Humpty Dumpty’s Pep Talk to a Friend in Need. Is That You?

A friend of mine has been going through the shit storm to end all shit storms. 

She’s tried everything to break through, but nothing has worked yet. 

She wrote to a group of us with a check-in, but her message was FULL of meanness to self.  She demanded that we not write back with anything “nice” or “sweet” because it really, really was true.  She just hadn’t been measuring up.

Of course, I couldn’t let that go.  So, here is what I wrote back.  She has given me permission to share it with you, because we believe it will help zillions of women our age.  Please pass it on to those in need.

* * * * *

Dearest Beautiful Friend of My Heart,

You suck. Feel better?

First, I LOVE your beautiful ROARRRRRRRRRR!

I agree completely with you that, on occasion, you need your team to chastise as well as cheer. Well, maybe not chastise, but I loved the alliteration, so I’m keeping it in.

Anyway, good for you for bucking tradition and pointing that out. “ Rah, Rah, Siss Boom Bah” only takes you so far in life. When it comes to changing your life, unbridled optimism may be necessary, but it certainly is not sufficient. (click to tweet)

I am not, however, going to give you what you think you need and kick your beautiful mid-life ass at this point. You may not need vapid cheering. But you don’t need a kick either.

So, instead of hugs and kicks what I’m gifting you with is a different perspective. Because I think there might be some stuff you don’t know about this particular brand of stuff that you are going through.

There are times in life when stuff happens – or you decide that stuff NEEDS to happen. And aging has taught me that, whether change is thrust upon you, or you open the front door and invite the damn fucker in for supper, some particular brands of stuff happening will kick your beautiful jiggly mid-life ass to the curb.

Because the old tools won’t work. Nope. Not a damned thing you can do about that, Sweet Pea.

This new unreality is particularly freaky if, like you and like me, you are “first in your class” material. If you’re the cream that always rises – and I do mean ALWAYS – if you’re that girl, what you’re going through will challenge you like nothing you’ve ever met before. Because it’s new. What you have in your “response arsenal” is laughably insufficient.

This process is going to beat you.

Because it’s supposed to.

“All the king’s horses and all the king’s men,

couldn’t put Humpty together again.”


One of the reasons we suffer so much during these kinds of changes is because we lose our moorings. There is no self-help book, there is no teacher or guru, there is no good life action program — that will see you clear of this awful period of confusion, disorientation, fear, and more.

The only way out is through. (click to tweet)

You will get through. But how and when are unknowable.

There is absolutely no certitude other than this – this too shall pass.

But probably not today.

And, every day, you will wake up and this same awful, mettle-testing truth will greet you. “This too shall pass.” But probably not today.

There’s nothing you can do to make it pass faster. But there’s an awful lot you can do that will slow it down. And your instincts are SPOT ON! Magical thinking and platitudes are part of the slow-down plan.

You don’t need kicks or rahs. You need beautiful compassion. A friend to hold your hand while you wander through. You will wander and you will wander and you will wander until – seemingly by sheer accident – you find yourself at the edge of the insanity and something, mercifully, shifts.

But you can’t manufacture the shift. Because it’s a process unto itself. You can put plans in place to “manage” the change, but you can’t follow them. Because you are hurting and sad and scared. And because the dumb assess that you invited in for supper before you knew any better are continuing to cause harm, and you have babies and you have to respond. So the ground is always shifting.

You ARE fine. You ARE amazing. You’re just in the middle of the middle of the shit-storm and you are flying blind.

When we are in the dark, what we need is our faith. In this case, whatever your beliefs are, you can have FAITH in this:

There are people who love you and believe in you. We are holding you while you walk through this darkness. You don’t need to see your way out. You really truly don’t.

You can’t see your way back to your beautiful great self because you aren’t going there. You’re never going to be Humpty again.

You’re going to be something even more amazing. (Um, Rah!)

You’re being Broken Open to Greatness. You and your Higher Power are giving birth together to your new beautiful life.

You can super glue the shells together. Many people do. But if you do that, if you gather the shreds of your old self around your sad-ass carcass and fool yourself into believing that’s real, you won’t fully flower to the greatness that is coming.

