For a great amount of time in my healing, I have been trying to return my life to the way things were. Having expectations of myself that given my emotional and physical trauma were not appropriate. But I could not see that. Or I didn’t want to. I was just trying to make things the way they always were. I understood that my husband was gone, but why did other parts of my life have to change? I unknowingly have been in a fight with myself each day to keep things the way they were. With Glen. Somehow. And the longer I have operated like that, the greater my grief has taken a hold of my life.
A leader at my church who set me up with my counselor that I see called to check up on me the other day. He knew that I was not in a great place and had such valuable, eye opening, and affirming things to say. He told me “It is emotionally dangerous to continue having expectations that are unfair to your health. Expectations that just aren’t possible right now.” When we got off the phone, I said that aloud to myself. Sandra, it is emotionally dangerous to continue having expectations that are unfair to your health. Expectations that just aren’t possible right now. And in my mind I’m thinking, what a joke! Why aren’t they possible? I used to be able to do them, why can’t I now? And then a wonderful and divine “ah-ha” moment: Sandra you were in a traumatic accident and suffered a traumatic loss. Accept that. Process that. Before moving on with your life. This realization that I have to stop placing expectations on myself just because I used to do them was so obvious. My inability makes me feel inadequate and that is certainly emotionally dangerous.
This leads me to my ultimate lesson learned: let some things go. Let go. If you know me, this is no easy lesson to learn or accept. I left work early yesterday at the advice of my dear friends and co-workers to go see my counselor. I was not in a good place, the grief has been so layered and complex for me lately. My counselor asked me to think about what was most important right now. I shrugged my shoulders and had no answer. She said “you are. You are what is important. You being healthy and able to take care of yourself and your children.” She explained that the other things will come around eventually. That I have to slow down long enough to grieve. Then she basically reiterated the above sentiments and told me that I had to stop expecting so much from myself. That given the trauma I have been through, both physically and emotionally, it was important that I don’t take on new challenges until I really feel ready for them. And I really thought I was ready for work, I really did. But alas, I am not. Physically, yes. Emotionally, no. So although it is bittersweet, it is necessary, and I will not be working until the Fall.
From the day of the accident, I have had to focus on my physical recovery. There were crucial physical steps along the way; feeding myself, dressing myself, putting my own socks on, walking to the bathroom alone, walking up stairs, picking up my son, getting rid of the walker! Physical therapy led naturally to fitness goals because that is what I am accustomed to. Working out has long been a part of my life and running was such a new goal so focusing on that made me feel safe. The results were more than even I expected, and participating in two 5Ks was such a meaningful part of my journey. Now that I have experienced those accomplishments, it is vital that I concentrate as much on my emotional recovery as my physical recovery.
And today I feel like I can breathe. Really breathe for the first time. I’m ready now to move from trying to live the way things were to living the way things ARE. Acceptance that I have a new normal. And that it is okay.