"You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, 'I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.' You must do the thing you think you cannot do."
A friend shared this quote with me this weekend. Usually I see quotes like this or with that same "rah rah" or "can do" attitude type message and I kind of roll my eyes at them. I can remember almost getting angry when I'd read those kinds of quotes when John was nearing the end and then for a few very hard weeks after he passed away.
I admit- as a person, I am more on the cynical side. I dont do well with the "glass half full" type of mentality...its just not who I am. I'd like to be a little more like that, sometimes, but I also would like to keep the cynicism. Its served me fairly well over the years and I think a lot of people think of cynicism as a bad thing, but I dont always think it is. I think it you can have a nice balance between the two. I think its actually helped me & served me well at times and even protected me from a lot over the years.
But I recognize its not always the best way to be 100% of the time- sometimes a mixture of the two can be good.
So for whatever reason, this quote spoke to me more than others I've seen. It wasnt even so much the first part about gaining strength or courage or confidence....what spoke to me is how I know I will eventually need to be able to function in the manner the second part of the quote speaks of. Here is that part below:
"You are able to say to yourself, 'I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.' You must do the thing you think you cannot do."
Maybe I'm just having a "slightly more optimistic than most days" type of day but right now, but I am focusing on the last line- You must do the thing you think you cannot do.
I constantly wonder how the hell I ever will be "OK" after the death of my husband. I wonder how damaging this will be to my kids (in fact there is a lot of worry about my children right now, but I am addressing that), and if there is anything I can do to diminish how much that might happen, and if I am doing those things right. I wonder about the damage this has done to me that I may not realize yet. I wonder if there will alway be certain things (songs, memories, possessions in my home) that will make me cry when I hear/think about them/see them. I dont think there is any way any widow could NOT think these things.
But I guess the quote mostly spoke to me (the last line) because in my head thats exactly how everything about this situation feels- that everything I am having to deal with, everything terrible set in front of me through no fault of my own, being left alone somewhat suddenly with 4 kids, losing the man I loved more than anything, knowing I'd do ANYTHING to bring him back but that NOTHING can do that- no amount of money, no amount of bargaining with a god that I dont believe in- literally NOTHING can fix my situation.
And yet, I HAVE to carry on. I HAVE to keep myself together for my kids- even when I dont want to. (And I admit, while I dont let them openly see me have breakdowns, I am not always successful at keeping myself together...I have plenty of days where I accomplish nearly nothing or stay in bed most of the day, or we pick up food to go twice in a day because I cant even deal with cooking a meal...I'm not perfect and I'm not afraid to admit that...in fact, truth be told, I am still an emotional mess. Even happy memories or stories of John can set me off crying.)
So like the quote says - I MUST do the things I think I cannot do.
And trust me, there are a LOT of days where there are MANY things I think I cannot or will not be able to ever do again.
But I am thankful for my wonderful family and amazing friends who give so much of themselves to help me keep moving forward, who console me when I need it (even if its the third time that week they've had to do it...and they do, without complaint), who push me to keep going and remind me of all the important reasons I need to do that, who are willing to help me in basically any way I need and sometimes help me in ways I didnt know I needed....I have people behind me. People who want the best for me. People who would probably do more for me than I ever imagined they would have and I know that if I would ask, they would all probably happily do it. (Is everyone this awesome? NO. Have I found myself disappointed by people? Yes! Have I found myself disappointed by people who made promises or people who I aways thought would support me? YES. It sucks, but it is what it is...you hear about that happening in these types of situations and unfortunately its true and it doesnt happen.)
And so somehow, I plan to keep trying- even if I sometimes fail- to do the things I think I cannot do.
I hope one day I will be able to say the previous part of the quote " 'I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.' I dont expect it will be next week, or next month, or even next year that I will be able to do that....but who knows?? I think the important part is that it occured to me this weekend that one day I *WANT* to be able to say that in regards to this situation. It wont ever change what happened. It wont ever make what happened to the kids and I OK, it'll never make what my husband suffered through OK.
I wont ever stop regretting that my kids lost their dad even if I manage to find happiness with someone else (not that I am looking to do that right now).
I wont stop regretting the things we went through with, and at the hands of, his parents and that they came back into our lives and invaded our hospitals rooms, home, our privacy and our relationship while John was sick.
I have HUGE regrets about letting them back into our lives. I purposefully have not written a lot about his parents and the enormous amount of problems they caused (both wile John was sick and for our whole marriage). While I dont think his parents have found or probably ever will find this blog, I cant really guarantee that...but maybe one day I will go into it more in depth. It can basically be summed up by saying his parents are unbearable people and I thought very little of them before John got sick and I think even less of them now. John also thought very little of his parents, and in fact I've known them for 20 years and have witnessed much of what caused us to have little to no relationship with them. Something I used to hear from him all the time if we had disagreements about his parents was "You dont understand, you have good parents. You dont know what its like to have shitty parents." What bugs me a LOT about them is they actually think they are decent people and that the relationships they had ruined with my husband were "fixed" before his passing. Just because my husband's dying words werent "I hate you." doesnt mean the decades they spent being bad parents went away. In fact, our social worker told me its very common for peope who grew up with crappy parents or did not receive the love they needed as children to still want something to do with those same crappy parents when they are dying. I didnt understand it then and I still dont but she told me the same thing he said- "You dont understand because you didnt grow up with those kind of parents." I accept that I wont be able to understand that because its true- my parents are NOTHING like his. Mine always have gone above and beyond for me and for him and for my children and his parents....well, they SUCK. It would be awesome if they would come out of La-La land and realize these things, but I cant waste my energy trying to "fix" the laundry list of what is wrong with them, nor do I have any interest in doing so.
Anyway, I'm sure I could write a nearly never ending list of regrets I have and will probably always have, but I dont know what that purpose that might serve at this point- I cant change what has happened.
But I dont think I want to be "stuck" where I'm at and where I've been at in these last weeks for forever. I'm not going to turn into some super optimist overnight- maybe while I dont plan to ever stop being somewhat cynical, a little bit of optimism is sneaking into my personality. Or maybe I'm just having a better couple of days right now than I usually have and at ny moment I will slip back into the despair I've lived in. Its hard to tell, really.
I'm certainly no expert, I'm just a regular girl who is trying to make it through literally the worst horror I couldve imagined going through. I think anyone would be a mess trying to make it through all of this and sort out how to move on or just even how to make it through a single day sometimes. Add in trying to deal with the same thing going on inside of 4 kids and it can feel utterly impossible to feel like you're getting ANYWHERE.
I'm living out one of my worst nightmares. Becoming a widow is certainly not for the faint of heart Its the hardest and scariest thing I've ever done. I feel cheated and robbed for not just myself but for my children. I'd snap my fingers and change it all in a heartbeat if I could.
But I cant. However, I think that the quote my friend shared making somewhat of an impact on me is progress, even if its only a tiny bit.
Maybe that is how these things work??