There’s a phrase that has been running though my mind lately: count your blessings. I’ve been feeling as if I turned a corner a while back; I no longer seem to feel like a delicate little flower, or a victim of something. Nor, really, do I feel like a “survivor” of anything, though surely I have survived.
It occurs to me that even taking into consideration all of the crap that made up the past 4 or so years, there was a lot of good. So yeah, I can take stock and count my blessings and now that I am on the other side of it I can even fall prey, some days, to the danger of minimizing it all.
So really, it’s a matter of perception. What angle I feel like looking at it from? Is it really that simple?
Yes it is, and… No, it’s not. Sometimes stuff is just crappy, and it was. My daughter was in chronic unrelenting pain. Neither of us had any sleep; the help from the community was sporadic and often counter productive (though my friends were and are amazing), and it didn’t matter what I did, I could not take her pain away. That was awful. It was awful that we tried so many things, and although things are way better now, I am not even sure what worked and what didn’t.
Time, I think, helped. Time healed and soothed some of her angry nerves, and time allowed us to heal our emotional hurts and to quell our fear. Time allowed her to wean herself from a grossly toxic, close-to-irresponsibly-prescribed massive cocktail of drugs that would fell a person twice her size. Time allowed us finally to sleep, to heal in that primal way that only sleep can do.
It hasn’t entirely stopped me from feeling helpless sometimes, though it did allow me to create a situation where there are other people on the front lines of it all – something that helps soothe that worry that I can’t do it all. (Time has also shown me how jaw-droppingly stupid it is to think that anyone can do it all. Jeez, the ego involved in that little martyrdom story is something I don’t feel like exploring overmuch.)
Recently my amazing daughter (the eldest, not the younger, who is equally amazing) gave a speech at a panel discussion where she talked about what it’s like to be a 22-year old woman living in a nursing home. It was so very well done – delivered with eloquence and clarity, and not a little humour. She was talking about what it feels like to be a sort of “one-off”:
“I’m kind of like Tigger… Yay I’m the only one!
and then some days I think…
Oh. I’m the only one.“
Gawd. The pathos in that last little sentence, with it’s little hiccupping skip of self-recognition…. I will not sugarcoat it. It brought me to tears that after all she’s been through (and make no mistake – it was always way worse than what I was going through trying to “fix” it) that she has found a home, but it is one in which she still sometimes feels like she’s a sort of one-of-a-kind.
She wants what we all want – community, and belonging, and a home. She doesn’t want to be in a home, but rather wants to make a home, just like all of us do. She’s getting there – she has shown a gift for making connections with people, and she has undeniable charisma that helps her to make new friends easily. In the inventory that is her life, the stock on her shelves is undeniably one-of-a-kind, and all the more precious for that.
One thing I’ve done in the past year or so is to start to learn to be still. To stop… bouncing (to continue the Tigger metaphor). Being still, for real – not just wanting to be still, or having a pious pretence of stillness, but a real honest to goodness attempt to stop has helped. I have the incredible luxury of having the time and space to find that quiet inside me; I do wish that I’d been able to do so a few years ago, but the sheer volume of *noise* inside my head made it too hard. It will be, I think, a lifetime’s work – to find that stillness, and to embrace it. Once you’re still, you see that there is a universe of blessings to count. I promise – just try it.
I think, too, that the stillness I seek is not entirely there yet – it’s the process of listening to the swirling in my head, to acknowledge it, and embrace it, that brings it closer. That is what quiets it. Acceptance of the messy noisiness of it all – acceptance of the fears and random tantrums and (here’s the hard one – the joy).
It may be as simple as finding blessings to count. I’ve made a bit of a fetish lately of recognizing the beauty in small things and rejoicing in it. I’m smelling roses (and peonies and hyacinths and dirt and wet doggy and the wondrous food in my kitchen). I’m just embracing it all, or trying to. When I get caught up in bullshit that really doesn’t matter, I forget that in the grand scheme of it all, I am just a small Tigger, trying to make my way, and that I can choose to be happy that I’m the only one, or I can be… well, sad that I’m the only one.
I can choose to be happy, or not.
What I know is that I keep learning things from my daughters – my brave, lovely, resilient daughters. They are their very own individually perfect fierce bouncy Tiggers, and they are beautiful for it. They are indeed what I count as my most blessed blessings, and it is from them that I learn to be still, and to bounce.
So what’s next? Dunno. But for the first time in a long while, I’m kind of excited to see. I’m interested to see how (re)learning to count my blessings is going to change things. I believe quite strongly that by concentrating on different things, by taking the time to learn how to be mindful, I am altering myself in profound ways. I am mindful, too, that to get to this point I had to go through all that other stuff.
I am not going to say it was a blessing that my loved ones were in pain, or that my being reduced to a fearful ball of raw nerves was a good thing. From this side of it, I most fervently suggest that it was awful and I wish it hadn’t happened, but I do see the irons forged in that fire, and I warm my hands on the embers that remain.
I started this post by saying I don’t feel like a survivor, and that is the case. I say this because really, what did I survive? Life? Life isn’t easy, nor fair, nor is there a grand plan. I take pleasure in that knowledge now, because I have figured out that trick – to be still and reduce the noise. I’ve figured out that taking stock is necessary, but that silence is almost a necessary component, in order to allow for the counting. When you’re doing it on the fly, you lose count, lose track, become distracted. When you can take a deep breath, a moment is all you need to help you bounce back.
And that’s the most wonderful thing about Tiggers – they bounce.