Six different kinds….

It’s complicated. I don’t want to discuss it. I’d rather everyone didn’t know. It’s not something I like to bring up. Just don’t talk about it.

Life is a complex bowl of muesli. It’s got some good bits, the bits you like and are happy to eat. Then it’s also got the unpleasant bits, the bits that get stuck in your teeth, the bits you’d rather spit out. But it’s impolite to spit out your food, so we swallow it, good and bad, because you don’t always control what goes into the big ol’ cereal bowl of life.

And sometimes, just like muesli, life can be six different kinds of f****d up.

So what do you do? That’s the big question isn’t it? That’s the question for which, if we knew the answer, we’d be rolling in puppies (or money, your choice).

In my experience of the ‘six different kinds…’ the getting through it is all a variation on the theme ‘suck it up, princess’. Sounds harsh, I know. And some of the stuff that we go through, to suck it up and soldier on is not the easy answer some people seem to think it is.

It might be ‘suck it up, going to the shrink is not going to kill you’, or ‘suck it up, someone has to feed and clothe these kids’, or even ‘suck it up, go to the authorities’.

Sounds simple? It really isn’t. Anyone who has dealt with mental illness, divorce, widowhood, the death of a child, family violence, terminal illness or any other traumatic experience is changed by it. And the change can be fundamental, not only in the way we view the world, but in the way we view ourselves.

It’s an old adage, but it’s true, you don’t know how strong you are until you have no other choice. I know because I’ve been through some ‘six different kinds…’ moments that completely changed how I interact with the world around me.

I’ve become more sensitive to mental illness because I’ve suffered from post natal depression.

I’ve become more accepting of difference because I love a kid who lives on the spectrum.

I’ve become more solid because I am the stable place my children need to feel safe.

I’ve become more open because I refuse to be closed off by anyone again.

I’ve become more giving because I’ve had so much taken from me.

I’ve become stronger from having had to walk through fire to do what’s right.

So when some ignorant tool belt tells you to ‘get over it’ or someone who just doesn’t understand tells you ‘at least you’ve got your health’, you can tell them to get lost (even if only in your head).

But when someone tells you to ‘suck it up, princess’, you can choose to take it in a manner they probably didn’t intend. Choose to overcome, choose to ask for help (or beg if you have to), choose to be open about your losses, choose to be the bigger person, choose to do what’s right. Sometimes there’s really no choice at all. Life throws, and sometimes you’re catching the shit end of the stick.

But sometimes something that starts out ‘six different kinds of f****d up’ can eventually be something that helps to create something beautiful.

 

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Losing Your Way, Finding Your Path

It’s easy to lose your way. Get side tracked, get busy, family drama, no time, no energy. All of these things can get in the way of that goal you’ve been working toward.

For me, it was a combination of all of the above. A new job that required so much of my time and effort, studying for a degree that I’ve wanted for years, a sick relative, another whose stress levels were affecting me and my family, lack of sleep and the demands of being a sole parent to three amazing kids.

For months I was lost in the mire. I was working, earning enough to allow for the occasional splurge for the kids, and then I let it all slide. I no longer had to budget every cent, I no longer had to be sure to turn the appliances off at a specified time so my electric bill wouldn’t run over my budget, I no longer had to deny myself the occasional pack of Tim Tams. And there it was, I loosened the reins in one area of my life, and all the other things slipped a little too.

It took me months to notice how far off track I’d gotten, and only a day of brooding to figure out that my slip was not a failure, but a normal part of life. We slip, we fall, we drift off the path we had chosen for ourselves, but we can get back up, turn ourselves back in the right direction and begin again.

Three things got me back on track.

  • Realising how much I was spending on disposable products. Baby wipes, paper towel, dish sponges, tampons, the list is enormous.
  • Realising that my trees were fruiting again, here is something free, natural and delicious for my family, and it just happens to grow in my backyard. With a little thought and effort, I could try this gardening thing again.
  • Realising that I missed the sense of achievement I felt when I was giving my family the best I could, even when it was on such a tight budget

So here I am, back at the starting line, picking myself up, finding my way back to where I want to be. And knowing that I may have drifted off the path, but that’s ok, I have GPS, I’ll always be able to find it again.