Count Blessing not Grievances
If you must keep a scorecard of your life and relationships, count the the hits not misses.
The last nine months have been among the most difficult in my life. I have never felt as alone or as abandoned. The sadness within me is heavy and all-consuming and takes my mind to darker places than it has ever been.
If anyone told me in December 2019 that within seven months all three of my daughters and mother would no longer be speaking to me, I would have thought them ridiculous. I have had a lot of ups and downs in my relationships with all four, but I am an honest, loving person who wears her heart on her sleeve. It never dawned on me for a second that they would all have the capacity to walk out of my life without a fair explanation or backward glance because I do not have the capacity to do so. But that is exactly what they have all done. Astoundingly, I have not seen any of them shed a tear, heard any of them offer a path forward, or felt anything but anger towards me. And for me it feels like I am being killed in a slow and excruciating way. The pain is almost unbearable some days.
Too often I fall asleep and wake-up thinking, “what is the point?” I am 54 and everything that I worked and sacrificed for, all my dreams for what the final third of my life would look like, have disappeared in a flash. It is difficult to look to and plan for the future when what you wanted it to be, what you worked and hoped for has been ripped away. It is hard to get out bed when you are convinced no one cares or would notice if you stayed there forever. It is a challenge to get excited about things when the people who you most want to share them with no longer want to hear from you.
And in my case, this new family drama is dredging up a lifetime of hurt and rejection for me. This has made me ask, why do I never catch a break? Why am I unlovable? Why when I do kind things for people is it barely recognized, but when others do things everyone shouts it from the rooftop? Why has everyone in my life consistently told me how I should and should not feel, while simultaneously telling me not to tell them how to feel? I feel like I was put on this earth for the sole purpose of being a punching bag for others. I have been fighting to survive, to proclaim my worth, and to find acceptance for as long as I can remember.
And now I am tired. Exhausted! And really more often than not think that without my mother, my daughters, my grandchildren in my life – knowing they are out there living theirs – then what is the point of carrying on in this world. I sometimes think that I would be able to handle losing them better had they died. At least then losing them would not be directly tied to them punishing and rejecting me. And my mourning would not be wrapped in self-doubt and guilt. But again, these thoughts show you how dark things have become for me.
What all of the above means is that I am faced with a choice – curl up, quit, and ultimately choose to die, or I can choose life, and make it the best life I can for myself. And despite what you have read so far, I do choose life. So the question then becomes, how do I find light in the darkness? This, I know, is done by counting blessings. And fortunately I still have many to count.
I begin every day with my husband brining me a hot café latte. We drink our coffee in bed with our dogs next to us, read the news, and begin our day in a gentle loving way. We have lived in the same little house for 24 years and are lucky to hear the birds and river over the sounds of civilization. My daughters may not be speaking to me, but I know they are healthy and strong. My husband is my best friend, and we enjoy hanging out together. We bought our camper van and have lots of ‘vanventures’ planned for the future, along with more than a few global travel plans. I am lucky that I get to pursue my writing career without having to worry about earning a living at it. I have found new hobbies I enjoy – painting, knitting, repurposing things. I have old friends I love, and I am learning how to reach out more to help build a new network of friends for my husband and me. Although my relationship with my mother and daughters is in the shit, my relationship with my father and stepmother has improved. And with our van, my husband and I hope to spend more time visiting with his siblings in Alberta. We have a little free library in our front yard that has turned or house into a bit of a neighbourhood destination; it gives me so much pleasure to see people enjoying it. I do a little volunteer writing here and there, and I have been collecting socks for the homeless for 4 years now, which also feels good.
Those are the things I am collecting and holding onto. I know I am surrounded by good things. I know that I can have happiness and contentment. I know I can help others and bring them joy. I know I have something to offer this world, even if my daughters and mother do not want to accept it. And as angry and hurt as I am with them, as tempting as it might be to try and hurt and punish them as badly as they have hurt and punished me, I know I cannot stoop to that level because it would truly be the ultimate end.
So I wake up each day, wipe my tears, smile at the forest out my window as I sip my coffee with my love at my side, and recite the things I am thankful for. Hopefully in time, a reconciliation with my girls and mom will be one of them.