Sunday, March 27, 2011
The Freedom of Happiness
A diagnosis can be isolating. Friends don't know what to say and you don't want to go into a social situation that can turn awkward. Socialization doesn't happen.
I had a couple of friends that used to call. "How are you?" "Oh God. It's so hard." An awkward silence would follow and the calls got shorter and shorter. No one wants to be THAT person, the one that walks away from a terrible situation and pretends they didn't see the train wreck. A person that hears a story of a fatal car crash on the news and knows that they drove right pass it. In their heart, they wonder if stopping would have helped but they will never know. The only person that knows for a certainty that stopping would have helped is the survivor standing alone with the battle scars.
There were a couple of years that I extended myself. I felt such anger for the friends that disappeared. I listened for hours about them making decisions about their life. "Should I marry her?" "Should I change careers?" "I'm thinking about moving." I listened and opined and then I wanted to ask, "How could this happen? Why did this happen?" There were no answers, I didn't expect any but I needed to say these things to clear my mind. Every one was gone. Off to live their lives and avert their eyes to the train wreck that used to be a friend once upon a time.
We weren't invited to events anymore but we would see the pictures from them. A tweet from a former best friend referring to an awesome time in the city with all her NYC friends. I was so hurt and I felt myself begin to harden. A bacholerette party, a wedding, a birthday, a dinner-I never made the cut.
I was looking in the mirror one day and noticed there was a flatness to my expression. My eyes were old and my usual smirk was replaced with a hard line. It was the face of someone who had forgotten how to laugh, how to enjoy their life. I thought about it long and hard for days, my children's expressions were flat, was I turning into them or was I flat and they were just mimicking me? I made a decision to start living again, without the people that forgot me. I decided that day that if a person had never taken the time to meet our kids our friendship was over. There were no excuses.
I've heard reports that people can change radically after a traumatic experience and I always felt pity for those people but it was the wrong way to look at it. Those people are survivors, they have walked through hell and come back weathered. They will grab a stranger's hand if only to try to stop someone else from being surrounded by complete darkness and silence.
Freedom and joy are constant when the goal is to just live to be happy. There will always be stresses and issues but the big picture is sometimes the most clear. If I continued to be bogged down by some day to day realities, my life would have continued sadly. Yes, one of our daughters bites and hits herself. Yes, one of our daughters rocks continuously on her tail bone. Yes, one of our daughters quietly retreats. Yes, our son has delays. BUT, they can laugh, they love. They have a good life and so do I.