Life is Happening For Us vs To Us
On a bright June day, my Mom died. I was just 10 years old. She was in the hospital recovering from a back injury when a blood clot travelled from her leg to her heart. As the doctors clamored to remove her full body cast, she assertively said, “Let me die in peace”.
Of course, my reaction was look what happened “to” me as well as “to” my Dad and two older brothers. No one else had lost a mother in the 5th grade class or even in my whole school, as far as I knew. I felt alone.
Once the shock wore off, Dad drove us to Grandma and Grandpa’s house about six long hours away. Gram was so excited to see us. She had that usual warm and loving smile, but this time there were also tears streaming down her face for the loss of her only child. She was happy and sad at the same time. I learned then that opposite emotions can co-exist.
I spent the rest of my childhood summers living with Grandma and Grandpa. After doing chores in the morning, I could swim, boat, and fish on the lake they lived on. Gram and I developed a very deep connection, and I essentially had a second Mom. This was one of the happiest times of my life.
Two years after Mom died, Dad married Ruby. She also had three children to raise after her husband passed. Our families merged and 50 years later I have a very special connection with her children. We are true siblings, as if we were related biologically. Over the years, most of my original family died leaving me surrounded by Ruby’s family. My family support system exists because my Mom died, and the other unforeseen outcome was having the great fortune of three amazing mothers.
So did that happen To me or For Me? Obviously both, but when in Survival Mode we emphasize the victimization of life happening to us. In Thriving Mode we can step back, have a broader perspective and see how life’s challenges are opportunities FOR us to grow…if we look for and integrate the lessons. This shift in thinking can be a great challenge, but as we do it, the rewards of thriving are great.