The Uphill Slide

There is always something.

Ordinary People


My life rebooted this year. It happened slowly and abruptly. I say that I had no chance to prepare though I know I should have always been prepared. Only some people ever get the chance I did. How stupid we can be when presented with what we think is a tragedy. Divorce. It felt so awful and wrong and the last straw of several years of trouble. I had this idea of loyalty and commitment that I had inherited. And that’s perfect when you have reciprocity. I went through stages of grief until one day I realized I wasn’t mourning the loss but the lies I had told myself. Grief though understandable in divorce was not appropriate. Sometimes it just takes a little while to get it. While my divorce story appeared to have the transparencies of family trouble and growing apart and infidelity and deceit, that was superficial.

I read and listen to stories seeking others whose stories have some alignment with mine. Seeking the answers and understanding they took away from experience. Trying to make sense. Understanding for your own education and self-interest.

Stories of celebrities and politicians falling from grace, while interesting, are not the stories I want to hear. Though I do wonder if power and money changed them or they sought power and money to get away with inappropriate and criminal behaviors. But it’s the ordinary stories that are fascinating and inspiring. Storytellers lull me to sleep and make the miles speed by and the time pass.

Here’s one. A daughter learned a couple of weeks after her mother’s death that her mother was the criminal who had stolen her daughter, husband and father-in-law’s identities and then mutely vanished in death with half a million dollars. This wife and mother’s deceit left a husband bewildered with his fraud of a wife and marriage and a daughter diagnosing her mother as a psychopath who had never known what it was to love except as some unemotional concept. This dead woman stole even her family’s chance to pass through the stages of grief. The daughter worried that she might have inherited the same disorder. Asked if she would have prosecuted her mother in life, the answer was “yes”. She was forced to rewire her thinking. Understand what had happened but avoid being softened by that understanding.

Many stories seem extraordinary but they really aren’t. They just have the elements of a good story and a journalist to put it together. Storytellers willing to share what they went through and felt and learned. I like to think they want some of us to know we are not alone. That ordinary people survive extraordinary things or a slew of events. Some stories enter me more forcefully than others, but I always take something with me. And the storytellers don’t even know what they gave me or anyone else. It’s a gift. They help me rewire my brain. Rebooting meant a change in thinking. And that’s not easy when it often feels so unnatural.

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