I know a lot of people, most very close to me (emotionally) who are going through Really Hard Things at the moment, up to and including the very worst that depression can bring, parenthood nightmares and the bitter pain of knowing you will not have your own, biological children (wait, that last one’s me). These people repeatedly pick themselves up and carry on – they are warriors. But unhappy ones.
I have a wonderful sage in my life, and she’s also gone through far more than her share of difficulties and yet her outlook on life remains determinedly ‘can do’. She’s a huge advocate for trying to change the way life happens and work hard on your little bit of it to improve matters.
I’ve never been a believer in this ‘shape your own destiny’ stuff, thinking that it was absolutely too ridiculous for words – after all, life happens TO us. We often don’t get a say in what or who explodes in our face, turning our (formerly neat and orderly, ha ha) lives into a smouldering, ruinous mess. There’s just no way that any amount of ‘positive thinking’ was going to make a difference to someone with severe depression, nor ‘believing in dreams’ for a parent whose children (and the manner by which they arrived) have left each day a massive battle of conflicting emotions.
It’s all just too…fluffy.
However, on closer inspection, the fluffy turns out to have a steely edge born of resolve, perseverance, and ‘it simply cannot stay the way it is’.
I am not (nor is anyone) in control of anything beyond their own behaviour and attitude. It is not our right to control others, nor do we have the ability (and, perhaps, nor should we) and yet today as I spouted good, practical advice to one of these warriors, I realised that my wonderful sage and I are working on opposite sides of the same coin, and suddenly everything made sense.
It’s not about warm fuzzies or everything being ok, it’s about taking charge.
It’s about pushing beyond feelings and taking action, for if I wait until I feel like it, I may never act.
It’s about grabbing life by the throat and pummelling the goodness out of it.
It’s about surviving from one catastrophe to the next, with a short space of calm in between, when you can stop and breathe and feel the sun on your skin.
It’s about realising that if you want to make the situation different, the first thing you have to change for the positive is your own behaviour.
You can wake up in the morning and the day looks like crap on a stick, and you can decide to bitch and whine about it, drag your heels, do the day resentfully and let everyone know your day’s shit by giving them a hard time OR you can choose to take on that day in hand-to-hand combat. You can choose to put emotional walls up against the stuff that’s driving you crazy now but won’t matter in a week. You can choose to appreciate the small things. You can decide not to react with anger or frustration, but breathe, then breathe again, and respond with calm.
Because in the end, it’s the bad times we remember, but the good times that count, and I want to tip the balance in favour of Good as often as possible. But I gotta make it happen.
Will you choose the thorns or the sunset?