Tuesday, December 15, 2015

If I didn't know better...

Here lately - the past 5 months - my mind could often be found wandering the senseless paths that we all, at some point or other, tread: the "if I had a time machine, I'd go back and do ______ differently" trails.

Inevitably, this flight of fancy would deliver us from our present, undesirable circumstance, and magically rewrite the whole life chapter to be nothing but kitties and rainbows.

But my friends, need I remind you - and me - that the rainbow only came after the flood?


I saw a commercial yesterday - bear with me - that really spoke to me. In the commercial, there were two giant boards. One had a sign - "The Past" - at the top; the other's sign read "The Future".

Bystanders on the street were asked to take magnetic words/phrases from a gargantuan pile and place those words/phrases, as they applied to the individual, on the board to which those bystanders felt the words/phrases corresponded.

"Positive" words/phrases were written in yellow; "negative" words/phrases were written in blue. (ie. "Promotion at work" was written in yellow. "Hospitalization" was written in blue.)

Frantically, folks rush to the wall to add words.

When the exercise is over, the Past Board is an even mix of yellow and blue. The Future Board is almost all yellow...

I thought about that for a long time...

Since becoming sick, I've taken a really thorough look at what I wanted for my future. By and large, my desires didn't much deviate from my assumed desires for many of you: a home, a family, a job I love, the ability to travel and see the world.

Indeed, in the realm of "What Erin wants for her life," I felt I'd set the bar squarely at "completely attainable."

But Life, it seems, had other plans.

(Now "bathe myself without fear of collapse" ranks high on my list of "What Erin wants for her life.")


Why is it that, despite our experiences of the past - despite our knowledge that Life delivers good and bad to every individual - that Life is not fair and never will be - do we continue to paint the future with (in this case) a predominantly yellow hue?

Do we all feel we have somehow met our quota of negativity and that Life is therefore preparing to dole out favors aaaaaaany minute now?

That Life remembers those things it did in the past that were wholly unfair and insufferable and that, if we just sit back in our recliner and wait, Life will ring our doorbell with flowers and chocolates and a letter of apology tucked under the wiper of "OUR BRAND NEW CARRRR!"?


Acceptance is the last stage in the grieving process.

Once we're done denying the situation... getting mad at the situation... bargaining with God over the situation... getting depressed and bawling our freaking eyes out over the situation... we finally accept the situation. And it looks something like this: (you're welcome)


And while I cannot say that I, personally, will hang out in the sands of acceptance (that reference will make sense if you watch the video), forever - or even for the rest of the day - I can say that, in this moment, I have come to accept that my future might have a bit more of a blue hue than I'd have liked.

But then again, that was really always the case, wasn't it?

What's changed, really, is not my future... but my concept of what my future should have held.


Therapists tell me "should" is a dangerous word, loaded with expectation that may just be impossible to meet.

I should have lived another 50-some-odd years healthy, happy, and whole.

But that, my friends, is painting The Future Board with positives.

When I look back at my Past Board, I realize Life doesn't work that way.

And I further realize that sometimes these negatives - these terrible experiences that broke my heart and my spirit - eventually worked out in my favor.

Some of those blues made possible the brightest of yellows in my life.

And maybe that's what this is.

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