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Don’t let go — Hope is nigh

Often when we are in the midst of a difficult time, a trying moment, we lose sight of how far we’ve come. What we are capable of accomplishing and what we think we can do are frequently at different ends of a spectrum.

There are any number of life events that can significantly impact us. While no two people experience events or trauma the same, we all react. Some of us shut down. Others lash out. A few choose to ignore what is right in front of them.

There are times in my life that I have felt defeated. Hopeless. I can clearly remember collapsing on my couch, head in my hands, squeezing out the thought that this is it, this is how life will be. It is a desolate place, despair. I have often heard a similar sentiment repeated from others. “I’ll be glad when this is done.” “This is the worst.” “I feel so hopeless.” Whatever shape the message took in your circle, I’m certain you have heard it uttered in the last several months. Perhaps you joined the choir a time or two. I know I have.

But then one morning I woke up thankful. Bam. There it was. Hope. Resilience. Optimism. Something flipped deep within me. It felt as sudden as a light switch. Perhaps I was finally listening and heard the message being sent. Nothing is only bad. As long as I hold on, just a little, I can find the good. I am not alone. And, bonus, when I’m not strong enough there is someone who is, and they can hold on for me.

Years ago, my daughter gave me a CD by Addison Road. It has been a while since I’ve heard it. Recently, I came across it and popped it in and listened. The song “Won’t Let Me Go” penetrated my senses. Each verse spoke to another swatch of fabric that makes up the quilt that is my story.

I encourage you to look up the lyrics or play the song. When reading through the words or hearing them for the first time you may think the song is telling a sad story. Tragic, even. But, alas, it is full of strength, hope, laughter, and love.

What I came to realize is that each of our scars represents the deep beauty of experiences and relationships. The joy of a moment. The courage of spirit. The power to take the lead and build the life we want for ourselves, regardless of circumstances. We are not alone. You are not alone.

As you take the first steps of each day, please bear in mind who you are and what you represent. Set aside any current difficulties life has put before you. Take stock of you. Embrace you.

For example, coming to terms with the ‘new me’ after/during cancer treatment can be emotionally and physically difficult. Rather than shoving those feelings down deep, air them in a safe environment. Cathartically express yourself. Grab a sheet of paper and a pencil — or your bathroom mirror and some lipstick. Write down all the positives about you. Ask for help from a trusted friend if your brain is so clouded with negative thoughts that you can’t dream up all the good things that make up you. When you have come to the end of your list, turn to the scars, the hair, the skin, the area where your port lived, and maybe even your ostomy. Assign each of these areas a strength. It took courage, determination, a will-to-live, hope, and even laughter to develop all these new parts of you. Celebrate them! Celebrate you! Embrace hope.

Lesslee Dort, an Alpena native, is a board-certified patient advocate who firmly believes knowledge is power when it comes to being in control of one’s health. She spends her days helping others navigate their healthcare and her free time exploring. Reach Lesslee via email at lesslee@friendstogethermi.org. Read her here the third Thursday of each month.