I feel like I need to get a little something off my chest. I worry that this blog makes me seem brooding and self-pitying and like a big time Debbie Downer. I’m really not! This blog focuses on only one aspect of my life, and yes, it’s a very negative and difficult aspect. But my whole life is not like that.
Overall, I’m actually a pretty optimistic and positive person. I wasn’t always, though. In fact, I struggled with depression for several years. But last September, I had what I like to call an epiphany. I know that term often has religious connotations, but I don’t mean it that way – in fact, rather than finding a faith in God, what I found was more faith in my fellow humans.
Let me explain.
There have been a lot of genuinely difficult things in my life during the last decade. Nate and I struggled with infertility not once, but twice. Nate has had ongoing medical problems as a result of a disease he has called Von Hippel Lindau, and that’s necessitated multiple surgeries and cost him the vision in one eye. Two years ago, we found out that Gus also has VHL, which was absolutely devastating, especially given that he’d already had a rough start in life, dealing with torticollis and scoliosis during his infancy. Most recently, Nate and I have both been out of work for long stretches of time. Even before that, I was a stay-at-home mom for several years, so money has been and continues to be very tight.
But things came to a head last September. I was wallowing in our latest misery – our old house in Detroit was foreclosed on in spite of the fact that we had had numerous offers on the table to buy it in a short sale for more than a year, and all the things that held the process up until it was too late were completely out of our control – and I was a mess of tears and self pity.
A couple of days after we got the news, I was on Facebook, and the oddest thing changed my life. You know all those silly “groups” on Facebook that don’t actually do anything but have funny or inspiring names that people “like” just because they like the thought? Well, I just happened to stumble on one called, “Don’t dwell on who let you down, cherish those who hold you up!”
As cliche as that sentiment might sound, the truth of it really hit me in that moment. For all the devastation we’ve experienced, we’ve never hit the bottom. Why? Because family and friends and even complete strangers have been there for us. And I realized: they always will be. In fact, the darker it gets, the brighter the stars shine to help us find our way.
I know it sounds crazy, but that was it. In one fell swoop, the clouds lifted from my life, and I found the perspective and peacefulness that had eluded me for so long. And I’m now closing in on 6 months of feeling this way. I’ve stopped worrying that it’s just a mood that’s going to change and have accepted that I’m in a different place now. In many ways, the storm is still raging (I’m still out of work and our COBRA subsidy runs out soon and we’re going to owe taxes…I’m pretty much scared silly), but it’s like I’m above it now. I can see that it’s happening, but I can also see that the sky clears ahead, too. Not because I’m prescient, but because it always does – eventually.
So I guess I just wanted to say: please don’t take this blog as the entirety of who I am. For the most part, I embrace and love my life. I’ve got a wonderful, loving, hilarious husband (shhhh, don’t tell him I said he’s hilarious), and my kids are absolutely amazing. We all adore Denver and don’t ever want to leave.
And in fact, I don’t even worry too much about the money, because I feel like one day we’ll be above water again. (I’d be lying if I said I never worry about it, but it’s not causing me to have panic attacks, so that’s a pretty major step forward.) But this self image thing? Well, it’s been a part of me since long before I had any idea what VHL or mortgages or COBRA were. It’s hard to shake.
But I’m working on it. And for once, I actually feel like I have a chance to be successful. I’m more optimistic than I’ve ever been, and I think it’s because I’ve resolved the other big issues that had been weighing on me (no pun intended!). So for the first time in my adult life, I can focus my energy on this. On making me a better, healthier person – physically and emotionally.
I can do this. I know I can.