this post for "diary" in my first year of blogging, where I told of my plumbing disaster. The experience was stressful and exhausting when I was living it, but it also became something of a milestone too.
The plumbing disaster forced me to clean house more thoroughly than I'd ever do on my own -- and in getting rid of stuff, I got rid of a bunch of garbage in my mind too. I had many hours to think while filling up trash bags of my moldy treasures.
I was in a bad mental place. I'd been out of work for almost 2 years, and people weren't hiring, especially anyone over 40. I had too much time to think about my miseries past and present and I bounced between anger and depression. My friend Geof gave me mental assignments to consider while I sanded floors and such. We had long conversations about our experiences and how to deal with them. I started digging myself out of the muck in more ways than one.
A friend of mine is currently going through her own crisis. Because I've been there, done that, I can hear it when she slides into bad places in her thinking. I can see where there are choices between moving forward and curling into a ball because I've done my time with anger, depression, and hope.
I learned things from Geof who had gone through these things too. If my friend learns something from me now, I'll feel like maybe there was some point to my misery, and Geof's miseries. She'll teach someone else down the road. It is a healing chain of people who suffer, survive, grow, and help others.
Sometimes I think that the miseries in the world are opportunities. If we always get what we want, how hard would we work towards our goals? If we don't know hurt, how can we help someone else when they're hurting?
Another friend was the victim of spousal abuse. I thought "I'd never allow that!" -- and I didn't, well, not exactly. Years later, I found myself in a verbally abusive marriage that was ruinous to my entire being. I started understanding why my friend had stayed after getting hit because abusers cross boundaries slowly over time. I still wouldn't let someone hit me, but my own marriage taught me empathy for my friend's situation.
Perhaps that empathy is the velcro that will help someone else stick on the planet? I learned to listen without judging, and sometimes I think the thing a hurting person needs is simply someone who will listen.