My People

My People
My matched set of grandchildren - Oliver and Cosette

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Step One: It's ok to be you.

Continuing the theme from yesterday... I want to tell you a little bit more about my journey back. You could, if you really wanted to, read back through my blog from the beginning but... I think I can summarize a lot of what happened fairly simply: keep living.

That's my advice. I'm no psychologist (my brother is and I've always been his number one case study) but even in the Nut House I found myself in a position of encouraging and counseling the other inmates patients. Even when you don't have the answers for yourself - or for someone in your life who is discouraged - sometimes the very basic reminder -  not flippant or unsympathetically - just a reminder that life can and WILL go on. Even if you spend a few days with the covers over your head eating ice cream straight from a carton, as long as your heart is beating, you're still living.

I think we find ourselves unable to move on from heartache because we try to figure out the ending to the story. We're a tv/movie society: we expect to have the story wrapped up within two hours with the big letters spelling out "THE END" and... well, that's not how God created us. We are born of struggle, we are living in a sinful world, we are creatures of free will and that means that the story drags on, sometimes without a clear plot, long after we *think* it should be over.

Isn't that what suicide is? Jumping to the end of the book and reading the last pages before you have a chance to flip through all the pages of the book? We have to give ourselves permission to just. not. know. and to accept and adapt to whatever comes.

Four years ago I couldn't imagine any other life than being in Jacksonville in a miserable situation.
Two years ago I couldn't imagine any other life than happily doing my Weight Watchers and feeling ten feet tall and bullet proof.
A year ago, I would never have imagined my job ending and having to accept that I would probably never again work full time and/or be able to live independently.

Even if we think we have our "happily ever after" plotted out, life can change on a dime. A diagnosis... an accident... a reversal of fortune... life's about change, nothing ever stays the same. The people who survive change are the people who are willing to accept a "new normal"... people who are willing to be creative enough to visualize a life that is different from the life they thought they would have.

I was a girl who always thought that I had to have a man in my life to be happy. Let me be more specific: I thought I had to have a certain kind of man who behaved in a certain kind of way so that I could fit in with the folks at the ball field on Saturday and with the Sunday School class on Sunday. When I realized that wasn't my reality, I lowered my standards. Instead of having that special guy, I settled for having ANY guy on any terms and to be honest... the stress drove me crazy. Once you get out of middle school, the whole "I like you, do you like me? check yes or no" conflict loses it's charm. More than once I met guys who couldn't (or wouldn't) be the man of my dreams. More than once I suffered deep discouragement.

It took me a lot - UH-LOT - of years and a lot of wrong relationships to realize how amazing life is all by myself!  Don't get me wrong... I have an enormous amount of respect for stable, committed relationships. Married couples are the backbone of our church and society. That's just not the life that God has designed for me. Or, let me say it this way, that might have been the life that God intended for me and my impatience to wait for His will and way set me off on a lifetime of missteps.

Step one for me on the way back to sanity was to accept that single doesn't equal loser. I've learned to embrace the flexibility that comes from being on my own. It is very, very rare for me to even want or try to imagine being part of a relationship at this point. I like my life. I like the course that my life is on. I like my cozy little space in the house I grew up in and I love the spacious little space at the house in the mountains. There's no room for a man in either of those scenarios and I can't imagine anyone being able to compete with the stability that I've built for myself. I don't trust anyone enough to interject them into the baggage that my health would bring into a relationship.

It's like... there was the season of being a full time working single mom... and now there is the season of being a part time working awesome old maid aunt.

My situation is unique to me but it applies across the board: whatever you're facing, if it feels like the road ahead of you is making some sharp turns that you can't see around... just embrace this stage of your journey. Stop and smell the roses. Be comfortable in your skin. Don't try to force yourself into a cookie cutter shape that you think - or that the world thinks - you should be. It's ok to be different.

Honestly, it's better to be different and happy than to be the same and miserable. Learn to love your life and learn to love yourself. If you love yourself, you would never harm you.

And that was my step one. Have a great Thursday! It's my Yabba-Dabba-Do Day! Three day weekend ahead!


Patty said...

Thanks Heather. Another great one at a perfect time for me : )