When life cracks you open and brings you to your knees, everything shifts inside. And the world, life, relationships… they start to feel really abrasive. Because they’re exactly the same as they were in the moment before you were altered to your core, but you can’t be. You’re not that person anymore.
More often than not, you look the same and probably even sound the same. You appear, on the surface, like a perfectly normal, everyday version of yourself. Like a perfectly capable and functioning human.
But you’re not.
Everything is different and you’re still figuring out what that means for you as a person, let alone how to relate to everyone and everything else. Life feels so incredibly painful and hard, because it just keeps going. The expectations and obligations remain the same. You have to pay the bills. You have to fulfill promises. You have to follow through on your commitments. You have to show up and do the work. There’s no leave of absence, no reprieve.
So you do your best, and you fail miserably. You try to show up and follow through, but mostly you fall short and let others down. You struggle. You cry a lot. Eventually, you begin to find your footing in the world again. You begin to find workarounds or tools and people to help you make this living thing easier and less painful. Seamless instead of chaotic and jarring.
You pay the bills.
You keep your promises.
You fulfill the many obligations.
You follow through on commitments.
You show up and do the work.
But you’re still a little bit broken. You’re still a little unsteady. You’re still figuring out where all the shattered pieces go, and what’s supposed to replace the ones that are missing. You’re still a work in progress.
They say sympathy doesn’t last as long as grief and I agree.
But I would add that compassion, understanding, and acknowledgment of all you’ve been through doesn’t last anywhere near as long as it takes to really return from the journey you’ve been forced to walk. Not nearly as long as it takes for you to really discover who you are in the aftermath and what you want to create in the many chapters that will follow.
All I know is that we have to fiercely commit to completing the journey on our own terms… because no one else has the ability to understand what it feels like for you to stand where you’re standing. Because this is the part where you really begin to see the gifts from all you’ve walked through, but that’s not going to happen if you let others tell you where you should go, who you should be, or how you should be living your life. It’s not going to happen if you bend and fold to meet the expectations others have of who you need to be, especially if it’s based around who you were before.
You don’t need permission from anyone else to move at your own pace, stand exactly where you are, or to heal and grow and return on your own terms.
You just need to commit to it with your whole heart and soul, and have the hard conversations when they’re required.