I had a friend look at me the other day and say, “I don’t get excited about good things in my life.” I looked at her rather incredulously, “Why in the world would you say something like that?” She put her head down, “Because,” she said in a small voice, “every single time something good comes into in my life, it’s inevitable that it will go away. Something bad always happens…always.” She picked her head up and looked out of my kitchen window, tears rolling down her face and my eyes immediately welled up.
My eyes welled up because I knew what it was like to feel like that; I knew what it was like to have something good in the palm of your hand and have it yanked away in a moment’s notice. I knew what it was like to get your hopes up about something and have it suddenly taken away without any rhyme or reason. I knew what it was like to be promised something by someone you love just to have your heart broken and your dreams dashed.
My mother was an absolute professional at dashing my dreams, hopes, and taking away things special to me at a moment’s notice. She killed animals special to me, destroyed friendships, took away vacations, and yanked prized possessions away from me when I needed them the most. Good became synonymous with disappointment and loss in my eyes and if I was ever lucky enough to get something good from Mom, I knew that it was only a matter of time before she ripped it away from me whenever she felt like it. In some ways, I felt like Mom only gave me things in order to have something to yank away from me later on. It was a sick form of punishment and I endured it for years.
What did treatment like this lead into? Mistrust of anyone trying to do anything good for me and a belief that anything good that came into my life was going to be ripped away at a moment’s notice. I couldn’t enjoy anything good because I was constantly preparing for the worst case scenario; that inevitable time when the good disappeared almost as quickly as it came. I could never fully enjoy any great moment, any gift, or any gesture of kindness because I never believed that someone could just be kind and good to me without strings attached.
But as I got older and as I began to achieve more and more in my life without Mom hovering over my shoulder with her cold sneer and eagerness to make my life miserable, I began to realize that good things can happen and that people aren’t out to get me. I found that people are generally good and that while many people like Mom exist, not every person I meet is like her. I got that promotion at work because I worked hard and showed my bosses that I was capable; I’m not going to wake up the next day and have my promotion taken away because my boss didn’t like the way I did my hair. I wrote a NY Times bestselling book; I’m not going to wake up one day and have that honor taken away from me. I have two beautiful sons who have taught me to appreciate every single moment; and they are mine forever.
Bad things happen to good people all of the time; but it doesn’t mean that the world is out to get you when something does go wrong. In my case, my Mom was out to get me all of the time, but she isn’t in my life anymore. She isn’t waiting in the wings to rip all of my good out of my life because I won’t let her. I won’t let her have that power over me anymore and I won’t let what she did to me as a child affect me in my adult life anymore. Life is too short to reject the good and just focus on worse case scenarios; it’s too short to spend your life mistrusting everyone’s intentions. It’s so much easier to roll with the punches, accept the good with the bad, and realize that every day is a fresh start and a new opportunity. Good things can and do happen to people every day – accept the good when it comes into your life. You deserve every bit of it.