I saw a therapist in my early twenties to help me sort out my life up to that point. Among other things, we discussed my mentally ill mother. Her mental illness was beginning to become more overt at that time and this emergence helped to clarify peculiarities about her in retrospect.
At the end of our last session (I was moving across the country to go to graduate school), my therapist stopped and looked at me in bewilderment. She said, “Most people raised in the circumstances that you were would have fallen apart, been directionless. Yet, you are driven, focused and independent. Before you leave, I must ask you how you rose above it.” Until she said this, I hadn’t thought of my path as unusual. Perhaps it’s not. Many people born into a difficult situation pull themselves out of it. I replied, “It occurred to me very early on that my mother would not be there to help me, that she couldn’t help me and that no one would really be there for me except me. I realized that I had a choice: be weighted by my past or decide that my past didn’t matter with regard to reaching my goals. That I had one life. That if I was going to do anything with my life, I would have to be the one to make it happen.” She listened to me, eyes wide, and she said that is not the usual response to difficulties, but a logical and good response. She hugged me as we parted ways.
I draw upon this conversation from time to time. My brave, defiant twenty-two year old self continues to inspire me. This is my one life. If I want to see something or do something or learn something or accomplish something, I’d better start doing it. No one is going to make it happen except me. It’s all up to me.
And in your life, it’s all up to you.