When the Refrigerator Breaks

Have you ever noticed

how all the shit

goes down at once?

Like that time my college boyfriend, whom I loved and expected to spend the rest of my life with, broke up with me - just days before my mom was rushed to the hospital for emergency brain surgery.  Mom had a miracle recovery; the relationship didn’t.   That time was INTENSE.  So much at once.

Or that time last week when the sitter ran super late and the baby fell off the bed and clipped the nightstand on the way down, immediately bruising her face, and the ONE item that fell off the kitchen counter was the bottle of breastmilk, and the cap cracked and the milk spilled all over the floor.  All on the only day I had a meeting first thing at work.

Often, it’s just the way it goes.

My parents have six kids.  Yes, they are crazy.  They are also awesome.  One week early last summer, they hosted all six of us, along with grandbabies and assorted significant others, for a week. We’d been home just a day or two when my mom’s refrigerator broke.  Over a dozen hungry people in the house, and the machine that’s supposed to keep our food fresh and safe - its only job! - craps out.

This incident was super stressful to me.  “Really?!  This week, of all weeks?”  

I kept hearing myself say that out loud.  And then it hit me -

This is how the story goes.

The story does not go, “Everything was perfectly fine.  There were no visitors in the house; there was very little food that needed to be kept cold.  And then the fridge broke.”

The story is more likely to go, “We were already in Crazytown.  And then things got even crazier.”

Pema Chodron writes, “We think that the point is to pass the test or overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don’t really get solved.  They come together and they fall apart.  Then they come together again and fall apart again.  It’s just like that.  The healing comes from letting there be room for all this to happen:  room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy.”

My favorite part of that quote is the word “again.”  Because you see, these things do happen again and again.  The good stuff, the bad stuff - all the stuff.  For so much of my life, I’ve allowed those “bad” cycles to get me down.  They become part of a story I tell myself:  “Of course this is happening to me, AGAIN.  It must be my fault.  No matter how hard I try, I can never get ahead.  Can’t things just be easy?”  I get all wrapped up in this idea that I can’t have things I hope for; on a deeper level, I repeat the story that I don’t deserve them.

You know what I noticed recently?  When shit goes down, I go down the aforementioned rabbithole.  But when blessings abound, and a whole lot of great things happen at once, I don’t congratulate myself, tell myself I deserve it, dedicate part of my headspace to the idea that maybe I’m actually a positive force.  For all the energy I give to the “it’s all my fault” tale, I give very little to the “I’m awesome and deserving” one.  It’s like the good stuff is a coincidence, and the bad stuff is all my fault.

What’s up with that?

I’m not okay with continuing to do that to myself.  So I’m starting to live differently.  I’m working on “letting there be room for all this to happen,” whatever the “this” is.  

If and when the refrigerator breaks, or the milk spills, or The Really Scary Thing happens at the same time as The Other Really Scary Thing, remember:

  1. this is how the story goes, and

  2. the story will also go in the UP direction, and when it does -




You deserve it.