My wonderful readers! It has been a little while since my last post as I have been adjusting to my new normal of being married! My husband and I got married in Italy over the summer and had a wonderful time with friends and family celebrating our love. There were so many special moments that allowed me to reflect on how far I have come and how I could not have made it this far in life without the support of the friends and family who were with us in Italy, in person or in spirit. But, as I enter into this beautiful and magical next phase of my life, with the most incredible man by my side, it is sometimes difficult to not let the burden of guilt around my happiness take hold.
For many years I grappled with the idea of why me? I have referenced this in a previous post, the struggles I had with this when I was in hospital and how my Grandmother’s words helped me through. Over time, those feelings start to fade away, but they never really leave you. I was always looking for that moment that made sense of it all, “the reason” that my life took the turn that it did. However, as I grew older and experienced more of life, I realised I was merely torturing myself trying to find the answers and maybe it was better to just accept that “everything happens for a reason” but “that reason” may never present itself.
But then, as my life started to turn around, I found success in my career and then ultimately true love and I started to truly embrace this idea of acceptance, new thoughts started to creep in. Do I deserve to feel this happy? Is this success real? Will this feeling last? If I lean into this wonderful new life, what if one day it is ripped away from me like that fateful day in 2003? And then every time I felt the warmth of happiness or the high from reaching a professional milestone, guilt would be followed by a period of deflation sometimes even manifesting in a cold or fever. I would be having a great few weeks, feeling fit and healthy and then my back would twinge so I was in bed for a few days. And in those down moments I would question it all again – why me? Even if I have accepted my fate, turned the negatives into positives, living my life to the fullest, embracing all the world has – am I always still destined to be reminded of my limitations?
I think one of the most beautiful moments of clarity I had was on my first date with my now husband. As we sat talking for hours, sharing stories and experiences from our lives there was a distinct moment when we both felt the click of a deeper connection. I looked into his eyes and I knew that if I had not had my accident, I would not be sitting in front of this amazing man, sharing this incredible bond. It wasn’t about the accident per se, it was about the recognition in each other of pain and suffering and the resilience to overcome it that cemented a deep respect and admiration for each other. It carried us forward through the entirety of our dating relationship and I know it will continue to ensure we treat each other with respect and kindness in our new married life. We both know, such shared experiences, albeit in different forms, are something to cherish and admire and the feelings they invoke are to be nurtured.
But with something so special and a love that has given me so much, the fragility of happiness stirs something within me again. I am reminded, that at a time when I had graduated from University, celebrated my 21st birthday with this beautiful party, felt accomplished and proud, it was all taken away in a flash. And why? Why me? What had I done so wrong that I deserved to be crushed with such force?
And it’s not just me. I have heard countless stories of good people, doing amazing things in the world, cruelly dealt a fate they didn’t deserve. Why does goodness and happiness get punished? Why do others who go through life stealing, cheating and hurting others, seem to get away with it? Do they not know what true happiness feels like and so they don’t have to be reminded of the fragility of it? That if you can’t feel it, appreciate it or nurture it, you won’t need to be shown what it is like to live without it?
I don’t know the answers to any of these questions. And I am sure I will spend my life searching for them. But if there is one protection against the delicacy of happiness it must be this. Appreciate it, protect it, never take it for granted. And if sometimes you imagine what life would be without it and it doesn’t feel great – make sure everyone who contributes to your happiness knows every day they are appreciated and loved. Kindness, loyalty, trust are free – but they are the most valuable currency you have. I know for my part I will always appreciate the fact that I am alive, but I will never forget the people who made it possible. I don’t know what the future holds, but happiness is precious. And it’s within everyone, don’t let the fear of losing it stop you from embracing it.