Today I want to speak to you about challenges, pain, and how to overcome the aftermath.
Pain can appear in any part of our lives, and is often sudden, unexpected, and most of all, undesired. The actual point of impact can happen briefly, but can leave us hurting for decades, and seriously affect subsequent relationships, our personality, and really damage our quality of life. I’d like to share with you one of the major challenges I had in my life, what created pain, and how I dealt with it.
1) One Of My Challenges
In Autumn 2016, my Father left Planet Earth, following the path of his lungs after forty-five years of smoking .My Mother, a Pharmacist of some thirty plus years, had always given him the best access and advice to help him curb his addiction, so please don’t imagine for a second, that my Father did not have the social backing, or resources, to help him quit, nor that his kids didn’t tell him that we didn’t like his habit. Cigarettes do exactly what they say on the packet (that’s why they put the warning there), so unfortunately, I have very little sympathy, for it’s not like he didn’t live long enough to make use of his life, or to make a true effort to extend it.
2) The aftermath…and some pain…
The following year was a challenging one. It’s very interesting what you learn about someone when they die.
Looking back, I came to realise that although we’d all lived in the same household for the past twenty plus years, my Father was hardly ever actively present there. I mean, he was there in body, at weekend and in the evenings, but alot of time we did separate things, and didn’t connect.
3) Accepting good times first
My parents had this brilliant rule that we should always eat together around the dining table-a practice for which I am eternally grateful. I didn’t see it at the time, but, as they rightly said, it really was the one time we got to be together.
Looking back in my life, there are many things I am grateful for, that my Father did. He certainly took a more active role when my siblings and I were younger. I remember him mowing the lawn with the big old petrol mower: revving the engine as it trundled dutifully along, painting fences-he was even a Cub Leader for the young lads, taking them (and myself-I was in Brownies), camping, and creating and employing activities for them to do.He used to take us on bike-rides, train-spotting (a particular hobby of his), as well as to & from the child-minders. So I can’t say he didn’t do his bit.
4) Identifying things I wish were different…
Past the age of about fourteen, everything changed. It’s hard to pinpoint when exactly our Father let go of our hands-I believe it may have been different for me and my brothers. My younger brother, four years my junior, had never really forged a relationship with my Dad, and I remember him, from a relatively young age, spending his time gaming on the PC whilst my Father did something else (whatever that was).
Why they never forged a relationship I don’t know. All I know is that relationships take effort, intention & dedication. I assume those things were lacking. I could blame my younger brother, but I’m not sure it’s a child’s duty to form a relationship with their parent. Having said that, blaming my Father will create pain, so I have to be careful.
I understand that often, when things don’t happen, it’s because the appropriate thought or will wasn’t really there.
With my older brother and me it was different. Before I came along (my brother was about one-and-a-half, heading on two at the time), he was obviously the first and only child, so my Father, took time to forge a parental bond. It doesn’t hurt that they’re both interested in trains- a common bond for life-something which anyone who knows anything about railway enthusiasts will identify.
5) What happened?
Well, we’d just moved away from the town us kids had lived in all our lives, to the Midlands (middle of England-literally ‘mid-lands’). We needed to be there for the start of school, but the house hadn’t come through, so we lived with my Grandfather for a short while.
My Grandfather was born and raised in the area, and it was the childhood stomping ground of my Mum, who grew up in the exact same house. My Dad despite having been with us to stay during numerous Christmas’s and Easter school holidays, was no more familiar with the area than we children were, and whilst our task was pretty easy-to attend our new, now separate schools-my Father struggled to find grounding, and a job.
But he did, and in the meantime made himself as useful as possible, assisting me in my new-found first job, delivering evening papers in the local area, and picking myself and brother up from our schools.
When I was set the task of creating something which would showcase the local area, I set my heart on creating a model of a section of the local canal (not something found in the suburbs!). My Father came on board, helping me make trees with florists wire.
Perhaps it was when we moved into our new home, that things changed.
6) Trying to understand people
What happened then, I can hardly say. Perhaps it was everyday living-kids going to school, doing homework, chores, seeing my Grandfather & Uncle every Sunday afternoon for a walk and then back to the humdrum of working life.
Still, there were gaps, particularly at weekends, when we could have made an effort to be together. I never remember going out to the cinema (or any place much) with my parents until after he died.
My Mum would sometimes take us into town, but my Dad never went. He didn’t often join us on weekend walks, or spend time with us in the evenings.
Needless to say, the years passed and we slowly left school. My older brother disappeared to uni, coming back for the holidays (with his washing, of course). I got a job, and my little bro went onto A-levels.
Why we never connected in all that time, I cannot say-only that it was a never-ending wasted opportunity. Too many weekends passed…to many wasted hours, not reaching out, accepting our own separate lives as the norm, not trying to change anything or strive or identify longing for a deeper connection.
7) The Missing Link
I think my Father felt let down by life. I think he felt this was how it was, this is all he could remember for a long time, and this was the way it would always be, now. I think he lost hope.
We were too wrapped up, struggling along in our own little lives, in our own little way, to notice. To feel we HAD TO DO SOMETHING TO CHANGE. To recognise that our family wasn’t functioning in a way that was possible, or that we had to put aside some time to rediscover that connecting point & MAKE IT HAPPEN.
We didn’t see it. I’m not sure we recognised there was even an alternative. Then I moved out, and ten months later, he died.
8) Choosing not to create pain
I COULD blame my Father. I was certainly very angry and confused over where he’d been in life & who he truly was. I’ve done plenty of crying, and lost many hours piecing together the fractured puzzle. I still don’t know to this day.
We could have really done with him being there more often. I’m not saying he was never there-he’s the one who, eventually, taught me to drive & lent me his old car to get to college. He took me to football (he was not a football Dad). So I can’t say he was never there. He was-at times.
I’d have liked more consistency. However…
9) The Rest Of Your Life Is Up To You!
In future, I’d like a stronger bond with my family. I now realise we never had the strongest of bonds, but it CAN’T BE TOO LATE. Before my younger brother finishes uni, and moves away, potentially for good, there has to be another chance. I’ve still got breath in my lungs, so there’s still hope for me.
Despite everything, and in light of all the other deaths over previous years before-friends, employers, family and family of friends-I realise that time is short, and a blessing. It’s necessary to look after your family-after all, no –one else will. Not even the Government.
10) Take Action To Move On…
So, you’ve got to make a decision on WHAT’S IMPORTANT TO YOU. Decide, and seize it-it’ll disappear if you don’t. People don’t stay, unless you tell them you want them to. I always thought it would be the same, but we’re growing up now, and people are moving away. Things are changing.
We all have different experiences. But don’t forget to create your path-don’t leave it to chance.
I never realised I even had the power of choice or that life could be different. You can create whatever I want, if you decide, and if are willing to learn how. It’s a new mindset to me.
There are so many ways of doing life-don’t choose a path away from happiness. If you like what you’ve had, make an effort to keep it. If you don’t, change it. It’s possible for you. There’s a way for you.
11) What was MY happy ever after?
I actually started my own business. You see, I will find more life, more joy, and more ways to give. Especially to my family. I will love them more, no matter what it takes,-even if it means letting them have more freedom, and personal space. It’s possible. And not being at work all the time, will, I hope let me do just that. That’s my future dream. Now go create yours.
Find & accept the good, bad, and unknown. Discover your values, smile and let go. Take action & create joy.
After all, you’re worth it.
PS. If you decide you’d maybe like the chance to create your own business & have the chance of more future time with your family, start by getting yourself some of our free education on what that could look like for you! What you do from there, is up to you!
Comment, connect & sign up for great, free weekly updates below!