Susan and Angela are pleased to welcome back Guest Blogger Angela Lennon having just returned from her wedding and honeymoon to share her learnings on people’s capacity for compassion and celebration of others
September 13, 2014, as the cliché goes, was the best day of my life. My wedding day. Last month, one hundred fifty of our closest friends and family, (including my firm family at Koenig│Dunne) gathered in Omaha to celebrate our nuptials.
However, in the days and weeks leading up to our wedding, at work, I felt apprehensive and awkward. I wanted to reach out to my clients and opposing counsels to inform them that I would be out of the office for our wedding and honeymoon, but I didn’t want to have to face some of the common questions and judgments that we as divorce lawyers so often encounter. “Are you sure you want to do this?” “I don’t know how you can do this work and still want to get married.”
I also felt selfish. How can I tell my clients that I will be unavailable to them during their divorce because I am getting married?
However, as the wedding date neared and I began to inform clients and attorneys that I would be out of the office and that they should expect another attorney in our office to respond to their emails and answer their questions, I was completely unprepared for the response I received.
At the end of a consultation with a new client, I informed her that I would be on vacation for my wedding the next week, and she proceeded to ask if we could spend the last few minutes of our meeting chatting about my then fiancé and our wedding plans. At the conclusion of a hearing on the Friday before our wedding, I received an excited hug from another client upon telling her the news. When I returned to the office, I was surprised to have received countless email responses to my “out of office” reply on my email account, expressing delight and well wishes for our wedding.
In short, the response was humbling. I see now that I was not my true, authentic self with my clients or colleagues in the legal community, due to my apprehension and concern about how others may respond to the news of my engagement and marriage. I was completely shortsighted. I failed to see people’s capacity for joy and compassion. I failed to see the true resilience of their spirit.
In opening up my world to my clients, I undoubtedly caused some to remember the wonderful times in their own marriages and others to experience a glimmer of hope for the future. Despite their own marital heartache, they were genuinely happy and delighted for mine. If you are struggling through a divorce or a troubling transition of your own, don’t underestimate, as I did, your own capacity for compassion, joy, and celebration of others.