A few years ago, Baby Daddy and I were sitting at our favorite neighborhood restaurant. I told him I’d been overcome by dread. “I just have this feeling like something bad is about to happen.”
He looked at me like I was simple. “Of course something bad is gonna happen.” I’m not kidding. That is what the man said to me. It wasn’t really the kind of reassurance I was looking for. Fortunately, he continued. “And something good is gonna happen. And more bad, then more good and it’s all gonna get mixed up together and we’ll call it our life.”
While wise in its simplicity, this was still not what I was looking to hear. I’m not usually interested in the truth. I’m interested in feeling better about things. But it’s true.
Since that night: friends died tragically, older relatives passed away, we put our beloved, old dog to sleep, Monkey Boy has celebrated birthdays, I left a job that was no longer a good fit for me, I started a new job, his company was bought and restructured, we had some really close moments in our relationship, there were days I wasn’t sure who the man living in my house was, I totally washed out on some commitments when I went down for 3 months with mono which damaged my pride more than I’m comfortable admitting, Monkey Boy finally got potty trained which made me happier than I’m comfortable admitting, Katy Kat became a bigger part of our lives, we bought a new house, we shared the joy of friends’ marriages and babies, we’ve worried about money, we’ve felt flush, we’ve forged new friendships and counted ourselves blessed because of old ones, I cut some toxic people out of my life and it all got mixed up together. And that’s our life.
I was reminded of our bad/ good conversation when a friend told me of financial concerns she’s facing. There’s no two ways about it, this is one of those bad times for her family. Then I came across a piece my friend Kyran wrote about recession proofing your marriage. Her deeply personal tale tells of uncertain financial times in her life. She writes an important part of how they came through the process was to practice gratitude, which is good advice regardless of your money situation.
“I’m not talking about the false gratitude that denies that you or anyone else is suffering. Nor the shadowy kind that depends on the truism that somebody, somewhere, is always worse off than you, nor the timid thankfulness that doesn’t dare ask more from life than basic survival. I mean really appreciating what is in front of you right now, even if you don’t know if you can count on it tomorrow.
I have everything I need today,” became the mantra that brought us through that hard year. Even when we couldn’t quite believe it, it never failed to be true.
I reached over the screen and ran my finger along the worry line in my true love’s forehead, as if I could smooth it over. It was so much deeper now than it was over a decade ago when we traded all those blithe promises. I had no clue then how poor, how sick, how awful we could sometimes be. Nor any idea how rich, how strong, and how good. For that matter, I still didn’t.
Life can get better, it can get worse. It will probably do both.