I have twins. I also have daughter who is two years older. Add to that, I became a single mother when the twins were 21 months, and Kid #1 was three years old. People constantly ask me, “how did you do it?”
I just did.
That’s my constant answer. I just did. No magic formula. I just got myself through it. Full disclosure: I don’t always remember a the details of the really stressful times, but I got through it.
That’s pretty true of life, really. How do we do what we need to do? We just do. We dig deep. We find it somewhere. We figure it out.
We just do.
It’s something that I’ve come to trust. Even love. I know that no matter what gets tossed my way, I’ll figure it out. I’ll survive. I’ll just do it. (Nike was onto something, after all.)
But honestly, it’s kind of reassuring to me to know that I’ll do whatever it takes to make it through. It’s gotten me through a lot of challenges in my life. And obviously, I’ve lived to tell the tale. It has often been with the support of the people I love, and that is not to be discounted in any way. But when push comes to shove, we really do have to do the work ourselves. And now when shit comes my way, I don’t freak out about it quite so much. Because I trust that I’ll figure out how to get through it. I just will.
The down side to that is that I have also stayed too long, in relationships, in jobs, in situations I shouldn’t have, in situations that weren’t necessarily safe…because I thought I could just make it work. That I could just do it.
I was so committed to the end result that I wanted to force into being, that I wouldn’t walk away, even when it would have been healthier for me to do so.
I’m learning. Sometimes it’s a slow learning curve. Sometimes it’s a very steep learning curve. Sometimes it isn’t better to just do it. Sometimes it’s way, way better self care to not do it.
The true gift of age is wisdom. If we’re quiet, and listen to that still small voice, we always know when it’s a better idea to stay and put the work in, and when it’s a better idea to walk away. Even when that feels like letting people down or breaking commitments.
We don’t always have to just do it.
The challenge of age is hearing that still small voice…and choosing to act upon it.
That’s the biggest challenge for me. I hear the voice. I get the gut feeling. But I am not always willing to put myself first and act upon it. Especially when acting on it feels like letting people down. Walking away from a commitment. Not just doing it.
I’m a survivor. I’m resilient. I’m fucking hard to break. But it’s taken a lot of repeated lessons for me to start understanding that I don’t have to be such a survivor if I take care of myself to start with. I don’t have to be so resilient if I actually put myself first on my own list, right from the get-go.
So although I know that I can just do it – really, just about anything you put in front of me, I’ll figure it out somehow – I’m trying to honestly trust that I don’t always have to. That I can say no. That I can choose another option than the one that is right in front of me. I can make choices that don’t make sense to other people. They really only have to make sense to me.
I’m not afraid of hard work. I have learned to work within the confines of chronic illness, mental illness, family illness, memory loss, repeated voice loss, addiction, poverty of the working poor, single parenthood, challenging and loving children, out and out con men and the police investigations that came after, untrustworthy men, men who just couldn’t commit, men who were children in grown-up bodies, bad choices, bankruptcy, very, very expensive financial surprises, friendships that went south, relationships of all sorts that gave off serious potential stalker vibes (I always did listen to my gut on those and cut bait), moving continents with small children, sewage floods, the roof literally blowing off my house, rats, and customers who think it’s just OK to not pay their bills. Ever.
And I’m still here, and I still put a roof over my children’s heads (when it isn’t blowing away), and food on their table. I work hard to do it, and sometimes it’s precarious, but I do it.
Some things have been thrown at me, and I’ve just figured it out. How? Couldn’t tell you. I just did.
Some things have been thrown at me, and my gut has said no, and I’ve kept on anyway, and I’ve paid the price. Painfully. Sometimes very painfully.
I have also had amazing children, a great relationship with my ex, a supportive family and an abundance of phenomenal friends, a varied education, skills that I can turn into a career that I love (twice over), the ability to think on my feet and learn quickly, the astounding generosity of strangers and loved ones alike, some deep loves, fantastic lovers and mind-blowing sex, men who taught me true patience and some huge things about myself and relationships, really rewarding jobs, rock-solid spirituality, and an undying faith in humanity and my ability to figure it out (whatever it is).
I guess my point is…we all have great things in life, and we all experience enormous challenges. But we can figure it out as we go. How? We step up.
We just do what it takes.
Tell me in the comments below: what do you do to get through it all, make it all work?