By Suzy Fielders

I’ve had plenty of hard times throughout my life. As a single mom for all of my daughter’s almost 11 years of life I’m sure you can imagine it’s not been easy. However, I always managed and somehow even through those really hard times there still seemed some kind of balance and it wasn’t too much to handle. From good to bad, I’ve felt the whole range of human emotion, or so I thought. 2017 changed all of this.

From losing a relationship, to being let go from my job because they had financial problems & couldn’t support my position anymore, to lastly having health issues & ending up needing surgery… it was too much to handle and all happened too quickly together. It was like falling down the rabbit hole.

That emotion that I hadn’t felt before… despair. I’m not saying there haven’t been times where I felt desperate, but true despair I realized was something I had not felt prior to this year.

Losing love, work and health, all at once, was apparently a trifecta of pushing me into this realm of despair. Each had its own impact, but combined it was enough to really just make me question everything about myself.

Obviously a relationship ending always leads a person to question things. Heartbreak is never an easy thing to understand or go through. It did not help that mine seemed to be the start of my life apparently completely falling apart.

My professional life has always been a source of pride for me. It’s helped me build confidence and ultimately make me who I am. Since I wasn’t fired or let go because of my work, I wouldn’t say losing my job affected that, but having to search for work and not find it for almost 3 months now pushed me to the brink of questioning my professional worth. It’s hard to stay positive with constant rejection for such a long time frame.

Prior to this summer I’ve not had surgery, so having to have major surgery was a scary thought. Even if it’s outpatient and a commonly done procedure, I can assure that’s not a reassuring thought. For someone who doesn’t even do well with needles – yep there’s been times where I’ve even passed out at getting my blood taken – the thought of getting sliced and diced and oh yeah an organ removed from my body was terrifying. As they were preparing me in the op room for the surgery and basically strapping me down to the table, that fear was something I hope I don’t have to go through again.

These three things completely turned my year and life upside down. As I write this I’m not even close to getting over the heartache, still on the job hunt and still have a long road ahead of me to mending my health.

I’ve always believed that most things often happen for a reason, even the bad.  Usually that reason I don’t think we see right away or sometimes ever. I think often times that reason is so we can learn something, which maybe that’s why we often miss it as we don’t always self-reflect enough. If I’m going to go through this all I want to at least take away something from it, so here are my thoughts on what this whole experience has taught me, both good and bad.

  1. I’m surrounded by absolutely amazing and supportive people, both in person and via social media. The kind words that were expressed to me when asking for prayer requests that I’d find a good job and my surgery would go well were profoundly moving. Some of the things people said to me brought tears to my eyes, the good kind of tears. Although I also found people you think will be there for you sometimes aren’t, and that’s a hard thing to accept.
  2. While people usually mean well, they often flounder and say things that do the opposite of helping during these times. It’s hard to be reassuring to friends going on about how much they hate their boss or work too many hours when all I can think is they should just feel lucky they have a job. I was very unsure why they’d be complaining to me about that when they know here I am a single mom and unemployed busting my butt to find a job. At the end though I just had to realize people are just that, people, and everyone needs to vent and apparently sometimes the timing is not ideal. I’m positive I’ve said the wrong things at the wrong time to the wrong person too, but going through this I hope I’ll be more thoughtful on avoiding that better.
  3. Luck is almost always not on my side. I never have things that just happen or come easily in my life. It’s always work… hard work… very hard work. This does make me appreciate everything I have more than most, so for that I’m extremely grateful. I’ve seen how people can be self-absorbed and ungrateful when they have things always handed to them. But this constant striving does bring a lot of inner turmoil when I’m trying to understand why everything, from small to big, has to always be such work.
  4. This layoff happened during summer time. Normally outside of vacation I don’t get to spend much time with my daughter during summer – while she happens to be out of school it’s really no different schedule wise than during the school year. Obviously since I was out of work I was home this summer and got to spend more time with her. If anything at least this one blessing was something that I will be thankful for. She’s growing up fast & now entering her last year of elementary school so this time will always be cherished.
  5. All this has pushed me out of my comfort zone. Very out of my comfort zone. I think that will ultimately make me strive for expecting more of myself & life and not be afraid to go for it.

Obviously as you read this I’m sure you are thinking this is all very personal so why am I sharing all this and very publicly at that. Well… I know there are others, whether moms or not, that too have felt or are currently feeling despair, that too have to work really hard for everything, and that too have had life give them a really bad hand from time to time. So for all of you… I hope you find by reading this you are not alone and as hard as it is it’s important to use these hard times to reflect & learn from them. Even through all the despair, pain and other emotions, I’m finding it’s very important to be sure to never lose hope. I know it’s hard at times to keep that hope – trust me I know too well, despair is the antithesis of hope after all – but it’s the one thing to keep striving for no matter what.