As a principal, I had the honor, the privilege, and, sometimes, the burden of hearing details from others that I would really rather never have known. Whose family member had been told about a diagnosis that would be leading to emotional upheaval until they would eventually be dealing with the death of a young adult with even younger loved ones. Which couple was planning to obtain a divorce and wanted to ensure their children would receive extra attention during the family turmoil they were sure was to come. Which woman had to go into hiding because of the abusive relationship she was no longer willing to tolerate.
During these times I listened, offered whatever resources or suggestions were at my disposal, and responded with the most empathetic words I could muster. And, always, I did my best to not let my emotions get the best of me personally. After all, this situation was not about me, and neither my family nor I were the ones who would be personally experiencing these circumstances.
At least…not this time, and not this set of events.
As an acquaintance once said,
“You’re right. I’m not going through the same stuff as you right now. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have stuff. My stuff is just different than your stuff.”
Learning to make choices
I didn’t have all the answers then, and I don’t have all the answers now, but I have come to prize a few tokens of wisdom that were shared along the way. The “negatives” we endure are part of our path for a reason; they are intended to teach us something that is important for us to learn.
- As a young girl I didn’t dream of getting married, having three children, and then getting a divorce. But what led me to that marriage also led me to carry and birth those three children. Children who have since found life partners and have had children of their own. Now I know that, without the sorrow I first experienced, I never would have found the incredible joys that have now come to be a part of my life; without that darkness then, I would not recognize the light now.
- Like many others, I have experienced some losses throughout my life that have made an impression on me as I move forward. Eventually, I had to face the fact that some “tools” needed to be added to my “personal toolkit.” Sometimes the skills were gained through work with an outside professional; other times my skills improved as the result of classes, reading, or interactions with one of my wise friends. I thank the universe that I had the ability to recognize what was missing from my skill set, and that I not only have the wherewithal to learn those new things, but I had the resources around me to make that learning possible.
I appreciate knowing that those who cared for me knew not to try to “save” me from life’s hurdles; this, of all possible choices, would have done more harm than good. Struggling with the many decisions, making choices and living with the consequences, whether positive or negative, and figuring out how to weigh options before finally deciding on the final path…that was the real accomplishment.
All in all, they all proved to be wonderful life lessons for appreciating the challenges that did not come my way, while learning to address the hurdles that did.