Diamonds In The Rough

One thing I’ve been learning on my counselling course, alongside the sheer bloody-mindedness necessary so as not to crumble in a crying heap in the corner, is that the ability to get through tough stuff depends hugely on the ability to find joy in life. For those graph nerds out there X (being survival of the shittest) is exponentially linked to Y (capacity to find fun). Some of the most awesome people I know fall into this category, time and again shedding the skin of sadness to make room for the wings of delight.

Now let me make myself clear, I’m not a fan of those Facebook fakes- you know the ones, the people who clog up your news feed with zealous tales of bliss every three seconds. Prosecco and besties- happy days! Fun family times #funinthesun Best weekend ever- love my crew! Off on adventures #holidayamazingness. These people’s blasé approach to exclamation marks and blatant overuse of upbeat adjectives honestly makes me want to punch them in the face. No, I’m talking about the people who, in the midst of crap, choose to look for diamonds in the shit. The seemingly effortless grace and composure to smile when they want to sob. The way they handle idiot comments and advice from well-intentioned people who know nothing. Their calm restraint at resisting violent urges when the awkward pitiful looks come their way. These people don’t deny their crap, or the way it makes them feel. Tears flow freely, but laughter comes swiftly. Grief is sharp and bitter, but joy tastes all the sweeter. When big shadows loom, dappled light is all the more obvious.

I used to subscribe to the thinking that my happiness depended on my external circumstances; my friends, my family, my husband, the church, even God. In the last few months I’ve woken up to a whole new way of thinking. The only person responsible for my happiness is me. And since I figure we have a relatively rough deal, the whole disabled kid thing is not an easy gig I promise you, I need to step up my quest for pearls among the swine. Life tends to go in waves for us, and just as we get used to things, the tide turns and we have a whole new landscape to contend with. Currently that tide-shift has been the start of B having seizures, a real sucker punch in the context of his already complex chromosome condition. Statistically we knew it was likely, but up until recently we were able to live in the hopeful fantasy that we might have escaped that particular demon. No such luck. Statistically too, the seizures that come with the dup15q tag are complex, diverse and often intractable (difficult to control with medication). So you can imagine our heartbreak with this new development. To bury my reactions would be foolish, to indulge in denial and crack on regardless would be not only dishonest but also detrimental, and it would come back with a vengeance to bite me in the arse later. Equally, allowing myself to be defined by my situation would also be stupid, and hugely impractical. I don’t want to spend my life in a sad blue bubble; I need to raise my kids, I need to fight, I need to have leftover strength to smile so my face doesn’t end up looking like a wrinkly dog’s bumhole.

On that picturesque note, here is my attempt at uncovering mirth in my mundane. These are things that always make me smile.

The smell of the sea.
The waft of wild garlic when I’m walking down middle chine.
The way the sunlight glints and dances off the ocean on a sunny day.
My hilarious five year olds’ regular ridiculous outbursts; on seeing a goth/punk/emo dude in full trenchcoat get-up: ‘MUM! Look at that wizard!’ On the swing: ‘Oops, my shoes fell off, oops, my socks fell off, oh no, what’s next, my vagina will fall off.’
The genuine magical ecstasy when one of our chickens lays an egg.
The looks and laughter in people’s eyes when I explain that each child named a chicken; Rihanna (Bl), Popcorn (O), Hulk (D), and Ooh (B). We are an inclusive family, even when it comes to our non verbal son naming his chicken.
B face planting people’s crotches at random when out and about. I choose to laugh, in all fairness it is pretty funny.
Exciting post. Like snail mail. Nothing better than exciting snail mail.
Amusing myself by smiling and waving madly at strangers going past in the car, watching their looks of baffled bemusement.
Seeing how polite people will be on the train to work when I start chatting to them as if I know them.
B’s infectious giggle.
Watching my kids when they don’t know I’m watching.
Full moons and starry nights.
Going to the cinema and being absorbed into another world for two hours.
Riding full pelt down a hill with the wind in my hair, shutting my eyes for a second and pretending I can fly.
Sandy toes.
The feel of twine and paint on my fingers when I’m busy making pretty things.
Belly laughing with my friends.
Being the cause of the belly laughing of my friends.
Dancing in a club to the loudest music ever, especially when it’s an oldskool tune and no one knows it except you.
Making people smile.

People who find sparks in the gloom have a means to escape the cave. Or at least survive it.


  1. Keep going, sweetie! I totally get this --especially the second paragraph. Many of the items on your list of things that make you smile made me smile. :-D


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