It’s been a hellofaweek. A terrible, horrible, no good, very bad week. I’m gonna spare ya’ll the details because, ya know, some things aren’t meant to be broadcast online. Let’s just say it felt like the rug got pulled out from under me. That feeling of groundlessness when something that felt secure and safe suddenly falls apart. What’s a girl to do? I struggled to answer that for a few days. Sometimes a big hit really knocks us down, and all our usual tools go out the window. It’s been a week of stumbling around, picking up the pieces, and coming home to myself. It’s been an emotional roller coaster as I move through the stages of grief when something I care about is lost. This post is mostly to help me process, and maybe it’ll shed some light on your dark days, too.
I can say that I finally feel like I’m coming out on the other side. I’m gaining clarity and can now reflect on what’s been the biggest help. When this whole mess initially happened, I could barely get myself out of bed in the morning. I had a strong urge to send out a message like, “Madeline declares she can’t do life today. Check back tomorrow”. For someone who is well acquainted with anxiety, depression can sure sneak up for me as well. That feeling of wanting to completely shut down, isolate, and dwell in my pain. It doesn’t come up often, but when it does, it comes on strong.
I pulled myself together enough to go through the motions of getting to work. And as luck would have it, I was scheduled to be a guest speaker on stress management to a group of clients. I felt like the least prepared person to fill that role, being one minute away from a meltdown. However, there was something healing about running that group. I found myself in moments of flow, and reminded everyone, “when we’re really stressed, we can feel like the thing that’s bothering us is all consuming. We get tunnel vision and can’t see the rest of what’s going on. If we can step back and look at the big picture, we remember there are lots of other great things happening. It’s all a matter of where we choose to focus our attention”. Hearing myself say that out loud was a moment of relief. It was a reminder of, oh yeah, just because one piece is broken, doesn’t mean I’m any less whole.
Outlined below are the threads I’ve untangled from this last week that made all the difference in me feeling like myself again:
*Seek support ~ I know myself well enough to recognize that isolating alone is pretty much the worst idea (for anyone, really). I sent out a virtual SOS for some extra support, and man, you guys rose to the occasion. Lots of texts, calls, hugs, and long talks with those closest to me provided perspective, encouragement, and love.
*Clear physical space to decrease mental clutter ~ Organizing and cleaning your space is like a mental reset. It’s hard to feel mentally balanced if we’re surrounded by physical chaos, so a little clearing goes a long way.
*Connect to something bigger than yourself ~ Be in nature. Meditate. Pray. Remember the universal energy that ties us all together. Anything to remind you that time and space are constantly in motion, and there is always a reason for the lessons we’re faced with. I’ve been saying to myself, “thank you (universe) for the lessons”, and leaving it at that. At first, I wasn’t exactly sure what the lessons were, but they always surface when you’re ready to see them. Just starting with a simple “thank you” creates space to welcome in the information that is waiting to appear. I can now understand, this is a huge opportunity to up-level my life and break patterns that I was previously blind to.
*Remember what is yours to claim ~ When you’ve been working towards a goal that is no longer relevant, it can feel disorienting. This past week, I kept wondering, what is still mine to claim? What can I focus on that is solely mine, that no one can take from me? I realized that thing is my work. When I am in sync with clients, it is truly a sacred space. That is no one’s doing but my own. I am taking solace in placing my energy there.
*Use opposite action and positive distraction ~ The temptations are real. Ruminate, dwell in the past, worry about the future. Get swallowed up by despair. Attach to the pain and create a story about being the victim. I think it’s human nature to experience this, but we do have a choice as to how long we hang out there. Regulating our emotions means doing what we can do manage our feelings. Use opposite action, meaning if, for example, we feel pulled to get sucked into social media, and that’s only going to make us feel worse, we’ve gotta put the phone away. Do the opposite action of what your emotional urge is puling you to. Positive distraction is great for this. Often times, we just need something else to get caught up in. This is where spending time with friends can be useful. Pull yourself out of the house and allow your mind to center into the present moment of something else for a while.
*Give yourself grace ~ Do as much or as little as you feel you can. Maybe all you can do is go through the motions. Maybe this week you just don’t feel like meal prepping, or going to the gym as much as usual. It’s okay. Let the extras fall away for a few days, if you must. Do try to keep your routine as much as possible. A sense of normalcy can ground us back into what feels familiar and stable.
*There is freedom in acceptance ~ Nothing lasts, but nothing is lost. I love the quote that pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional. When we feel like life is happening to us, we can come back to a sense of choice and control through how we perceive what happened. Attaching too heavily to the outcome of we think should happen is grounds for disappointment. And that lesson will keep coming back until you get it. I saw this come up for me last week, when I was convinced I needed to go on my favorite hike in Vail for some nature healing. On the way to Vail, I kept thinking to myself, “I really just need to be on this hike. This hike will make me feel better”. When I arrived at the trailhead, I came up on a giant sign saying “road closed”. I felt instant disappointment, then I laughed. I laughed at how fixated I got on working through my attachments with more attachment. That sign may as well have said, “You haven’t gotten it yet? You’re still clinging”.
*Create a strong foundation from within ~ When we are deeply rooted in self-love and self-compassion, we have a solid base for all else to ebb and flow from. This is truly the only stable ground we can depend on, so continue cultivating that home base of unshakable inner peace.
I would love to know some of your go-to’s to bring light back into your dark days. And, as always, thanks for reading.