My husband used to own the world's ugliest car.
It was a rust-colored, slightly "textured" (code word for dented) 1976 Audi Fox.
He used the car to pick me up for our very first date back in August 1992. I'd be lying if I said it didn't cross my mind to go back into Corby Hall, lock myself in my college dorm room and pretend I didn't know him.
When he and I finally grew comfortable enough with each other to talk about personal details of our lives, I asked him why he drove such a beat-up clunker.
"It may be ugly, but it's never left me on the side of the road and it's never been stuck in the mud," he answered with a sense of pride that only another native Nebraskan would understand.
He continued to drive the little beast for two years after we met. (I have to admit it had endearing qualities that eventually won me over.) And, in that time, it never left him on the side of the road.
But we did get stuck once, when a momentary lapse in judgment prompted my then-boyfriend to turn onto a minimum maintenance road. Fresh mud from recent rains had made it impassable.
Thankfully, some kindly folks with a tow rope and a mighty big truck offered to pull us out. They got us back on solid ground and sent us on our way.
When you really think about it, the right tools and compassionate people are really the keys to getting ourselves back on the right road to spiritual wellness.
Playing the part of an emotional pillar -- whether it be the spouse of an addict or the caregiver for loved ones who are fighting for their lives -- can drive a person down. We don't recognize it as it's happening, but oftentimes we awaken one day to the realization that we are in way over our heads.
The circumstances of life can wear away our foundations, beat us into a rut from which we can't escape without the appropriate tools and the proper support.
When that awakening occurs, it's important not to panic (like I did).
Take a step back.
Take a deep breath.
Take a fresh look at the situation.
When I allowed myself time for assessment, I was able to identify the tools I needed and to prioritize my steps in regaining the emotional and spiritual health I once enjoyed.
On Thursday: There there, now, don't cry (and other lies we're told).
I'm becoming more and more excited about this project. I received some awesome feedback from my last post. Please don't be afraid to email me, Tweet at me, or leave a comment below (given the personal nature of this blog, anonymous is fine) if you want to share something.