Clearing the Hurdles
Some people say life is like a roller coaster, full of ups and downs. This seems wrong to me, as if you are only along for the ride and need to hang on for dear life until the ride comes to a stop. When something bad happens people will say “Oh that’s how life is, don’t worry it will work out..” Well, what if it doesn’t? Or what if you could CHANGE the course of the roller coaster, mid ride? It is scary, it takes guts, but it can be done!
Eleven years ago, I was in a horrible marriage. I had twin boys who had just been diagnosed with Autism. Our car had broken down beyond repair so we had no car. Neither my spouse nor I were working. We had just moved into a trailer which had holes in the floor and no heat. We had no phone or computer. We were isolated, cold and hopeless.
I felt the world’s weight on my shoulders. One night, my husband and I got into an argument which escalated into him physically abusing me, which he had not done before. Shocked and scared I of course dialed 911 and the police came, blue and red lights shining brightly for all to see. I do not know if my 4 year old twins woke up or not. I like to think not. But to this day I am still unsure. My husband ended up going to jail, and now I was really alone. In hindsight that was a good thing. But at the time there were conflicting emotions flowing through me, fear and guilt, (I sent my husband, my kid’s father, to jail) coupled with the feeling of nothing is EVER going to be ok. HOW was I going to survive? What steps could I take to make life better for me and my children? There were too MANY hurdles. How could I jump them all without tripping and falling?
Contrary to popular belief there is no army of qualified professionals who swoop in to help those who have lost all hope. No social worker came to my house to help me apply for food benefits. No lawyer magically appeared to help me file a restraining order or even inform me that was an option. Nobody came. After everything there was the quiet of 3:00 AM, knowing my children would wake in just a few hours and wonder where their dad was, as well as adjust to being in a brand new house that was quite different than what they were used to. (This all happened the night we moved in.) I would have to make breakfast, and get them ready to go to preschool while pretending all would be ok.
So what did I do? I became resourceful. I networked. The next morning I went to my neighbor and introduced myself and asked if I could borrow their phone to call my family and tell them of the situation. When my husband got out of jail I did allow him back into the house following apologies and promises of it never happening again (to his credit, he never physically touched me again. The emotional abuse continued for years, but that is for another story). As time went on I did get a job, by walking to the store over a mile away and using the pay phone (they still had those then!) to apply for jobs and schedule interviews. I got rides from friends and neighbors to and from work. We eventually moved out of the trailer and into more suitable housing.
What I am trying to say is that I persevered. I did NOT wallow in the shame and guilt and hopelessness. Even without a professional support system, I created my own from family and friends. It was not a quick process, and, like the roller coaster there were a LOT of ups and downs to where I am today. But the one thing I did NOT do was just hang on. I fought those downs. I lived for the ups and cherished each moment of them. I made the most out of every opportunity that came along and if they did not come soon enough, I sought them out.
Today, I am happy to say that my husband and I are no longer together. It was amicable and everyone is SO much happier, especially my teenage sons. I feel strong and empowered and although I do not make a ton of money I am HAPPY. My job allows me to be available for my kids before and after school and we have what we need. A warm stable roof over our heads. Bills are paid mostly on time. Food in our bellies. Love, laughter and happiness! So although I am not an entrepreneur, I am not rich and successful in the ways that most think it should be, I am rich beyond my wildest dreams in my belief in myself. Knowing that I can do it, that I HAVE done it, that I am available for my kids while supporting all of us is my dream come true. But I am not done dreaming yet! I am hoping that by sharing my story it will inspire those reading it to not give up when all seems hopeless and impossible. To keep putting one foot in front of the other, even if it means humbling yourself and having to ask for help. Even if it means your dream changes. Even if it means that is hard, painful, and seems impossible. Just keep going. Keep breathing. Take it one day, one hour, one minute at a time. And enjoy the ups when they happen.. no matter how small. Remember to jump big and clear those hurdles, once they are cleared they are behind you, and the best is yet to come.