This I Believe

Susan - Austin, Texas
Entered on November 11, 2006
Age Group: 30 - 50


A co-worker recently told me she wished she had my optimism. I knew I was a positive thinker, but did not consider myself an optimist. After pondering it though, I realized, yes, I am.

In the last 5 years, I faced what seemed the most difficult chapter of my life, beginning when a large hill caved in on my house after a storm. That was followed by a property line dispute with a hostile neighbor. These were actually trivial matters in the long run, but at the time seemed so dire. That was until I awoke to a much worse reality when my mother lost her ability to walk and care for herself, and to her horror, had to leave the home she worked so hard for years to obtain and was placed in a nursing home.

In the next couple of years, my two siblings and myself all lost our spouses. My brother lost his spouse to a divorce. My sister’s husband died of cancer. After I was diagnosed with a rare abdominal cancer and endured invasive surgery to remove it, my marriage ended. I then experienced dating during middle age, unrequited love, followed by a disabling back injury, months of pain, invasive surgery to correct it and more months of pain during the healing process. If it all wasn’t scary enough while living on my own for the first time, I had to keep working through all of it without disability benefits since I was at a temp job.

Through all of these situations, I kept awaiting what I thought would be inevitable pessimism or depression. Instead, I consciously reminded myself of the upward side of each situation: After all, when the hill in the backyard collapsed on my home, I had it dug out, took out a loan for a retaining wall, and remedied the situation. And the property line dispute? I hired an attorney, worked extra hours to pay off his fees, and ended up settling the dispute in my favor. The horror of my mother loosing the ability to walk is always painful. However, I am appreciative that I can still visit with her, and I take comfort in the time I do have with her. I survived my bout with cancer. My debilitating back injury could have resulted in permanent nerve damage, but instead is almost healed. I’m single and dating in middle age, but the dating scene is amusing – oh the stories I can tell when I am old.

I take comfort in the positive things that have happened during this difficult time. I am stronger now because I got through it all and embrace the new great gift I have; the discovery that I possess much more strength and ability than I ever knew I could muster.

Yes, call me an optimist. I believe my glass is half full…actually, it’s overflowing.

This I believe.