Monday, December 8

when flukes aren't flukes


I’m not sure whether I was born a pessimist, or became one in my childhood. But ever since I can remember, I did not think good things would happen to me. I almost invariably felt that I was going to fail my exams or do woefully – and almost invariably I was blown away by the fact that I had again fluked a good result. I felt like everything was just a skin-of-my-teeth victory. I’m not pessimistic for others or situations not related to my life, just my own. I think “But that wouldn’t happen for me. It would be too good, it would be too easy.” This has probably been strengthened by a lengthy illness where my soaring hopes of recovery have been dashed several times, and my perfectionism which leads to a heightened awareness of imperfection and perceived failure.

Perhaps it’s a protection device: hope for less, feel less disappointment. Perhaps it even makes me happier?

Anyway, I was sitting at my sewing machine flirting with the idea of selling things. The thought was frightening – to sell imperfect work to strangers is not comfortable territory for me. While I was agonising over whether this idea was mad or not, Ben was unfailingly sure it would be a success (I thought he was naive and irrational), and my friends were buying my wares. I started an Instagram page so they could see what I was making and what my prices were. My goal was to get 30 followers by the end of the second week. Every day I checked the email account I had began for my tiny business, and there was only one email in there.

It was from myself, a test email, and said ‘Nice Work Elke’.

 I was laughing with Ben one night about the fact that there would never ever be another email in there, so it was lucky I’d written a nice one to myself.

The next day, a kind maker with a big following shared my clutches and I exploded in shock that orders were rolling in – so fast that I quickly paid off all the set up costs, and was truly working from home. When I was asked by two shops if they could stock my things, I nearly passed out. I had never dared to hope for such a thing.

One week before, I had been sitting in my psychiatrist’s office once again, telling him about how sad, and guilty and hopeless, and sad and guilty and hopeless I felt. I had been telling him that I didn’t want to take the drugs again, but I didn’t want to feel like this anymore. I was crying because how would the sads go away?

The occupation of my mind, the creative output, the ability to work at home, the victory I feel at night, the sense of normality that has come to me through my tiny tiny venture has loosened depression’s grip on me. I find myself again blown away that something so inexplicably perfect for this stage of my journey has come to me. Often I hear the world whisper that only those who dream big and think positive will make their way forward. But I have invariably dreamed cautiously, felt inadequate, feared failure and expected difficulty.

Yet here I am, out of bed most days, married to a man I couldn't have dreamed of, living close to my beautiful family, selling handmade items, and not on medications. I don’t think our thoughts are everything. I believe in unexpected blessings and joy given to the fearful and the meek.

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