I recently encountered a saying that struck a chord with me:
Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning to dance in the rain. ~ Author Unknown
If I waited for the storm to pass, I would never dance. I think this is true for just about anyone with a history of abuse or not. Really – Have you ever met the one person on the planet who isn’t encountering some difficulty in the present moment? I haven’t. Even when people are in a “good” place in their lives, struggles abound. Of course, the level of struggle varies, but it is still a struggle.
If I waited for the skies to be 100% sunny before I danced, I would never dance. Life is filled with storms, and how I react to and in those storms says a lot about the person I am becoming.
When I entered into therapy, I said that my goal was to “get over” the abuse and “be normal.” My therapist said these were unrealistic goals but that I would experience a higher quality of life through healing. I didn’t get it at the time, but now I see what he meant.
I am always going to have a history of child abuse. I cannot wave a magic wand and make that history disappear. However, I don’t need the storm clouds of my history to part before I can dance. I can enjoy my life – right here, right now – no matter what I am facing.
In fairness, in the early years of healing, I wouldn’t say I experienced a lot of “enjoyment.” I was too busy dealing with horrifying memories and learning how to process my emotions. However, I did experience reprieves, even in the early months, in which I felt alive – really alive for the first time. Those moments were fleeting at first, but they grew longer over time.
I don’t think I will ever experience a time where everything in my life is just the way I want it to be. However, that doesn’t mean that I cannot enjoy my life. Sometimes I will experience joy after moving a mountain. At other times, I will experience joy simply from being alive. My circumstances don’t have to dictate the quality of my life.
My sister would likely agree that joy is not defined by our circumstances. In her travels to Belize, she met some of the most joyous people in some of the most impoverished circumstances. She traveled as a scientist, not a tourist, and she met many of the locals who feel rich if they own a pair of shoes or a bicycle. I know many people who have outwardly achieved the American Dream who are miserable.
I have always liked the saying, “Make lemonade out of life’s lemons,” and “After the rain, the rainbow.” I am going to add this one to my list as well.
Photo credit: Hekatekris