I’ve always had a mild fascination with resilience…and perhaps I have even written about it before. When I volunteered in a pediatric oncology ward, I was constantly perplexed by the fact that some families were able to weather the terrible turbulence that they were being confronted with, and others were clearly crumbling.
Was it family? Was it an extended support system? Were some people just wired to handle difficult times better than others?
Well very shortly after I stopped volunteering at the hospital, I got pregnant without planning on it – and found myself very single. I navigated my way through some very interesting terrain of my own – okay fine, it wasn’t interesting…it was really, really soul crushingly difficult. Certainly nowhere close to being the parent of a pediatric cancer patient (people who I still think about and pray for often), but definitely not a walk in the park either.
I did everything in my power to refrain from allowing the circumstances related to my single motherhood break me and to rob me of the joy of being a mother – and I would say by all accounts – it didn’t.
However, nearly four years after the fact, I am confronted with the reality that those experiences did leave some pretty substantial cracks in…me. In my heart. I don’t notice them 80% of the time, and most people who know me probably don’t really know they are there either.
But every once in a while something weighs on me and I feel the weakness. It can be anything from anticipating an upcoming email from my daughter’s school about the Father’s Day gathering where the “Moms are welcome too” note will be added – and I’ll try to figure out what exactly is better for Ellie, having my Dad stand in, or just having me go solo and be Mom and Dad…or it can be something as simple as having a conversation that brings me back in time to a moment that was less than…poetic. And all of the sudden, I am keenly aware of where those cracks are and I start to wonder if I am going to be able to keep it together.
Whatever the scenario is, it’s not fun, or enjoyable. For me. Or for anyone I dare to let in. And as I sit here on my couch tonight, I realize my fascination is not so much with resilience, as it is with moving on. In my personal experience, being resilient is the easy part – especially when blessed with amazing people who believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself.
But moving on? Now that is where the real work is.
How do you let go?
How does someone not let the most difficult and painful parts of their life rob them of the joy they have right here and now?
I mean I know the answer – look forward, not backward. Let it go. Breath. Live in the moment. Stop worrying.
But HOW? HOW do you do that?
Honestly, I have no idea…I mean I run, and I work a lot of it there, one foot in front of the other…symbolic and therapeutic all at the same time. And I have a wonderful list of friends and family I can call that talk me through it…people who remind me of where Ellie and I were, and how far we have come, and who focus me on the forward momentum. People who tell me that it’s okay to be sad every once in a while, but who also tell me I can not predict the future and try to control it from the present.
And I thank god every day for all of that…but I just hit a wall right here and right now where I realized for the first time, I actually want to move on. I want to focus on what’s there – rather than what’s not, I want to acknowledge how much motherhood is far and away the most important and fulfilling position I have ever accepted, even if I had to shift everything else around to allow myself the space to be the mom that I need to be. I want to be happy and perhaps even more importantly, I deserve to be.
All that being said, I still have zero idea how I go from here to there…but maybe deciding the direction that I want to go in, is the first and most important step.
I certainly hope so.