Friday, July 6, 2012

What Doesn't Kill You...

Have you ever looked at your life and realized that it is not what you had hoped it would be? Maybe it’s your relationships, your finances, your career, your circumstances, or something else, but you look at where you are compared to where you hoped you would be by now, and you feel a sinking feeling deep inside.

This isn’t what I expected.

This isn’t what I wanted.

I suspect we have all been there in some form. There is a feeling of despair and hopelessness that can come with the realization that you are only getting older, and your life isn’t what you hoped it would be.

I’ve been there myself. The past year has been one of the most challenging years of my life. I found out I was unexpectedly pregnant with our third child, several major things broke down and needed expensive repairs, we’ve struggled a lot financially, one of the most supportive people in my life (my mom) moved 8 hours away, I did a lot of solo parenting because my husband went back to school on top of working full-time, we had a new baby, our oldest two children are currently going through some (expensive) evaluations and therapies, and I’m looking for a job.

Whoa. That is a LOT, and none of it is where I expected to be at this point in my life. At times, it has felt so hard that I desperately wanted to give up, crumble under the weight of it all, and sink into despair. I lived in that place for months, feeling as though I was barely dragging myself from one day to the next, wishing that things could somehow be different.

But recently, as I sat on the couch nursing the baby and thinking about life, something changed inside me. I realized that through all the stress and the challenges that have been thrown my way, I am emerging as a stronger, more capable person. Yes, I still sometimes fall apart and sink into despair, but I don’t have to stay there. I can mourn the loss of my expectations, take some time to recharge from all the stress, and then get back up and keep going. I look back at who I was just one year ago and I can see clearly that I have changed, and I am still changing.

I’m becoming more patient, more understanding, more independent, more assertive. I am stronger than I once was. Things that would have stressed me out terribly a year ago aren’t such a big deal anymore. And I suspect that the things that stress me out so much now may not feel so difficult another year from now.

I am not helpless, no matter how hard it gets. I can choose to sink into despair in the face of new challenges… or I can rise to the challenge, fight back, overcome, and in the process be changed for the better.

The choice to sink or rise is mine.

And I choose to rise.

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