Friday, January 6, 2012

When Reality Slaps You in the Face

As we navigate our way through this new year, I'm sure many of you have made some great resolutions and set some wonderful goals for yourself.  I just want you (and me) to be prepared for the moment when reality will slap us in the face and say, "Really?  You really thought you could do this? Are you kidding me? Who do you think you are?"

When (not if, but when) this happens to you, your job is to stand up to this illusion of reality and say, "Hell yes I'm doing this and there's nothing you can do about it."

That's the only way to accomplish really hard stuff -- face it, force your way through it and plow on.

Reality slaps me in the face all the time.  Last year when me literary agent said, "Your writing is too dark for me; I don't think I'm the right fit for you," I had to go teach part 2 of my Manifest Your Destiny class.  I cried the whole day and the entire drive to the studio.  But I taught that class, even though I felt like an impostor the whole time.  I was honest, though; I told them how I had manifested every goal I'd ever set for myself except getting my novel published.  And I used that example to show people how when we really, really, really, really want something we'll never manifest it because we want it too much.  Part of manifesting is learning how to let go.  Surrender is the key to everything.

There are days when I like to pretend that my marriage is normal and just like everyone else's, that my husband doesn't have a brain injury and nothing has changed.  I can over look the twice daily doses of medicine, I can write off the debilitating migraines as just a headache.  I can pretend that most grown men need to take naps. But then reality will slap me in the face.  One week into my kids' Christmas break, for example, he set the alarm for six am and woke us all up saying, "It's time for school."  He'll forget appointments and then blame me for not reminding him.  If I ask him to run the bath for the kids, he'll forget to turn the water off.  He says inappropriate things all the time because part of having a brain injury means you don't have that filter -- you know the one that tells you when to shut up.  Once we were having dinner at our favorite restaurant and were shocked to see a friend of ours walk up to take our order.  She had an excellent job as a Pharmaceutical Rep.  Mike said, "You're our waitress?" She smiled and said, "Yeah, I got laid off when the company merged, so I thought I'd work here until something opens up for me."  And Mike said, "Wow, that really sucks.  This is all you could find?" It was at that moment that I kicked him under the table to which he replied, "Ouch! Samantha! Why are you kicking me under the table?"

Oh good grief.

Yes, reality slaps me silly sometimes, but I still forge on.

My husband Mike, who spent 14 years working the poorest of poor projects as a police officer and had to witness daily things we don't ever want to know about, has a habit of saying, "Well, that's reality."

This morning, I made him turn off the news because I didn't want my children to hear the news story about the three girls killed in the Christmas fire.  "Turn that off," I said. "I don't want them to see that."  And Mike replied, "Why not? It's reality." Well, so is murder and molestation and all sorts of mayhem, but it's not my reality.  I don't have to invite it into my home.

Like the title of one of my favorite teen movies proclaims, "Reality Bites."  It really, really does.  And we all have to face it.  We can not hide from reality.  The fact that your dad has no idea what love is and will never really be able to show anyone love will not change and that does suck.  The fact that your wife left you is terrible.  And you who lost your job a year ago and can't pay your mortgage this month, that is reality and it's not changing.

Ah, but here's where hope begins to sprout its eternal wings.  Because while the facts may not change - my husband isn't going to wake up tomorrow with a healthy brain and no good Samaritan is going to pay your mortgage -- what will and can and must change is how we confront reality.  We have to face it not with dejected shoulders and a, "Yeah, I guess you're right.  Life does suck" attitude, but with a new face -- one bent on optimism and hope, possibilities and miracles.

Take me, for example, if my husband hadn't been struck by that bullet, I might never have found the courage to do this work.  Because I ignored the dreams I'd had for weeks prior of someone being shot, I vowed to never again ignore my intuition.  In addition, I now handle all the bills, investments, major decisions, and, well, everything.  Given that I was raised in a home where my mom never even wrote a check in her life and given that I was once voted The Girl Most Likely to Sit Poolside at the Club, I think that's a huge victory.  I now know how to fix a clogged drain, a broken toilet, and can put together any toy in any box.  I can pick up every bug that comes in my home and take it outside instead of whining, "Mike! Come quick!"   I can also look people in the face who are dealing with similar situations and say, "You'll get through this.  I know you will."

These are huge triumphs for me.  Really, they are.  I used to be someone who wanted to be taken care of.  My childhood was very difficult, and when I met a big, handsome cop, I practically fell into his arms and said, "Save me."  Now I'm the one who saves him  -- as much as I can -- and when I can't (refer back to waitress story), I just try to laugh it off.  Back off Reality; you're not as scary as your bark.

So, the moral of this story is that when reality barks at you, BARK BACK.