Sunday, December 28, 2008


I had a rather interesting conversation with a reasonably close friend the other day.
I can't really remember how it started but at one point, presumably in response to something I'd said [ or maybe just some errant thought -I don't know ] she said
"If the things that have happened to you, had happened to me, I'm not sure that I could accept it "
...mmm okay


now y'see, I couldn't count how many people over the years have asked 'how do you cope?' or just made the statement that they couldn't - cope that is. Sometimes they're talking about David ... sometimes about my husband's death... sometimes about my health. Usually I just give back some facile answer along the lines of " you cope because you have to"
this was a church-going friend talking about Acceptance with a capital A - a different thing altogether from 'coping' [ which at one point, when David was a lot younger, was the single word in the English language which I most loathed because I heard it so often ... but I'm drifting off on a tangent. Must stop. Must get back to the point ]

anyhoo, as the end of this year is nearly upon us, I've been thinking about her comment

Certainly there are things that have happened in my life - as in everyone's - that are not as I would have had them be
some of those things I could do something about
some of them not
but I can, to a certain extent, determine how I react to those issues.

I'm not altogether sure that I do accept them - capitalised or not - certainly not in the sense of believing stuff to be preordained in some fixed and immutable way.

What I do accept is that stuff happens and you try to deal with it.
It's not necessarily fair.
You don't have to like it,
you do get to choose whether you keep moving, or just curse the universe for its perversity while you stay bogged down in misery for the rest of your life.

The way I see it, you can either spend your time wailing " why me?" or asking yourself " why not me? Why should I be immune to what life brings?"

anyone care to weigh in ?

... and I think I'll leave you with my all time favourite quote. Don't know who said it originally, but it resonates with me:

'Bout the only difference between a stepping stone and a stumbling block is in the way that you use them !"


Robyn said...

Hi Susan, I'd have to say I wholeheartedly agree with you.
We choose to 'get on with our lot' or not...For my part I know that God doesn't give us more than we can deal with...big words...but true in my experience so far....Sometimes though I don't like very much what He thinks I am capable of and wish things could have been otherwise...but again...I (hopefully) choose to accept being stretched and come out a more compassionate (hopefully, more kind and considerate and so many other things) person...big breath...LOL

I gotta say I never write these sort of comments but agree with you wholeheartedly.
Hugs to you...hope I didn't 'overdo' my welcome... :o) ...and I do hope your rotten headache is gone!!
Love your goat!!
Robyn xx

Erica Spinks said...

I think we try to do the best we can when life doesn't go the way we anticipated. I also think that until we are in the position of having to deal with a challenge (as opposed to hypothetically imagining how we would deal with it), we just cannot predict how we'd react.

All we can control is the way we react to events in our lives - easier said than done. It takes positive action. Interesting pondering, Susan.

Robyn said...

Been thinking more on this myself.
I think your friend's comment was one more of admiration for what you do, because she can't comprehend what you do do and also one of admiration for your strength and 'stick to it ness'.

Diane said...

Hi Susan, there was a column by erma bombeck that explained why God gave the gift of these children to certain women, and one line in it sums it up to me, " And she selfish enough to make sure she still has a life" I also have a child with many disablities as they call them. I used fret about what other people thought and somewhere down the line I just realized they are missing out a lot on how much the simplest things mean so much when they do them or say them. I think the part that is hardest to take is all the pity people want to give you, I don't need it, ask for it, or want it. But i also came to understand that it is actually their way of being nice, and unless you have walked in a person shoes especially with an exceptional child you have no clue. So I now take their comments as the kind thing they were intended, not what I used to think was pity. My son will be 20 right after the new year. The truth is it doesn't seem possible he is that old already. So I think that says a lot about how the whole family has adjusted to him being a member.

Sheepish Annie said...

One of the sayings we use a lot in the counseling field goes like this: It is what it is.

You can't always change the circumstances, but you can decide what you are going to do with them. One person's breaking point is another's opportunity. We all need to hide under the bed sometimes. but eventually we are going to have to come out and face the world. Good things can be found in the strangest places and the best life lessons sometimes come out of strife!

catsmum said...

