Friday, May 13, 2016

Newsflash: Bad Things Happen


“Alright” the doctor said, flipping through the test results that the nurse had just handed him. “Hum. Ok” he muttered to himself as I tried not to jump out of the chair and rip the results from his hands.

I mean really now, read a little faster and tell me what the hell is going on.

“Ok” he repeated, this time finally looking up at me and closing the chart. “As you remember, a few months ago your son had surgery to repair a defect in his inner ear, caused by a problem from a surgery he had on both ears two years prior.”

“Yes, I remember” I replied, anxious to move the conversation away from what I already knew to what I was waiting for him to tell me.

“And if you remember, the surgery had not been a success and we were planning on giving it another go around once we let the ear heal for a little bit.”

Waiting for a different surgery last year

“Yea, I know,” I related, “and then he had those problems with his kidneys and had to have an unexpected surgical procedure done, and I’m finally circling back around to take care of this.”

“Well,” the doctor sighed, “it appears as if he failed the hearing test, and at this point the surgery that he is going to need is above what I can do, so I’m going to have to send you to another specialist.”

“Um… what exactly does he need to have done?” I asked hesitantly.

“It’s a long procedure that involves opening the ear up from the back and rebuilding the inner ear so that it can process sound. It’s much more involved than anything I would do.”

Great. Just great.

I got some information about the surgery, and when I realized that because of some very stringent post-surgical restrictions that I would have to take roughly an entire month off of work to make sure that my four-year-old doesn’t jump, run, bend over, lift anything, trip over anything, move his head too quickly, or anything else that involved being four years old and alive, I nearly passed out.

Recovering from another surgery several months ago.

Then I went home and at 8pm at night, found myself in the bathtub trying to push another dislocated rib back into place, eating cake (because cake makes things feel better), while crying my eyes out (that’s a lovely mental image, isn’t it?) and as usual feeling like life isn’t fair. He’s going to need surgery, it’s going to hurt him, his summer will be ruined, and this is not fair. We have already been through four surgeries in the last year, and we were supposed to be done! We were supposed to be happy now and be able to put that all behind us, and now it’s starting all over again!

Not fair.

Not fair.

Not fair.

Not fair.

But life really isn’t fair, is it? I mean I know that in theory, it’s the same thing that I remind my kids of every single day when they prepare themselves to fight to the death over the bowl that appears to have one extra cheerio in it, or when they turn “walking to the car” into an all-out brawl because “she walked in front of me last time and it’s my turn to walk in front of her,” but still, this sucks.

Because really, it’s all about me here, isn’t it? And since we are talking about me, I’d like to point out that I’m feeling like life isn’t fair.

NOT FAIR.

(I would however like to point out, that even though life sometimes gives me lemons, it does keep sending me Redbook, which I have never subscribed to, and yet comes every month like clockwork, which I have conveniently paired with leftover birthday cake, because yep, I'm another year older now).

So there I am, sitting in the bathtub, rib grinding on my sternum, crying onto my cake, crying when some of it fell into the bathtub (don’t judge me, I was on a roll), crying harder when I knocked my wine glass into the tub while trying to fish the cake out, and I had a very startling revelation of just how ridiculous I must have looked.

OK, you can judge me a little bit.


Life isn’t fair, I know that. We talk about that all the time on here, when I talk about everything that I’ve gone through, and then you watch me as I eventually learn to accept the hand that I’ve been dealt. I talk about how I can’t change things, and that the only thing I can do is to accept the lessons in them, and move on.

But I have to say, there’s really only so much that someone can accept before they are so full of lessons that they explode.

I’m pretty close to that point.


“Hello, Lord, I feel like I get it now! I’ve learned patience and self-restraint, I’ve learned compassion and empathy. I’ve learned to live with less and I’ve learned how to love. I started a nonprofit to use what I’ve learned, and I’m giving back to humanity.”

“Can you hear me God? I THINK I GET IT NOW, SO UM…. YOU CAN STOP.”

And then, sitting in the tub, talking out loud while I fished cake and a wine glass out from under the bubbles, I started to laugh.

At first I thought “oh great. So this is the point where I lose my mind, begin the maniacal laugh my mother used to do when she was in the midst of a psychotic break, and this is where I crack. Eventually the kids will wake up, see me naked and covered in cake, wine, and water wrinkled skin, and they will have to call 911. The neighbors will see me carried away on a stretcher and they will whisper amongst themselves, ‘yep, we always knew that girl was an odd one’.”

But then I realized that I was laughing, because this was just all so absurd. Everything from the medical bad luck irony, to the now soggy cake floating in my tub — this is exactly the shit that comedy movies make millions off of.

I like funny. I can do funny.

I also realize that in the grand scheme of things, this isn’t that bad. The doctor gave me some bad news, but it wasn’t the worst news. The Boy Child needs surgery, but thankfully he doesn’t need something like chemotherapy. I’m in pain, but I’m not dying.

