And what about grief?
Sometimes self care is messy and uncomfortable.
If I am being honest, I am struggling with this one. I am a firm believer that life is what we make of it. It is our choice to find the best, or focus on the worst, and most of the time, I choose to find the best. I really am a pretty positive, find the bright side, there is always a silver lining, kinda gal. It comes naturally to me more often than not. But lets be real for a minute. I am human too. And there are some days when keeping the positivity is just not within my grasp. Some days when its like grace is a word that I am unfamiliar with. I know I am not alone. I know that every one of you is human too, and that frankly, we all have days where it is just too damn hard to hold on to the joy and focus on the abundance of blessings. So what then? How do we find a “healthy” way to navigate this path? I have to admit, I have wrestled plenty with this lately. My soul has been weary. I have been tired. My physical body is rested. My spiritual body is tired. This last couple years have just felt hard. Heavy. Much more dramatic than they “should” be.
I myself, have been well. Stable, content, comfortable with a pace of life that works for me. But, I spend a great deal of my time helping others navigate a path to healing, stability, and peace. These last few years, it just seems like so many are struggling. So many are feeling lost, alone, in the dark, and just not at peace with things in general. Anxiety and instability are a plague that have deeply infected our society. For someone tasked with the purpose of showing people the path to a better way, this can become so incredibly heavy and overwhelming.
Enter long, dreary, winter.
I don’t know where you are, but up here in the North, it just won’t quit. The wind is like icy daggers hitting me at 35 mph here in the foothills, when I have to be outside caring for animals. It is relentless. Every day. Gray skies, Icy daggers for wind. How is it more tolerable at -25 degrees in January, than it is at 32 and windy in April? This will forever remain a mystery to me, but I assure you, I handle sub zero temps in the depths of winter far better than I handle icy wind in the early months of Spring. My last frost date isn’t even for two more months. I don’t know what my problem is? I shouldn’t be expecting it to be nice yet, but boy am I hot that it’s not!
I am tired. I am weary. It is almost the perfect storm. Just one more tragedy to make it a complete, tantrum worthy event. And I promise you, I had an epic tantrum! I lost a pet, unexpectedly. I know. Its crazy, right? A complete meltdown over the loss of a pet? Now I have lost four pets in six years. I have come to recognize something about myself. No matter how prepared I may or may not be, losing a pet always brings out the ugliest parts of me. I assure you, 99.4% of my time, I try to live a graceful life. I try to remain in control of my emotions and to roll with the punches as they come. I know that life is hard, but that I have the choice to make the very best of it. I have tools, skills and healthy habits.
But whooooo boy! You wanna see me at my worst? (Trust me, you don’t. I don’t even like me at my worst). Just take away one of my beloved pets. I lose all semblance of maturity and grace, and am much more like a spoiled four year old having a meltdown over candy at the cash register. I have no concern for my bad manners and terrible attitude. I fight with God, knowing full well that in the end, God will win, I will be ashamed of myself, and not caring one single bit. The worst part is being aware of this little detail, and still not being able to find a desire to control it. Just shaking my fist at Him saying “You knew this would happen!”
Today I hang my head as I admit that that was me last week. I was a spoiled rotten, tantrum throwing, grace lacking, brat. And I simply did not care. I was tired and weary, and losing my young cat unexpectedly on an otherwise perfect Easter afternoon, was really just the straw that broke me into that train wreck.
No matter how good we are at self care. No matter how aware and present we are with ourselves, our needs, and our boundaries, life sometimes throws a curve ball that takes us out at the knees. It hurts. It hurts bad, and we just dont want to fight the pain.
We are angry, we are hurt, we are tired, and we feel defeated.
