My husband and I recently had a conversation about how isolation can do crazy things to you. Isolation is particularly difficult when you are also managing stressful situations each and every day. Early on in our marriage we didn’t really feel the need to be connected to a ton of other people. We both had spent the better part of our adulthood surrounded, and we both were in an inward phase when we met. Initially it was great because we did so many amazing things together. It truly felt like we were a united front against the world. Then we became parents, our child was sick, my husband’s mom was diagnosed with terminal cancer, and we moved to a new place where we knew no one. Did I mention all of that happened in the span of 2 years?
Life had this way of feeling like it was on fast forward. There were days that it felt like I was living outside of my body. It was as though I was watching from above, and I was disconnected to the person that I had become. The grief and agony of having a child with a life threatening illness was taking a toll on me. When we moved, it was 40 minutes from our previous home. We truly knew no one. It was hard to branch out and meet others because our son’s health was so fragile. Both of us were working full time, our son was diagnosed with several diseases that were very serious and required constant monitoring, and in the midst of all of it my husband’s mom was diagnosed with cancer. Holding it all together was impossible. People would tell us how strong we were, and in reality we were barely holding it together. My husband was angry, and I was sad and depressed. Our united front became seriously divided as we argued about everything from feeding our child, to child care, house keeping issues, and finances. I felt like I was drowning in a sea of misery, and the hard part was I had no one to talk to about it.
During those first few years, I had convinced myself that no one could possibly understand what we were going through. I pushed away people that didn’t say the right things, I judged those that I perceived to have it easier, and I generally sat in a pity party most days. On the outside, I was fiesty, my tongue was sharp, and my filter was gone. I don’t blame people not wanting to be around me because I didn’t want to be around myself. I tried to find connections in every place, and I was so desperate for any kind of connection many of them became very negative. When you don’t feel good about yourself, you tend not to seek out the best people in your life. I found myself seeking out others that were angry and sad. I wanted to commiserate with them, and I wanted to be angry with someone else. Unfortunately, this lead to further hurt and sadness. I learned quickly you can’t form relationships based on sadness or pain. It can connect you at first, but over time you have to have other things in common. Over time, I cut more and more people out. I found myself lonely and in need of help. So I made the decision and started diving in to my faith.
In my faith, I found hope. I found people that would love me no matter the mistakes I made, and that would hold me accountable for being the best person I could be. When I said yes to Jesus, I said goodbye to the person I was before him. The hardest part in all of this is forgiving myself for the actions I did and the hurt I caused during that painful time. People that meet me today don’t see that person anymore. I am no longer stuck in darkness. Through faith I was able to feel secure and deeply loved no matter what. I found friends that believed in me, stuck by me, and prayed for me. Unfortunately, the mistakes of my past are still hard for me to shake. I feel ashamed for the things I said, and for the things I did. I feel bad for causing pain to others, and I feel badly that I said things that are not in my character. Each day I am trying to find a way to be kinder to myself, and I tell myself that no one is perfect. However, I was so angry then, it’s hard to truly even feel like I was even that person. I’ve removed myself from every place or thing that was associated with that past, and still it finds a way in to my life. I know through prayer and with God, I will be able to forgive myself.
What I know now, is that grief has a way of changing you. It gets in your head and it turns you upside down. I thought I was stronger than it, and I realize that even the strongest person can be brought to their knees. In the agony the best thing I did was made positive changes. Making that decision to follow Christ, and to be a better person truly changed every aspect of my life. This isn’t about religion nor is it about being faithful to judge others. This is about finding faith to keep myself going. Knowing that there is a greater purpose for all of us, helps me be kinder to everyone. I know that every person has a story, and every story is filled with both happiness and pain. It has taught me to realize that everyone makes mistakes and none of us are perfect, but we are perfectly loved no matter what we do. Sometimes the hardest people to please our ourselves. When I removed the fear of what was going to be, I was able to accept that I have no control in what will happen here. I do have faith that God will take care of my family, and that faith gives me strength to say no to the demon of grief and sadness.
We want to know:
How have you managed pain and grief? What tools have you used to deal with the pain?