Scraping gum to blow bubbles.

Life takes you through some crazy twists and turns, doesn’t it? If you’d asked me once every five years of my life where I’d be in five years, none of my answers would match up to the real story. I never, ever thought I’d lose my mom so young. I just assumed I’d be married before the age of twenty and have lots of babies (names chosen carefully by the tender age of twelve, of course). Later, when I imagined a career, I thought I’d be an interior decorator or a famous crooner that was all reclusive and mysterious between studio work and the occasional sell-out concert to an adoring planet Earth.

Or a ballerina, a gymnast, an actress, the trophy wife of my favorite boy band/sitcom crush, an artist of some kind…although I never could draw well, much less paint. I never anticipated photography – and most certainly not wedding photography, and where I am now would not have even crossed my mind. Not even this area of town.

There have been times where I’ve kicked and screamed and dragged my feet in total denial and vehement opposition of where I was headed. There have been times when it was an easy transition and I was excited about a new opportunity (those are less frequent). Finally, there have been transitions that were met with a quiet, sad acceptance.

For me, change is very scary. The idea of the unknown isn’t one I approach with cheerfulness, for the most part. I like to have a plan. When my plans don’t happen, I feel a sensation of spinning out of control – so badly that it gives me emotional vertigo. It feels like everything’s gone all to hell in a handbasket, dragging me into the fire.

We all have different reactions to various types of life changes. What is a mountain for one person to climb could be hardly a blip on the radar for someone else. I’m terrified of the future, because I have learned that whatever your plans are, they can be swept away in an instant, subtly altered by a tiny thing, violently stolen from you…You just don’t know.

I think maybe where I’m going with this is that I am working really hard on remembering that its okay for me to freak out. I tend to feel guilty for being so upset over my own stuff, because I don’t have a right to – because someone, friend or stranger, is definitely going through something worse. I think it’s that whole “Clean your plate, because children in Africa are starving” mentality.

Am I allowed to be upset that things turned out this way?

I know this person who had a worse car accident than mine, and this person dealing with cancer, and that one over there grieving the loss of a loved one, and this person who can’t walk…and so on.

But that brings us back to how different we all are, and how change (good and bad) affects us and our plans – as well as how tightly we hold onto those plans.

You won’t ever know how strong you can be until it is forced upon you. We cannot fathom our own bravery until we have to stare our worst nightmare right in its gnarly face. The thing to remember is that the nightmare for one person isn’t the nightmare for another.

We are the sum of our own experiences.

I’ve looked cancer in its hideous face. I screamed, cried, prayed with my face in the carpet, destroyed things in anger over it, drank myself silly over it and begged it not to win….It looked right back at us all and laughed as it took her.

I’ve been conned out of 5 digits of income, earned by wedding photography, by someone with whom I trusted my life – all so he could pay for his wedding to someone else, unbeknownst to me. And then he sent me pictures of that wedding.

I was raped in 1997, in Nashville, Tennessee. It was not the first time. It was not the last.

Many, many other things – very bad things – have happened to me.

So now, when a stupid car accident makes every day things painful (like fastening a bra or even holding my coffee cup some days), while I had been feeling guilty for feeling angry about it, I feel like its really okay for me to be mad and sad and whatever else. My injury is nothing compared to someone who loses a limb, an organ, a life… That happens every day, to people in all walks of life. I know that.

But they’re not me. I’ve had my share of some really shitty things happen, and I kind of think its okay for me to bitch about these changes from time to time. I want to do better about adapting, but in the meantime, I’ve earned a break.

I know good things are coming. We all know that pain is usually met with joy – though sometimes you have to look carefully for it. We’d all do well to remember that taking time to smell the roses can mean that you’re standing in a pile of fertilizer and you REALLY need to smell those roses….like, shove them up your nose & stuff.

 

 

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