wOw’s Question of the Week


Tell us: has anything bad ever happened to you that turned out to be for the best?






Liz Smith: Has something bad ever happened to me that turned out good?

Yes.  Every time I lost a job–was fired through circumstances not my own–I managed to find a better job.

For instance, I was working as a producer at NBC-TV and the Eisenhower recession found 150 of us bounced.  I lucked into the old Cholly Knickerbocker society column and the rest is history.  (Well, my history, anyway.)

But today’s times are very different and I am still waiting to see what is better than appearing in a print newspaper every day.  To me, that was the nuts!


JONI EVANS: I had fallen in love with a house in the country.  It was spectacular … modern, on 17 acres of land, pool, tennis court, separate guest quarters. It was a dream house and I was sure that my savings from 40 years of hard work was meant to buy it. But just as I made my bid, someone else appeared on the horizon outbidding me. I lifted higher. So did he. So I did again.  I was torn, I already had my own home that I would need to sell (lovely though it was) and suddenly the possibility of paying double taxes until I unloaded my existing home made me nervous. I stalled overnight, conflicted, unable to bid. The broker wouldn’t wait … I lost the house. I was heartbroken. Ashamed of my lack of guts. Furious at myself and losing the dream of a lifetime.

Guess what? The House of Lehman fell the next day. The stock market crashed. Home sales came to a halt. I had dodged a very expensive bullet.


Joan Ganz Cooney: Oh gosh, I can think of many disappointments … turn downs for jobs I thought I wanted, apartments and houses that got away before I could make up my mind, men I liked who didn’t call — many things that seemed bad at the time and that I thank my lucky stars for every day. For every road that was closed, other, better ones opened up, and I would change very little when I look back.

16 Responses so far.

  1. avatar Chris Glass` says:

    The worst time of our life also turned out to show us how to be the best. When my husband was diagnosed with a neuromuscular disease we thought it was a death sentence. Instead it helped us to come even closer as a family and taught us to appreciate all the opportunities that came our way. We quit putting things off for later savoring what time we did have. He has outlived every prediction given to him by looking forward instead of wallowing in what could happen.

  2. avatar Linda Myers says:

    I have had so many times where the “bad” creating anxiety and worry was later replaced with a “why did I worry?” So now I don’t, the better always follows.

  3. avatar Briana Baran says:

    My first marriage saved my life. I was 21 when I met him, and on the road to oblivion, quite literally. I was already a functioning alcoholic, I lived in Illinois during its terrible depression of the ’80’s, my college had managed to fundamentally destroy my schedule with a computer glitch that could not be reversed, and I was living in a rural area in which jobs were already vanishingly rare, at home, with my furiously battling, viciously resentful, venomously antagonistic parents.

    O, I think I knew it was a mistake. He was a blowhard and an idiot, the oldest of ten children who was used to getting his way through intimidating his younger siblings who thought he was “smart” (this because he went to school on the GI Bill…which he failed utterly. Let me also mention that he enlisted, and deliberately chose a specialty that would keep him far out of the reach of Viet Nam and like dangers). His mother was a hard-core Catholic with a tendency to throw “asthma attacks” (her doctor informed her children that they were not at all real as he had personally witnessed several) when upset or opposed. But I convinced myself that I was “in love”. It was relatively easy…I was only six years past the three-week sexual assault nightmare that had destroyed my ability to experience any sexual sensation at all, plus my own perception of myself, I was nihilistic, an alcoholic, and had no dreams, hope or visions of a future beyond the next hour. My mother despised me, and was a non-functioning alcoholic, my father was having an affair, my middle sister was an all out narcissistic drama queen that my mother doted on, and my youngest sister I wanted to save, but couldn’t help.

    I had a white wedding (I, who had never dreamed of aisles, flowers, rings or gowns). On My Special Day, a picture was taken of me next to my mother (who was wearing black…touching, isn’t it…). I am crying. She always thought it was because I was so emotional, all of that bride boohooing. Thirty years later I revealed all…I was distraught because no one cared enough to give me $500, a hooptie old car, and direct me to the Canadian border. I think if I had been male, my so-called bro-friends would have noticed. At times, men really have better antennae than women.

