I have been home from work all week healing from my surgery and have had an opportunity to watch a lot of TV and movies. (I really cannot believe how much trash is on tv these days, but anyway...) I watched a really good movie the other day- Gone Baby Gone. I highly recommend it. It is directed by Ben Affleck and stars his brother Casey. In the opening scene, the main character says that it is the things that we do not choose that make us who we are. I felt that was such a powerful statement. In the movie he relates it to family, neighborhood, and the city in which you live. I, naturally, related it to this latest season in our life. We never would have chosen to lose a child, but it has shaped who we are forever.
Most of you who know me well know what I am about to dislose too. Those of you who don't know me so well and are meeting me via this blog, well, this may be considered oversharing, but I don't care.
In reference to those things that we do not choose... I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder when I was 19 or 20. Growing up I was a 'well-adjusted', happy kid, but when I went away to college I became very, very depressed. It is most common for major life events both good and bad to trigger an episode of bipolar disorder. For me, going away to college was such an event. In the fall of 1996, I had to drop out of school completely, seek treatment, and get well. For many years following this low point in my life, and after many therapists and medications, I was what you would call 'stable'. I graduated from college in 4 1/2 years (1/2 extra because of the one semester I missed;) and went on to get a teaching job. I even had a boyfriend and apartment. Sounds like life was good, right? Wrong! In 2001 I crashed. I had what was considered to a 'episode of acute mania'. I mean there were days that I was in a complete dark hole. And then.. there were the days and days where I did not sleep a wink, eat a morsel, and was really for lack of a better word- crazy. Looking back, I really sometimes cannot believe that that was me and comparing it to me know that I am so much 'better'. I was so sick and some days I really didn't think I would survive. Thank God, I had a wonderful doctor and family who pulled me through that terrible time.
At that time I would have never guessed that I would be grateful for going through all of that. I mean it was really awful and I was really sick. But now, in a sense I feel it was a blessing to have experienced it. As the movie quote said, the things we do not choose make us who we are. Experiencing the depths of a depression allowed me to see the power in my own strength and resilience. One of my mom's favorite sayings (which I now love) is "A woman is like a tea bag- you never know how strong she is until she gets in hot water.- Eleanor Roosevelt" When we found out we had lost Caroline, I thought I was not strong enough to handle such loss. I truly did not think I would be ok. And look at me now- I AM!! I really think because God put me through those 'peaks and valleys' throughout my life and because of His sufficient grace that we are given such strength when we least expect it. It is often hard to embrace the situations that life gives us- those things that we do not choose. I have learned that everything you encounter does happen for a reason. Although we may not understand it at the time we must believe and remember that we may somehow be grateful for it later.