Opportunities and Choices
I heard a story last week of a woman who committed suicide. Her ex husband shot and killed her two teenagers in front of her and then turned the gun on himself. Whilst she had her mother staying with her for a few days after the event, as soon as she went home, the woman tragically ended her own life.
This story brought me to tears immediately and I couldn’t help wondering what must have gone through her mind in those final moments as she witnessed her children dying. I could not begin to imagine, and I will never know the devastation she must have felt. This story reminded me there is always someone else worse off. It is easy to forget to be grateful for what we DO have in this moment.
Someone asked me recently how I was doing. I replied with my standard answer “I’m good thanks, how are you?” I have answered this way so many times and for so long, particularly over the last 15 months or so, it has now become habit. I know there are many other people out there also answering this way based on events that have happened in their lives. For some of us, it’s just how we have become wired over time.
Social media is amazing. We can be whoever we want to be online and no one ever needs to know what is actually going on. I got on Facebook for the first time in October 2017 when I started writing these posts. My first post was to thank everyone for their love and support after my beautiful boy’s memorial. I continued to write each Sunday as I wasn’t quite sure how to stop and I quickly began to look forward to this simple routine I had created that resembled structure in what was a world of chaos to me. It forced me to be positive and creative just once a week.
Today I write this post nearly 15,000 km from Brisbane as I have written the last few posts. Someone said years ago ‘a sponge can only hold so much water’. My sponge was leaking and dripping all over the place.
As the weeks went by after September, I realised that there were many other people, many of Ben’s friends, families of his friends, and random acquaintances that had heard his story, who were also walking around in a fog. Each week I wanted you to feel inspired and uplifted and to know that you were not alone, yet I guess I have rarely shown that I am human just like you and have faced many of the same challenges. We often present to the world with fantastic masks of strength and confidence when reality often feels so far from that. The only reason we are (I am), the way we are today is because of the experiences we have had up to this point and the opportunities these have presented and the choices we have made. This is both the good news and the bad news.
As we move through life many of us have tackled a variety of challenges and our experiences have been very personal ones. As I write this, I have rebuilt my life no less than 5 times after significant ‘life changing’ events. Sure, this has spanned 40+ years but what I have realised is that each event has given me an opportunity and a choice.
Through each challenge, another few bricks were added to my wall of resilience.
In September 2017, I was faced with my biggest and toughest challenge yet. My entire world collapsed in one evening and anything that had ever meant anything to me previously, disappeared that night. I like to take comfort in thinking that Benny took a piece of me with him as a token of our bond together, as I know that that night, a piece of me also disappeared. I am not the same person I was prior to this date. Are any of us the same after a life changing experience?
People often say how brave I am, and I smile feeling very humble and reply with one of my well-rehearsed responses. I think to myself ‘if only they knew the truth’. My path from September to today has been the most erratic zigzag and forward mostly backward line you can possibly envisage. If you really want to know what a typical day has looked like, just ask me. I am happy to share it with you. I recognise today that once again I am presented with opportunities and choices.
My beautiful Benny continues to teach me so much. I had always wanted him to grow up to be a strong and resilient young man, and he did. Getting back up after life had knocked me down was the only option I had. I also wanted him to learn about emotional intelligence and that even though he was a young man and I was a grown woman, being sad, and even crying, was not a weakness and was actually a strength.
One of the biggest lessons I have learnt in my life and am still learning today, is that we need to have enough faith in ourselves to get through whatever is thrown at us, because at the end of the day it is US that must live through it. I have had to have blind faith at times and trust that I will somehow figure it all out along the way, because it is ME that has to go to bed at night knowing my reality.
There have been some that have expressed, ‘Oh, she’s moving on, she’s coping well, she’s better than I thought, After all it’s been over a year now! …’ I don’t even know how to respond to that! My reality often resembles a train wreck. When I answer you and appear to come across as unemotional or stoic as I have heard I can, I reply this way because it’s the only way I know how to be now, and it is now an intentional choice. I refuse to ‘market my grief’, it doesn’t help either of us. So, I will continue to smile and say, ‘I’m good thanks, how are you?’ I don’t know what is happening in your life and I know there are people that have it way worse than I do. I am truly grateful for all the things I do have in my life.
This coming year, like every single one of you, I get the opportunity and the choice to start a new picture on a fresh white canvass. It is both energising and terrifying (read paralysing), but I believe that I have an angel with me in every moment. I don’t know exactly what the picture will end up looking like, talk to me in a few years 😊 but I know that every challenge I have faced over the last 40+ years has made me into the person I am today, and I WILL keep going, this is both my opportunity and my choice. You can too!
So, as we come to the end of 2018, what does your next year look like?
My plan for 2019 is to share more of my journey and what I have learned, through my writing and through my speaking. My purpose is to uplift and inspire others that feel like it’s all too hard and to know they are not alone when they are also waking up in what resembles a train wreck. My mission is that through my stories, I can be an example that no matter what happens in your life, you are always stronger than you think you are! Sometimes the hardest thing to do is to get out of your own way and to believe in yourself and have enough faith to know that somehow it IS all going to be okay.
Resilience is not something that is taught or bought. Resilience happens over time and is the result of dragging yourself back up after each fall. It is not allowing hard times to drain your resolve and finding a way to rise from the carnage. Resilience is about allowing yourself to feel bitter and angry with the world on some days, but NOT staying that way. Every experience presents both opportunities and choices to continue to build on.
Resilience is about deliberately forcing a positive attitude and a sometimes a ‘faked’ optimism in order to get through the next hour, the next day or the next week. Resilience allows you to view things as they are and presents a choice to trust our ability to change course and keep going. Resilience requires very deliberate actions and a lot of booby trapping yourself into success.
Thank you everyone for being part of my journey so far.
Next year we begin again …
We’ve got this Boo!