    But, I went through with it. Our marriage stunk. I struggled to pay bills, work full time, manage everything related to the bills, cars, home, etc.. He worked…sometimes, drank beer, and bitched. The sex was miserable…for me…but mercifully short. He liked the usual things…and refused to reciprocate (which ended in my refusal to give up anything but, well, anything, eventually. He also didn’t like condoms…or children. When we lost our insurance with his job, we lost my Pills. No Pills, no condoms…no sex. We couldn’t afford children on any level).

    I was very much lost by the time we moved to Houston, Texas. Terrified Yankee moves to a place everyone has told her has a worse crime rate than Cabrini Green, roaches the size of her head (almost true…and they do carry guns. It’s legal here, y’all know), horrendous traffic (also true, but not as bad as Dallas), a police force more corrupt and vicious than the First Daley’s machine, and etc., etc.. My first year I managed to get hooked on pain pills, muscle relaxers and pot, plus the alcohol, and began to have catatonic breaks. When he was home, he was extremely verbally and emotionally abusive…because I was to blame for his failure at testing times (he was attempting to become an air traffic controller), at studying (I left him strictly alone…I couldn’t even play the stereo quietly), at making friends (all of his coworkers liked me…I knew most of their wives…but detested him for his abrasiveness, crude humor, lack of responsibility and concentration, and constant put downs of his wife. Shocking.).

    Finally, one night, he hit me because he came home unexpectedly early and didn’t find dinner on the table. I laid him out on the floor. Soon thereafter, I found the comic and RPG shop that I would later buy into, and help manage, supervise and love with all of my heart. I stopped drinking, smoking pot, and taking pills. It was all cold turkey, and for those who say pot isn’t addictive, let me tell you…alcohol and pain pills clear your system much more quickly, and the effects of withdrawal from a major cannabis addiction are hideous. Then I divorced the miserable wretch.

    Of course, that led to mistake number two (foll me once shame on you…fool me twice, shame on me)…but I got my older son, my greatest trial, but also my dear, if troubled boy, and beloved I.. And the store sent me R., and our 9 year friendship, and our 17 year marriage that continues that friendship plus so much more, and our sweet, 14 year old son.

    Had I stayed in Illinois, I’d be dead, I am certain of this. I would have spiraled down into the world of self-medicating for my mental-illnesses, and I would have followed the family path into defeatism, isolation and, eventually, anomie and suicide, either through toxicity or more direct means. My first marriage inadvertently rescued me from being another number in a county morgue. So, when people ask me if I regret the “wasted” six years of my life I say, “Nope…look what they brought me in the end”.

  4. avatar Mary says:

    I cannot think of too many things that are good that didn’t come from something bad.  About the only things I can think of that were bad that stayed bad are the death of loved ones and that is part of life. 

    I used to get realy upset when bad things happened, such as loss of jobs, loss of relationships, serious financial problems, and yes illness etc.  But looking back on everything, they all had a purpose and made me better.  Now when I have to make a decision I don’t think so much about whether it is a right or wrong one because it all comes down to what direction I will go to get to the same destination and sometimes the adventure is worth the ride.

  5. avatar K T says:

    Yes it has- I remember I had a friend who was mad at me and I was chasing her and got a really bad sprained ankle and was on crutches for 2 weeks. That was the bad part. The good part was that my friend wasn’t mad at me anymore 🙂

  6. avatar BarbaraB says:

    I have been blessed in that very few really “bad” things have ever happened to me (or maybe I just viewed them in my typically rose-tinted way). But, like Liz Smith (how wonderful to have something in common with her!), many years ago, I was fired from a job and it was scarey, but eventually allowed me to go into business for myself and have an extremely fun and rewarding career. Ironically, the person who fired me ended up as my best client. Things DO have a way of turning out for the best, if we allow them to.

