If you have followed my series for a while, you know that I dealt with a lot of health problems growing up. From birth, until I was about 21, I had around 200 different procedures and surgeries. Some were experiments, with unknown outcomes, and others were common procedures as some type of intermittent step from point A to point B. Some went perfectly, others did not. Something that I learned through all of that was a fierce sense of what I’m going to call determination.
That determination came from a confidence, not in myself, but in the physicians, my parents, and my family. Not for one second did I ever doubt I would make it through something, even with talk like, “This procedure may limit his ability to walk,“ or “Recovery could take up to a year,” or my favorite, “This one’s pretty involved” — like the others weren’t? Yeah, sometimes it didn’t sound too good, but everyone kept reassuring me and, to my kid brain and blind faith in those looking after me, I knew everything would be alright.
As a child, the only dependable sources for accurate information and support are the adults around you. It’s not like your playground friends could be much help. Most of mine didn’t even understand what was going on with me — and didn’t care. Such ignorance generated the incredible amount of bullying that I endured (kids are awful). The irony was, none of the hurtful things they said about me had any basis in fact. Actually, most were downright science fiction. But, through all that, I still believed all would eventually be OK. No, it was more than that. The truth is no other outcome ever crossed my mind. This was my world and I would get through it.
Today, I carry that same fortitude, grit, or determination; call it what you will. I’ve experienced my share of depression as an adult, mostly related to the deaths of my parents. But, for the most part, I am just not wired to perseverate on negatives. I realize the good in a problem may be pretty hard to find, but it’s there. It’s not about being a “glass half-full” kind of person, but rather I prefer to be a realist. I look at all the negatives and I’m firmly aware of everything that can go wrong (or already has). Dwelling on all of that will not change the outcome one bit, but it will keep me from having the energy to fight through it.
I’m afraid I don’t have your answers and positive thinking is simply not enough. We all have to try to find proof within ourselves that life is worth living. Even the bright spots are buried deep down you have to try to recognize them. I always say that some part of me fought to survive to this point, so I would just be letting myself down if I give up now.
The bad news is, I don’t know how to tell you to do any of that. And I have more bad news for you – neither do any of the self-help gurus. They’re all throwing out a bunch of dimestore psychobabble. They wrap it in rainbows and sunshine, drop it between the covers of
a badly-written book, and advertise it to you on Amazon for $23.95. But, for all of that, they really have no answers. Here’s a secret, though – you may already have the answers you need. Yes, you will have to make the effort and take the time to find them. That may be really, really hard, and anyone who says otherwise is full of crap.
We all face things that we think we can’t get through, and some of them we don’t — the residuals of those events stay with us. Life is hard but it is not impossible. If you leave the gate thinking the race is lost, then what hope is there? So, for what it’s worth from me, whatever’s going on, I know you can handle it — and so do you. Hang in there. Find your bright spot, hold onto it, and don’t let anybody deter you.
You’ve got this.
Gery Deer is a Greene County resident and columnist. He can be reached at www.gldcommunications.com.