Well, we face it. We face that darkness, and we find a way to get it out of us. We use our tools, and our hindsight. We remember that we have gotten through harder things than this before. We remember that we have always made it through, even when we thought we wouldn’t. We use hindsight to remind us that this too shall pass. That it always passes eventually. We think back to that one time, when we barely functioned for two weeks, and we remember how the world kept turning anyway, and we give ourselves permission to grieve however we need to. We do anything but stuff it down and pretend its ok, when it is not. Sometimes self care simply means saying ” I am not ok today” and being ok with that. With the knowledge that today may not feel ok. Tomorrow might feel better, it might not, but slowly, this too shall pass. **Now, lets be reasonable here. If you have all the signs of depression, haven’t left your house in a month, and feel nothing but hopelessness, this too shall probably pass, but you may need to seek the help of a professional in order to encourage the process, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. ** I am actually a firm believer that every adult should have some therapy in their life. Not a single one of us had perfect parents, or a perfect childhood, and every single one of us have some behaviors that could use new perspective or tools to help create a more balanced life. But, serious illness aside, most of the things that get us to feeling these kinds of lows, will eventually pass. We find tools to get it out, process it, and move on. Sometimes the best thing we can do for ourselves is just to sit with our pain. To observe who we become. To see where the wounds cut the deepest. Those excruciating moments grow us. They turn us into better people, if we let them. They show us where we are most vulnerable, and they affect who we become. Sometimes, our ugliest parts of ourselves force their way to the surface, so that on a better day, we can recognize where we need the work,
With so many struggling right now. With so much stress, anxiety, helplessness, and just overall societal discomfort. People are struggling with loss. People seem to be struggling in every direction I look. The desperation. The despair. The hopelessness. The overwhelm. The exhaustion. The weariness of soul. People are tired. I promise, its not just you. I just wanted to let this post be real. Be Raw. I want you to know that you aren’t alone. I want you to know that it is ok to grieve how you need to. I want you to know that sometimes, not being our very best self IS self care. I want you to know that this too shall pass. That you are going to look back on it one day, and understand how it made you better, but that for today, it is ok to process whatever it is, however you need to. If screaming it out keeps you sane, then find a safe place to scream. If crying it out keeps you above water, then cry it out. If sleeping is the only way you know to get through it, then take a nap when you can. Just make sure that you let it pass. Don’t get stuck there. Don’t let yourself live in that pain forever. Journal it. Sing it out. Face it. Process it whatever way you need to, and then get up, and find the sunshine. Find an excuse to be excited. Find something to look forward to. Just one little thing to give you hope again. I didn’t just suddenly feel better after my tantrum. Oh no. Not by any means. I had some sadness. I had some anger. I bought some early Spring bulbs to plant a memorial garden, and I felt a little better for a minute, but then I woke up sad again, except, I had some control of my tears, and I handled it slightly better than the day before. It keeps going like that. Slowly, bits of hope creep back in, and yep, there are moments that the emotions of loss creep back in. Sadness, anger, resentment, guilt….they are all still there, just under the surface. They spring to life and surprise me at unexpected moments, but each day they grow less frequent and less powerful over me, and I know that the day will come that I will have more joy and light than grief of loss in my days. I know the day will come that warm Spring days will arrive, the sun will come out, the clouds will clear, and I will not spend my days thinking about the emptiness we still feel over our latest loss. I know that many won’t get it. That it is “just a cat”. Those people don’t know me. They don’t know the love that I invest in my critters. They don’t know that there have been times in my life when my pets have had better health care and eaten better than I have. They simply don’t have to understand. I am certain that they have things I don’t understand as well. What actually matters, is that I process my pain and weariness in whatever way will best get it out of me, and get me back up and to my positive and joyful self most efficiently. Not bottle it up and create some long term, unhealthy hang up. Sometimes self care means facing the parts of ourselves that we least like. The parts of ourselves that reside deep down and only rear their ugly heads when we have been pushed to the edge and feel ourselves going over. Sometimes self care is messy and uncomfortable, and sometimes its like clinging to the side of a cliff by bloody fingernails, praying to survive this one. I just really want each and every one of you to know that even the most positive of us can’t maintain it every day. It is ok to struggle sometimes. It is ok to face the dark parts of yourself and get them out. You aren’t alone. As a matter of fact, you are surrounded by humans. Every one of us has those dark parts that need facing. Just don’t let yourself get stuck there. Remember to let the hope and light back in in its time. And seriously, if it just feels like the hope and light are taking too long to come back. or that you will never find them, please, please seek help. I promise you, someone out there loves and needs you. Please do not sell yourself short. Please get the help you deserve. No one deserves to live in the dark places all the time. You are worthy of light. honor the dark for what its worth, and let it power a brighter light in you.