Lessons Learned Through Loss, Heartbreak and Tough Times

I started thinking about how far I've come since I started this site, during some of the darkest years of my life. A lot happened in short period of time: losing my mother (my anchor) suddenly after believing she was recovering from a long illness, almost losing my father, tragically losing my little "Smurfette."  When things like this happen you can get lost for a moment. One of the worst things you can experience when mourning is to hear the person you need the most tell you that they are "tired of" your grief.

Add to this grief unplanned career changes while attending graduate school and covering costs x2 along with everything else, except support. Throw in a mound of debt and dash of betrayal, and you have serious pain. Somehow, I survived the chaos. Not that everything today is perfect, but being upright when you thought you would collapse is awesome.

Looking back over this part of the journey, I thought about some key truths I learned. I hope these words will encourage someone else. Here are 10 things I learned through some really tough times.
  1. Grief must be faced. You cannot ignore it, for it will not ignore you. You need time to mourn and a safe place to do it.. 
  2. No matter how hard you try, you cannot do and be everything. You can run yourself into the ground and find no reward. You cannot be "good enough" or "bad enough" to earn respect or love.
  3. Proximity and intimacy are not at all the same. Just because others are physically near you, it does not mean they are close to you or that they even really know you. You can be barely surviving and they can party along right next to what's left of you.
  4. Be careful who you put on a pedestal. Some people will take your efforts to demonstrate your esteem for them and start feeling that they are too good for you. If someone does not respect and love you, it does not mean that you are unlovable  not worthy of respect. 
  5. True friendship is rare and precious.
  6. Every person is flawed, but not every person has the humility needed to change themselves. Not acknowledging one's faults and errors does not eliminate them or hide them from others.
  7. There's something to that old "Footprints in the Sand" poem.
  8. Adversity is a teacher. Challenges help us focus on our values -- what we believe, what we hold important. Struggles help us learn to value ourselves and to recognize and appreciate those who truly love us.
  9. Life is not fair, nor is there a guarantee that things will be easy. 
  10. Dum spiro spero: "While I breathe, I hope." This last lesson is one I try never to forget. As long as you have breath, you have something to offer. 
Keep going. Keep dreaming. Keep loving. Keep thinking.