Mike and Sarah share Sunday posts, as they are two widows who are in a new relationship together. Today’s post is from Sarah:
I’ve spent a lot of my life feeling uneasy even thinking about planning the future. Feeling like if I even begin to look ahead, it will be snatched up from me the moment I start to feel excitement of something to come. This is because it’s happened a lot of times to me already. All the dead people in my life aside, this has even happened recently, with our wedding. We have already spent a year and a half engaged and spent this entire time planning a beautiful significant day with our families and friends next month. We had decided on catering, had most arrangements ready, and made handmade wedding favors with the dates on them. We were in the home stretch of what was to be a profoundly exciting and special summer of 2020 for us. Now, we are postponed to possibly October or perhaps who-knows-when due to COVID19.
Yet again, something in my life will not go as planned. Yet again, I will not be able to have a traditional wedding, a honeymoon right after, a traditional life, a traditional anything. This is always a trigger for me. Believe me, I cried about this. I threw a big and slightly embarrassing fit over this. And for a small while there, I forgot about who I really am. And then Mike pointed out to me, quite frankly and with a hint of silver lining and sarcasm, that nothing in my life has ever gone the normal way, but it hasn’t stopped me. He is so right.
Suddenly I remembered, nothing has gone “normal” since I was pretty much born. I suppose by “normal” I mean smooth or easy or expected. My own dad dropped my mom off at the hospital to give birth to me and then went to the bar. My entire life I’ve looked at other people’s lives as if from a window outside and wondered what it must be life to just enjoy a “regular life”. People who had two parents that weren’t alcoholics, whose mother didn’t die when they were little, who never grew up to date men who hit them and didn’t have to work two jobs to put themselves through college. People who didn’t have to go to endless hours of therapy through their 20’s to get their shit figured out, and still occasionally do in their 30’s. People who didn’t finally find the love of their life only to have them ripped away before getting married, and THEN found someone new to marry but now even that marriage is being put on hold because of literally the worst pandemic our generations have ever seen. I have a laundry list of things that have happened in my life that sound like way more than should happen in any one person’s life, and I’m not even 40.
This isn’t some big sob fest about my hard stuff though. Firstly, there are a LOT of people who’ve been through WAY worse stuff than me. And aside from that, we ALL have hard stuff and there really is no “normal” anyway. I used to really have a chip on my shoulder about the hardships I’ve faced that others have not. It took me a long time to get out of my own head and realize that sometimes life is just hard for no seeming reason. Sometimes more bad stuff happens to certain people than others. And that’s just that. Life doesn’t owe us easy. I think once I accepted that, it became easier to start seeing the blessings from the hard stuff and losing the bitterness.
Over the years, particularly in my late twenties and thirties after losing Drew, I started to realize the one big thing that all this stuff has given me. I have a superpower from having made it through all of this. Anyone who goes through a lot of hard shit gets to have superpowers too, which is so great. We do have to watch for them, and pay attention to what they might be, but no doubt they are given to all of us. My superpower is my ability to pivot.
I know how to pivot on a dime when I need to. I know how to adjust my sails and make use of whatever is coming at me to change direction. I know how to quickly let go of old directions and find excitement in whatever alternate direction I choose. I trust that somehow things are going to work out because I’m always looking for what I can gain and learn from any change. I know how to find possibility where it seems like there isn’t any, and I know how to make any new direction filled with beauty and purpose. That is one awesome superpower. And anyone who’s been through hard stuff gets to have that if they choose it.
My mom dies a month after my ninth birthday? I lose myself in drawing and writing endlessly and discover a passion for art and its ability to heal and bring joy. At 29, my future spouse dies and I can’t marry him? I pivot and begin to create art once more. I rediscover myself and focus on pursuing a new career as an artist – which I’m still doing today. My NEXT wedding gets postponed by a damn pandemic? I begin thinking up new and entirely different ways that we could get married that will be unlike any normal wedding in the most fantastic way. We might get married in matching pajamas. We might get married on our tiny jon boat in the middle of a lake. We might get married on our tiny boat IN our matching pajamas! Hell we might even get married in a cemetery with a bunch of dead people – because why not? The celebration with everyone we love may have to wait until next year… we still have not decided. It if does though, I have already begun to use my pivoting superpowers to find the best and most joyful plan B for marrying the new love of my life. The plan B for our plan B marriage – ironically. I no longer care that it is plan B, all I care about is that I am going to make this the best plan B EVER for us.
Maybe not being able to have our wedding “the normal way” will turn out to be amazing. Though this feels hard to say, I can say that Drew’s death did indeed lead me to grand possibilities that I am glad for. With that in mind, I’m deciding to trust that all the pivoting right now will lead to new grand possibilities as well.
If there is one thing hardship can help us develop in ourselves, it is a resolve that no matter what life throws at us, we will not back down or be broken. We can decide that we will not stop believing that life can be beautiful, and funny, and wonderful, and full of love. We can decide not to give in to the idea that I grew up with – that “normal” is best or better somehow. Instead, we who have been through the hard shit can embrace the fact that life has thrown it’s hardest stuff at us, and not only did we make it through, but by God, we made something beautiful of it too.
Never forget your superpowers when hard stuff comes knocking. You have EARNED them.