Someone recently asked if struggle was a necessary component of growth. For once, I didn't think about plants and trees and how much work it takes to break through the soil. For a tree, there is no other way. For people, I'm not so sure. Mostly, I think there is no other way. It depends on what you do with it. I often feel like a lot of my struggles have been (frickin) useless, in hindsight. Like, duh. I could have learned that so much easier. (Or, as I once said to my cousin in passing, not realising that it would become her defining mantra for several years, "I have learned my lesson now, can I please have growth? Can I please have my cookie?")
Only, usually......not. Slow as toad to catch on, that's me.
The depression that I struggled with for a bazillion years, undiagnosed and untreated? So frustrating. So many lost years. So much self-sabotage about which I am on my good days only slightly self-deprecating. But it's made me gentler. It's made me know myself so much better, and understand what I need and how to ask for it. Sometimes.
The cancer that I got fourteen years ago? Sucked goat balls. But it ultimately made me happier and enabled me to see how much in love I was, or could be, with my life. It taught me gratitude. It made me closer to my family. It made it easier when my sister got the same cancer two years later because we knew how to deal with it and what to expect. It made me start running. It also (bonus!) gave me tits that had never existed before.
The divorce from a man whom I loved with my entire being, that I thought for sure was finally going to cause me to die of loneliness? Caused me to go back to school for my PhD. Placed me in this amazing wonderful home in a town I never thought I'd even like, but am coming to be rather fond of, with friends I adore. Made me realise what it is I need in a man, what I need in a relationship, and what I need for myself. Is still teaching me how to forgive others. Is still teaching me how to forgive myself. Started my marathon career, which opened the door to friends I can't imagine living without (only some of whom are Marines, believe it or not.) And now my ex-husband has a one-year-old daughter and the career he's always wanted. So hopefully he's received some gifts too, and recognises that they are blessings from the failed love we tried so hard to hang on to.
Was it necessary to have struggled like that? I don't know. Sometimes we get the blessing without the struggle. It just lands in our lap. But most of the time, it's what is. Most of the time, we know of no other way.
Giving and receiving. It's the same gesture.