Sunday, December 15, 2013

Silver Linings

“If you look for the bad in mankind expecting to find it, you surely will find it.” – David Swift

There have been many days in my adulthood where I wanted to surrender: fly my white flag, hand over my grown-up card, and go back to my fort where I could just eat cereal and watch Saturday-morning cartoons all the time. Being an adult just didn’t live up to all the propaganda.

After my first husband left, I found myself a single mom of two little babies. And I mean little. Violet* was only 16 months old, Sam was three months old. Less than a month later, really before I even began to get my feet under me, Sam – my beautiful, perfect, precious boy – died in his sleep. I was rocked to my core.

I buried my child. No parent should ever have to do that.

I’ve been broken ever since the night that Sam died. On the outside I can put on a good show, but inside things just have never been the same. I’m not supposed to say that. Sam died in 2003. I’m supposed to have “moved on” by now, but I don’t know what that means.

I still had Violet, though, and I can credit her and the rest of my family with saving my life. Had it not been for them, grief would have completely consumed me largely because I felt like I wasn’t supposed to talk about it. “My baby is dead.” Of course, nobody wants to hear those words. Nothing will stop a conversation faster, right?

A year later, I married the most wonderful man in the world. Then at Christmas in 2004 we discovered we were going to have a baby. The joy was overwhelming. But in February 2005, my love died of a lethal combination of over-medication and pneumonia after back surgery. I was three months pregnant, mother to Violet, and now a widow.

The gaping chasm of grief was beckoning, promising the comfort of darkness and insanity.

I couldn’t lose myself in it, though. I had to keep functioning. I had to. Violet was three now. She was a mirror to my emotions. I came up with what I call the Silver Linings Campaign. Because of her youth, I had to make it very simple for her to understand, but sometimes the simple way is the best way.

“If you look for the bad in mankind expecting to find it, you surely will find it.” – David Swift

It certainly seems like a lot of people spend a lot of time complaining about things. “This weather is terrible!” “This has been the worst day ever!” “I hate people!” It’s a very negative outlook. There’s a certain expectation that things are going to be bad, so naturally they find the bad things in their day. Negativity gets to be a habit. It repeats, ultimately dragging down not only you, but all those around you. It’s exhausting always having to buoy someone up. Eventually, you just get too tired to fight that negativity all the time. You have to let that person go.

I felt for a while like God had painted a target on me and was sending as many horrific events my way as possible: my first husband left, my son died, my second husband died. But I knew this was a poisonous way of thinking. I had a new life inside me and I didn’t want my negative vibes to taint its energy.

I needed to make a change.

The Silver Linings Campaign

As difficult as it was to pull myself back from that abyss of grief, I managed. On the day my husband died I created the Silver Linings Campaign while driving to pick up my daughter from pre-school.

It’s a very simple premise: no matter what happens, we will find something positive in that situation. It might be the tiniest, most ridiculous or absurd thing to be positive about, but there is always something to be positive about in any situation.

When I collected Violet from school, I sat her on a bench outside and explained what happened. She cried immediately. I cried to see her pain in losing another father-figure. We held each other and cried some more. Then I explained in very simple terms about the Silver Linings. And I said, “Can you think of any good things at all? Even tiny ones?”

She thought very hard, for quite a while, before she said, “No more earplugs at night?”

Of all the things she could have said, this one made me actually laugh on that hideous day. She was right. Curt snored. I had to wear earplugs at night to be able to sleep. It was a bittersweet realization that I wouldn’t need them anymore.

She understood.

Over the years we’ve encountered big problems, but we focus on those silver linings. And the longer we look, the more of them we can find. It’s true that if you look for the bad you are certain to find it, but you know what? If you look for the good, you are certain to find that, too.

*My eldest daughter has asked that I not use her real name on this blog. She chose the one I use here.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Keep the comment forum positive, please. Comments written to abuse, embarrass, shame, mock, or taunt will be removed. This is my Queendom and I'm allowed to have it my way.