Darkest before dawn…

Earlier this week, I was listening to my iPod when a song I hadn’t heard in a long time began to play.  Suddenly, I was transported back to my basement room in Washington, D.C. in 2004.  I was heartsick over a man I thought I loved and I was listening to The Corrs sing “Runaway” over and over.  And over.

I was in that basement, listening to that song and thinking things really couldn’t get much worse.  I had been invited to quit my job and had no idea what to do next.  I had very little money.  I had a week to move, but nowhere to live because I’d been intending to move in with the man.  My beloved miniature schnauzer had succumbed to cancer the day before and I’d just spent all night on the phone listening to him explain 50 ways to leave me.

Elia: angel of unemployment

You can imagine I was feeling rather low the next morning as I got in my purple Geo metro and drove off to the unemployment office.  Little did I know my perspective on life was about to change radically.  Sitting in the waiting area near me was a beautiful blond, who introduced herself as Elizabeth, but goes by Elia.  She was 32, engaged and remarkably happy about life, considering where she was.

She shared her story and I shared mine.  When I finished, she looked at me, astounded.  “How old are you?” she asked.  “28,” I replied.  “Good lord,” she said, “You take life so seriously!  I never even thought about having a boyfriend, let alone getting married, when I was in my twenties!” (I didn’t tell her I’d already been married and divorced.)  “I just wanted to have fun!” she continued.  Fun, hmmm, there was a concept on which I’d not spent much time.  “I only met my finance after I was thirty and I’m really glad we had our own lives before we got together,” she said.   Shortly after, her name was called and off she went, completely unaware of the impact she’d had.

I’m not going to say that I was over the break-up, in fact, that took the next few years.  But, I gained perspective.  I knew someday I wouldn’t be sad anymore, which was enough to give me hope for a happy future.  And I started to live my own life.  Elia showed me how much still lay ahead of me… how much was still unknown… and how exciting that could be.

Good Morning

When I got dressed to go to the unemployment office after a long, dark night, I didn’t think my life could get any worse or would get any better.  But after one conversation with a bright, sunny woman, my perspective was changed and then, over the next few years, my life was changed.  Everything I truly wanted seemed to come my way – I’ve married the man of my dreams and together with our beautiful son, we live in a lovely part of England, where I get to work on my writing.  I’m sure there will be more challenges ahead, and the realization of more dreams… we’ll just see how the years unfold.

The amazing thing is to look back at what we’ve experienced and realize how much we have to learn from the hardest challenges we face – how much they can help us to grow and develop as people.  That night changed me completely.  Ever after, I knew I could handle anything life through at me.  I’d always say, “Well, I got through that night… this is nothing.”

My teacher, the cow…

I mentioned in my last post that I recently read an incredible book by Dr. Sean Kenniff, called Etre the Cow.  Etre is the only self-aware cow in the pasture, because of which, he feels isolated and alone.  The book follows Etre’s journey to free himself and the cows he loves.  It sounds a little bizarre, but because of Sean’s remarkable writing talent, one finds oneself understanding and empathizing with a cow’s longing to have a meaningful existence.

I bring it up because of Sean’s story.  He was on the first season of Survivor, which he parlayed into a career as a healthcare correspondent.  Then, when the recession hit, his job was discontinued.  Driving home, pink slip in hand, Sean saw a cow with its head between a pasture fence, staring out at him.  He felt how that cow looked: powerless over his life.

Inspired, Sean went to live with the cows and the result is a book that could easily take its place among literary classics, such as Animal Farm.  If it had not been for the embarrassment, frustration and despair he felt after losing his job, he may never have discovered his extraordinary writing talent.

Though it’s hard to remember when one is facing down the dark, I’ve found that the most difficult times of my life have been the catalyst for remarkable change and exciting, new opportunities.  We just have to be open to learning the lessons from wherever they come, whether it’s a beautiful blond or a big fat cow.

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Published in: on April 20, 2011 at 4:42 pm  Comments (11)  
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11 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I have found that as you traverse this life that many profound decisions made are based on a single moment, insident, statement that passes our way. Some have good outcomes….some not so good, but lanning, goal persuit and perseverance are more reliable of a positive outcome than reliance on fate.

  2. I, like yourself Meghan, feel so blessed to have taken our past circumstances and learned valuable lessons from them. It pains me to watch family and friends live the same unhealthy life day after day for years, only to complain and blame others for their unhappiness. Sure, it may take us a year or five to come around, but can always look back and say, “I’m a better person for going through that.”

    Thanks Meghan!

  3. Wow-great perspective, not to mention a heart lifting response to life’s challenges. Thank you my friend, I also needed to find the light on the other side of the tunnel..your words I will pass along as they truly give inspiration to not give up..to forge on…and to beleive in oneself!

  4. A lovely blog Meghan 🙂

  5. Very nice post. It is amazing how something that someone says or does can change the course of our lives. I also agree that through pain and our willingness to walk through it, can bring positive changes in our lives. Thank you for sharing.

  6. Nice post – and so true. I believe that we learn something from heartache if we are willing to feel it. I tend to want to walk through the pain, so I can find some purpose for it. I think it is better to “feel” than to “hide.” I recently suffered some heartache, and spent a lot of time walking through it, listening to the sad music, and not coming up with an answer for that particular devastation. Finally, the answer came to me and it was simple – the lesson was that I don’t have to understand everything. I didn’t have to analyze it to let it go. That was actually a huge breakthrough for me, as someone that analyzes everything. Great post, thank you for reminding me. 🙂

  7. Thank you for sharing this with others. Thoughts, feelings and how one walks the path in life to getting to the point of over coming as well as accomplishment is amazing when one finds their inner core strength.
    Many cudos to you and I greatly enjoy reading here with the content you have opened to share.
    Many smiles,
    Mira Faraday

    • I couldn’t agree with you more – thanks so much for sharing your thoughts with me!

  8. Thank you for your insightful words Meghan. The journey of inner growth and self awareness is not easy, but it is ultimately very rewarding, as you have discovered. Lovely blog.

    • Thanks so much for taking the time to read and comment on my work. I really appreciate the encouragement!

  9. a beautiful story!! I have learned from all of my past hardships, and there have been many. I lost four relatives, including a beloved husband of 18 years, six years, ago. What a punch in the gut! Losing four beloved family members in a year!! It takes strength of character to get through that! Being rather isolated, with my two children living in distant states with families of their own, I was all alone in my grief. My Dad had just been placed in a nursing home with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Diseases. He was incapable of sharing it with me because he didn’t remember. I wrote a book about it called “Photographs and Memories.” It is on Amazon.com. Writing is my way of expressing my grief and coming up with solutions to it. I am always searching for solutions, even though we may not find them right away. I believe in hardships, we find life lessons. This life down here has been like attending college, not kindergarten! For others, the hardships could be more like kindergarten. I believe we get dealt what we can, supposedly, handle. Despite our doubts, we, somehow, meander through it. Barbara Fifield


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