I Can Be Safe If I Accept That I Can’t Be Safe

We all know the dreaded cliché: When it rains it pours. And during the two hardest years of my divorce, it rained a lot. Like, hurricane rains, literally, moving up the coast from Florida and pounding the East Coast. That led to four feet of water in my basement, and knocked out the boiler that heated my house along with the hot-water heater, and destroyed a refrigerator and stove down there, as well—not to mention, it filled my basement with cigarette butts and garbage, since it was a storm sewer system that was backing up into the house. That led to my having the entire basement floor jackhammered up and taken out of the house and then having to have a brand-new foundation poured in. (Get it? I needed a new foundation in that moment in life? Ha haBut it wasn’t just rain that came pouring into my life: there were also two ER visits wit my toddler son (fractured foot, teeth through lip), two disastrous vacations (one of which I left early to escape it, which led directly to the falling-down-the-front-stoop-and-teeth-through-lip incident), and a fire. Yes, a fire. The cottage I had rented at the beach for a vacation with my son caught fire in the middle of the night; we were awakened by the crash of exploding glass in the sunroom and when I ran into the living room toward the sound, I was greeted with a wall of orange and black. I screamed in total panic for almost two whole minutes before my brain got to the “Call 911″ part.

Zack, my houseguests and I all easily made it out of the house and the house didn’t burn down-but as for me, I was completely gutted. Any sense that I’d ever had that I could be safe in life had been burned up in the fire.

After a few days’ spent intoning “Why me?” to myself over and over, I finally came upon the turning point: the point where I realized “me” wasn’t really even in the equation. All these events came into my life just because. Friends, in trying to comfort me, would say, “You’ve been through so much—you are due for a break.” And I would reply, “Nope. Not necessarily.” And not because I was being negative, but because I was being realistic. I was learning that these situations that tested me to the end of my limits didn’t come into my life because I deserved them, because of my karma, because I was cursed, because it was life’s way of proving to me that I would never be happy. It was Just Because. Because that was what came next and because life is random and driven by chance.

Now, that may sound scary, but getting away from magical thinking, from “if this, then that” thinking, from thinking that I have any ability to program my life, has been the most freeing feeling of all. Let me explain: If I am not in charge of what comes next, then I am free to simply live my life, do my best, cry when it hurts, celebrate when it’s lovely, and pay attention to every single good thing that comes my way and really treasure it. Instead of plotting and planning how to make my life disaster-proof (which doesn’t really work, by the way), I am instead accepting that life is fragile, that I am fragile.

I am not (always) (permanently) (forever) safe, but I am here. And here is more than enough. So I’ve learned to stop living life by constantly trying to redo yesterday or plan a safe tomorrow; instead I’m taking it all in as it comes. Besides, everyone knows that when you’re on a journey, you get better views from the passenger seat. Especially when the rainstorms come—because then you can just take in the beauty and the rage of the storms, instead of tiring yourself out trying to navigate through them.

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