As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison. -Nelson Mandela
I remember that day. That day I found myself sitting on a cushionless sofa with a splinter in my butt. I wanted so badly to get up, pull it out, and never return to that seat again. But guess what, not only was I sitting in an uncomfortable seat but I was filled with disbelief.
Much to my dismay, I couldn’t get up. I could not move no matter how bad it continued to hurt. I sat there holding back the tears. I shifted my bottom to make the pain go away. But nothing would relieve the pain.
Not sure exactly how long I sat with this pain but one day it came to me. I was sitting in the most unlikely and most uncomfortable place in my entire life. And I wasn’t ready for it. It hit me by surprise. I couldn’t move because I was in my own personal prison. I had let life experiences take me to a place of bitterness and hatred. Life had got real.
It was time to figure out my “what now?”. Then I thought about “what if?”.
What if the splinter in my butt wasn’t there to cause me pain but to wake me up. To wake me up to the many possibilities that come with not giving up. To look at the opportunities that come with perceiving life experiences that appear unpleasant just like this splinter. Just like the beautiful colored sofa with no cushion with a front row view to the garbage. A wake-up call.
That splinter for me was the refusal to believe that life could be great after 40. That life would go on after a tragedy. That life would be okay after all my life plans were changed in one day. The pain that once held me hostage was pushing me to freedom. So I decided to get up, pull that splinter out and look for opportunities in those places, things, and people that were unlikely and uncomfortable. I stepped into places that I thought I would never be. I experienced feelings that were uncomfortable, and I allowed myself to love the most unlikely.
Strength does not come from winning. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength. -Mahatma Gandhi
© All words & images by Tanya Graham unless otherwise noted.