Most of us this past week celebrated a favorite holiday among women, that being Valentines Day. For my wife Angela and I, this was our 30th Valentines together. It was also our first date back in 1988, while we were college students. For most women, they dream of a romantic Valentines day experience, while for some others, it’s a harsh reminder that they are NOT someone special in the eyes of that certain man.
Angela and I have been married for 28 years, and while much of it has been like Valentines Day, meaning, it’s been fun, romantic, special and all the other obvious adjectives, much of it has been very difficult. You see, for Angela, the day before Valentines, Feb 13, 1985, was a day of horror. She was living in Durango Colorado at the time, attending Fort Lewis College. After an afternoon of rock climbing with two of her friends, it was now time to repel and come down. As Angela leaned back on the rope, it let loose and Angela went into a free fall. 125 feet lower, she landed in between 2 large boulders, and was stuck.
After getting paramedics help, Angela was alive but barely. She had broken her bones in 168 places. She lived through the first night and was air lifted to a trauma center in Denver. 9 months later, she left the hospital, forever changed. Thankfully she did not lose any of her limbs. If she were sitting in front of you today, you would not know she fell and almost died.
However, the lingering consequences of her accident became part of our lives, as we wed on June 2, 1990, some 5 years after the accident. Since that time, we have been in the hospital more than we have been on vacation. We have had more pills in our house than a pharmacy. I’ve seen her almost die several times in the hospital in the middle of the night. She has had Hepatitis C, severe kidney failure and blood pressure that exceeded 200/180. That is just a start of the physical difficulties that she and we live with every single day. I don’t’ have time to get into the PTSD and the emotional trauma that an episode like this brings.
With divorce rates being north of 50% today, and higher when there is severe physical and emotional disabilities in the picture, Angela and I have beaten the odds by miles. Our marriage after 28 years is as solid as it’s ever been. How do we do it? What have we learned that has helped us? The answers to these questions will be the basis for a book we will write and the basis of a new speaking program we are developing, but for this blog, I’ll let you in on one of the lessons we have learned.
Difficulty is something you should run toward, not away from.
I’ll repeat this: Difficulty is something you should run toward, not away from.
Human nature dictates that when danger or difficulty is ahead, steer the other way. This causes panic and leads to bad decisions. I’m not saying to be a fool and do things that are purposefully harmful, but rather let difficulty be a great teacher.
Most of the really important lessons human beings learn DO NOT come from climbing the mountain and standing on the top, but rather they come from the fall and looking up from the bottom.
Persevering through difficulty and asking yourself the question, “what can we learn from this, is a great teacher and important set of lessons to equip yourself for the next encounter ahead.
This is the very reason that I first became attracted to the Antarctic history explorers, because 100 years ago, these men intentionally and purposefully went into the unknown regions of the polar world, where difficulty takes on a very different definition. They did this to write the next chapter in our history books and the lessons they learned are invaluable to us today. These lessons have been the basis of my speaking career for the past 10 years.
In conclusion, let difficulties be a great teacher. Allow the difficulty of the circumstance to teach you an invaluable lesson that you’ll carry with you the rest of your life and allow you to make better decisions ahead, as you round the blind corner of the next difficult episode ahead.
Angela “Mrs Antarctic” Pierce