“We kept you in a drawer,” she said. My devoutly Catholic mother was not much for telling stories and even less for telling lies. Still, I suspected the veracity of the claim until my sister verified the details.
“Oh yes. We rented a furnished apartment on the second floor. Down the hall from the dentist’s office. Above the bar. We didn’t have any furniture of our own.”
Dad was customarily laid off from construction during winter, assuming his chronic alcoholism had not already left him jobless. Mom returned to her waitress job to support our family of seven when I was two weeks old. Diane, the oldest at ten, delighted to have a baby sister for a real life play doll. I was warm, fed, and loved during the December days following my birth.
The sweetness of observing this start to my life is the invitation to look back on my path. I am reminded of just how many obstacles are now stories that make me smile. Of how challenges were ultimately overcome. Of how each leg of my journey gave me rich opportunities to learn.
Born into a family without much means, a law school diploma hangs on my wall. Molested as a little girl, I better understood the sexual abuse victims I was appointed to represent. Diagnosed with a fertility threatening disease, I birthed two children. Having no job offers, I’m an owner of a law firm. Leaving the religion of my childhood, I continue a deeply spiritual life. Divorced, I fell in love again. Widowed, I dance again.
When faced with my future, fear can find me feeling incompetent, unsure, and nowhere near ready. I worry that I will never get past the place I’m in. Even as I forge forward, it’s often with the feeling I’m not prepared.
Then I look back. I understand how being a babysitter at the age of ten made it easier to be a mom at twenty-seven. I see how learning how to plunge a syringe into a vial and measure the precise millimeter for my brother dying of AIDS would make it easier to do the same for my husband when cancer brought him to home hospice. I get how struggling to start a business without a mentor taught me the importance of being one today.
When we see the road we have travelled—and every human has travelled the path of failure, of loss, of heartbreak—we remember the ways life has prepared us for what’s next. Everything has prepared us. Are you completely ready? Perhaps not. But you are prepared enough for the next small step, which could just lead you to the dance floor.
What obstacles have you overcome in life?
How has your past path prepared you for what’s next?
What have your experiences taught you about yourself?