Probably one of the main things that can start me spiralling toward depression since Paul’s diagnosis is the feeling of our happy lives being stolen from us. Paul had found a workplace where he was happy in his work and his colleagues and so had I. We had a plan to pay off our debt and I’d just been given the birthday gift I wanted for my 50th – a trip back to the US to spend time with my parents. We had a future, we were planning a new business. Then cancer — and bang! Future we’d planned, new business, happy times with Paul’s colleagues – all gone.
This morning as I was doing my Saturday morning coffee and Facebook trawl, I came across a video version of the parable for grown-ups about resilience called “Who Moved My Cheese? An Amazing Way to Deal with Change in Your Work and in Your Life,” by Dr. Spencer Johnson.
I’ve embedded a version of the video in this post, but to nutshell it for you: 4 cheese-loving characters – 2 mice and 2 mouse-sized humans – live in a maze. They need cheese to eat and be happy. They find Cheese Station C and a mother lode of various cheeses. The two humans become complacent and kick back. The two mice are happy, but cautious. One day the cheese in Cheese Station C is all gone. The mice move on. The two humans freak out. One eventually realises they are going to starve and continue to be miserable if they just stay there waiting around for the cheese to magically reappear. He tries to convince his friend to strap on his running shoes and go back out into the maze. But his friend keeps crying and moaning and yelling “Who moved my cheese?”
Bam! Did that ever hit home! Whilst I have to give myself permission to feel sadness and anger at the loss and fear about the future – I cannot let it mire me in a pattern where I am mourning what we no longer have instead of trying to find my way through the maze to another way of living and thriving.
Paul and I may not have 35 to 40 years of each other any more – but we have each other for whatever time we have, at least two or so years. That’s the new reality. We may end up with the full 40 years yet.
I’ve got to now move out beyond the pain, anger and confusion of losing what we no longer have. I’m not sure how to do that yet, but I am strapping on my running shoes. And for the first time in weeks, I am feeling a bit of optimism. So while I found the book and video “Who moved my cheese?” a bit – cheesy – it’s also sparked some hope in me. And that’s gotta be gouda, right? ; )