Every few years or so, we suffer a catastrophic failure of sorts. It seems to be one of those things that life throws at us when we need a shake up – life’s been good, we’ve been cruising, doing what we do… and then something happens. And then another thing happens and then another…
It reminds me of aircraft crashes – they rarely go down because of one thing, but rather a series of systematic failures. In the last week and half, my aircraft metaphorically crashed.
I write in the midst of one of these moments
I went from being happily married to in one week, getting separated (with a request for a divorce from my husband), my beloved grandfather passing, trying to start up a new business, to then having to move back in with my parents in Sydney from Brisbane.
I don’t know why it all happened at once, but it did. The rug was pulled out from under my feet and I just felt splattered on the floor.
I couldn’t have imagined each series of events that resulted in my crash
I had to organise my grandfather’s affairs on my own, including his funeral. I had to deal with the collapse of my marriage in the week before his funeral, and I had to keep going setting up my new business. I had my first paying clients – I had to somehow keep going. No one was going to be able to pick up my pieces. I was just going to have to temporarily pull the pieces together (knowing that I was still profoundly broken), and Make. It. Happen.
Something extraordinary happened though
Each and every day, I felt I couldn’t go on and I desperately wanted the space and time to fall apart, but somehow I just didn’t have that luxury. I had to keep going. I desperately needed to earn money to support myself, I had commitments to new clients that needed to be honoured. I had to organise my grandfather’s funeral. I had to emotionally support the family around me. I had to keep on going and pretend that everything was fine. People were relying on me, people believed in me, and I couldn’t let them down.
If I didn’t step up, there was no one who was going to do it for me.
While inside I was an emotional wreck as I navigated too many moving pieces for my mind to possibly conceive, I literally just took one thing at a time and focussed on that. With my world having fallen apart, I had nothing left but that which was inside of me. There was a strength and tenacity that said I was not going to give up… ever. My anxiety levels were astronomical, I was distraught, I was grieving, but I had to keep on going.
Somewhere, I found a strength I didn’t even know I had
I didn’t even realise that I could deal with everything I had to deal with. If someone told me what would happen – I would have laughed and told them that I would just suffer another depressive episode and crawl into a hole.
Something else happened though – I experienced the most extraordinary compassion, care and nurturance not just of the people around me that I knew, but also people that I had never known before.
Other than my amazing family, friends and some professional colleagues who provided amazing support when I needed it (including much needed work referrals); it was the support of strangers that surprised me the most. The Uber drivers who provided me with the best therapy sessions one could find; the caravan park owner (where I went to have some solitude and time to process post the funeral) who offered not only an upgrade from my swag to a cabin free-of-charge, with the offer to stay as long as I needed (including the offer of a job)… I could not imagine the level of care and compassion I received from people who could see my brokenness and who just wanted to help in any way that they could.
This could only happen because I was open with them
I told them I was vulnerable. Broken. Hurting… and they responded by giving me love, care and compassion – by giving me wisdom from their experiences, by giving whatever they could to make a difference in that moment. And it helped me pull the broken moving parts together.
The pain continued, but I was no longer alone. I had people offering crutches along the way, and I could just focus on one thing at a time. It was usually work… and wow… I’m coming through the other side – infinitely stronger, still imperfect, still vulnerable, but I’m getting through each day and I am surprising myself.
We never know our true strength until it is tested. And tested we will be. By allowing myself to be vulnerable to those around me (including those I don’t know), by focussing on one thing at a time, by allowing myself to fall apart and grieve at moments along the way, and by doggedly refusing to give up… I’m getting there. And damn it feels good to say I’m standing again. I got this.
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