I have always used, and believed, in the old cliché that everything happens for a reason. I think this has been my passive acceptance of the shitty things that happen in my life, as it appeals to my ‘realist’ attitude. I figured it was my way of being positive. My friends and family will argue I’m about as much a positive realist as Donald Trump is humble. Positivity has never been my strong suit. In the absence of traditional faith, I guess the fact that my belief that the Universe gives us answers within the choices we make in this life, is my ‘faith’.

Although I believed in this mantra, it has only been the past few years that it truly resonated with me. With age comes aches, pains, wrinkles and sometimes, actual wisdom. Who knew? For those who don’t know, the past couple of years have been full of tragedy, heartache and loss, sprinkled with some ongoing health concerns, and for the icing on my proverbial cake, the fractures of two vertebrae which have stopped me in my tracks.  At the time of the injury, I was struggling with working full-time while dealing with somewhat-diagnosed gastrointestinal issues that have plagued me off and on most of my life. This last ‘on’ episode was going on 2 years. I was miserable. Actually, that’s an understatement. I was bitter, exhausted, miserable, anxious and sometimes down-right homicidal; a lot of it stemmed from work and I found myself repeating, out loud, that I wish I could find a way to stop working (at least in that environment), even temporarily, to focus on my health, both mental and physical, and maybe even rediscover what brought me joy in life. I had lost so much of myself in the past few years, that I was struggling with the deterioration of my mental health due to my chronic health problems. I would look in the mirror and no longer recognize myself. I didnt’ like the person who stared back at me. If only I could step back from the grind, away from the place that was causing me so much anxiety on top of my personal issues.

Then it happened. I broke my back. Just like that, in the middle of the night, right after getting an awesome haircut! So much for showing off the pixie undercut at work tomorrow. Now, over 6 months later, I am still off work and still struggling with my physical health, only this time my mental health is actually stronger. So what changed, you ask?

Well, not being able to do anything that exerted any effort and being housebound (couch bound really), and experiencing pain everyday, all day, is the change that happened. I slowly, and at first, unknowingly, became acquainted with quiet days in the house, laundry, dishes and dusting that didn’t get done (yep, it was still there and no, no one died), books I had been meaning to read for months, and I even started this blog. I had to learn to rely on everyone in my life, for almost everything. I learned that my husband is totally capable of grocery shopping with a list (as long as some items are fully detailed) and can fend for himself at meal time. I learned how to slow down and actually smell those fucking roses, because I didn’t have a choice. I wanted a break and I got one. Literally.

It hasn’t been easy, and I haven’t been pretty, but somehow, through all that pain and boredom, I rediscovered myself, and let go of all the negative frustration that clung to me like a parasite. I was removed from the poisonous atmosphere of a toxic workplace and I realized, I didnt’ miss it. Oh, I miss parts of the job, but not the unhealthy, dysfunctional part; I realized that it wasn’t my problem to fix. I couldn’t fix it. And that was okay. So I have received that much-needed break, but instead of just going on a holiday or leave of absence, I was given an entire new outlook and possible direction in life, and my choices have been reflective of those gifts from the Universe.

I have found what brings me joy, what makes me laugh, what makes me grateful to get up every morning, even with chronic pain; I continue to listen to my inner self as I meet new challenges that are really just potential opportunities waiting to happen. I have learned that moments and people still matter the most, and that despite the pain and injury, I have been a much happier person. Maybe not Susie Sunshine with Eternal Optimism; perhaps Hopeful Realist?

catapulting myself out of bed in my sleep and fracturing a couple of vertebrae was not anything I was expecting to happen in my life, and although some people exclaim what a freak accident it was, I disagree. Everything happens for a reason, and this was my lesson to learn. Life happens and gives you choices. No refunds. No exchanges. In the end, it has been the best thing that could have happened to me at the time. I have been forced to look at where I am and where I want to go in life, and I have been forced to deal with myself. No distractions. I know, whatever happens, from now on, I will make choices that work for my mental and physical health, and what is best for my family. I am ready and willing to deal with whatever the Universe throws at me next. But I am not ready and willing to go back to the way things were. Change is inevitable and can happen when you least expect it; my life has changed drastically, as have my attitude and personal goals.

This is my cautionary tale of fate; be careful what you wish for, friends. Of course, I still wish for those winning lottery numbers every week, because I think I can handle that challenge, too. Are you listening, Universe?

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