Thursday, October 30, 2014

Heal Thyself


verb (used with object)
1. to make healthy, whole, or sound; restore to health; free from ailment.
2. to bring an end or conclusion, as conflicts between people or groups, usually with the strong implication of restoring former amity; settle; reconcile.

No one in this world is immune to the pain that life can bring.
We will all experience loss, heartache, illness, fear, tragedy.  There is nothing we can do to stop it .  Fortunately, we are capable of healing.  We are able to somehow pick up the pieces, and put our lives back together after they have seemingly been shattered apart.
Some of us handle that process better than others.
A lot of it has to do with where we are in our personal journey when the difficult times occur.  
Too often, we are hit by the hardest times when we are young, and not capable of dealing with these tragedies in healthy, constructive ways.  Instead, we find ourselves in a place of complete despair and confusion, because we don't have the life experience or the "tools" we need to mend our hearts and spirits, and eventually move forward.  Often times, this is when bad decisions are made, and people turn to harmful ways to numb their pain.
When I hear the word "addiction", I immediately think of drugs or alcohol.  However, there are so many other behaviors that can become "addictions" and have a negative impact on your life.  The common denominator with any addiction is the fact that there is something missing in your life.  There is a void that needs to be filled, and you will do whatever you can think of to make that happen.  The irony of it all is that no one or no thing can fill that void.  The only way to fill that emptiness is through finding peace and contentment...with yourself.

I have experienced a lot of heartache in relationships in my life.  I remember feeling like my heart would never mend, and I would be a broken, miserably sad person forever.  Somehow, as the days went by, my heart did begin to heal.  I never forgot, but it became less painful.

The one thing I wish I could go back and change would be how I dealt with the death of my father.  It was so tragic and so sudden, I never really had time to grieve.
One week after he died, I had to start my first teaching job, and Mark moved to a city 3 hours away to do his student teaching internship.  Four months later, we got married.   A year later, I was pregnant, and moving to a new town.  We lost that baby, and I was devastated.  Soon we had our first baby, and were moving again...then the second baby.  Then we were moving again, different jobs, different cities, constant changes...and not a moment for me to be still, and grieve.  
It really took it's toll on me.  
I didn't realize that a lot of my depression and other issues had all stemmed from the emotions I had locked away.
I had debilitating separation anxiety.  Anytime Mark had to leave town or drive anywhere, I was a wreck.  I was sure he would die in a car accident.  I had all of these phobias that had stemmed from my dad's accident.  I had witnessed how quickly life could end, and I was terrified.  Looking back, I think I also resented Mark for moving away to do an internship, rather than staying in town to student teach.  I had to deal with losing my dad, starting a career, planning a wedding, and do it all with zero support.  I put up an emotional "wall"...and it stayed there for years.

Three years ago, my dear cousin Amy was killed in a car accident.  She was one year older than me.  She was the cousin I adored as a child.  We would spend our summers together, getting into all kinds of trouble, and having so much fun.  She was one of the most amazing people I have ever known.  She has two beautiful children who were far too young to lose their mom.
It was at the cemetery when she was buried that something inside me snapped.
All of those emotions and feelings I had been bottling up for the past 16 years came flooding back, and I thought I was going to lose my mind.  Suddenly, I didn't know which end was up anymore.  I was grieving for Amy, and finally....I was grieving for my dad.

Sadly, during this time, I was also in the planning stages of a show I was working on with a friend of mine.  Obviously, I was going through a lot emotionally, and was feeling overwhelmed.  It's funny how people's true colors shine through in times of extreme emotion.  Apparently, my need for a little time and space proved to be inconvenient to her agenda.  I received an e-mail telling me that she had cancelled the show. She stated that she was of "sound mind" and I was not, when I asked why I was not consulted in this decision.  (Others involved were then informed that the reason the show was being cancelled was because I wasn't organized enough.  I had one item left on my "to-do" list.)
There is nothing quite like being both punished and insulted because you are dealing with a family tragedy.  It took me a long time to put that all behind me.

