no choice in the matter.

I tell you all this, so you’ll better understand the state of mind I was in when I decided to attend an annual Beltane celebration. I’d gone to it many times before, always alone, but that had never really bothered me much before. That year it was different. Being alone meant something more. Being alone hurt in every way possible. I went anyway. I hoped spending time outside with the small group of friends I’d cultivated over the years would pick me up, make me forget the pain, and relax. I was wrong.

It wasn’t so bad at first. There was laughter and music, smiles, hugs and dancing the May Pole. People came with their spouses and partners. Everywhere I looked, it seemed, people were in love and loving. They held hands. They kissed. They embraced. I sat alone.

In this state of loneliness, I stepped away and made the short walk to a stream that ran along the edge of the property. I found a large, flat rock to sit on. As the cold water flowed by, my tears began to flow with it. I don’t know how long I sat there feeling dreadful and sobbing, desperately wishing for what once had been while knowing it would never be. How could things get any worse? What had I done to deserve such misery? I considered going to my car and making the hour-long trip back home. I wasn’t having fun. What was I even doing here? Why had I come at all? Slowly, I pulled myself back together. I splashed cold water from the stream on my face and took deep breaths. I didn’t know what I was going to do, where I was going to go, if I was going to stay the night or not.

As I reached the main path through the land, I met up with one of the friends I’d made. I smiled. He smiled. And then he stopped and gave me a second look and said, “What’s wrong? Have you been crying?”

Of course, that opened the floodgates all over again.

“C’mon. Let’s go sit somewhere private and have a chat.”

I agreed and followed him into the woods. We sat on the ground. He put his arm around my shoulder as I leaned against him and cried. I couldn’t talk. I could barely think. All I could do was mourn everything I had lost in the past year, the life, the dreams, the future I had so joyously believed I was going to have. I don’t remember if I even told him any details of what was going on and the source of my sorrow, but eventually I was able to get out the words, “Rob, I don’t know how things can get any worse.”

He gave me a squeeze before pulling back a bit, enough to put each of his hands my shoulders. He looked me in the eyes and he said, “No, don’t say that.”

I didn’t understand. I don’t remember if I answered him or not.

Don’t even think that,” he continued. “Don’t tempt the Universe by asking how things can get worse. That’s only asking it to show you. Instead, think and say, things can only get better.”

I nodded, the concept slowly sinking in, the idea that thoughts become things and that I was manifesting my own misery. By asking how it could get worse, the Universe was just going to keep showing me exactly how that could happen. That was probably one of the greatest epiphanies I’ve ever had in my life, that moment, that realization. I didn’t know how they could get better, but something inside me knew they would.

“Things can only get better.” became my mantra. And Rob was right, they did. I don’t think he has any idea how much his words and friendship meant to me that day, or how much it still means to me.

It didn’t happen overnight. It took a long time, months, maybe even years in some areas, before I really began to see why things had happened the way they did. How that drastic change, a change that still causes a twinge of pain all these 20+ years later, led me down paths of growth and joy I’d never had experienced otherwise.

Of course, I wonder how life would be different now had none of that ever happened, but I don’t do it with a broken heart or a flood of tears anymore. I look back and remember where I was that day, sitting in the woods, sobbing beside a very, very wise man – and how far I’ve come from that, how things have only gotten better, with the exception of a few deep dips in the road because, you know, potholes happen, but I am mountains above where I was that late afternoon on Beltane. If that was the Mariana Trench, I’m well on my way up Mt. Everest now.

The lesson here is Don’t Tempt The Universe. Don’t toss out that challenge by asking it how things can get worse. It will pick up on those vibes and show you. Instead, look up and say, “Things can only get better” even if you maybe don’t quite believe it at the time let alone know how it could possibly happen, still say it. Manifest it. Find the little moments that pull you out of that deep, dark trench. Eventually, you’ll find yourself on drier, healthier, happier ground.

Things can, and will, get better.

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