Sometimes Our Big Failures Lead to our Best Successes

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I got married in July of 2010.
I was separated in June of 2012.
I was officially divorced in August of 2013.

And somewhere in between being separated and divorced, I fell in love again with the most amazing woman. Her name is Erin.  

Love is something you want to celebrate with your friends and family, and really anyone personally connected to you. Divorce is something that makes you want to crawl under a rock and hide. Or at least for me it was.

Divorce is not something you want to share. It's not something you record and put on display for the world to see. It's definitely not something you want to talk about. For me, there was never going to be a post on Facebook announcing that my marriage failed. It was a highly personal thing. Quietly, I changed my status on Facebook ( one point I even took a Facebook break), I went back and removed many of the images and updates celebrating my past relationship. I just figured anyone paying attention would figure it out. My closest friends knew of course. The people I spend 'in real life' time with, they knew. But there were a lot of people to which I didn't feel like I owed an explanation. Definitely part of it was that sense of failure. Maybe part of it was embarrassment. Whatever it was, I never planned on publicly talking about my divorce.

Bob Stewart and Erin OertliAnd then I met Erin.

Love doesn't give you the luxury of being ready. Love doesn't abide by some arbitrary clock. And Love certainly doesn't allow you to hide behind your past failures. It demands that you face the world again. It makes you wake up and take stock in what's really important. It shows you that the people that matter will support you no matter what ups and down you experience. 

And slowly I started to realize that our biggest failures can often lead to our greatest successes.

Had I never had this failure, I'd have never met Erin. I'd have never met this amazing woman who has shown me how to love in a new way. I'd have never met this amazing woman who has shown me how to be a more compassionate human. I'd have never met this beautiful person that loves me despite my flaws (and there are many, haha).

I should probably put extra emphasis on the word: S...L..O...W...L...Y. A lot of the reason I was so slow to realize it was because, initially, I was ashamed to celebrate my new found love. The main reason was because I'd never made that public declaration of my divorce.

I'd never been divorced before this. And even more so, I'd never been divorced in the age of social media. I'd made such a spectacle (not in a bad way mind you, just in a 'over the top and definitely out there and in your face' way) of my previous relationship on social media, and yet I didn't want to even talk about the separation or the divorce. So there I stood, unsure of how to publicly celebrate the best thing I had going in my life because I wasn't willing to admit that the last one didn't work out. 

If I had a one on one conversation with someone, I was never shy about sharing my story. 'Hey, my marriage didn't work. But don't feel sorry for me, I'm incredibly lucky in love. My new partner is amazing and I still consider myself incredibly blessed'. That's the angle I took. And yet, I was still had a hard time publicly admitting that my marriage failed.........even though I had this amazing woman standing by my side.

I met Erin before I was officially divorced. The marriage was over, but I think I always felt bad about that. I wasn't able to realize that the timing of it didn't matter. It's no one's life but mine. And if someone was going to judge me because the timing wasn't right, their judgment meant nothing.

And yet I was still reluctant to face that judgment. And that was hurting my ability to move forward. And the only one that could do anything about it was me. 

I've been thinking about this post for a while. If you are still connected to me on Social Media, you know I'm happy in love. Erin is amazing. You're not going to see my life on display the way it was before. I learned from that. I took my Facebook page from over 3000 friends down to somewhere in the 500 range. My criteria was 'do we have a personal relationship'. I've added a few people back here and there as I probably overreacted during the purge.

(by the way, the process of removing 2500 'friends' was the most time consuming thing I have ever done in my life. It was done over the course of many, many, many hours and a few different days. It literally took FOREVER!)

I'm a sharer. It's always been in my nature. I'm the type that can sit next to someone on a 4 hour plane ride and have meaningful conversation the entire 4 hour ride. 

As such, I've started talking about Erin in my blog posts and in my presentations and in my webinars. She's one of the best sales people you would ever hope to meet. I've learned a ton from her in our short time together already. But if you weren't paying attention, and you thought I was married to someone not name Erin, hearing me talk about it could have been strange. 

I didn't write this so you could say 'sorry about your divorce'. There's nothing to be sorry about. If you have gotten to this point, you probably care enough to want the best for me. You'll never hear me bring it up again and if you comment about it below, I'll delete it and probably send you an email saying something like 'never comment on my blog again without reading the whole thing'. See, I'll know you didn't read the whole thing beacuse I just told you not to do that. 

If you would like to comment, share with me some failure you've had in your life that lead to an even bigger success. 


