One of the people left in the world who has known me the longest emailed me earlier this year with encouraging words and fabulous advice that I’ve tried to follow: Life is such a roller coaster ride…we just have to hang on, scream real loud, and enjoy the ride!
In my experience, truer words have never been spoken.
And no ride made me hang on (or want to scream) more than the ride I was on April 2009 last year. My spouse had revealed His crimes, He was headed to prison, and I found out I would be left alone to provide for and raise our four children. My roller coaster car was rolling away from the gate and the ride of my life had begun!
Things seemed very black a lot of the time, yet the crazy optimist in me refused to give in to it and I tried to find the light in every thing that I could. It was SUCH a roller coaster I can’t describe it. I was worried about providing for my family, finding a place for us to live, beginning a new life in every sense of the word, and I did it all amid negative publicity about my spouse for His ponzi scheme crime and the public collapse of my life and marriage. Yes, there were ups and downs!
One huge roller coaster was the financial aspect of things. It was pretty bleak.
The day my spouse told me of His crimes, He had already turned himself in to the authorities and all of our assets had been frozen. I had no money. I had four children to feed and shelter and I didn’t know how I was going to do it. That was a low.
The government authorities catalogued items for seizure and told me they were not interested in my jewelry. I rejoiced! That was a high! I admit, I love things that sparkle; I always have. And although I’d never asked for jewelry, my spouse had given me a few pieces as gifts over the years. I loaned them to friends as often as I wore them, and although I didn’t plan on ever wearing my jewelry again, I realized I could sell my jewelry for cash and use it to help support my children and rebuild my life.
Then my roller coaster car took one of those sharp, unexpected turns–the kind you hit just when you think your ride is about over–and started racing downhill again! The government investigators returned to my home. They apologized. They said they knew they told me they weren’t interested in my jewelry and had told me I could remove it from my home but…did I have any diamond necklaces or tennis bracelets?
That day was a low. That day I discovered my friends, who had worn my jewelry and knew everything I had, were providing lists of my possessions to the government, hounding them to take it, and the government had to comply. That day I wrote, “Sometimes I don’t know how I’ll go on. I work so hard to think, ‘I’ll start over and make a new life,’ I make a plan to do that, and then every little thing the government tries to leave for me, my ‘friends’ make sure it gets taken away. It’s not for me that I want anything. It’s for my kids. I just need to provide for them. I want, I want, I want! There is so much I want. So many injustices I’m being dealt and there will never be any restitution to me for any of it. I am the one victim who is not on the victim’s restitution list. I am THE ONE who will just have to let go of it, forgive, and go on.”
The government asked me to give them a list of the jewelry I owned, which I did. And they called, amazed, that I had admitted to MORE than they knew I had! That was a high for me. I continued to value my character and integrity above all.
Then I met with bankruptcy attorneys. They were appalled at how, in their words, “completely bereft” a position I had been placed. I don’t think they’d seen anyone left in my position, to start over with four kids to the extent that I had been. That was a low.
That day I returned home feeling very alone, and when I arrived home my daughter said, “Mom. It’s April Fool’s Day!” The irony completely got me, and must have shown in my face, because my daughter said, “What? What’s wrong, Mom?” I just smiled and said, “Nothing. I’m fine. I’m great.” It was becoming my answer to everything.
There were many other financial highs and lows that followed and I eventually learned not to get too worked up in either direction, to wait and see how everything played out to avoid getting devastated time and again. Sometimes roller coasters can be a bit much, too many highs and lows.
So I rode the roller coaster. And I hung on. I don’t recall that I ever screamed but I cried. And although I wasn’t overly successful at enjoying the ride, I had two goals for myself as I rode: To not hate anyone. And to be cheerful, happy, and optimistic. I didn’t want to be anyone’s “downer.”