Finding joy through adversity was what we heard all about at last months event as Dean and Sharlene (pictured below) shared their phenomenal stories of triumphing over hard times. Dean who was born with the debilitating disease ‘EB’ Epidermolysis Bullosa is one of the world’s oldest survivors at age 41. He considers himself to be very positive and is always looking forward with anticipation. The age expectancy of someone with EB is not usually beyond two years old. Dean who was born with the worst form of EB has outlived all those battling this disease in Australia. His zest for life despite his pain and the arduous routine which takes around four hours preparation just to get out the front door each morning, something many of us take for granted, is written all over his face when you see him smile.
Sharlene who shared her moving story of recovery described what life was like living as a hopeless helpless alcoholic. When you look at her, you could be forgiven for thinking that she looks nothing like an alcoholic. The same has often been said to me in my many years of sobriety but we are the faces of alcoholism. We appear in all forms shapes and sizes. The well-dressed corporate CEO, someone on a park bench, or as in Sharlene’s case, the mum of four next door. Finding Joy Through Adversity comes in all shapes, sizes and demographics.
Dark Days always come before we can find ourselves Finding Joy Through Adversity
Sharlene’s alcoholism took her to the darkest and most desperate place. Into the hands of violence, arrests, psych wards, and emergency departments. A Myriad of horrendous twists and turns, heartbreak and hysteria. Rock bottom eventually struck with the fatal blow, having her young children taken away in the family court system. For Dean ‘it was around three years ago when for no reason his body started shutting down. He said, ‘It was a frightening time but I never let go of hope’.
For Dean, JOY came through finding a purpose and people who loved, accepted and included him despite his outward appearance. People who were drawn to the gold on the inside and saw him for the person he was underneath his coat of damaged skin.
One of those people who made a huge contribution to Deans life was NRL player Shane Webcke. He along with some of the other NRL players such as Brad Thorn from his much-loved football team the Brisbane Broncos gave Dean a sense of belonging. Rejection is heartbreaking for someone who is already struggling and Inclusion can make all the difference. For Dean a make it was!
Since that day Sharlene put down the alcohol, she has found so many moments of joy. In fact the day her children were returned to her was one of the most joyous days of her life and was the very thing that motivated her to keep sober one day at a time. It was the goal that kept propelling her forward.
Other moments of joy she said were ‘the day I paid cash for my car. ‘It’s and old car and nothing fancy but it means the world to me. ‘Its something I finally own’, and the day she enrolled at university to become a midwife’. These are the ‘moments of joy and celebration in her life that have kept her going through the days, weeks and months of adversity.
For both Dean and Sharlene, gratitude for the small things have helped them the most in Finding Joy Through Adversity. Just when life seemed the hardest, a moment of joy shone through and showed them that life truly is for living. Tangible proof that even greater moments await in the future if they don’t give up.
For Dean it was the day he set a goal to bench press 150kgs and achieved it! What an amazing accomplishment for a person where even a bump to the skin can set off a cascade of catastrophic and damaging effects and even threaten to end his life.
Next time you think you are having a hard day; I encourage you to think about Dean and Sharlene and take some inspiration from their lives. The way they have risen from absolute devastation and continue to walk forward each and every day with gratitude even through adversity is remarkable. They are living proof that even though life is not perfect we can find perfect moments in every day. To read more remarkable stories of everyday inspirational people visit https://storiesofhope.com.au/product/stories-of-hope-australia-books/