You don't know how strong you are until you have to be.

catsmum said...

and that comment above mine is from the OTHER catsmum - the one who isn't Susan

... this could get confusing

Sooziii said...

Acceptance - gee I have never accepted things - I have coped with them, but I don't have to accept them. You can look for all the negatives under the sun but it won't change what has been handed to you. You have to find the postives - okay often you need to almost split an atom to find them but they are there - the old 'glass half full' treatment.

There is only one person who has to take on what life dishes you out and that is you. No-one else can do it and everyone does it in a different way, but ultimately it is your burden.

I believe we are only given as much as we can handle - in some cases it seems like far to much but you shoulder the load and get on with it.

You and I have been there and done that, we have the tshirts to prove it and we wear them proudly!

Mia said...

Very true. And sometimes it's just so darn hard to keep moving forward.

Sarah said...

I have found that the people who are most negative in general about life have the hardest time accepting things thrown their way. Instead of just getting up and living they feel very sorry for themselves for a longer time.

And of course, no one thinks they are strong enough to deal with what they see as huge challenges to others, which are by their nature the everyday things we have to just do.

I've certainly learned a lot about myself by what's been thrown at me and even though, no it is not fair, it has definitely made me who I am and they've just been stepping stones along the way at this point.

I feel like I have been very very lucky indeed too, though a lot of people feel sorry for me. Why? I think because they feel a little guilt they've been spared any major blows. I have found that things really do make us stronger, more able and more aware of the world around us.

Sarah said...

Also to add... when people tell me what your friend said my response has always been to ask them "What's my choice?"

ozjane said...

I have a favorite poem that starts off
'In acceptance lieth peace'
It is an old poem and seems old fashioned today but it has made sense to me as the losses mounted. And the other thing I always find helpful it that we are on a journey and God (if we are walking in relationship to Him) does not just leave us stuck in the one spot. He leads us through.
Ps 23...we go through the valley.
This will not be meaningful to all which is why I made my qualification in brackets.
So I guess another factor in how we face this is our foundational belief system. Some will see bad luck, some see fate, some see the glass half empty or half full.
Others see a vengeful God...and how could He let this happen. Some see no God at all.
I believe God could very easily step in and take away our free will and turn us into puppets and the world would do His will and evil would not be there...but for the moment that is not where we are.
We do have free will and free choice to look at the stone and see a step or a stumbling block.
Sorry if I crept up on the pulpit.
I am not meaning to preach....just to be who I am.

Alwen said...

I have been a very self-pitying person in my time, and the oddest things have helped me.

One was a misremembered quote from The Princess Bride: "Life isn't fair, princess. Anyone who tells you differently is selling something."

And another was the experience of going through infertility and reading posts on the old Usenet BBS. Some of the women on those boards were so angry. So bitter. They'd been through so much.

But I had to seriously think about my own attitude. I decided whether I ever became a mother or not, I was still a fertile and creative person in my own way. I did not have to become as harsh and caustic as some of the posters seemed from their posts. I wanted to become open-hearted.

I still catch myself being all boo hoo and poor little me, but I like to think I am less mean to the part of myself that feels so sorry for itself sometimes.

sMC said...

life is a journey, a walk in the park is not so interesting.
I accept(cope) but I don't have to agree. well done with your travels.

Nadie said...

Hi Robyn, sorry but I have to disagree with you about 'God' not giving people more than they can cope with.

I work in an accommodation facility for people with disabilities, people whose parents could not cope with the lot they were given. I also have friends who need ongoing psychiatric care to help them cope with life.

Mum does what needs to be done and gets on with it. That is the attitude I grew up with, and when I first started in this field I had a lot of difficulty understanding how people could give up their children.

Unfortunately there are a lot of people out there who either don't see 'dealing with it' as an option, or genuinely cannot cope.

Rose Red said...

Hi Susan - I know I'm weighing in late ont his (happy new year, by the way!). I agree with what most people have said in that it is up to each person to decide how they deal with what life gives them - I really believe people can choose to cope, or choose to whine, or whatever. But only to an extent - as Nadie rightly points out, people have different coping levels, and what one person can deal with, another person can't. And in the end, you will never know what you can or can't cope with until you are in that position. I'm sure your friend was trying to pay you a compliment however odd it might have sounded.