One of my all-time favorite old TV programs is “The Honeymooners”. I think I’ve seen every episode dozens of times. In one of them, Ralph decides to make a list of his good “pernts” and bad “pernts”. After my first husband died and I was left feeling crushed and helpless, unable to cope with the smallest problem, I decided to make a list like that myself. I thought it might help me find a way out of the black hole my life had become. Except I left out the bad “pernts”. For too many years, I had been reminded on a daily basis of just what they were. I needed to figure out what were the good parts of me that had helped me survive.
Over the years, I’ve added to the list, though not just things that helped me survive. Now I look for what about me makes me happy or special or creative. And I’ve also been able to look at the bad “pernts”, the real one, the ones that hold me back from becoming everything I am meant to be. But the core list remains the same. These are the parts of who I am that kept me alive.
OPTIMIST – Sometimes it takes me awhile, but I always find the silver lining, the lemonade, the sunny side of the street. Times when I was deep in depression, I knew that there was a way out if I just hung on long enough.
EMPATHETIC – I’ve always been able to imagine what it feels like to be in someone else’s shoes. I can’t remain angry or judgmental for long because of that. Often when my late husband was at his meanest I would wonder what happened to him to make him treat anyone, let alone someone he supposedly loved, that way. Even as he hurt me, I could see his pain behind the anger.
WILLING TO FORGIVE – I learned early that it is exhausting to stay angry or carry a grudge. Hanging on to that anger only keeps the hurt alive. It feeds it. One of the first things I did after my husband died was forgive him. It’s what gave me my freedom.
HUMOR – I can find humor in anything. Not that I diminish the seriousness or sadness or even horror in life. But if you dwell on those things, you’ll never make it. And if you can’t laugh at yourself, you’re lost.
I don’t know if I was born this way (apologies to Lady Gaga) or if I developed these abilities as survival tactics. However I became the person I am doesn’t matter. What does matter is that it got me here to a place where I’m happy. And for that, I’m grateful.