I’ve been feeling absolutely pants this week. Worse than I have for a while and it’s already been a crappy winter. Then out of the blue I get an email from my editor at themighty.com telling me another editor from babble.com wants to publish one of my articles.
Sometimes I think the universe is trying to make sure I don’t give up when it feels I’m close to quitting.
So today I am grateful for hope. I’m grateful that someone, somewhere out there wants me to keep going and find the strength to keep fighting when to be honest, I just want to quit and hide in my cave until further notice.
Hope is a powerful tool.
Hope is basically positivity- thinking that things can and will get better, even if they might not. It would be so easy to give into the bitterness I occasionally feel. How unfair it all seems that I got stuck in this stupid body and cursed to live each day with pain that causes silent tears to spring from within, despite my best efforts to hide them.
I caught up with a really important old friend in the last few days, and he said to me ” I let go of the bitterness early on, nothing good can come from that.” We were talking about our failed marriages at the time, but it made me think actually he’s so right, not just about the hurt and pain you feel when a relationship ends or you lose a loved one, but also the bitterness that can eat you alive when you lose a job, a friend, a house- your health .
Negative emotions can be so damaging if we let them set down roots deep inside us.
This week has been a time of mixed emotions. I have been battling with some of the highest pain levels I’ve experienced for a while- a real peak of unpleasantness that has wiped me out and I’ll be honest, has made me want to quit. Like quit everything-not in the sense that I want to die but in the sense that I want someone else to swoop in and plonk me in a hospital or something, where I no longer have to manage my Meds, my kids, my home, my life- I have the perfect excuse to just give up if I’m in hospital right? No one expects you to work, be a parent, make the dinner, to write, to help with maths, to fix their hair, to have the clothes washed, to set up their internet banking or be a taxi service if you are in hospital do they?
I just wanted to be left alone.
Of course after nearly two years waiting, this is the exact time that my ex husband decides he finally is ready to receive his belongings. The piles of stuff I’ve lugged in and out of the house ready to go repeatedly and should have thrown in a skip a longtime ago if you ask most people. I suffer from extreme empathy, I cant bear the thought of intentionally and unnecessarily causing pain and hurt. How could I throw a lifetime of memories in the skip? Like a fool I used my last little bit of power with a wonderful friend or two, while dosed up to the eyeballs to get it done-but here we come to the positive, the hope.
This fine balance of physical and mental health.
What relief I felt after all this time battling to get all this stuff out of my life, but being chained to it by my conscience. I felt lighter and tears flowed freely as I found that I was released at last and could finally move on- I could let some of the bitterness go. The rush of liberating endorphins combined with the rush of pain at lifting these endless boxes, totally floored me and I wondered if I would get up again.
Then I opened a bag shoved inside a box I was to return.
Out spilled a lifetime of memories. An entire life captured in still images literally flowed over my sore legs until I was surrounded by every person I’ve known in my life. Each friend I have laughed with. Each man I loved. Each family member I grew alongside. Every place I’ve been. My grandparents, now gone from this life. My babies, oh my babies, so small and me looking so ill and young and afraid. I selected a few hundred and began the process of digitalising and uploading them- some of the best memories of my life- sharing them with friends I’ve long lost touch with and some I see regularly but often forget just how far we go back. What a privilege and pleasure it was to give some documented history to the people that have shared my life so far.
Amongst these pictures are some I will keep, but never share. Because within them they hold so much pain and suffering- there’s one of me holding my 4/5 month old son awkwardly, my arm in a cast and looking exhausted, older than I do now and just utterly broken and beaten down.
In this picture the woman, the mother, was holding so many secrets inside. She was dying a little every day. She was scared. She felt trapped. She was lost. She was alone. She had lied to every person that loved her and many that didn’t, to protect her baby.
She had lost all hope.
She was 21.
Me. That was me. I never ever in the moments that picture and others like it were taken, could have imagined I would be where I am now. I had lost my hope, my dignity, my pride, my whole self at the hands of a violent and abusive man and lied about it at the time to the only people that could have saved me.
Now, 18 years later, yes I have a failed marriage, 4 children by two fathers, no paid job and my health is worse, but I have hope. I have peace. I know who I am and what I can not and will not tolerate anymore. I worked my butt off in those decades to qualify in two professions. I was successful in both until my health deteriorated. I gained a high level of education. I travelled a little. I learnt new skills. I met new people. I read more books. I listened and learnt from those I encountered in all the spaces and places I entered. I tried to help anyone I came across that needed a part of me, in case they also felt lost and alone. I think I’ve made a positive difference, even if it’s just a smile or an ear when there is no one else around. I am still fighting to give myself a new occupation and purpose. I forged a new life from the ashes of who I used to be.
I found hope. I found peace.
I “let go of the bitterness because nothing good can ever come of that.”
So even when the darkness tries to take you, just hold on that little bit longer, as you never know when that email from an editor, that message from a friend or that photograph reminding you how far you’ve come, might fall into your lap.
There is always hope, even when all seems lost.
Hope is you.
It’s your mind. Your truth. You.
No one can ever take that away.