We’ve all heard the cliché saying, when one door closes another door opens.
It’s optimism at its brightest, and when you’re in the depths of pain, these words almost always come from someone on the outside looking in.
I’m not trying to be callous; I’m generally an optimistic person, and I appreciate these words of hope. But at the same time, they feel a little…one-dimensional.
For the last few weeks, I’ve been sitting on several draft blog posts, unwilling to hit the publish button. Nothing I wrote felt worthy enough to share… I was too buried in the anxiety and stress that come with the logistics and emotions of selling a home, packing up and moving.
Last week I handed over the keys to my attorney to pass them on to the newest owners. I knew it was going to be emotional. It was the first house I’d bought with Chris, and it was the last place I saw him alive.
I imagined that closing the front door for the last time would be the hardest thing to do.
You see, it was the door I never wanted to open.
It was the door I let the cops knock on for 5 minutes straight, refusing to answer, believing that until I opened the door, whatever they wanted to tell me wasn’t really true.
After 5 minutes of desperate knocking, those three policeman traipsed into my muddy back yard and knocked on the patio door. Finally, with Nicholas on my hip, I reluctantly answered the knocking. And I opened the door to shock and grief and words that continue to echo in my head 19 months later.
And so last week I shut that door for the last time. I sold the house because it felt too big and too far away. It no longer fit in with the life I want to lead.
I haven’t found a new home yet. My parents have graciously opened their own door to me and Nicholas while I continue to look. And this short reprieve from living alone as a single parent has given me some time to reflect.
I recently read this great excerpt about the myth of scarcity in Brené Brown’s book The Gifts of Imperfection, where she quotes author Lynne Twist from the book The Soul of Money:
For me, and for many of us, our first waking thought of the day is “I didn’t get enough sleep.” The next one is “I don’t have enough time.” Whether true or not, that thought of not enough occurs to us automatically before we even think to question or examine it. We spend most of the hours and the days of our lives hearing, explaining, complaining, or worrying about what we don’t have enough of… We don’t have enough exercise. We don’t have enough work. We don’t have enough profits. We don’t have enough power. We don’t have enough wilderness. We don’t have enough weekends. Of course, we don’t have enough money – ever.
We’re not thin enough, we’re not smart enough, we’re not pretty enough or fit enough or educated or successful enough, or rich enough – ever. Before we even sit up in bed, before our feet touch the floor, we’re already inadequate, already behind, already losing, already lacking something. And by the time we go to bed at night, our minds race with a litany of what we didn’t get, or didn’t get done, that day. We go to sleep burdened by those thoughts and wake up to the reverie of lack… What begins as a simple expression of the hurried life, or even the challenged life, grows into the great justification for an unfulfilled life.
Brené Brown remarks that upon reading this, it was totally clear to her why “we’re a nation hungry for more joy: Because we’re starving from a lack of gratitude.” Both of these writers believe we have a choice here, against this attitude of not enough.
And I agree.
It’s so easy for me to fall into this same pattern of “not enough.” My writing doesn’t feel worthy enough. I don’t have enough energy to single parent. I rarely have enough patience or enough peace. I don’t have enough running, reading, socializing, or clothing. When closing the door and selling my house, I didn’t have enough time, help, or knowledge. In life in general, I don’t have enough answers.
And yet, an awful lot of this isn’t true.
When I take the time to be actively grateful for what I do have, this scarcity attitude dissipates.
I am blessed with a ton of help and support. I am grateful for stolen moments of reading in the sunshine. For evenings of playing with Nicholas. For a career where I get to write and work with a passionate team. For dinners and wine with precious friends and peaceful Sundays chatting over coffee.
I’m not saying I can always commit to this. I continue to have dark moments like anyone else. Days when grief doesn’t regard the passing of time, when nights feel weary and resentful, raging and powerless, times when it feels too heavy to choke out a word of thanks.
But this is what I always come back to: I am not the first to feel like this, and I don’t have to let these feelings permeate my days and life. I don’t have to let the dark moments define me.
If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll see I recently started posting a photo series of #100happydays. Sure, it’s a little cheesy, but it’s intentional gratitude on a daily basis, and it brings me clear moments of peace and joy.