We all have tough stuff in our lives. Some of us have tougher things than others. We can’t go around or over or under this stuff, we have to go through it. While I’m not happy about the rough things, I know that it’s part of our journey. Our lives are a mosaic of experiences. These are the 9 toughest ones of my life:
#1: My childhood. My Mom has OCD and the entire family suffered from lack of treatment from OCD. We hid the secret well and didn’t let anyone know. Except the 3 of us that is. My Dad paddled as hard as he could to maintain a sense of normalcy for us. He was a good provider, a loving Dad and suffered from decades of depression. My Mom spent most of her time thinking about her OCD and washing things. I believe she loved me but she loved her disease more than any of us. She needed treatment and never got it. I attribute much of this to “keeping secrets.”
#2: Losing my nephew to SIDS. Horrific. He was only 10 weeks old and died of sudden infant death in my Grandmother’s care. The only saving grace was that Grandma was watching him. She did everything she could to save him but he was gone and there was nothing anyone could do to bring him back to us. I still remember the smell of his little sleeper. That was over two decades ago and I still miss him.
#3: Losing my entire fortune at age 45. Devastating. Humilitating. When we tallied the dollar signs that we owed, they totaled $2.4 million. Not chunk change. Now, 5 years later, we’re down to owing $89,000. (Oh, and if you sued me, you’re not getting any) Great blog to read on the topic of debt: ManvsDebt.com
#4: Getting organized. Took half a century (i.e. 50 years). Organization is my most unnatural characteristic due to my ADD (attention deficit disorder). After incident number 3, we downsized 4 times in 4 years until at this very moment we live in a beautiful apartment overlooking a lake. Simplification has come with a great price and brings with it an amazing freedom.
#5: Getting back on track after incident #3. Exhausting. Digging out is always tougher than making the mess. We’re still shoveling but we’re almost there.
#6: Getting my Mom out of my head. An endless loop. I love her. I hate her. I love her. I hate her. She’s my Mother. The Bible says honor her. I love her. I hate her. I believe I am honoring her by having her out of my life.
#7: Being sued by my own Mother. My Mother and I hadn’t talked in 9 months before I received the letter from her attorney that she was suing me for the money I owed her and my Dad. I was stunned and spent an entire morning walking around in a stupor. She had drawn the sword. She won a civil judgment but she lost her daughter (me) for good. Some relationships are toxic.
#8: Owing my Dad money when he died. Sad. I’m so sorry Dad. I hope you know that in Heaven. Our relationship was priceless to me and I’m so sorry I disappointed you in such a big way. You gave me all the gifts that money can’t buy…depth, a Christian walk, what it looked like to honor marriage, writing, love, honesty and transparency in a time when men who told how they felt were deemed weak.
#9: Going to jail. Humiliating and maddening. I went to jail for an expired license plate ticket (a bench warrant unbeknownst to me had been issued when I hadn’t paid the ticket) . At age 49 I was handcuffed in high heels as my husband whizzed by on the interstate. The first police officer called for back-up. Two cop cars with guns documented my degrading nonsensical moment. They removed the shoelaces from my stilettos so that I didn’t choke myself in the cell. My family had to take a call from the “Inmate Prison System” and my one-year old grandson was waving from my daughter’s arms when I posted bond.
Synopsis: In reviewing my list, I found that money, family and mental health were the three toughest challenges I’ve had to deal with in my life. They still are…but I am taking proactive steps toward each of them. Two of the 9 (22%) were 100% totally out of my control, the other 7 (78%) I take complete responsibility for. Pareto’s Principle prevails…everything falls into the 80/20 rule.
I encourage you to document the 9 toughest things of your own life and then group them into topical categories (usually there’s a pattern). Somehow, seeing them laid out in black and white takes some of the threat away and makes them conquerable. They make up your life. They’re part of what’s molded you into being the human being you are today. Don’t discount them. Document them. Then see where you can work and what’s out of your control.
And don’t be discouraged, we’re all a work in progress.