Life isn’t fair, but thankfully I still have a life, and so does he.

So maybe this isn’t about learning a lesson. Maybe all this weird-ass-shit (pardon my language) is not about learning lessons. Maybe the lesson that I’ve been missing, is that there doesn’t need to be a lesson in everything.

Maybe I already learned all the lessons, and now I need to focus more on finding my joy in a life that will never be perfect.

Because life is never going to be perfect.

It’s funny (speaking of funny), because this is something that I talk about with my nonprofit clients all the time. In fact, just last week I was sitting with one of my support group clients who had left her husband about two years ago, and was still really struggling to stay involved in her current life. Her mind had been so focused on several upcoming court dates, that the rest of her life was falling apart. Her general demeanor over the whole thing was “I just need to get through these next few weeks, and then it will all be over. I can’t do anything else right now, and if things fall apart, that’s fine because I’ll get back to it later. I just need to get through all of this so that I can be happy.”

I couldn’t fault her for feeling that way because of what she was going through, but I did feel the need to point something out.

“I’ve been there,” I said to her. “And it does get better and it will get easier, but it will never completely go away. We’ve been meeting for two years now, and in every meeting you tell me ‘I just need to get over this next bump and then I’ll pull it together,’ but then the next time I see you there is a new bump. The thing is, you will most likely always have another court date hanging on the horizon, or the extra counseling appointment for your kids, or the big project at work. As soon as you feel that you are in the clear, something will pop up. And that’s OK, because that is life. This is your life, and we are going to figure out how to get through it, and if the only thing you feel ready to deal with right now is moment to moment, then that’s OK and we can sit here for a little while longer, but eventually, soon, we need to start looking at the bigger picture. Eventually we need to figure out how to get you to be OK with the fact that everything will probably never be totally A-OK, because that’s not reality. We have to live in and around reality, and find a way to be happy in it.”

The reality is that my life is never going to be perfect, and it’s my job to find the joy in an imperfect life.

I think too often we as humans have a tendency to want to categorize and label parts of our life so that we have an easier time coping with, and understanding them. “This was a bad thing that happened. There was a good thing happening, and then a bad thing happened, and then after that, everything else was ruined because of the bad thing.” It makes it easier to understand our feelings and quantify our perspectives, if we can label everything that went on around them; “Good, bad, pretty bad, fairly good, etc.”

But the thing is, it’s all just life, and life is not that black and white. Sometimes things happen that we perceive to be good, and sometimes things happen that we perceive to be bad, but the problem comes into play when we let those labels seep out into everything around them, and taint them. “That was the year that I lost my job, and that was a bad year.”

Yes, the job loss was bad, yes, I know that it had a ripple effect on everything around it, but that doesn’t mean that the entire year was bad. What it means is that you allowed one bad event to taint everything around it. You let one bad experience set the tone for all of the experiences that happened alongside it, and because of it you were unable to perceive anything else in that year, as anything other than bad.

I do that all the time when bad things happen to me, so I’m definitely not pointing any fingers at anyone else, because the one pointing towards my face is too big for me to see around, therefore I can’t see any of you to judge.

I’m just saying, it is what happens.

And it’s natural. It’s natural and sometimes needed to be able to deal with the issue at hand, but when you allow a negative situation to become the sole focus of your life, well that’s when things such as depression set in; because you can no longer seeing anything good.

It’s what I let happen when I started to think about how it wasn’t fair that we were supposed to be done with surgeries, and now The Boy Child has to have another one, which will further delay our happiness, and ruin his summer. We could no longer be happy and look forward, because we were unhappy and needed to halt everything.

When I let the surgery become the sole focus of our life moving forward, it didn’t allow me to see anything else that might happen alongside it; movies in the park, snuggles on the couch, chalk on the driveway, and tending our garden. Sure it might not be the summer that I was expecting for him, but you know what? That doesn’t mean that summer has to be ruined, it just means that it’s going to be different.

Back in January when I talked a little bit about why the blog was slowing down, and why I wouldn’t be writing as much, I touched upon this topic when I said:

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“If you want to view your spilled Starbucks and traffic jam on your way to work as the defining factors that ruined your day, then so be it, but it wasn’t the coffee and traffic that ruined your day, it was your acceptance that nothing else good was going to happen, because something bad already did.

But if you choose instead, to focus on everything that went right, well then your day just got a whole hell of a lot better.

In life things will go wrong and sometimes those things will hurt us. We can’t ignore those things, and we must — and should — deal with them, but when we choose to focus all our attention on the things that hurt us most, we stop allowing ourselves to look for anything that will make us feel better.

If you want to be happy, spend more time looking at the things that make you happy.”

**********

In that post I was talking more specifically about moving past trauma, but the message still holds true for daily life in even a broader sense.

