In 2006, I was going through the most painful experience of my life in Hyderabad, India. I had walked out of my marriage of sixteen years and found myself practically homeless in a city that was not my own. My child was eight years old. Although I had a job, I had no other family locally and had never been on my own.
Elizabeth Gilbert’s iconic memoir Eat Pray Love graced the shelves of many bookstores that year. The story of a childless, divorced American woman who traveled to Italy, India and Indonesia to find herself had become an unexpected bestseller. As an avid reader, I was curious. Separated, yet undecided about divorce,I was tempted to peek into the author’s life to look for clues or advice on how to proceed. But I didn’t.
Her life was far removed from mine. Her struggles seemed unique. How could I learn from someone whose life was so different? Yet, my attraction to the book did not diminish. I finally bought the book a year later, enthusiastically watched the movie when it was released starring one of my favorite actors, Julia Roberts, and today consider it to be a book that has highly influenced my life.
In 2021, while browsing through the Salvation Army bookstore in Singapore, I came across a book titled “Eat Pray Love Made Me Do It”. Naturally, I bought the book. It was an anthology of true stories by people who had been inspired to examine their own life and move into a more empowering trajectory.
How could a book written by one American woman have influenced so many people and spurred them into action?
In the introduction, Gilbert talks about two wildly different but equally shocking interactions with readers in the years after the book became a huge success. They had contacted her to tell her how their lives had been changed by the book. At first she had felt that there was nothing in common in those stories but when the call for the anthology brought in an avalanche of submissions, she figured it out.
“I finally saw what those two stories had in common. Because at the heart they were the same story, the story of a person finally realizing – my life doesn’t have to look like this anymore. After that realization occurs, nothing will ever be the same again.”
By reading the stories in the anthology, I understood how a book can be a catalyst for transformation even if it is not a self-help book or an instruction manual for self-improvement. Readers can identify relevant lessons and apply it to their own lives. Gilbert’s unique story tapped into the universal story that has the potential to resonate with many others.
Six months ago when I began writing my story “Rewriting Your Happily Ever After: A Memoir of Divorce and Discovery”, I wanted to share my journey from self-doubt to self-sufficiency and through it show that it was possible for a person to figure out the next steps after a major life change.
Life is an uncertain process.
Everyday we try to navigate it to the best of our abilities. Whether it is death or divorce, job loss or health concerns, push or pull factors that demand a rethink of our circumstances, we can always choose to move forward with the conviction that a better tomorrow awaits.
Hope, after all, is the most empowering human emotion.
Instead of waiting for everyone else to change to suit us, it is better to move in our chosen direction, no matter how small the steps, or how slow the progress.
Yet, thinking lofty thoughts and making big plans are different from taking that first step towards making it happen.
Rewriting My Happily Ever After is my first offering, an honest account of my own journey. It will soon be available as a print book, ebook and audiobook.
I hope the book opens up a conversation about divorce, particularly in the Indian context.
I would like it to be a spark that ignites a change in you, particularly if you have been living a less than satisfying life that has an undercurrent of dissatisfaction, a nagging feeling that you are merely existing when you should be thriving.
But there’s more. I am planning to transform this newsletter Rewriting Your Happily Ever After, inot an ongoing source of support for readers. Every two weeks you will receive a letter from me with an inspiring story and a valuable resource that can be applied to your life. It will also contain a simple actionable tip that can help you get started on your own transformative journey.
In the near future I hope to launch a podcast that discusses the topics that I have touched upon in the book in greater detail and keep adding stories, tips and resources for listeners (and readers) to access. Other plans are afoot to make the rewriting journey more personal and interactive but that will come later.
Do join me as I explore tools to craft a joyful, meaningful life.