I thought someone stole my life. At the time it was real.
Each hospitalization steals a piece of who I used to be, each reaction possibly a death sentence. Between adoption reunion and a rare mast cell disease I feel like I’ve been fighting a war or working on one of those fishing boats being tossed around like feathers in an ocean of power.
I still have a life only its very different from the one I had planned for retirement. Different from the one I anticipated as I worked my way down my “Places to Go Before You Die” list. Different from the strong, physically fit nurse running on concrete day after day. Different from my friends and family. Different
Thing is, I have a life and I am grateful.
SO WHAT HAPPENS NOW?.
How does one manage, adjust, accept and live in the new world around them.
ACT AS If YOU KNOW
A few years ago before I got so sick I was at a retreat where the teacher used that phrase frequently. If you were asked a question and were stuck for an answer the normal reply is,”I don’t know “Thats why I’m asking you.” He would slowly curl his lips up in a smile and say, “Well, I know you don’t know. but if you did, what would the answer be?’ Immediately, people felt a shift and an answer became apparent. You had it all along. It’s that simple.
I have had many times, many major times in my life, that in an instant, my life changed. These major life changes demand adaptation. Until you get re-grounded, Act As If You Know.
When you experience major life changes such as we do in adoption reunion, serious life threatening illness, anything that comes out of the corner swinging when you least expect it, there are a few guidelines I’ve found quite helpful.
1.Change is part of life. Feelings of grief, sadness, anger are normal when experiencing a loss. Give yourself permission to feel that way but with limits. A day, a moment, a brief accountable time. Sit with the emotions but don’t stay there. There’s no adaptation if you don’t move forward. You stay in a place of helplessness and personally, i’d rather be in a place of hope and growth.
2.Take off the mask. You know the one. The strong, independent fearless warrior we like everyone to see. Let people see the real you. The vulnerable, the frightened you, so greatly in need of help. The you that wonders if you’ll make it through another day. Only when others can see the real you are they able to offer help. Through vulnerability comes courage.
3.Remember you aren’t the first person to experience change and you won’t be the last. You Are Not Alone You always have yourself and you are surrounded by the energy of the universe, spirituality and love. Open the door just a crack and you will find many others feeling the same way.
4.People aren’t mind readers. They don’t know what you need, what you want and many have no idea what to say or do in your particular situation. Be specific and you will find people feel relieved because they had no idea and will gladly support you. If they have to guess, they feel helpless, just as you do. Empowerment comes from knowing.
5.Change takes courage but our ability to adapt is incredible. You need to believe that you can adapt and you will. Now that I have O2 24/7, it’s taken a great deal of adapting, inventing, climbing over obstacles I could never have imagined. You will find solutions for whatever is standing in your way. We are survivors.
6.Don’t lose hope. I know there are days it seems futile and the dark places try to pull you in but don’t go there. There is something, no matter how small, that you can grasp like a rope of hope. Hang on, the ride is wild but know in your heart it will be alright, just different.
7.This journey, be it illness, death, adoption, reunion, whatever it is, is traumatic and it will change you forever. It changes how you see life and deal with things and right in the middle is the learning, the knowledge, the courage and strength you didn’t know you had. What’s happening around us, to us doesn’t change us as human beings. Stay centred and grounded and remind yourself you are okay.
Start right where you are now, in this moment, just accept it without comparison to your past life. We adapt. We survive. A habit takes 21 days to form. Neuroscience tells us our brains have extraordinary capacity to rewire patterns so get out of your own way. Meditate, walk in nature, listen to music, write. Do what you must so you can see what’s around the next corner.
ACT AS IF YOU KNOW