Those of us who have been there, those of us who have met our demons and stared them down but didn’t blink, we will stop rah rahing you. Because, you’re right, at times like these, that’s Horse Shit with lavender oil sprinkled on top.

But, we won’t kick you in the ass either. Because it’s not strategic.

Your ass is broken because it needed to break. You felt it was time to throw yourself off of Humpty’s perch and invite something new – and ultimately truer – into your life. You are right to ignore the ministrations of the king’s horses and men. But you don’t need them to grind your broken shell into the dusty earth either.

You need beautiful compassion. Because you can’t bring it to yourself right now. But I can. Others can.

So here’s your beautiful compassionate hug. Now, get to work, Sweet Pea. And stop hurting yourself.

Self-disgust is not a sustainable plan for change. (click to tweet)

You are not alone. You are NOT alone. You don’t need to “SEE” a damn thing.


Love, Jennifer
Photo: Flickr, taberandrew

P.S. Does this message hit a nerve?  Please, tell us below.  That’s what that comment space is for, love.

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40 Responses to Humpty Dumpty’s Pep Talk to a Friend in Need. Is That You?

  1. Annie Sisk says:

    Have you been reading my email?! I swear I wrote something very close to this for — surprise, surprise — a friend going through a Cat-5 shit-storm recently. “The only way out is through.” Those words actually passed through my lips to her. She wrote them down on a sticky note and pasted it right on her monitor. For weeks, it stayed there, staring her down, challenging her to keep moving through. (She did, eventually, though it was a sticky, messy ride – hey, there’s a reason they’re called shit storms). Awesome post, J.

  2. Jennifer says:

    I LOVE the Cat 5 embellishment. Let’s add that in next time. Sounds like you are a very wise woman, Annie. I’m glad you’re here. Jen

  3. Tracey says:

    Thanks, I SO needed that!! <3

  4. Gail Fulkerson says:

    This post most certainly hits a nerve. Some days, I, too, feel as though I’m walking blindly through a shit storm. Can’t see a thing, standing in one spot and wondering what the hell happened and how I ended up here. Then, when I quiet my mind, I can see myself standing in the calmness of the eye of the storm. I see a helping hand reaching out for me to take, and a quiet voice that says everything will be okay. After that, the winds lower the volume of their shrieking so I can hear and see more clearly.
    Shit storm, schmit storm – it’s a wonderful life, full of miracles and magic!

  5. Brilliant!
    Sometimes the shell breaks so we can be born. A scary, destructive, time filled with change.

  6. This made me teary-eyed because I’ve never heard such compassion from one friend to another. The world needs more friends like you Jen.

    Two things especially caught me here. The first is the term “broken into greatness”. It completely gave me the vision of the Phoenix reborn but not until it had fully burned to ash. Powerful in the respect that the vision is something so grand at the other end it dazzles! That will be your friend in the end, especially if she really understands the message you are sending.

    The second was, “self-disgust is not a sustainable plan for change”. Touche – It becomes a plan(unfortunately too many times for women) for lack of any other plan but never works or heals. Great words!

  7. Bonnie says:

    What line hit my heart “You can’t see your way back to your beautiful great self because you aren’t going there. You’re never going to be Humpty again.” I realized earlier this year that I’ve been holding on to the notion that somehow I could return to my “old self.” Then I realized why would I want to? I love the new Humpty that is emerging now! Thanks for sharing your incredibly compassionate response to your friend … she is lucky to have this type of support and so are we!

    • Jennifer says:

      Why, thank you, Bonnie. I know, we often settle for the familiar. But, sometimes, you just can’t get back there. And then, when the new vision, the new clarity, the new life settles in, you just are so darn glad that you can’t go back.

      It’s a process, though.

  8. Ann Marie says:

    “…and you will wander until – seemingly by sheer accident – you find yourself at the edge of the insanity and something, mercifully, shifts.”