Posted by

Bob Stewart
ActiveRain Ambassador


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Re-Blogged 1 time:

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  1. Kelan Robert Stewart 07/30/2014 05:38 AM
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Steve Ewing - Keller Williams Realty
Keller Williams - Stockton, CA

Bob - The only sure thing in life is change, sometimes for the good and sometimes not so much.  Way to hang in there and the best of luck to you.  I have been knocked down so many times I have stopped counting.  Crazy me, I keep getting back up.  Thanks for the blog.

Jun 26, 2014 12:29 PM #25
Andrea Bedard
Thompson Company, REALTORS® - Silver Spring, MD
M.A.; REALTOR® Silver Spring, MD and beyond

Let me just add that your post made me very, very happy. I truly appreciate such a raw post (and now I won't feel so bad about having written my own).

Jun 26, 2014 02:33 PM #26
Laura Allen, Lake Tahoe - Truckee Real Estate for Sale
Coldwell Banker, Tahoe City, CA (530) 414-1260 - Tahoe City, CA
Tahoe Real Estate Agent Helping Buyers and Sellers

Bob - If you never fail in life, you can never truly appreciate the sweetness of success!  A beautiful post; shared from the heart!  Enjoy the journey!

Jun 26, 2014 03:14 PM #27
David Shamansky
US Mortgages - David Shamansky - Highlands Ranch, CO
Creative, Aggressive & 560 FICO - OK, Colorado Mtg

Kudos to you and Erin as well. She is beautiful and I am happy for you my friend. I am sure at the time you thought your life was crumbling around you and now look at it!!!


Jun 27, 2014 11:07 AM #28
Janice Zaltman Realtor, LEED AP
United Realty Group - Boca Raton, FL

Bob, still working on finding the meaning to some of those difficult times. In the process, just keep moving forward. Love is a beautiful thing!

Jun 29, 2014 02:23 AM #29
Thom Abbott |770.713.1505 | Intown Atlanta GA Condo Living - Atlanta, GA
Midtown Atlanta GA Condos For Sale

Of course, my relationships are different, since they are with another man. But I can totally relate. The first serious relationship started in New Orleans and followed me to Myrtle Beach. I can still remember sitting on the floor in my hotel room, looking out at the ocean. I had left this person behind in New Orleans. But on the phone, I said, "Ok, pack up your car and head to the beach." And as I hung up the phone, I said to myself, "What in the hell did you just do?" That relationship lasted almost 2 years. 2 years of misery. I left him again when I transferred again...and this time there was no phone call. 

Now, I met my life (and I MEAN L-I-F-E) partner in a bar in Miami. A friend who has since passed away said "I give you two six months." I reminded him of that statement six months later. 

February 14, 2015 we will celebrate 26 years together. (You understand in my world that is like 75 years!) 

Leaving that relationship behind in Myrtle Beach brought me to the one I have today. And I'd never have this one if I'd hung onto that mess of a one I left. 

Jun 30, 2014 12:42 PM #30
Donna Harris
Donna Homes, powered by JPAR - - Austin, TX
Realtor,Mediator,Ombudsman,Property Tax Arbitrator

Hey Bob! The failure of my birth control pill lead me to the success of my 3 1/2 year old and I wouldn't trade him for the world!

Jun 30, 2014 12:58 PM #31
Celeste "SALLY" Cheeseman
Liberty Homes - Mililani, HI

If I could hug you right now I would >>>{{{HUG}}}  I started typing from my phone the other day and lost it. lol

Your failures are 'learning lessons' Bob...and I know you know this NOW...and all those little tweaks along the way will bring you to each phase, point and time in later years. YOU needed to heal in your own time...and ERIN....( A LOVELY GAL INDEED) gave you the support, love and time that you needed. 

My family is so happy for you and who you have to love freely and openly...and we wish you both the love and happiness you are deserving of for years to come. 

Jul 01, 2014 02:17 AM #32
Celeste "SALLY" Cheeseman
Liberty Homes - Mililani, HI

...and thank you for what you and your family gave me...."Grandson Kelan". He's grown up to be a smart young lad...and YOU and ERIN give him so much love and support too. THank you for allowing me the "gramma sally in hawaii'.

Jul 01, 2014 02:19 AM #33
John Gunn
CityLight Financial, Inc. - Bellevue, WA
Your Local Washington Broker

Wow Bob,


  you and I have eerily similiar divorce stories. I found my new love, Vanessa before my divorce was official (even though I already moved out of the house). My initial shame was so crippling that it hurt my sales production along with my many friendships. As I started to crawl out from under my rock, Vanessa taught me a whole new world about who I was. She taught me how selfish I could be without realizing.

