I somehow have the ability to pick myself up and carry on in the midst of adversity. It doesn't mean I don't fall apart, occasionally, I just don't do the falling publicly.
At 16 I was set on becoming a professional flutist. I was strongly considering leaving my current high school and attending the Governor's School for the Arts. I practiced hour upon hour. It was all I wanted to do. I always believed if I worked hard enough, I could do anything. Work. Work. Work.
I knew I had lots of trouble hearing people in quiet conversations. I could never hear my friends talk to me in class. I asked people to repeat themselves all the time. Upon a hearing evaluation, we learned that my hearing was very bad and it's was the specialists opinion that it would continue to worsen. A deaf flautist?? I was crushed. I remember climbing to the top of a large oak tree in our backyard and bawling. Somehow though, I still believed that if I worked hard and kept going, everything would be alright. Thankfully, I am 39 and I'm not deaf yet. I have severe hearing loss and depend on hearing aids, but I can hear!
Though I kept playing and practicing, and still do, I knew I could not risk a career in music when there was such a possibility of deafness. I went to college and majored in English, my second love. Throwing myself into literature helped me move past my disappointment and move on. I'm the only person in my family that has ever graduated from college.
Fast forward a few years. I was married – 10 years, two children. My boys were ages 4 and 2. Though I knew there were problems in my marriage, I really felt like I had a good life. That this was the way it was supposed to be?? I made myself believe that my marriage was healthy. Then he left. He left me for another woman. Not only that but a whole huge slew of things were out on the table and I was clueless. Blindsided. How could someone I trusted SO TOTALLY do this to me? I felt like a complete idiot. I felt like a naive fool. I had nothing, not a cent to my name. My husband and everything I thought I had was gone.
I would be strong all day long. I didn't want my boys to see me upset. Bedtime would come and the boys would sleep and I would lose it. I cried it out, every night for a very long time. I even remember waking from a dead sleep and I would still be bawling.
It's funny how now I can look back and see how those moments made me stronger. I knew more, I understood more, and most importantly, I knew I could handle pain. I now had some armor in my arsenal.
My point is this. We all fall apart. We are human. However, it's how we handle heartache and hard times that makes us who we are. So go ahead, allow yourself time to grieve. Check into the hotel and cry on their fancy pillows. BUT – don't unpack. You don't live there. Your stay in the Heartbreak Hotel should not be a long one. Take some time to pick up the pieces and MOVE ON. Re-focus and re-invent yourself. I promise, on the other side there is a new, more wonderful you waiting in the wings ready to begin anew.
Dylan and Caleb (13 and 15 years)