When Life Gives You Lemons

Warning: sweary words within. Possibly NSFW.

Today I had another one of my small and regular epiphanies. I haven’t written anything for over a month because I have been absorbed with a number of personal, “life” issues. Nothing terrible, nothing earth-shattering, but nevertheless matters that required thought and attention and occupied my mind. Issues such as my mental health and emotional well-being; preparations towards my son’s transition to secondary school; concerns about my finances and my future; my studies and planning for my potential blogging/book writing enterprise; and that old chestnut Matters of the Heart. None of it has been anything that can be easily resolved or quickly put to bed; indeed much of it has been outside of my control. Assessment for autism progresses at the speed of the local NHS timeline, my son’s secondary school place was not of our choosing and I shall have to appeal if I wish to fight on; at present I can’t work due to practical circumstances including problems with childcare and so I cannot improve my financial situation; matters of the heart involve two people and we have no influence over another person’s feelings or motivations. The only control I have had is how I have reacted in each situation.

As ever, my battle has been with my emotions. As an emotional thinker, my struggle is to avoid over-reacting, catastrophising, becoming depressed, burning bridges with impulsive speech, giving way to mood swings and so forth. Mercurial by nature, my mood changing with the weather and each new conversation, navigating through these circumstances has been like walking through a maze or a hall of mirrors. With the lights out. And the walls keep moving. I have been far too preoccupied to think outside of my immediate circumstances and write. I have missed writing very much.

So, to the epiphany. I’m sure you’ve heard that old adage, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade”, or the witty variations thereof:

I have realised that I have been treating this period in my life like a huge bowl of lemons, swinging back and forth between sorrowfully choking on the sour juice and angrily eating them whole in a staring contest with life. Each injustice, each incident of perceived thoughtlessness, each obstacle thwarting my desires, each anxiety-provoking issue was a big ole bitter lemon. Each moment I spent ruminating on my feelings was like chewing on the pips, my mouth puckered like a dog’s arse. The thing I forgot about lemons is they’re actually pretty damn tasty. They add flavour and piquancy – they enhance a dish.

Humans need challenge, we need obstacles to overcome or else we stall in life. We actually need problems or else we make them or seek them out. For that other old adage also remains true: the devil makes work for idle hands. And we are often our own devils, creating situations or emotions that cause us worry and pain unnecessarily, or to put it another way:

99 problems

So someone done you wrong? So something unfair happened? So you feel that your effort is not being matched by another party? So the world seems a scary place and your path is uncertain, you feel beset by problems with no solution in sight? There’s a madman or a bad man in the White House, or maybe he’s the White Hat and everyone else is trying to overthrow democracy? The world is overheating, the ice caps are melting and we’re all going to drown in a rising sea and our own tears. Terrorists the world over are killing anyone who doesn’t follow their cause, we seem to be on the verge of any number of wars between classes, races and nuclear powers. The world is going to hell in a handcart. And the person you love doesn’t love you back.

My dear friend, these are all lemons. Big, juicy, sour lemons. What are you going to do with them? Eat them, throw them back, get drunk on tequila with them or make lemonade? How will you use the lemons in your life? Me? I decided to put the heavy bowl of lemons down, spit out the pips and walk away. I said “Ah, fuck it”.

You see, chewing on the pips of injustice, rudeness or anxiety just gives me a sour mouth. No-one owes me respect or kind treatment, no-one owes me love, no-one owes me money or happiness or my desired outcome in any situation. Some things happened that went against my world view or my beliefs, someone treated me in a way that challenged my sense of identity? Some random thing didn’t go my way? Fuck it! I’m still alive, I have friends and family and food to eat. Why am I wasting my time and energy ruminating on the indigestible? Let it go, girl. Put the bowl down and go about your day. Lemons are garnish, they are not supposed to be your main diet. And so, I shall get out of my head and let life do its thing.

In this fast paced world of innumerable decisions and assaults upon our senses, it’s easy to lose our sense of proportion and become bogged down by trivia. It’s tempting to fall prey to feeling embattled by Big Issues of the Day. It’s understandable to see the world in negative terms, to feel hopeless, to feel powerless. It’s not so easy to recognise these lemons as flavour enhancers, as opportunities to test and refine ourselves. How we react, how we treat each other when the heat is on, how much of a load we can carry, whether we stand or fall, how much grace we bestow upon those who don’t agree with us: these are the lessons we gain from our lemons.

So suck it up, make of it what you can and let the rest go. And once you’ve squeezed that lemon dry, move on.

Ah, fuck it.

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8 thoughts on “When Life Gives You Lemons

Add yours

  1. Lemons.
    Oh I know life’s lemons.
    I have tasted their sour taste and still sucked on their juice. I have allowed their bitterness to become my taste of every day, my expectation of every new encounter. I have let them spoil relationships, I almost let them destroy me.
    Somewhere, somehow, something triggered and I realised that lemons make an excellent garnish. Sometimes you have to squeeze them, sometimes grate them, sometimes just cut them up and boil them in water.
    I have learned to respect lemons. I don’t have to like them. But I can use them.
    In a lemon and cheesecake, or squeezed over freshly cooked fish.
    Lemons are what they are, they don’t change, but how we choose to accept and use them does.
    I like my lemons, I choose how to use them, I like to make them a part of a great meal.

    Liked by 2 people

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