Being abandoned by my biological mother - Aside from the obvious gratitude of having been adopted by my amazing mother, there is another important reason. The members of the biological family from which I came have a long history of miscreant behavior. Alcohol and drug addiction are accepted norms. Had I stayed in that world I may never have developed the aversion to that out of control feeling I get when I drink. I would probably have just accepted that behavior as a part of “having a good time. By now I would have most certainly been a raging alcoholic. Or worse.
That I wrecked my mother’s car a week after I got my driver’s license - A mere six blocks from home a woman backed out of her driveway right into the front end of my mother’s car. There was nothing I could have done to prevent the accident because it happened so fast that there was no way around her. (She had a history of peeling out of her driveway without looking.) When my parents arrived on the scene Mother immediately snatched me into her arms and comforted me. My father inspected the car and pronounced it drivable -- and told me to get in and drive home. I pleaded with him to let me ride home with Mom. He very firmly ordered me to "get back in that damn car and drive it home." I did, crying the whole way. When we got in the house Dad made me sit down and let him explain why I had to do it. He knew that if I allowed my fear to take over I’d never be sure of myself behind the wheel again. The lesson of facing my fears stuck and has been carried forward throughout my life.
Being divorced twice before I was 23 - My first two marital failures laid the foundation for the success of my third. The first taught me the importance of maintaining your friendship with your spouse. The second taught me to listen to my instincts. By the time I met Hubby I’d finally figured out what I wanted and what I would and would not accept in a mate. We celebrated 28 years of marriage this past April.
That Twig went to prison - By the time he turned 20 Twig had had two serious near-miss direct threats on his life and had been involved in more dangerous behavior than this mother‘s heart can stand to think about. In both instances God changed circumstances and put up roadblocks to keep his potential assassins from completing their tasks. During those dark days of his life there were weeks, sometime months, that I would not hear from him. I became very well acquainted with the staffs of three local county coroners offices Every time I’d hear on the news that a young man had been found dead I’d call. Towards the end they started recognizing my voice and would have the answer before I asked the question. “No, ma’am. This one doesn’t have that identifying mark.” I truly, in my heart of hearts, believe that being sentenced to prison saved his life. I’m thinking God’s got something in store for that boy that is going to seriously rock somebody's socks off.
That someone once reported us to CPS (Children‘s Protective Services) - During the worst of My Girl’s emotional/mental/behavioral nightmare days we were in the process of trying to figure out how to get her the help she needed. The insurance had run out and we’d already gone through our available cash. The only course left for us was to go back to CPS and ask for assistance. We knew that it might mean they’d take her back but we were willing to let her go if that’s what it took to get her the help she needed. As it turned out, in Texas there is a Joint Managing Conservatorship available for struggling parents of adopted children with emotional disorders. The process of getting it pushed through, though, was going to take several months -- longer than the hospital would let us keep her there without going on a prepaid plan. One afternoon I hung up with yet another discussion with the hospital administrator just the doorbell rang. A man from CPS informed me that we had been accused of child abuse and he was here to investigate. As it turned out, abuse investigations glean the same information required by the JMC review committee only they have to get it a whole lot faster. Because someone turned us in as abusive parents (which was so totally unfounded that every doctor, counselor, law enforcement agency, and CPS worker we’d dealt with wrote letters of support for us) the JMC was pushed through in record time. In less than a month MG belonged 51% to the State of Texas and 49% to us and I was named as her case manager giving me unprecedented total control over her treatment while the state paid all bills that our insurance wouldn’t. It also confused the dickens out of the staff at the hospitals where she resided for the next 16 months. They weren’t use to having CPS AND the child’s parents involved all at the same time… but that’s a story for another day.
That I almost died of chemical poisoning - In early 1980 we’d gone to my parent’s lake house to help them work on the fiberglass porch roof. The chemical solvent used to ‘glue’ the fiberglass panels together is call MEKP. It is supposed to be stored cold. When it’s cold it has no odor and is clear. And looks like water in an unmarked jar in the fridge. When 15-month-old Bug wanted a drink of water I poured him a glass out of the jar Mom always kept in the fridge. Thank GOD I took a swig of it before handing it to him. I knew immediately that something was seriously wrong. Soon-to-be Hubby drove 90 mph to get me to the nearest ER. I spent 2 days in ICU and I think 5 more in the hospital. If I’d given the glass to Bug he would have died before we could get to the hospital.
When we look back over our lives we see a landscape pock-marked by disastrous, life-altering explosions. We can choose to allow the shrapnel to cripple us or we can choose to melt it down and use it as building blocks to a stronger, safer, more fulfilling future. I am personally grateful for the challenges that made me the strong, self-assured woman I am today.
During this season of Thanksgiving, what life-alering disasters are you grateful for? What has strengthen you? Take a look back. You might be surprised...