Weekly Inspiration: Looking Life in the Eye

“Never bend your head. Always hold it high. Look the world straight in the eye.” – Helen Keller

“To look life in the face, always, to look life in the face, and to know it for what it is…at last, to love it for what it is, and then to put it away.” – Virginia Woolf

When we first started Beanie in speech, we heard stories of other families, of friends-of-friends, who had kids with similar issues. These kids were older than Beanie, still not talking, and their parents were insisting that nothing was wrong. I’ve heard stories of kindergarteners who came in, not talking. By then, their issues were worse, and often not able to be corrected completely.

I’ve written before, about the dangers of being in denial, but I’ll say it again: Ignoring a problem doesn’t mean it’s not there.

It surprises me, sometimes, how big the elephant in the room can be, and, still, nobody talks about it. Somehow, things do not seem real, if we don’t acknowledge them. We think that we can keep them, indefinitely, from feeling real.

The problem is, as much as we’re ignoring the problem, we’re thinking about it. Worrying about it. Fearing the worst. By not dealing with an issue, we’re allowing it to grow. We’re allowing it more than its due amount of space in our mind. We’re letting it keep us from enjoying life.

If we deal with that elephant, if we call it out, is the result likely to be as bad as that worst-case scenario that we keep playing out in our mind? Probably not. And after we’ve called the problem out, we can deal with it, then move on.

This is why I took the initiative and asked about testing Beanie for Autism Spectrum Disorder at school, rather than ignoring the problem and dreading the day when someone else would suggest it.

This is why, if something is bothering me at work, I set up the meeting to discuss it.

This is why, if life becomes overwhelming and stressful, I reach out rather than pretending everything is all right.

This is why, if something is causing me to be fearful and I have the opportunity to face it, I do.

It takes strength, for a moment to face life head-on, to look it in the eye. But that strength is nothing compared to the burden you’ll bear for so much longer, if you don’t. It is nothing compared to all the time you will spend worrying about something much worse than the reality. It is nothing compared to the amount the real problem could grow, while you worry but refuse to deal with it.

So much in life is not within our control, but we’re rarely without choices. But owning the problem, by looking it in the eye, we begin to call the shots. We can’t make the problem go away, but we can choose how to handle it. I couldn’t make Beanie not have a disability, but I can choose the team that will work with her, and choose how her education will be handled. I couldn’t change the fact that I thought knowing about my past and my flaws would drive friends away, but I could face that fear and tell that story, choosing to know for certain and lay that worry to rest.

I had a choice. You have a choice. Look life in the eye and stop hiding and worrying!

11 thoughts on “Weekly Inspiration: Looking Life in the Eye

  1. ” It is nothing compared to all the time you will spend worrying about something much worse than the reality. ”

    Things are rarely as bad as your fears make them out to be. Thanks for the reminder, I need to look inside and see if there’s anything I’m hiding from.

    Dan @ ZenPresence.com

    • I know–realizing that was HUGE for me. My mother-in-law always referred to worrying as “shoveling smoke.” A task you can do, that accomplishes nothing.

  2. “But owning the problem, by looking it in the eye, we begin to call the shots. We can’t make the problem go away, but we can choose how to handle it.”

    Yes!! Well said, Bethany. I am still learning this lesson!

    You have so much strength. I was so inspired by your story of overcoming the abusive high school friendship, and I am inspired by how you are dealing with Beanie’s challenges. Thank your for your openess and insight.

  3. When I lived in Raleigh, my car needed to pass safety inspections once a year. I had an issue with my right turn signal not working sometimes when the headlights were on. Figuring that would be an electrical issue with my car, I ignored it and managed to get it in to pass an inspection on a day it chose to work.

    I ignored this for years, even though it bothered me. Sometimes it would work for months at a time with no issues, other times as soon as the lights went on it refused to function properly. To signal that I was turning, I’d have to drop the lights, flip the blinker, then turn my lights back on as I turned. Talk about obnoxious.

    I worried constantly how much that was going to cost. I kept wondering how I was going to save up the money to fix it. But I never took it into the shop for that reason.

    Finally, I gave up because other issues started happening. Took it in and the shop fixed my grounding issue for a grand total of $70. Yeah… Could have saved myself a lot of worry if I’d just dealt with it.

    • Car problems are the worst, for worrying, I think.

      Our Saab lost reverse, and we just ignored it, figuring we would have to replace the transmission to fix it. It turns out that there was a glitch with that tranny, and it was easy to fix *if* you didn’t wait too long. By the time we took it in, it cost us over $1000, because we did have to replace the transmission.

      Crazy how we like to bury our heads in the sand, isn’t it?

      • We do. And you’re right when you say ignoring it doesn’t help, as was the case in that example. Because we still worry. I remember going to bed with stuff on my mind, and having to talk myself through it. “Can I do anything about this right now? THEN DO IT. If not, what can I do tomorrow?” As soon as I had a plan, even if that plan didn’t necessarily provide a full solution, I knew there was no sense in worrying about it until I could do something about it.

        And then I could sleep easier than before. As long as I actually dealt with it like I had told myself I would.

  4. This was a great post Bethany! It reminds me of when I was 4. My family was told I had Muscular Dystrophy and I would be in a wheel chair by age 6 and not live past age 14. They told me any way. For me I knew what the expectations were, but decided I would prove them wrong. It took 2 full summers to learn to balance a bike (without the training wheels) I know that sounds like a long time, but the reward when I showed the doctors at age 6 what I could do was something I never forgot. No matter what the diagnosis is you are right you can pick the treatment, doctors and you can encourage spunk in your daughter to overcome anything within her limits. The family rule was “you can do anything, you will just have to learn to do it differently.” That’s still my motto today.

    • “You can do anything, you will just have to learn to do it differently.”

      I like that. And that’s awesome, the spunk you showed them! I think doctors used to try to predict the future more than they do now. Rob’s doctor told his parents he would never be able to drive a car or live on his own, due to his ADHD. I’m glad they don’t say things like that so much anymore, because it can be so harmful.

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