    Powerful words Jennifer!
    That’s what happened to me a month or so ago. I had been grieving the loss of a relationship, a man I loved with a passion and intensity that I had ever experienced before. And wondered how I’d ever move beyond it to find a lover that was better suited to me. One day I came face-to-face with the insanity. I did what I needed to do at the time (call my therapist, pray, breathe) and continued on.
    Then, I saw him. We had lunch. And I was surprise to see that the love I had for him had transformed to compassion and deep affection — for BOTH of us. He kissed me at the end of lunch. In the past his kisses left me speechless (literally). But this time it was simply lovely.
    I realized that something had shifted. I didn’t know exactly when or how, but the gratitude for the shift is immense

  9. Lisa Bourdon says:

    What a wonderful letter to your friend, Jennifer! I read it imagining that you had written it to me (content that I am sorely in need of receiving now – so, thanks for that!) I felt comforted by the reminder that I, too, will get through “this” (but probably not today) and that flying blind is just part of the being “broken open to greatness” process. xo

  10. Eileen says:

    I wish you were in my life for real cuz I need a friend like you. ♥

  11. Carol Hess says:

    Someone recently said, “Every breakthrough is preceded by a breakdown.” I had a visceral (bad) reaction to the word breakdown until I realized I could choose to look at the word differently — as in breaking down thoughts and beliefs that no longer serve me, as in breaking down the walls around my heart, as in breaking down the limits I’ve imposed on my dreams, as in breaking down my separation from my Higher Power. I can better get through the shattered into a million pieces part of the process when I stop resisting it and surrender to it. Most of the suffering comes from resisting what is, after all, a beautiful dynamic called growth.

  12. I feel like you wrote this TO ME! Holy crap. How’d you know?

    6 months ago, I got committed to me as a priority. Ended toxic relationships, started exercising, started eating well, started taking cold showers, started having more/better sex…I have stayed true to myself for the past 6 months. Close friends have moved away, others have moved on, and into new chapters in their own lives, and I’m now left myself..never feeling more alone..not sure what to do. And yet..still maintaining me as a priority. And feeling sad a lot of the time. Spending a lot of time thinking I suck, and that i must be doing something wrong (even tho i am not sure what that is), and that clearly my efforts to reach my “goal weight” aren’t working and I must be doing something wrong. and on and on it goes.

    This was just what I needed to read today. Thank you for knowing that, and thank you to your friend for giving you permission to share with us what you said to her. It made a difference for me. If you could please tell her that. I’d appreciate it.

    Maybe in telling her that she’ll feel less sucky, even if it’s just for a second.


    • Jennifer says:

      The only way out is through, love. And you are doing it!! Keep believing in yourself. And come back here. We’ll support you. We’re all doing it, too.

  13. Lynn says:

    This has left me in tears. I have been mourning the loss of the self I used to be, the joyful, happy, grounded person I was five years ago, and staring in shock and disgust at the mess I’ve been feeling like I have become. And I’ve been searching endlessly for the glue to put Humpty back together, desperate to re-create whatever it was that worked for me last time.

    But, reading this, I realize that you’re right — once you’ve been broken, it ain’t never going back together the way it was before….and that’s a good thing. I AM in the middle of the shit-storm, flying blind…and that’s OK. And I do have people who love me and hold a space of compassion for me, and I am so grateful for that. I just need to learn how to accept it — and to listen to them when they tell me to stop kicking myself in the ass.

    You are so fantastic and amazing and SUCH a great writer. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  14. Sandi Amorim says:

    I’m sure I can speak for many women when I say it felt like you were writing to me, and as someone who’s spent many years professionally being the strong, reliable one I don’t have words for how disturbing it is to be “the shreds of my old self.”

    Thanks for your wise words, and of course the hug. xoS

  15. Jen says:

    “This process is going to beat you. Because it’s supposed to.” This is the reminder that I needed to stop fighting against the process and lean into what is born from the process. Scary as hell, but that’s where the love is. Right? Thank you, Jennifer.

    • Jennifer says:

      Yep. The truth sometimes feels scarier than the lies we tell ourselves. Hence, the reasons for the lies. But then, when reality hits us and we are not prepared, we have a tougher time of it.

      Eyes wide open. That’s how I aspire to live today. It seems to be better strategy.

