Nearly 20 years ago I remember being at a bar where customers drank beer, played pool, and threw darts. At this time in my life, I was really struggling. I was making a mess of my life and things were falling apart. I can’t remember what I said to the server, but I think she got the impression that I was feeling hopeless by her response. My memory of her words are as clear in my head today as they were so many years ago.
She was wiping down a table and she matter-of-factly said, “It always works out.” I asked her what she meant by that. She shrugged her shoulders and said, “It always works out.” What I got from that is; even when we’re going through hard times, things will eventually work out.
As I reflect on what that server said to me 20 years ago…I rationalize one question: Was she right?
I hope that when I reflect on my life’s journey, it causes you to think about your own experiences. We all have a story. Chances are that even though we have walked down different paths, we may share similar experiences. Because of our shared experiences, we can connect with each other in a deeper way.
These were two very different and tough years. Both were extremely hard and equally painful.
2002: Chaotic and Running Out of Time
I was working two jobs, taking care of my three children, and caring for my terminally ill mother. I was physically and emotionally exhausted. I was also drinking and using crystal meth.
- Mom died in July.
- I lost my jobs at the end of October.
- Our gas was turned off on Thanksgiving Day.
- I was running to food banks by December.
2003: Losing Everything Including Myself
I was completely out of touch with reality. I wasn’t working and wasn’t even trying. The doctor said I had an emotional breakdown, which was probably true, but I’m sure the drinking and drugs didn’t help.
- Evicted from our apartment
- Gave my kids to my older brother to take care of
- My Driver’s License was suspended
- I became homeless
I wandered around aimlessly and the days turned into weeks and months. My life was just passing me by as I stood on the sidelines and watched. It felt like a “pause” in time. Nothing was happening and I didn’t get help for myself. Every day was the same.
Words That Mattered
That evening when the server said, “it always works out,” I remember feeling hope. I hung on to her words and to this day have never forgotten them. In my world where I was literally and figuratively a lost soul – those words mattered to me.
Sometimes even the smallest amount of encouragement we give to someone can make a huge impact. We may never know to what extent, but it is worth recognizing the kindness. I bet this server would never have imagined that I’d be writing a blog on a website about something she said to me nearly 20 years ago. Words matter, they stay with you.
I wonder how often this happens in life. I wonder if I have ever said something to someone that was so impactful that it stayed with them. What an honor that would be!
The Flip Side
It’s important to note that our words can also go the other way. We can say things that judge, hurt, wound and scar. These words have the ability to stick with a person for a lifetime. In a world that is becoming increasingly polarizing and divisive among not only strangers but also friends and family – recognizing the impact of our words is imperative. Civility is at stake. Relationships are on the line. I hope I have not said something that was so hurtful it scarred someone’s spirit. That would be such a tragedy. If I did, I would want to apologize to them on the deepest level imaginable.
We need to remember, always, whether it is a family member, friend, retail clerk, server, homeless person, or whoever it is that….
Words Matter • Kindness Matters • Compassion Matters
Dreaming: A Peek Under the Veil?
I’d like to share a dream I had during this very tumultuous time in my life. Hopefully it’s not too off-topic, especially if “it always works out.”
The dream that occurred between the two toughest years of my life may sound crazy, but I think some of you will understand. Sometimes the most peculiar things in life cannot be just explained away. This dream being one of them. I had no idea what was ahead of me as I approached 2003.
Dream: I was walking down a long corridor with someone who was holding a clipboard. There were rows and rows of files on both sides of us. Just as I began to awaken from my dream, I heard myself mutter aloud,
“Keep things going the way they are going.”
If the theory is true that our lives are already planned out – and if as the server suggested “it always works out,” then this dream makes sense to me.
What I mumbled upon waking meant to me that I had a sense or a say in what was coming for me in 2003. Theorizing that: IF we have a say in our life, and IF when we dream subconsciously we can communicate with the other side, then maybe I KNEW what was ahead of me in 2003. That might have actually been my opportunity to make some changes or adjust what was planned out for me. I am guessing my enlightened self knew that I would survive. What else would cause me to say, “Keep things going the way they are going?” My subconscious self was ready to stare down the complete horror that was coming for me the following year. It would be worse than what I had already experienced, and I was to leave things as they were and forge ahead.
My analogy makes sense to me. I marvel at some of the experiences we go through and it feels like with dreams – we get to peek under the veil just a bit. Maybe we have more say or realization about our lives than we think.
An Open Mind
If you haven’t experienced such a memorable dream or don’t believe in the underlying meaning of dreams, I get it. It is hard to just believe what others say about them. Some people must experience such things for themselves. I would only suggest that you try to leave yourself open to the possibility that there might be more than you understand. If something occurs that is powerful and designed in such a way that it is improbable to be a coincidence, open your mind or take a closer look. Once we begin to “see this way” it is easier to believe.
Was The Server Right?
I believe the server was right. Things DID work out. Even though I went through such unimaginable hardship, I came out better and stronger on the other side. I would not be who I am today if I didn’t go through what I went through in my life. And I like who I am. I’m proud of who I am now.
Life as I know it now:
- I got my family back
- I have a place to hang my hat – My home
- I have been in my current job for 15 years
- I went back to college and got my BA in Psychology
- I wrote and published my book in 2013
- I have a wonderful relationship with my children & grandchildren
- I finally have my website this year! Woohoo!
Things definitely worked out. I picked up on those words of encouragement back then and they stuck with me over the years. Those words allowed me to latch on to help when it was offered and it changed my life. Many may think that I’m one of the lucky ones. But I wonder if “lucky” is the correct term to use when describing a survivor.