Life is a funny old thing. Just when you think you have it all sussed something comes out of left field and pulls the rug away again … and again… and again.
Why should we really ever expect anything else. Life is hard for all of us in our own individual ways – isn’t it. That gap between expectation and reality is the thing that gets me all the time. I am, I think, an optimist at heart – which is a very good and a very bad thing.
Every year I still look forward to Christmas, I love the partying, the hope, the family and friends. But every year I’m completely floored on the day by a deep pervasive sadness. It’s like all the lights have gone out. Nobody would know as I plaster the smile on and get on with it.
Every year I suspect every bereaved parent deploys heroic efforts to even get out of bed – let alone smile their way through the day.
It just wasn’t meant to be like this.
And every year I don’t talk about it as there’s only so much time that others want to hear. They have their own stuff going on and my story is “old news”. But there’s the trouble with grief, if we don’t talk and share, the darkness starts to embed and that old familiar feeling of sinking under the water starts to take hold. And to me my story is never old news – it is who I am.
Thank God for children “Chloe liked to dance didn’t she,” my young niece Lucy reminded me on Christmas day. For a moment she was there.
I met a lovely woman at a party this Christmas. She was 70 -, but still fizzing with energy and vitality. She was curious too – wanted to know everything about everybody. She told me her story, it was a very sad story, of terrible loss and disappointment. It reminded me of Leonard Cohen’s words “there’s a crack in everything. It’s how the light gets in.”
Don’t you think It is so often the most hurt amongst us that seem to burn the brightest .
And then I recoiled. The reason for her vitality, she said, was that she’d “found God”.
She may well have said she was taking drugs – I would have had the same reaction. But why? Me a Catholic – can’t shake that one off easily – who may have long dispensed with confiding in priests, but still seeks solace in churches across the world. Why was I so judgemental about somebody who had found something that gave her happiness and meaning.
After all isn’t it meaning that we all want deep down. Something outside of us, above us – something that helps us make sense of it all. I couldn’t stop thinking about this as we move towards the New Year and I get that familiar sense of emptiness and lack of direction.
And then I remembered I’m a survivor aren’t I? I’ve learnt quite a lot about resilience and getting up again … and now was the time to start implementing some of what I’ve learnt. I think I’ve made peace with my version of God – something is still there but it blows in the background like a candle in the wind. I’m glad I have it, but won’t be stoking that flame any time soon.
Instead I will look into my tool box and pull out those trusted old tools to guide me through this difficult time of year – and to continue in my quest to make every second count. And to remember that life is still very beautiful if one chooses to look in the right direction.
- Connect with people who make you feel good. Keep building your tribe.
- Don’t pretend to be ok when you aren’t .. give your feelings space to just be
- Forgive everybody – for your sake if not for theirs
- Never compare yourself to others – it is a futile, painful waste of time
- Say No more often and when you need to.
- Know that there’s so much you don’t have the power to fix – focus efforts on where you can make a difference
- Keep building from the inside out – why ever do we focus so much on the outside World when the real action goes on in our heads
- Be bold brave and never ever stop trying – whatever your age or circumstance
- Read, read, read. Write, write, write