New Year

Man, the “New Year” is always a hard time for me. Well, holidays in general are always a hard time for me. Some of it, is that my depression worsens around things that are supposed to be joyful. But mostly, I always wonder if it’s the last year I’ll have with terminally ill daughter.

As I reflect back over the last year and over the last several years I am overcome with pain and sorrow for all that we’ve endured. I know people say to think positive, to look at the good not the bad, and while that’s good advice, sometimes the reality is that there is way more hard than there is good. I’m not saying this for self-pity or even for your pity, but more just as a reflection and acknowledgment that it’s okay to struggle.

Good things can happen in the midst of sorrow and in the midst of hard and it’s important to recognize those good things, to hold onto those good things, to remember those good things. But it’s also okay to acknowledge the big, the hard, the heartbreaking, the losses, the struggles, etc. You see with so much illness- chronic, mental, emotional, physical, there is a deep isolation, a lack of understanding. Not because people don’t care, but because they just can’t understand what they have not lived.

I am lucky enough to have a few really great people in my life, number one being my amazing husband, number two my family, they are learning more about me and I feel closer than I’ve ever felt to them before, not to mention they really showed up for me this last year at a time when I needed them the most. But it also hurts to have lost so much on this journey. So many people just don’t understand, either they don’t want to, or they can’t, people who burn out, people who walk away, people who question the “realness” and the “gravity” of what we face, and it stings to my core.

This last year one of my closest “friends” called me up out of the blue one afternoon and accused my husband of stealing over 20 thousand dollars from them during a construction project he helped them with over 3 years ago. She was so angry she said she didn’t even want to discuss it and that they had already contacted a lawyer and they were planning to take legal action. I’m not sure there is a word or even a phrase to describe the complete shock and hurt I felt. We went through every last shred of paperwork we could find from the job to find what they could possibly be misunderstanding but we couldn’t find anything. Now here’s the thing. This job did go bad, I mean everything that could go wrong did go wrong, but never once was anything dishonest or shady on our part. We told them what was happening every step of the way. In fact, by the time the job was finished we didn’t get paid a single penny because even though we had done about $40,000 worth of work and we had put in over $11,000 of our own cash (that we didn’t have to spare!). We had sunk it all into the job to do our best by them, to be the people of integrity that we are. The thing that’s even more ridiculous is that all of this happened and they pretended that everything between us was fine FOR 3 YEARS! I’m talking lunches, hang outs, pool nights, birthday party’s, football games… I had never so much as had a tense conversation or confrontation with this friend and we were really close! Finally, after multiple threats that they would sue us and ruin us we talked to a lawyer, we knew we were innocent but had never had anything like this happen before so we needed guidance. He told us that not only were we innocent but if anything they would owe us money. He suggested we try to settle it out of court to save money, because even if you’re innocent you have to pay lawyer and court fees. So we asked if they would talk with a mediator, he yelled and complained and threatened some more before saying he would think about it. He agreed and someone we both trust found us a lawyer to work with. We contacted the lawyer and our “friends” never contacted us again. We don’t know if we’ve heard the last of them, but we suspect they finally realized that they made a mistake and don’t want to admit it to us or be found out in court. I tried reaching out once via a simple card, but it was not answered, so now I’m trying to find a way to move forward, to accept what I can not change, to let go of the injustice that we have faced. It’s been over 8 months since this traumatic, emotional, tsunami and the damage it has left in the aftermath has been devastating. Not only were we completely caught off guard, but the accusations are so far from the truth that if it wasn’t so painful it would be laughable. Now I’ve not only lost one of my closest friends of 10 years but we’ve also lost our mutual friends who I don’t get to see anymore. And because they are holding the lawsuit card we have to suffer in silence as they go on living these lies. The emotional stress set me back severely in my mental health and my physical health. I’m not sure I have ever felt so alone in my entire life. To lose about half of my “friends” ( you don’t have many when you’ve been sick for 9+ years) over complete lies and not a single one contacts you to even see if it’s true. It is devastating, absolutely devastating.

So this year beat me up and left me limping, but so have the last 9 years. Some people might say I’m negative when I don’t look forward to the “New Year”, but the truth is I’m not strong enough to look forward to a whole year. Maybe because they have all been “more than normal, exceptionally difficult”, but mostly I think it’s because I live a hard life. It’s okay to acknowledge a hard life. Yes, there will always be someone who has a harder life, but it’s okay to feel sadness over your own hard. It’s true, life isn’t fair. So just as I’ve done so many times before, I’m going to follow my mom’s sound advice and instead of looking forward a year I’m going to look forward one day, one hour, one minute, or even one tiny second at a time. Whatever I can handle. And I’m going to celebrate the good and I’m going to allow myself to grieve over the bad. I have no reason to believe that this year will be any kinder than the last 9+ brutal years, but I do know I can make it for each next second and so that is what I will focus on.

Keep Fighting,

Dawn Harris


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