This post from Eden Riley made me stop in my tracks last week and cry like a baby. It’s how I would have felt if I had experienced her loss; it’s what I would have said.
There are many people in the environs of my life who have been dealt a shit hand this year. Maybe it has something to do with getting older, maybe it’s fate, maybe it’s just bad luck…who knows?
But they make me feel ashamed every time I pour myself another drink and have the audacity to feel sorry for myself.
What I have noticed about life is that the bigger the turd life throws at you, the better you seem to deal with it. Somewhere in their journey towards destruction those turds must combine together to create a special protective shell or a superpower of strength?
I don’t know how it works exactly, this whole life test.
But I do know that we all bear our crosses. It’s just that some crosses are heavier than others.
As my guru, Pinterest, always reminds me, ‘there isn’t a smile out there that doesn’t hide heart-ache’ .
And sometimes we all need a good, old-fashioned pity session.
We’d all love to be that toddler writhing on the supermarket floor occasionally, or that tennis player throwing their racket into the net. We’ve all screamed silently, ‘WHY ME?’ a gazillion times and wished we could cut ourselves like a teenager to release the frustration.
I was at a talk about ADHD and anxiety the other night and the speaker spoke about containing your anxiety for an allocated ‘worry time’ sometime during the day, rather than allowing it to niggle or fester. She used the analogy of an orange tree that you feed and water until it produces healthy, fat, beautiful oranges – often more than you can eat.
That’s what happens with anxiety, apparently. If you keep feeding it, it just gets bigger.
I’ve grown a few too many oranges this year. Anxiety is an offshoot of peri-menopause, so they say – (well that’s my excuse anyway) – having a child with ADHD doesn’t help.
And then of course there’s just general life-suck.
And it’s easier said than done to stop watering that tree, even though I know that ultimately, it is the only way to manage my anxiety, before it starts managing me.
The old man and I are experts at self-pity, even though on the outside I am sure we look like lucky fuckers.
But I can assure you, our skeletons will be fighting to get out of the closet this Halloween.
One of our favourite weekend hobbies is opening the regret-box.
Usually on a Friday night, just as the wine begins to flow is when we open them and have a good old rummage and show and tell. We don’t do it intentionally, of course, we’re not that self-absorbed, but wine frees the mind, loosens the inhibitions and motivates you to chasing those dreams that may have become buried in life’s shit.
I despise myself for it sometimes, because he and I have so much and yet sometimes we get blinded by ‘why me?’ selfishness, and we can’t seem to identify that we are fundamentally very happy.
We dwell on the challenges that Kurt lobs our way, and we forget the pride we feel watching him perform, or those beautiful moments when he grabs us in a tight bear hug to tell us how much he loves us; we regret the money we have lost on bad property decisions and the good times and the memories we created in all those houses escape us momentarily; as well as the fact that we didn’t buy those houses to make money in the first place, but to protect and raise our family.
‘If we had our time again’ and ‘what we would do differently’ are common threads to those conversations as well as the hours we spend planning our retirement, when what we should be doing is enjoying ‘the now’.
I know this for a fact, and I can empathise with a little of what Eden is feeling now, because the regret that takes up a massive portion of my regret box is the loss of my mother, when I was fourteen.
That devastating experience has been a pervading presence throughout my life and I can honestly say that I will never get over it. People who have lost loved ones prematurely know how grief works. For the outsiders it is fleeting, and their lives move forward almost as soon as the ashes are scattered under the rosebush, but for the loved ones, grief is a pain that dulls with time but never really goes away.
It is a hole in your heart.
That loss has shaped my approach to life, permeated my personality, intrinsically changed me for the better in a lot of ways, for the worst in some.
My anxiety is linked to that day thirty-four years ago, and my fear of losing Kurt prematurely, carries on feeding the fear – the frustration at not being able to control life is sometimes unbearable. That fear has turned me into a helicopter parent who is guilty of suffocating her children at times.
But what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. That loss has made me stronger emotionally too – too strong perhaps, because it is so much easier to walk away from potential hurt than to stay the course and risk it.
Yet it has also made me value life and embrace what it has to offer.
Somewhere this year, though, I lost my way a little.
2013 has been a testing year, with a lot of change, sad news and dysfunctionality in our once-tight family unit. The accumulation of those events has nearly broken me at times.
But if I flip that sentence around another way….
2013 has brought new beginnings, an exciting move towards the city and a different vista, a new and fulfilling career, a continued passion for writing, a new closeness in my marriage because of those complications and dysfunctionality, and a lot of humour in spite of adversity.
What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.