  SO cheers to you and Erin! Thanks for sharing!



Jul 11, 2014 04:55 AM #34
Sharon Parisi
United Real Estate Dallas - Dallas, TX
Dallas Homes

Bob, Erin sounds like a special lady.  Our challenges prepare us for our greatest successes.  all the best to you and Erin.

Jul 13, 2014 03:17 PM #35
Nikesh Parekh
Suplari, Inc. - Seattle, WA
Technology Entrepreneur, Executive, & Investor

Great blog post Bob - I am so happy for you and Erin!

Jul 14, 2014 04:56 PM #36
Susan Haughton
Long and Foster REALTORS (703) 470-4545 - Alexandria, VA
Susan & Mindy Team...Honesty. Integrity. Results.

There is nothing better than a raw post some days.  So glad you are so happy.  Now, I just need to make sure I never sit beside you on a long flight..geesh...4 hours talking?  LOL  I would have to hide in the restroom.  ;-)

Jul 15, 2014 08:58 PM #37
Dianne Goode
Raleigh Cary Realty - Raleigh, NC

What a brave, honest post!  It's true that from failure comes pain and humiliation -- but also often a new and better way forward, if we are open enough to see it.   It does seem funny to look back on a terrible time and think,  "Thank goodness that happened!"  But with the perspective of time, we can see it was actually a necessary event to get us to a much better and happier place.

Jul 17, 2014 09:35 AM #38
Jirius Isaac
Isaac Real Estate &TriStar Mortgage - Kenmore, WA
Real Estate & loans in Kenmore, WA

Hey, buddy, I was married 2 times before & they lasted only 4 years each.  I was not a failure.  It just did not work.  Now, 25 years this January.  Sometimes it seems like too much work.  But, on the other hand, I love my wife so much that I cannot imagine being without her for the rest of my life.  This kind of love takes years to develop.  I hope it does for you!  Keep loving even when you do not want to or it is not easy.


Jul 17, 2014 03:09 PM #39
MaryBeth Mills Muldowney
TradeWinds Realty Group LLC - Braintree, MA
Massachusetts Broker Owner

Congrats!  In life I have found that my failures are meant to be...they have become my biggest building blocks for my future!  Now that we are all in love with you after that heartfelt post - so nice to know that there are real people behind the company leadership!

Jul 22, 2014 07:12 AM #40
Kate Elim
Dockside Realty - Spotsylvania, VA
Realtor 540-226-1964, Selling Homes & Land a

Many, many years ago I had a miscarriage. Although in many ways it was not a failure it did result in the failure to have the baby we so desperately wanted. However, a short time later I found myself expecting again. My son, Marc Kevin, was born on July 20, 1967. We would not have Marc if the miscarriage had not happened. Perhaps I shouldn't count what happened initially to be a failure but I certainly can count Marc's birth as a wonderful success story.

Jul 22, 2014 12:43 PM #41
Sybil Campbell
Long and Foster REALTORS® 5234 Monticello Ave Williamsburg, Virginia - Williamsburg, VA
REALTOR® ABR, SFR, SRES Williamsburg, Virginia

Bob, I went through a nasty unexpected divorce after 40 + years of marriage, so I totally feel your pain.  At this point, I have not met Mr. Right yet, but I hold out hope.

Jul 25, 2014 02:07 AM #42
Lana Robbins Realtor ® Licensed Real Estate Broker
Aloha Kai Real Estate - Clearwater, FL
Licensed in Florida and Washington

Hi Bob. I have been out of the loop for awhile and noticed your latest post about being stranded in Cabo with your new girlfriend. I did not know that you had a major life change. It's great to read that you are happy. Sometimes in life relationships do not work out. I am glad you found someone to share your life.

I've had so many failures that led to success really. I would not know where to start .

Sep 22, 2014 01:21 PM #43
Eleanor Thorne
Equity Resources - Cary, NC
Equity Resources 919-649-5058

Bob, I was on Google, looking to see where you are now - and this was the post that popped up.  If the "Great Recession" had not happened, I wouldn't have felt it necessary to "find" Activerain - and that, my friend, would have been a truly bad thing.  Thanks for caring enough about this community to continue to share.  Wishing you and Erin a very, very happy New Year!  Go Hawks!

Dec 30, 2014 12:47 AM #44
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