If you’ve ever been through a difficult time (in other words, you are human) then you know how a situation can overwhelm and seemingly take over your life. Whether you are 15, 25, 35 or 70… when there is conflict, hardship, difficulty or loss, it can sometimes seem like that is all there is. And when you’re in the thick of it, you can barely remember what life was like when all you had to think about was what to wear that day or what to make for dinner. You may wonder if anyone else has ever felt the depths of helplessness or despair you are feeling. And you may actually question whether life is ever going to be okay again.
I’m here to tell you that it is. It IS going to be okay again, I promise. Maybe not tomorrow, and maybe not the way it was in the past or the way you might imagine it in your mind, but it is going to be okay. Yes, even if you can’t possibly see how all of the chaos and turmoil and all of the pieces of your life that have been so haphazardly thrown up into the air might possibly fall into an order that makes any amount of sense…I promise you that they do. They just do. And you don’t need to worry about what it might look like once they do. Right now you just need to have faith that they will.
It was almost one year ago when I came to the realization that my life as I knew it was coming to an end. It was the afternoon of Christmas Eve when a pathetically routine argument between my husband and I turned unusually nasty, and resulted in me screaming at him to get out of the house and not come back. So he left. And when he didn’t return, and the kids and I went on with our Christmas plans without him, I knew that this time was different. That evening, I asked my parents to watch my six month old so that I could take my four year told to the “kid friendly” service at church. I fought back tears through the entire service as I watched moms and dads with young children all around me who were caught up in the joy and wonder that is Christmas Eve with kids, seemingly without a worry or care in the world. But not me. I was sitting in the back, my eyes puffy and makeupless from the hours I had spent intermittently crying in the bathroom so the kids wouldn’t see me upset. My daughter, who has little understanding of my love for and close connection with my angels, had seen the Christmas pageant last year and talked about the angels for weeks afterwards. Noticing their absence in this year’s pageant, she kept anxiously asking in her best four year old whine, “Mommmmmy….where are the ANGELS? I thought there were going to be ANGELS!!!!” And all I could do was look at her through my tear-filled eyes and admit to her, “I don’t know, sweetheart. I thought there were going to be angels too“.
At that time I couldn’t possibly see how anything was ever going to be okay. My marriage was falling apart, I hated my job, I was struggling with postpartum depression, and there was no one who I was willing to reach out to and admit how terrible life really was. I could sense that a divorce was eminent and I simply couldn’t fathom how life would ever be okay if that actually happened. Where would I live? How would I pay the bills? How could either of us ever parent effectively while on our own? Would I ever be able to find someone who would want to be with me as a single mom? And worst of all…. What will people think?
Fast forward nearly one year and each and every one of these questions has been answered – not in the way I would have imagined the pieces falling into place, but in a way that is beyond anything I could have hoped. If you’ve followed my story, you know that because of my inherent optimism, as soon as I started owning and sharing my story I knew deep down that everything would be okay in the end. But I’m no where near the end and things are already better than okay. Life is better than anything I could have prayed for last Christmas Eve, when I had almost lost all faith and wondered where in the Hell my angels were.
In the last 12 months, we finalized our divorce and developed a co-parenting plan that is working wonderfully for our kids. I sold our house and bought a new home that I love and is mine to do with as I please. I got out of the job that was stifling me and into a new position where I am valued and respected, and well-positioned learn and grow. I met someone who makes me laugh, and am learning to open my heart up slowly and cautiously, yet fully and authentically, a way I never have before (and who, coincidentally, came up with the title for this post). But most importantly, in this past year, I have learned to take off my mask, let down my walls and let myself be seen for who I am. Flaws, insecurities, imperfections and all. And that has made all the difference in how I live my life, and how life is now responding to me.
The past year has certainly not been easy. It has been a brutal, treacherous and heart-wrenching journey getting from last Christmas to now. But I can’t even begin to put into words how much it has been worth it. In my last post, which was written about four months ago, I frustratingly expressed how the summit was nowhere in sight and wondered if my feet would ever land on the foundation of my “new life”. But I’m learning that the summit doesn’t really exist. There is no point that you get to where you can stand up and declare that you have finally arrived. It’s a journey. There are cutbacks, roadblocks and dead-ends, and I still stumble and fall every now and again as I carve out my way. But I can promise you that the path does get easier. And as you go through the work and the process and keep on climbing, the view and the experience gets so much better. Above the clouds the sun is shining and there is a sense of peace and contentment. Fear dissipates and worries slip away more easily as you bring the wisdom of knowing that life can be tough, but you are tougher. And no matter what, it always turns out okay. And should you ever question that, you just have to remember to look down and see where you began, and take note of all the lessons you’ve learned and the strength and courage you have earned along the way. You’ll be reminded of how far you’ve come, and of all the times the answers finally appeared, likely when you were least expecting it. And you’ll remember that with a little patience and hope, the pieces all eventually fall into place. And that everything always turns out okay.
2 thoughts on “Hardship and Hope”
My whole life I keep thinking there is a plateau ahead and it will allow me a vantage point to “figure it all out.” The firing only comes in the movement, the dance of life.