Thursday, July 4, 2013

Detours of Our Lives

Many of us have ideas of what our life will be like.  We’ll fall in love with this type of person, find a place to live (a certain neighborhood, a particular house, the “right” apartment), work to attain a certain job.  Our goals and dreams are often realized, and we can feel pretty good about things.

During the past week, I heard or came across many stories of people whose lives had presented something totally unexpected, and not in a good way: a child with disabilities, a lost job, the loss of a home, an accident.  For these people, their life was suddenly off-course; it veered in a direction they had not anticipated.

What does one do?  There is the initial shock and then “Why me?”  As we come to accept things as they are, we have some options.  If we can get past regret for what has happened, and if don't allow the fear of the future to swallow us whole, then what we have is today. Things are the way they are. In each moment, we can choose how to react and behave.  If we have children, we can be a role model, or instead transmit all our fears, disappointment and anger to them.

A devastating loss may require we seek professional help to deal with the situation.  Many people suffering the loss of a loved one, which is a natural life passage, often see a therapist or grief counselor because they feel unable to move on. 

However, with each of these people telling their stories, something amazing happened. Each and every one about whom I read felt that the unexpected change in their life brought out some strength they didn't know they had and ultimately made them a better human being.  That’s not to say life was easy or they didn’t have sleepless nights or have to work hard to get their lives into a more manageable place. Yet in living the experience, they were able to get beyond feeling like a victim and find some learning, some new understanding that affected their life view.

We may need help in tough situations.  We’ll likely need time to figure out how to cope with a new reality.  The question is whether we can come through not embittered and having found some glimmer of gratitude for where we are now.