Every single day we are going to encounter things that will temporarily alter our course. Some will be less significant such as a spilled cup of coffee, and others will be more life-impacting, like a surgery. But the common factor in each of those situations is that if we want to be able to enjoy the life going on around us, we need to be able — and willing — to look past what we don’t like, in order to find things that we do. I can name at least eight people that I know right now who are waiting for their life to reach some idea of perfection that they have set, before they will truly allow themselves to be happy, but the thing is, life will never be perfect.

My child might always need another surgery, and there is nothing that I can do about that. I can’t change that, but I can choose to live around it, or forever be halted in my tracks.

My baby's first ambulance ride several years ago

We cannot create perfection in an imperfect world, and as I’ve said before, the only thing that we have control over is learning to adapt to the imperfections and find joy in the cracks.

If we spend our lives waiting for a perfect tomorrow, we are going to miss out on everything that life is giving us today.

Make the choice to be happy today, because today is where you are right now.



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If You Liked This Post, Read These Relevant Posts!

“You Get What You Get And You Don’t Throw A Fit!”

“I Need To Stop Looking At It”

“Embracing The Unwanted”


23 comments:

  1. A great reminder that life happens to all of us but it is how we react that makes or breaks us. Great job Mama!

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  2. *hugs* May you live with joy, around the health coping.

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  3. Super Sucky...that's what that news was. But as always, you've found a silver lining. Not so easy to read and no way easy to help you out, but you should know - documenting your experiences is a blessing to SO many, and so many are lifting you up to everything GOOD.

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  4. I think I found you from an article you authored somewhere else - Dogster perhaps? Anyway. Just stopping by to say you sound like a great person and mom and I am loving the blog.

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    1. Aw thank you :) And yes, maybe Dogster!

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  5. Frisbee Boys MomMay 13, 2016 at 4:09 PM

    "Hello God! Its me Margaret (Eden)"
    Sorry random.....made me think of that children's series.
    BTW I sent you that subscription to Redbook. Good to know they help you relax in the tub. Love ya honey and prayers as always for Boy Chilld, Girl Child and of course you! :-*

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    1. Haha! That was you!? I had no idea. You think they would send a card that said like "so and so is sending you this."

      Thanks!! I'm enjoying it!

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    2. Of courseeee you did

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    3. 1st Anonymous, if you're going to go to all the trouble of trolling, learn how to do it. How does someone exaggerate the "e" in that word? Think about it, it's not possible. It would be "of cooourrrrrse you did."

      If you're going to be a hater, try not to also be an idiot.

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    4. You can't be serious with this comeback.

      Thanksssss for the laughhhhhh, Eden's Little Minion!! ;-*

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    5. Clearly someone has too much time on their hands.... you should get a subscription to Redbook. Clearly this isn't your kind of reading material, but I can attest that I am enjoying the magazine!

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  6. Thank you for making my life make better sense today. I was grumping about really nothing whatsoever and the "what you accept" thinking slapped me resoundingly in the face (I needed it)

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    1. I'm glad you got something out of the post, it makes me happy to know that it was worth my time :)

      *hugs*

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  7. Everything you said is true, Eden. Life does suck sometimes, and it's usually not fair. If we wait around for "fair," we miss life.

    Also, a lot of people don't know, but as humans, our brains are physically connected in such a way that we process negative things more strongly than positive things (it's called negativity bias). From a survival perspective, it makes sense that when a lion jumps out of the bushes, from then on, we're really scared of bushes--even if a lion never jumps out of that bush again. Safer to avoid all bushes, and not risk getting eaten. But it's tough in today's society when our brains make us notice the "negative" things about 9/10 times over the "positive" things. For me, it can help to remember the negativity bias.

    And if it doesn't help.....There's always wine, cake, and a bathtub with an exploding bath bomb.

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    1. That's really interesting and makes a lot of sense!!! Thanks for sharing!

      Oh gosh, THE BATH BOMB. Don't remind me.

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  8. Why don't you publish certain comments, Eden? Specifically, ones that aren't just strangers fawning over you and your stories? Genuine question...

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    1. Scroll upthread and you'll see that I did publish a few that weren't "fawning over me and my stories."

      I do happen to know that you are the same person that is repeatedly attempting to comment that I'm not real and you can't believe that anyone believes me, so if you are looking for those
      "genuine" comments, sorry, but you won't find them here. If you don't like me, go elsewhere :) You can be snarky and bitchy all you want, but I don't publish lies. Mine, or yours :)

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    2. I've never commented before that one, sorry. Just nothing you write, including conversations you claim to have, sounds real. It all sounds like average story telling, that some people really like to read so I'm sure you would have luck in fiction writing like this if you just stopped claiming it to be real, just my advice!!

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    3. I love it when the trolls out themselves. They would have no idea you weren't publishing comments if they weren't aware that theirs wasn't being published. "But it's my first comment!" Sure.... sure it is.

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    4. They also forget that the traffic/IP adress reader is on my end :)

      But to the troll anon, thanks for your advice :) If I ever tired of the "good luck" I've had writing true articles for Yahoo and Huffington post, maybe I'll try fiction :)

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