I have come a long way since those few months of serious grieving and sadness.  
It's hard when you are overcome with something that occurred in the past, and was never dealt with appropriately.  People don't really understand.
Surely it would be hard to be completely sympathetic to someone who was having a breakdown over their father who died 16 years ago.  It is so much easier to understand and relate to someone who has suffered a recent loss.  Even then, unless a person has gone through a similar experience, it is still difficult to comprehend how it feels.  The most important thing is that we are compassionate and understanding.  We have no idea what any person has gone through in the past, and how that is affecting them today.

I know that my inability to deal with my sorrow 19 years ago has had a big impact on my marriage.  For instance, while I was still really struggling with my separation anxiety, my husband decided to take classes all summer at a school 3 hours away from our home.  He would leave Sunday afternoon, and be gone through early Friday morning.  Our kids were 2 and 4 at the time.  I told him that I didn't think I could handle it.  I was in a very fragile state, I was dealing with depression, but had not gotten any help for it yet.  I was terrified at the thought of him driving home at midnight every Thursday....and just having to be alone for the summer.  He decided to go anyway.  That decision almost broke us.  I was a complete wreck.  In my (completely screwed up, delusional) mind, he had made a decision.  He had chosen school over me.  In reality, of course, he was just trying to get closer to earning his master's degree, so he could make more money to support our family.  But, I didn't see it that way.  I felt like he didn't care about how I felt, didn't care that I was a complete, emotional wreck.  He only cared about his job.  By the end of the summer, I was ready to leave.  
Luckily, he didn't give up on me, and we spent a lot of time working through our issues, and in therapy.  (I LOVE THERAPY!) ;)

Once I finally realized why I was so afraid of him leaving (because I was sure he would never come back, because something awful would happen to him) and I knew I wasn't living in reality, I started to heal.  We started to communicate about how we felt, and why we did the things we did, rather than just make assumptions.  And we healed some more.
 I'm not going to pretend things have been perfect.  We have weathered some pretty heavy storms...but we know that we can work through it, and that is something to be happy about.
We still make mistakes, but we are getting a lot better at fixing things before they are broken these days.  For a long time, we had issues with living in the past....we would keep getting upset over the same old stuff...the things that had already happened, rather than just moving forward.  Now, we try to live in the moment.  We try to enjoy what each day brings us, and if any of the ghosts of the past try to sneak in....we talk about it, and close the door on them again.
This is how we help each other heal.

I'm sure some people probably wonder why I share so much about myself....I know some people feel much more comfortable keeping their personal lives private.
There are things I will never share. But, there are also so many things I have experienced, and have learned from.  I often wonder if I could have avoided some of the heartache I have gone through if there had been someone to guide me through the hard times.  
However, if life had been easy, and I had never walked through those experiences, I don't think I would be who I am today.  I would probably still be that insecure, easily hurt, anxiety filled girl who had no idea who she was.....or even who she wanted to be.
What I do hope is that something I write or share might be helpful to someone.  Maybe it will strike a chord with you, so you know you are not alone in your journey.
Maybe it will make you feel soooooo good about yourself, because you are no where near as screwed up as I am!
Or maybe it will just solidify the fact that we are all human, doing the best we can in this world.  And if we can do something to help each other along the way......perhaps that will bring us one step closer to a place of healing and love.

Blessings to you on this Thursday.  If your heart is in need of healing, I hope you are able to reach out for the help you need, or take the time to look within, and draw from the strength that resides inside you.  
Hope is a powerful force.  Never let yourself give up on it.


  1. Powerful post, Beth! Thank you for sharing so much of your are a blessing to the world! Blessed Thursday back at you, Girlfriend!

  2. Thank you, thank you, thank you!! I think a big part of healing is sharing the journey. We are all in this together! Have a wonderful day! xox