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Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Owning it

You haven't heard from me in a while and, I have to be honest.  It's because I've really had a shit time over the past 18 months beginning with a marriage break up.

I've really been playing it all pretty cool, unsure of whether it is appropriate to share this news with you. After all, there are other people involved.  A husband.  Two sons.  An extended family of parents and sisters.

Strangely I was unembarrassed by everything to do with that breast cancer business.  Unashamed of my scars, of the Antarctic sheaving, of tales of toilet bowls and sputum.

But a marriage break-up is another thing altogether:  a failure of epic proportions.

Besides which, I had for months foolishly anticipated that the unhappy soon-to-be former husband would go off to some far off hilltop, contemplate his belly button, be blinded by a huge flash of enlightenment and, naturally, realise the error of his ways, returning to me bearing roses - devoted wife and mother of the sprog of the loins.

Alas, it was not to be.  The bombshell was dropped on a warm summer's evening in November polished off with an email bearing news of mass wifely failings ... from an overseas golf trip would you believe.

22 years of marriage erased with a blithe 'time heals all wounds' and 'she'll be right' - and the extent of my long-held delusions cruelly revealed.

You would think the shit would stop there.  Was it not enough that the ensuing nights would find me crying on multiple shoulders, wailing on others, seeking the couches of counsellors, resorting too frequently to the bottle  (okay, I'm exaggerating... not exactly but certainly one unhealthy glass of Cab Merlot too many)?

No my friends.  This is not how the universe works.

In  April I broke my wrist in three places, after a fall from a horse while galloping across the plains of Kosciusko National Park, poetically somersaulting in glorious slow motion over the head of a bemused equine and landing upon a pile of dingo poo (as you do).

In May I was forced to have a painful sub-cutaneous growth cut from my nose - the resulting scar disfiguring a face that really needed no further disfiguring, thank you very much.  Thank god for make-up is all I can say.

In June, I noticed my beloved and faithful hound, Spunky had started to lose weight.  He began carrying  a leg in an awkward way.  There were multiple visits to the vet and much stress - not to mention expense.

In July I was forced to put him down.  Diagnosed on the Tuesday.  Gone to Dog less than 24 hours later.  The grief was almost paralysing.

Now it's the end of August, and what is there to say?

Just this.

What I have learned from my travails so far is that whatever has happened to me, I own it completely.

Not for one second do I wish I was someone else.  Not for one moment do I blame anyone else for the place I now inhabit.   At no point in my story thus far have I allowed myself to believe that I am an object of bad luck or miserable fate.   I accept my life for what it is:  a product of, well, ME!

As it is, on the the heels of various life calamities for me has come a golden opportunity for self reflection.

I have navigated a winding tributary of tears.  I have crawled, struggling to breathe, through an asphyxiating smog of loneliness.  I have dragged a heart, heavy with aching, a brain alive with questions and doubt, through a tunnel of blackness.

And emerging forth, I have come to truly own my story, led by my narrative arc to a point where I have gained a level of understanding that many may spend lifetimes chasing.

From pain has come a deep empathy for others, and an intuition that life is far from perfect for most.

From hurt has come a feeling of one's own human-ness, of actually BEING here, a here-ness that no volume of alcohol can dull.

From vulnerability has come a profound gratitude for family and friends.

Finally, from all this has come a fearlessness.  For truly, if I can survive the shit I have so far, I can survive anything!

It won't ever be easy, or pleasant, but I am subsumed by a confidence that whatever lies ahead of me, I can and I will get through it.

So if you are currently looking at me with that look of sympathy that is all too familiar to me, stop it.

In some ways you should be envious of me.  Because I don't need to do any Kokoda Challenge to prove anything anymore.

For some of us, life itself is one long boot camp, a series of tests one is called upon to withstand and eventually pass.

It really is true:  what doesn't kill you and all that.

But the strength you gain is not a given.  To gain it there is one thing you have to do.  Just one.

Seize the life you have been given - and own it - every last painful, ugly, beautiful, exhilarating, depressing, desperate, confronting, awful, uplifting, hideous moment of it.

Because love it or loathe it, this is the only life you have.

Isn't it amazing?