Friday, 7 March 2014

On Silver Linings

We have had unusually cloudy weather for the last couple of weeks. Spring does bring its showers, but this year the clouds that have come have really been so impressive to behold. This, coupled with my fourth anniversary of my dad's death and the difficulties in our adoption process has really got me thinking about clouds and their silver linings. 

I am slowly realising that the often-used saying about every cloud having a silver lining, is in fact true. And it seems to me that often, the darker the clour the more shiny its lining too. Here are the "darkest clouds" of my last few years and their silver linings...

1. My dad's illness
Cancer is ugly. It can suck the life out of a person, it can reduce their physical body to something still alive, but fundamentally dead. That happened to my dad and in a way, looking for a silver lining here is not easy. It did, however, show me that the spirit is much more resilient than the body. My dad remained strong and full of life, in spirit, until the end. 
My dad's illness also brought us to Greece. Although that journey seemed (and was) hard at the time, here we are now. And being in Greece has facilitated, through its own difficulties, some of our biggest successes. 

2. My dad's death
My dad's death taught me to value life. Here's one of my posts about it, on my old blog, the day after my dad died. Life goes on. Life is short. Life should be full of the things that matter. Those lessons were my silver lining. 

3. My miscarriages
At the time they felt like the biggest, greyest cloud. It felt like we would never resurface. And yet we did, and now we are waiting to be parents for the first time, through adoption. Adoption is not the only silver lining for us. Those losses have made me hugely more empathic. They have made me think about the magnitude of the losses my future children will have felt by the time they come to us. I am a different person for having lost and gone on. For having learnt to adjust the sails. 

4. D's unemployment
One of the obstacles we had to face after moving to Greece, back in 2008 and in the midst of the crisis, was that D was not able to find a job. He had been a banker for 12 years and the crisis, coupled with a lack of Greek and a lack of connections, meant that he could not find a job. He kept looking, with undiminished energy, but I could see, in the way he was, in his demeanour and enthusiasm (or lack thereof) that each month of unemployment was taking something away from him. 
I guess unemployment can be partucularly difficult for men, especially if they have been working ever since their late teens and D was no exception. The cloud was large and unmoving, lingering over our lives and casting its shadow on many areas. 
The silver lining: D decided to follow his dreams and change careers. He took a year our where he retrained as a teacher, and in 2011 he started teaching at an international school in Athens. Again,  adjusting the sails was needed, but fortune favours the brave... and it worked out in the end. 

5. The difficulties in the adoption process
Anyone who has adopted, or has even considered adoption is aware of the difficulties of the process. They know about the endless paper-chase, the doctors and social workers, the lawyers and other professionals that are involved in creating a family through adoption. They know of the painful wait before the match, and what feels like the even more painful wait after the match too. They can imagine the difficulties when laws and regulations change, when unexpected obstacles appear in your way. 
But here's something I am convinced of, which I also heard on a podcast I was listening to the other day from Creating a Family (an amazing resource, if you are considering adoption). 
They mentioned, on the podcast, that people who have experienced infertility or other dfficulties in creating their family (and I guess adoption fits in well here), those people who have had to really struggle to become parents, tend to have a more positive experience when they do eventually become parents. I call it Conscious Parenthood and I hope to write about it soon. 

I look forward to this silver lining!

Finally... here is what I have learnt about clouds and silver linings:

It takes time for silver linings to appear. They are there, no doubt about it, but while you are under that dark cloud, everything looks unbearably grey - you cannot see the silver lining, sometimes because you simply cannot look up to find it, and sometimes because the darkness is overbearing. But the silver lining comes... eventually... even if it takes four years and a lot of tears. 

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