If you spend any time indulging in social media, you are likely bombarded on a daily basis with inspirational quotes accompanied by photos of furry felines, glowing rainbows or cute kids from well meaning friends. Rarely do these manage to catch my attention (unless it's a particularly cute kitty). Sugary-sweet sentiments can be hard to swallow when your life has been punctuated by emotional pain, physical pain and heartbreak. I'm a realist and reality is harsh. When things are going well it can be hard not to look around and wonder where the next blow will hit. Better to be prepared for it.
But there is one tried and true saying, admittedly, shamefully, cliché, that I will repeat here.
"Today is the first day of the rest of your life."
and then have the gall to follow it with…
"When life gives you lemons, make lemonade."
Well, hell, let's throw in "no regrets" too.
Honestly, these three sentiments are how I've managed not to become depressed and bitter and give up on the prospect of future happiness, love or life in general. There is some innate wisdom in most clichés or they wouldn't have become…well…cliché.
Can someone survive emotional abuse and learn trust again?
Can someone be sick with incurable illnesses and still maintain hope for a future?
Can someone survive the death of a spouse and find true love in another?
I've had many first days in my life. Days that started with picking myself up off the ground, facing forward and taking a single step. Sometimes just getting up off the ground was all I could manage…figuratively and literally. No matter how much I didn't want to, I did it anyway. It got easier, but walking through life alone is hard, not impossible, but certainly more difficult.
I wanted to share my life with another, but felt that I would be seen as a liability. That it would be too difficult for someone to navigate their life around the moat that surrounds mine. Things I couldn't change like a dead husband and ongoing medical treatments. Plus things I wouldn't change…a house full of pets that would make even some animal lovers question my sanity. But with all my doubts, I really had nothing to lose. If I look on my life objectively as a whole, it's been good, really good, and I wouldn't throw away the good parts to avoid the pain if I had known what was to come. I have learned that I am resilient. I believe no matter what is happening in my life, that my attitude and actions determine my happiness. You can find joy in the tiniest little moments in the midst of great pain if you simply believe they exist. It could be argued that those tiny, fleeting moments are the ones that matter most. String them together and they are what make up the bulk of our lives.
Dialogue from one of my favorite television shows comes to mind.
Dr. Gregory House: Are you going to base your whole life on who you got stuck in a room with?
Eve (patient): I'm going to base this moment on who I'm stuck in a room with. It's what life is. It's a series of rooms and who we get stuck in those rooms with adds up to what our lives are.
Then I got lucky.
I found someone who didn't try to navigate around my life, but instead did a cannonball right into the middle of it. He spent 10 minutes playing with my dogs while inadvertently ignoring me the first time he came to the house (this was not a bad thing). He had been a veterinary tech for 14-years and wasn't overwhelmed by the numbers. He wasn't scared of my illnesses. He had enough medical knowledge to understand. Instead of complaining about all the foods I couldn't have, he found new foods and recipes that we both could eat. Our life philosophies match well and when I see that we BOTH are laughing hysterically while the 4 dogs run around the yard in the dark with glow necklaces around their necks trying to play fetch...that's someone I want to be stuck in a room with.
Here is the formal announcement that most of you won't find surprising.
Ed and I are engaged.
…and I am happy.