By Patty Richmond
“And in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.” –Abraham Lincoln
Someday we all will face that phone call with the unexpected and scariest news we ever heard. Although we won’t all face the same issue, we don’t get to do life without any heartache. Whether it’s the death of a loved one or the report from a medical test that is what you weren’t hoping for – it will be there in front of you waiting to be faced head on by your unwavering determination and strength.
My news came in 2013 through several avenues including my husband’s throat cancer diagnosis, and his need of surgery on an aortic aneurysm of 8 centimeters the following radiation when his immune system was at its lowest.
I started asking myself how the future would look?
I was hit from every angle but discovered that this was a fight I could win. I could give up or take it head on. It never was easy, except when I was sleeping, but I was determined to come out of it with myself intact. I started asking myself how the future would look? I wondered if I should envision it with a lesser hope to protect myself from the worst case scenario. Or should I envision better than ever things for my future instead?
I finally discovered the answer to win this battle. It was something I had to do. I would wait patiently but never give up hope. No one could steal my hope. When I hoped to grow up and be a mom some day or hoped my children would have the best, I had to wait patiently and steadily work towards the goal until it was real. I knew I was doing what I was supposed to do because I chose to try it. I stepped out to learn and experience and live, even though I wanted to curl up in a ball and try to pretend it wasn’t happening.
How to be at Peace When Your World Turns to Chaos
A determination is setting your mind on the goal until you meet it. It’s a mindset you habitually will use the rest of your life, and as you do, it gets a little easier. Knowing you will be challenged someday on some level helps you to be prepared to be strong and face it, instead of falling into doubt or negativity. I chose to think of the positive side of every negative thought in my mind. I found that I wasn’t escaping reality, but dealing with it head on.
Surgery could kill him, or surgery will give him life. Or, I won’t want to live if my husband dies or, I am strong and able to live life alone. I know who I am and I have other interests plus my family to love. It sounds extreme, but life will be intense at times and prepare for what was happening at the time.
Remaining steady in my emotions and responsibilities wasn’t always perfect, but it’s what I did because I had to. If I let myself dwell in the emotional sphere of it all, I will lose who I am, a warrior, and I will not be able to do what I need to do to survive.
I felt every fear and sorrow, but I never forgot that it wasn’t my whole being. I’m a fighter, and even though this fighter felt like she was losing at times, I had to keep fighting. If I gave up, I would never know if I could have made it. I knew I was more than a wife. It hurt to see someone I love in pain, but I could help console it. Everything was doable as long as I was willing.
Rest became my friend. I napped every weekend and slept at least 8 hours every night. It gave me a break from being strong and refreshed my body to work and help my husband heal and visit him in the hospital.
Some people say sleep is an escape depressed people use instead of dealing with an issue that they don’t want to accept. We should be able to take a break from the emotions of fear and loss. I didn’t have to feel guilty for being tired; I was fighting a war within my heart and mind, and the love of my life was fighting the war of life and death. This emotional battle took extra energy and strength, something that sleep will help to restore.
Some people were supportive, and it was easy to spend time with them because their attitudes and conversations were uplifting. Others were toxic and didn’t support me on my terms, which were to see all of life as a gift and focus on the positive sides in the midst of harsh times.
My Terms were my beliefs in every aspect of my life. I didn’t need people to agree with me, and I didn’t need them to disagree. I could see my beliefs more clearly now, and I had no time for anyone who thought they could change what I learned. What I felt they didn’t feel or know, so I was strong on my terms. I earned them.
I discovered my inner strength was my best character trait. Even when I learned, I was suffering from post traumatic stress I could feel the cleansing power all the tears released within me. It was the reality of my joy that it was all worth it. I made it, and it was natural to be relaxing my battle because it was soon over. My jumpiness when someone surprised me, I accepted as normalcy. I was in a protective state of mind, ready to pounce on the next challenge. My husband is currently cancer free and working. We bought a smaller home requiring less care, and are focused on making every part of our life count.
We can make the best out of everything, though it may not come easy, the strength is waiting to grab on to when we choose. You can learn how in the midst of darkness if you open your heart and mind to it and accept the challenge. That ability in itself is a miracle that’s repeated over and over in our world. Every human spirit has it, and many find it during the darkest of times. It’s already in you, and I hope you find it among all your amazing abilities, and whether they are simple or complex, every single human ability is amazing. I learned to listen to my affirmations, not our society’s beliefs. We learn how important our abilities are through tough times and others can’t always see them. I had to learn to be ok with being ok, in the world’s eyes.
Chaos or not, we press on, to love each other, accept our differences, forgive our mistakes, and see the truth behind what we think is our inadequacies. The truth about why we behave the way we do, and why we react to daily challenges. These are the important discoveries about ourselves that will free us from being judgmental of others, unforgiveness, negative self-talk, and hate for ourselves and others. I remember the understanding of others I wanted so badly, so I know what others are going through similar circumstances need. Even though we might never see it from others, sometimes giving the passion, we needed to someone else fills us. I think it’s the human connection we all share.
“Put yourself in someone else’s shoes” is an old quote Moms and Teachers will often use to convince us to see another person’s experiences in a different perspective. If we experienced everything they did in their life, would we act the same way? There is no way to know for sure so let it go. Let go of the things people do that make no sense to you. The things they do that irritate or hurt you. They are in their unique place in their world, as we are in ours. We need to look at things differently to help each other see what we couldn’t see without the other.
Guilt no longer holds me in shackles of voices in my mind repeating my mistakes. I accept I am human and no one can be perfect. I accept that anything that happens in my life doesn’t happen to change me. Things happen, and then I can choose to accept or deny the change. To me, this is a crucial truth to remember. If we accept there is a God (as we understand him), then we know that he leaves us with choices to make with our life. Our choices and others’ will affect our lives. We aren’t being punished or diminished in worth when things fall apart in our life.
Exercise your mind regularly to think of yourself as a gift to this world. You are worth more than you have credited yourself. Your worth as a human being our society cannot measure. Our society often gets a person’s worth distorted. Your truth measures your worth. Your truth is your beliefs, and you can only be happy knowing for sure that your beliefs will carry you. For each situation, decide how you will think about it and how your brain can explain it to your heart.
Gift yourself with the commitment always to think that way, and you will be astonished by the results. The gift is freedom, discipline, gratitude, joy, and love. Material things have no measure as it relates to your spirit. No “thing” is permanent. It can be stolen or lost. But no one can steal your hope and the other strengths of your spirit. They are something that gives you worth and fortune in a world that seems to be often confused and distorted with what brings us happiness.