I have the pleasure of having a very wise lady as a friend, who recently reached out to me to see how I was doing considering this was the first Christmas without my mum. In our email exchange she acknowledged my feeling a little numb about it and trying to figure out the tension between getting on with it and holding space for the grief, which is what I have been trying to navigate through this last few months. She reminded me of the life changing 2 years we have had and having done an immigration herself, helping me understand the effect it has on a person.
I am a strong, resilient person and I tend to bounce back from life’s knocks with relatively speed. I am your eternal optimist. I think it is a mixture of my Positivity talent and of course my faith, Hope is always there. I am a champion of hope. So even though I genuinely don’t feel downcast or depressed, in fact, life is incredibly good right now, I do feel slightly splintered. As my precious friend put it “but living wholeness of body, mind and emotions first brings numbness and feeling splintered into bits, that one has to go and 'find' and spend time with the bits occasionally.”
That got me thinking, life doesn’t stop when the curve balls come and the reality is, we have to keep moving, living, loving and working no matter what life throws at us. I personally believe it is a better way than stopping and getting stuck, I have seen and coached many people who because of life’s curve balls, just stopped because suddenly there was huge uncertainty and they get stuck in fear or shame not able to move forward and they become more and more miserable, bitter or angry.
It has been my experience over the last few months too, when life and situations knocked the wind out of me, and I found myself flat on my face, winded and bruised that getting up and getting my bearings and then moving forward dealing with the splinters as openly, and honestly as I can, has been a very liberating process.
Here are some things I have learned along the way:
The fall doesn’t define me
Life is going to be full of twists, turns, betrayals and disappointment. We live in a broken world, life is going to happen, we are going to mess up. It is good to remember that it is not the fall that defines us, but the way we get back up. Our response to failure, disappointment and hurts is key. This is what defines us, we have a choice as we are laying on our faces wondering what the heck just happened. We can get up, stay down curl up into a ball or we can get even. Only one of those choices is going to bring life. Get back up, stay open and operate with love. Getting even feels like you getting back up again, but it will find you carrying a weight that will not only lead you in the opposite direction you want to go, but that weight will eventually grind you down.
Finding hope gives me direction
Hope to me is like a tree. When you get knocked down, you get disorientated, suddenly things that you took for granted aren’t as clear and you question everything. You feel like you can’t trust your own judgement and suddenly you are not sure which path is the right one. To me, getting up means I don’t focus on the darkness and uncertainty all around me, I get up and start to look for what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. When you do this it gives you a tree to climb that gives you the perspective you need to decide where to next.
If there are others involved in the fall, I try to assume the best of them and try to look as honestly as I am able to see what part I played in the fall. Blaming - as delicious as it is - as we are laying facedown will keep us there. It disempowers us. Take ownership of your stuff and set boundaries for what isn’t yours, find the path of hope and get going.
Asking for help doesn’t make me weak
One of the hardest things I have had to learn this last year, has been learning to express my needs and ask for help. For most of my life, I have lived to please others because that's what good girls do. Also good girls aren’t needy, they are strong and don’t need help. Lies! The only problem with that is sometimes that gets in the way of who I am suppose to be really. I am not saying, this year is all about what I want and that I am going to be selfish and stuff everyone else, this is not what a fruitful life looks like, this is what a life of bitterness looks like. We do that because we in pain and we are tired of being used up. I am learning to navigate a life that is marked by contribution, but also one where I am able to stay true to what I want and need. It is a life that has limits. It is a journey.
It is a journey of gathering the splinters, it is a life of doing the work required, it requires me to be open, honest, authentic and full of hope and love. It requires me to be courageous. It’s my journey this year.