      Thanks so much, Jen, for taking time to write. Jen

  16. Sage says:

    This is truly awesome! It is so hard to pull it together and see the big picture when you’re in the middle of a shit storm. And you’re so right that berating yourself and pouting isn’t going to get you out of it. Sometimes I want my friends to be cheerleaders and sometimes I want them to be drill sergeants. But what I want most of all is for them to tell me that it won’t always be this bad, even if it seems hopeless now. Nice post!

  17. Gina says:

    Dear Jen,
    You’re awesome, always speaking the truth with a humor that takes me back to my roots.
    Yes. I am in one of these shit storms!
    As you say, I will never be the same again. I will never have a blind optimism again. I will live in reality and choose faith. Optimism has been one of my biggest strengths through the years and through other tough times in my life. Blind optimism has carried me very far. Recently, I sat with a therapist who said to me, “And you’re so optimistic”. Well, I went home feeling so good about that comment, so much like it was a compliment (starved for some approval as over-achievers are…). But, slowly my mind and my heart changed. I decided that although, this optimism appears to be such a good thing, for me now, at 44, it’s not! I am not captain of cheerleading anymore, or ballerina on stage anymore or the first person in my family to get a college degree anymore (so happy for them, though) or the most educated in my workplace (not even close!). I don’t have a size 24 waist or thick full hair anymore. I was never married for more than 5 years and have never fully recovered from that disaster!
    Okay. Enough of all that.
    The only way is through, something that I have realized. There is really no one who can figure this out for me. Even the old standby sob session doesn’t work. Affirmations don’t work. Planning doesn’t work. Cooking dinner doesn’t work. I have to give in, let go, roll with it, suck it up, be a big girl. I really can’t even whine about this one to my mom!!! When you have a 13 year old daughter who is as outspoken, bold, and honest as you were back then you gain a new found admiration for your own mom. And, you realize that the baby days are truly gone! If you’re like me you have milked those babies dry.
    I am not at all putting myself down, but I AM taking stock. When I started this change process (yes, I had a big hand in it!) I did it because I did not want to stay the same. Change is HERE in a big way. I am truly afraid. My old methods of coping don’t work anymore. So, I have decided it is time to commit.
    You see, I have never truly committed to much of my life. I have been BLESSED to have achieved so much without this important commitment to my life. So although this appears to be a much longer journey than I anticipated, already I am more grateful.
    Thank you for sharing your stories.

    • Jennifer says:

      Wow! Sounds like you’re making some important changes. I can see you slogging away. That’s part of it. And so is joy. So I try to fill my slogging days with one or two joyful things too. Your commitment to your life is very inspiring. Please let me know how you are progressing.

  18. Karen says:

    Hi, Jen and amazing LAT women – I’m the friend that was going through the shit storm and was blessed with Jen’s amazing letter. Just wanted to say hi and thank you all for your kind words. Jen’s letter really helped me reframe and shift perspective, and I was thrilled for her to share it with you because I hoped it would help others the way it helped me. Glad to see it struck a chord with so many. There’s an added bonus, though, a lovely surprise. I now feel like I’ve been enrobed in and cared for by this powerful, brilliant, compassionate community of women. Thank you so much. I’m still working on accepting that I’m venturing into entirely unknown territory, but it’s way less scary knowing that you are all out there. And I’m glad you all have discovered the amazing Jennifer – she’s got so much wisdom to share, and she’s just getting started!!!

  19. Wow! I am (almost) speechless. This one is as real as it gets. And you are one wise, powerful, loving lady, Jennifer. The raw, unbridled realness with which your awake and aware tribe responds is a testament to the huge value of what you offer. This is enCOURAGEment at its best, and gorgeously written. You are a rare role model for me. Thank you.

  20. Louise (from Thelma & Louise) says:

    Wow!!!!! I have been off your site for a little while- actually on my own spiritual journey. I love your site and am reading the posts I missed.

    This is just perfect! I’m speechless- which is rare for me.

    I am going to send your letter to a friend of mine who is traveling through her own storm.

    Thanks again for your crazy-ass insight!

  21. I fucking love you. And if you need to edit my comment or even remove it, I’m okay with that. I just needed to say it, & I needed you to know it. I fucking love you.

    That is all.

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