  7. avatar D C says:

    I can’t think of anything truly bad happening that ever turned out to be good, but I always learned something that served me well later.  About the only thing I can think of was more disappointing — the first young man I fell truly, madly, deeply in love with, did not love me back.  At least not in the way I loved him.  We were friends, and all of his friends said he “really really liked me”, his mother adored me, but when I finally made my feelings known after waiting two years for him to get the hints, he stopped speaking to me.  During that 2 weeks of silence, I met someone else, who I ended up dating for a year, falling in love with, then marrying, and have been with for 30 years.  That other guy… it turns out I wasn’t his type, but back then, nobody talked about it.  We stay in touch now and then, first through alumni functions, and now through facebook.    I think if he had chosen to live a lie and be with me, I would have been very frustrated and unhappy. 

  8. avatar Rho says:

    For me, I quit my firat job on a whim.  Had an argument with my supervisor.  Found a better job where I worked for 31 years.  Funny thing is, my supervisor (female) left 3 weeks after I did.

  9. avatar Rho says:

    oops, meant “first – not firat”

  10. avatar Miss Lee says:

    Every one of my ex-husbands.  I learned quite a bit from them all, mostly hard lessons.  Glad they are gone but I am a very different person because of each of them.  Don’t regret a thing, even the things that seem pretty pointless even in hindsight. 

  11. avatar simplejoys says:

    I am a firm believer in the fact that everything happens for a reason. In many instances when something went awry for me, eventually the outcome was good.
    I was taught by my parents to make the best of a bad situation and you will be blessd in return with good things. It works!

  12. avatar J Holmes says:

    Of course! I would be who I am today if life had not had some bumps (of course my bad things might be minor compared to others).

  13. avatar SandraAbernathy says:

    I’m a Grandmother now, and single. Looking back, I remember some times being very very painful, but life went on. And I went on. Never give up! I once asked a woman who was 105 how it felt to be 105. She said, “Oh Honey, you always feel the same inside. You just watch your body get older and fall apart is all.” I asked that when I was 23 years old, and I never forgot that over all these years. Focus on the good each and every day that you wake up. Focus on your choice of what your mind set will be each day. Everything will be alright. 🙂

  14. avatar D C says:

    I’m sitting here on Thursday night watching Grey’s Anatomy, and I just realized that my earlier post wasn’t quite on target.  I did have something really bad that happened that turned out to be good.  If you’re a Grey’s fan, you’re watching tonight and saw that Callie went through the windshield of the car, and at 8:40, I don’t know if she’s going to survive or not. 

    When I was 19, I was in that same position in the car, coming home with a friend from a college football game.  We were in the band, and had been at an away game, about 4 hours away from home.  It was 2:30 in the morning as we were driving home after getting back in town, and I wasn’t wearing a seatbelt.  In 1979, it wasn’t a big deal.  I had crossed my legs “boy style” and when the drunk driver lost it in front of us, and we hit him going 60mph, my legs smashed into the dashboard and my head hit the windshield.  I broke some teeth in the impact, and my right ankle was crushed, and my left femur snapped.  I spent a month in the hospital, came home in a wheelchair, graduated to a walker, then crutches and eventually, with lots of phsyical therapy, walked again. 

    I realized watching a silly soap opera, that the devastation of my legs saved my life.  I didn’t end up on the hood of the car our out on the highway, because I crossed my legs that night. 

    That was something really bad, that turned out good. 

  15. avatar Baby Snooks says:

    I can’t think of anything to be honest that turned out good. But perhaps there is a lesson there just the same. The bad things happened because I trusted someone. And I still trust. I shouldn’t.  But I do. And occasionally, particularly of late, I find the trust in someone was well-placed. And so, well, the jewels in my life have made up for the jerks in my life. All in all life is meant to be an adventure. And that includes the bad things as well as the good things.

  16. avatar Delaney says:

    I embezzeled from an employer who trusted me and was caught and convicted. The federal judge sentenced me to 4 years of therapy.  It saved my life.  I learned healthy coping skills. I learned I was severely depressed, had PTSD, zero self-esteem (the word I used for myself was “scum”). I didn’t know how to be happy.  I worked harder than I can even explain to love myself and be a productive member of society.  That was over 30 years ago.  I never dreamed life could be this good.  Who would have thought that low point, the public disgrace, humiliation, divorce, etc, etc, could have brought me here?  But it did.  I’m thankful for the judge who pointed me in the direction I needed to go, the therapist who taught me to love myself and the life I have created for MYSELF as a result.