Monday, June 17, 2013

Silver linings...

Have you ever noticed that something good comes out of almost everything?  I believe something good comes out of every bad situation.  When I look back on my life and experiences, I can see that nothing has been all bad.  Every cloud has its silver lining.

Even situations like my husband's disastrous marriage to his ex wife and the aftermath has led to some good things.  He spent almost ten years in hell with his ex, enduring her abuse and endless financial problems brought on by her excessive spending on frivolous things.  He's lost his daughters.  But once he got away from her, his life completely rebounded.  His career picked up; he met and married me and we've had a good marriage that has lasted longer than his first one did.  My family loves him.  He's discovered dogs and has hobbies and interests he can explore without feeling guilty.  It hurt him to lose his daughters, but he's survived and thrived in the aftermath.  He's learned how to live with less and handle his finances.

I went through major depression.  It was one of the hardest experiences of my life.  I felt utterly hopeless and worthless.  But then I found a good psychologist who motivated me to take care of myself and get back on track.  I met several people during that time who are still dear friends today.  As I got out of that depressive state, I moved on to grad school.  I was a little scared I wouldn't be able to handle the challenge and there were some times when I wasn't sure I'd make it.  But I made it and I got an education that no one can take from me.  I don't just mean grad school, either.  That whole experience taught me a lot and turned me into a better person.  I no longer feel the way I used to and I don't have out of control feelings anymore.  It's almost as if I went from being a very emotional person to a much more rational, logical person.

In December, we lost MacGregor.  MacGregor was a great dog and we still miss him every day.  But in the aftermath of losing MacGregor, we ended up with three new friends and another great dog (Arran).  We met the new friends because they are involved with the hound rescue where we got Arran.  They are really good folks and if we didn't have to move, I imagine we'd become even better friends than we are.

Last week, my former college advisor died after a long illness.  I won't say how his death has affected his family, because I can't know how taking care of him in his last days and now grieving for him is changing their lives.  I will say that as sad as I was to hear that he'd died, his death did lead to a couple of good things for me.  For one thing, I was able to write to his family.  In the letter, I shared a few of my favorite memories of my advisor and how knowing him had touched my life.  A friend who attended the funeral met his family.  One of his daughters asked my friend if she was the one who had written the "beautiful letter".  She said she wasn't, but she knew who had written it and we're good friends.  My friend later told me that my letter had really moved them.  My professor's daughter said my comments had captured her dad's spirit and they appreciated that I shared my memories with them.  Hearing that made me feel good and, based on my friend's comments, it also made his family feel better.  Sometimes the things I write cause other people grief or pain, so it's good when I hear that I've written something beneficial.

My advisor's death also caused me to get in touch with another professor.  I had lost touch with her over the years, but because she lost a colleague and I lost a mentor, we have been brought together again.  She friended me on Facebook and I'm getting to know her again twenty years after I took my last class with her.

Even war has its silver lining.  No one likes the idea of dying or being injured in warfare.  But while a lot of people die in war, so are a lot of people born because of it.  War brings people and cultures together and it causes people to learn about each other.  Would it be better if the learning came about peacefully?  Probably... but sometimes things learned in war can make living better for everyone.  Case in point, prosthetic limbs.  Because so many people have lost limbs during warfare, there have been significant advances in creating prosthetics.  Those benefits are for everyone.  We would rather not have people lose limbs due to stepping on landmines or being in the line of fire when a RPG is launched.  But since they have, people who have lost limbs due to diseases or accidents now have better prosthetics than they might have had.

Adversity is hard.  But adversity can help you grow, as long as you don't let it break you down.  Even the worst circumstances can lead you to meet people who are amazing or inspiring, or cause you to have experiences that change your life in some way.  I'm not generally the most positive person in the world, but I'm better now than I used to be because I see that most bad experiences are survivable.  Sometimes even the ones that ultimately aren't survivable can lead to better things for other people.  It can be hard to look for silver linings when things go wrong, especially if you're in the midst of adversity.  For me, it always seems like I understand the good of every situation well after I've gone through it.


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