When I posted the Summer of Suck, I had no idea what was waiting for me around the corner. But guess what? Neither do you.
None of us do.
It turns out, what I thought was the most horrible summer of my life was about to get worse. The very next day, in fact.
On the day I wrote that post, I woke up thinking my life was one thing. Believing a story I’d been telling myself about my existence on this planet.
Twenty four hours later, and every day since, I’ve had to learn to navigate a new normal.
What actually happened doesn’t really matter. We’ve all faced similar shifts in reality.
If I had to guess, I’d say it was like learning you were adopted late in life, or finding out your parents are Russian spies rather than the travel agents you believed them to be (ok, I stole that from the best show on TV, The Americans).
What matters is that I’m still here. What matters is that I woke up this morning and knew that though I have to continue moving forward, it was time to take a step back. To remember things that make me… me.
It has been 36 days. I survived the first 48 hours with the love and support of family and old friends. I survived the next week with Zzzquil and walks outside and professional assistance.
Here’s the funny thing.
The status quo on which I stood so firmly when summer began, now seems like a pale imitation of a life. Something I was settling for, something I counted on but no longer treasured.
Life presents endless learning opportunities for which we’re told to be grateful. I’m not there yet. I’m hurt, angry, suffering, raw, confused, and still disbelieving.
But I’m not just those things.
I’m also hopeful. I’m surviving. I’m taking care of myself physically (although I now bear a striking resemblance to Tommy Lee Jones – damn eye bags!). And I’m writing.
Sometimes it’s just morning pages. Sometimes a writing prompt. And though the actual course of events that disrupted my life will most likely remain private, I’m processing through writing.
When my personal hell descended I was physically unable to write for a time. But my misfortune has also brought me a gift.
In the wee hours of the morning, when I’ve woken up to kiss my husband goodbye before he leaves for his downtown commute, my hamster brain spins on its wheel.
And a buzz sizzles down the line to my fingers and the urge to type, to process my thoughts through the written word is reignited.
It’s confirmation. I’m a writer. So get your lazy ass out of bed and write.
Mission accomplished. Today. That’s all any of us have.
And I guess I am a teeny bit grateful. The grenade that exploded my universe sent shrapnel flying in many directions. But it also showed me what it means to truly value something.
It blasted through a grimy layer of dishonesty.
That’s what writers are supposed to do.
Would I have elected to go through this summer again in just this way to arrive at my new found insights? Absolutely not.
Newsflash: We don’t always get to choose what life throws at us.
I’m still on shaky ground but I think that’s the lesson. We’re all on shaky ground. Only most of us don’t know it.
Whatever story you’re telling yourself about your life, whatever you’re settling for, whatever you’re taking for granted, take a good hard honest look.
Put forth the effort and risk failure. Risk rejection.
Apologize for an old mistake.
Ask for the promotion.
Throw the party even if no one comes.
Write the damn story.
Tell the truth.
And do it today.