This has been a tough couple years. OK, I’m correcting myself now. It’s been a tough 5 years! It’s been a hell-a-ride on a monster roller coaster with a weird psycho at the controls. While I can look back at it all and say I made it, I can also realize how deeply tired I am from all it too. My bones hurt from the constant shifting, adjusting and cajoling it has taken to stay and secure safe on the ride. Whew. That feels good to say too. Besides being able to say I made it, I can say I also survived it. That in itself is a gift of incredible experience, wisdom and even a lesson learned in perspective.
I feel I have worn out the saying that life isn’t easy. When you are in the middle of it all, life certainly doesn’t feel easy at all. When things are going wrong left and right and you’re waiting for the next shoe to drop on top of it, life definitely is not easy. After a while I felt like I was always waiting for the next shoe too. It was only a matter of time and boom! I’d be hit with another something out of left field to content with in my day. It would probably cost money too. Problems always seem to cost something. The stress of always being on guard for the next problem while you’re slaying the one in front of you takes its toll. I also forgot what it felt like to just be. To breathe instead of being ramped up ready for war all the time. I ran on the adrenaline of it all and that was impacting my body, mental well-being and everything in between.
From jobs that went bad resulting in the need to look for another to having my husband diagnosed with PTSD and unable to work, to just simple things breaking in our home or a vehicle, life seemed relentless. At one point I didn’t’ think there was an area of my life not on fire over something. That type of stress level went on for some time and at times still seems to spark up somewhere, usually in my job. I didn’t know where to start in fixing things. Laughingly, I realize now how little I could have actually done in some of these situations and yet there I was in the thick of them giving it anything I had to be better.
It is always a different view when it is behind you. The ability to see things and experiences from a different angle than right in front of you. Looking back I see strength I didn’t even know I had and I’ve always been considered strong. This though was next level. There were also a lot of times I lost it too. We all have those breaking points where it’s too much to stand. I see that too. Yet here I am 5 years later a survivor of it all. The essence of that time brought me here a even stronger person with a little more wisdom and the ability to still hope and dream. I realize it did harden me in spots and even left me untrusting in some places too, but it also opened me to possibility of good, for hope and dreams.
The ability to survive and be in a place of gratefulness for those problems is grace itself. I believe it is because there were moments over the past 5 years I was actually prepared for something that happened and that was nice. There were even moments when things seemed like they would be alright. I would figure it out, things would heal, get better, change for the better, just better. Sometimes they were and sometimes they weren’t. It at times seems like a crapshoot that you don’t know what you will get or find. Surviving against the tide of what has happened in our world along with personal family situations has it’s way of making you realize a few things about yourself that I need to just own and admit at last.
First, hard times don’t last. It seems like they do and sometimes things do happen one thing after the next but it is not forever. That is extremely hard to remember or understand when things are upside down in your life too. It has felt like a constant beating of hard waves in my family’s life the last 5 years. There have been so many tears, bouts of worry, struggle and lots of bowls of grit and determination. We figured out a lot of things I never thought we would ever face and we were actually alright even if we’re not out of it all yet. The hard times may come in a stream that never seems to stop flowing but what makes life truly easier in that mess is knowing you can be alright through it all. That’s what makes hard times not last so long either because if they can’t get your down then they are not as hard in the first place.
Secondly, you are going to be tired. You will feel like you can’t go on and want to give up, cave in and let go. The truth is and you know this without me saying it, you can’t. When it matters, you can’t give up. When it is right, please don’t give up. It will feel like the world is against you at times, and maybe it really is, but standing alone is better than giving up your integrity, values and beliefs of the right way to live. You will be tired from it at times and will question yourself. I think that’s normal because I do it all the time myself. Yet, when I feel the most tired is when I know I need to rest. The battle will still be there. Take care of yourself so you can fight another day stronger. Trust me on this one. You will feel you can’t afford to take the down time and that is precisely the moment you know you need to do exactly that.
Lastly, surviving life is a gift. The things I have been through in my life from childhood abuse to having my husband diagnosed with PTSD to having endless crappy jobs beat the crap out of me has taken it’s toll. I want to scream why quite a bit in my days. The truth is even though some really terrible things have happened, it gets sorted out, we can make a plan to move forward and safeguard as best as possible what’s important to us. We become these incredible warriors of strength at just the right moment to make surviving possible.
I used to really question why I had to be so strong in my life. Why all the hard things came my way and I was forced into this warrior role to caring, fighting, protecting, securing and standing up. It didn’t seem fair when others seemed to have such an easier time at things. The times I needed help but none came and I had to figure it out on my own were the hardest and still are. It makes you who you are and you use that as a blessing and gift to make your way in the world. You use it as a skill to carve your own path forward and create the beauty around you that others take notice of and wonder how you did that. You stand tall with your head held high that regardless of circumstances you are a survivor.
I don’t know if 2022 will be an easy or hard year. Quite frankly, I have give up predicting the future in that way. What I do know is in this moment of the quiet of Christmas Eve, I can see the gift of survival and what that looks like in my life. I can look at our family Christmas tree and take joy in what it took to have that and be able to share it with those I love the most. I can take comfort in my truth that we made good decisions, kept pushing ahead and did our best. It wasn’t always a pretty scenic journey but nonetheless it brought us here. Now. To this moment of peace where the important things shine through and we can even touch them. It is a reminder that surviving is good but protecting that space of hope and love makes it worth it.
The gift of surviving is sometimes a hard one to use but I consider it a natural gift that helps us move forward in grace and love. It may not all be understood but it is a path well lived and full of adventure. The hard times I have taken to accept as not just lessons to tone me as a warrior but adventures to make the most of and lean into. I know how to survive them but I think the real lesson in them is learning to see them as an adventurous life that can still be enjoyed.