Resiliency is possible if you let it happen
I have been shattered in the month of May by the loss of my beloved cat, Rupert.
On May 16, he was fine, I was fine, my other cat was fine too, and life was ALL fine. Then it turned to chaos with a sick Roo on the 17th. Things changed quickly on the 18th and I had to euthanize a cat that was only two years old.
To say he was my "baby" would be an understatement.
To recover from the sudden grief, I zoned out and relaxed the following week. I engaged in self-care which was mostly sleeping.
I was off my game, which is understandable. I had started the month of May with fantastic goals including paying off a stack of bills and doing a "30-days-in-May" fitness challenge at the workout studio I attend. Needless to say, my fitness hit the back burner although I did do OK on the bills considering the extra unplanned expenses (of which there were many, not just the cat). But I did OK on this because I damn miracle fell out of the sky!
It was an expensive month. Starting anything new was shelved. My personal decluttering mission was almost derailed for good when the cat died.
But I am beginning to feel a little like myself again this week. I picked up a project again Wednesday and am uploading Vlog #7 as I write this…
Oh yeah, I started getting into vlogging before my cat got sick. I was posting almost a vlog a day.
I was really feeling overall like I was about to slay the month of May!
Then I crashed physically, mentally, and emotionally. I even caught some kind of cold/allergy/sinus affliction and missed a day at work. I published nothing last week.
But then something amazing happened and I think it’s because I allowed myself the time and grace to crash last week. I began to feel better on Monday; I began to feel more like myself. Tuesday, the cold kicked my butt (and sinuses) again. Wednesday, I felt like I could push through and get back to working on projects.
That something that happened is resiliency.
I didn’t use to have resiliency. I didn’t use to bounce back two weeks after something bad happened to me. I’d get on a pity pot, feel sad and useless. Then I’d feel guilty for taking the time to feel bad, then I’d beat myself up, and then a lot more time than two weeks would pass with no progress being made.
I would get dragged down in negative feelings and minutiae. I’d feel bad for not “getting things done” or “letting people down.” I used to get stuck in grief. I also used to suffer from addiction at different points in my life — sometimes alcohol, drugs, or both. Throw in codependency and it was a huge pity party of paralyzation.
I don’t know how I didn’t learn to bounce back. I don’t quite know how I have learned to become more resilient. I credit age, experience, sobriety, and life coaching. I’m now a personal development chaser rather than a chaser of the always-elusive high.
Part of what I think makes me more resilient is working so hard towards my goals. I know what I want. My goals are clearly defined and I look at them daily. They are written in my planner and I spend time daily looking at my vision board. I understand now that time passes quickly and I don’t want to waste it. I did plenty of that when I was young.
My cats were on my daily gratitude list; my surviving cat still is. I have learned to take nothing for granted — not my cats, my car, my home, food — nothing. I spend time cultivating good habits like a daily gratitude practice and spending time in spiritual study.
I would hate to lose two weeks of time, motivation, and progress towards my goals! I hate losing momentum. I love what I do! I love to create content for my clients and I stay conscious of how much time I was taking away from my creative process in order to heal.
Losing that positive momentum is not OK with me. It’s just not congruent with my goals. I want them so badly, my “why” is quite firm, and I realized I’d have to get back to my work before I felt ready. That’s life. When people tell you, “Take all the time you need,” they don’t really mean for you to take an endless amount of time. Don’t drop off the face of the Earth.
There’s still a house to clean, jobs to do, people counting on me, my upset daughter, my boss, my clients, the car needs gas, I need to eat… You get the picture. Responsibilities don’t go away but we can be gentle while we heal. We can’t ever give up and we can’t lose perspective.
I have learned these things the hard way.
When something happens to extinguish your fire, let it.
Give yourself grace and space. Take that time to be sad, hurt, and then to heal. Get back to it quickly though. Get back to life before you’re ready. People will understand and give you some understanding. They will respect you for trying to keep your crapola together, but don't expect you to! (Anyone with selfish expectations when you go through a rough patch is showing you a red flag).
If you lack focus, you can get lost in a tragedy. You can be overwhelmed by trauma.
So HAVE YOUR FOCUS. Define it. Be clear about what you want. Because I guarantee you, when life turns into a dumpster fire and you get derailed, it’s going to be really easy to wonder, “Why should I go on?” Well, here’s why. Go back to your planner full of goals and your “why.” Go back to your vision board when times are tough. Remind yourself who you are and what you want. You aren’t done yet. Keep going. Maybe you’re tired. Maybe you “mail it in” for a week and sleep a lot. But you’re surviving it. Some days, surviving is all we can do.
You can return to thriving in no time.
But there will be that nasty stage of putting one foot in front of the other. Maybe it lasts a week or a month or a year (depending on the severity of your tragedy or trauma). But as long as we have breath in our lungs, we have to persist.