July 11, 2022

Talking about the Hard Stuff: Why we Need to Stop Avoiding the Inevitable.

There are subjects that many people, if not most, don’t want to talk about.

They don’t even want to think about them, never mind discuss them.

It seems to be more common than not to avoid topics that evoke fear, worry, or stress. We want to avoid things that cause us angst or pain, tucking it away in our minds and hoping that it miraculously figures itself out without our participation.

I’m from a family that lays it all out there, whether it’s comfortable or not. A mental health expert would surely label us with boundary issues, but we’d be good with that. We set them when and where needed.

As challenging and bothersome as that was for me growing up and well into adulthood, I couldn’t be more grateful for the strength and courage it instilled in me. I’m appreciative of my positive spirit that is grounded in reality with just the right touch of cynicism. I’m appreciative of my dry, sometimes caustic, sense of humor that helps me endure the most trying of times. And I’m appreciative of the fact that reality doesn’t scare me; I trust that I am blessed with the hard-earned ability to face it head-on.

Rest assured, this wasn’t always the case. I wasn’t born this way. I had to work hard to overcome countless weaknesses, fears, and anxieties to get here. But “here” is not an end point—a destination. “Here” is where I am today, yet like all of us, I am a continual work in progress—learning, growing, transforming.

We build confidence by trying and failing, getting up and falling down—again and again. But we never stay down. No matter how far the fall or how long we are down, we get back up and back at it. The key is never giving up on yourself, even if everyone else has. Remember those words because you, and only you, are your own best friend.

In midlife, those disconcerting topics that can be hard to discuss must be approached—whether we like it or not. We need to prepare for the future and organize our personal affairs in the event that tomorrow becomes today and it’s too late.

My former partner used to get irritated when we’d talk about serious issues that ended with my reminding him that I’m alone in this world; I had to face that. He was adamant in affirming that I wasn’t—that I had him. Did you note the word “former” at the start of this paragraph? I didn’t have him, and even though I wanted to believe differently, my gut knew that truth long before I released the hope that I may be wrong. I couldn’t depend on him to follow through on a weekend, never mind forever.

I’m an only child who will at some point be old and alone. I won’t have children to rely on or sibling support. I’m content in my single life and have no way of knowing if the good Lord or fate has planned to drop a partner in my future. The friends I have are few and wonderful; however, I won’t (and shouldn’t) be their responsibility.

If there is one thing I’ve learned, some “friends” who’ve said they will be there for you are the ones who exit stage left the fastest when you are in need. I’ve learned through necessity to be my own best friend. And truth be told, though it’s been in the works for a lifetime, I believe that only came to be in the past four years.

So today, I’m talking about the hard stuff. It’s a fact of life. I’m preparing for what seems to be the inevitable. And I’m living my best life now because I have no way of knowing how long I will have the use of my hands, the acuity of my mind, and the somewhat limited energy to pursue my passions.

My parents broached the subject of long-term nursing care insurance. They noted it as a depressing thought; however, it’s a realistic one. I endure autoimmune diseases, and to parrot my earlier words, who knows what tomorrow will bring. So I’m making the most of the here and now, and that includes planning for my future. Long-term nursing care insurance, here I come!

We should not fear talking about the hard stuff. We should fear not being prepared for tomorrow. And what we should fear most is not living today.

Have the talks. Make the plans. Then live to your fullest potential!

~

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