The Lesson

So following my last blog post, my BFF (seemingly) disagreed with everything I said. And though I didn’t agree with most of what she replied with, she did make a point that I thought would be a good follow up post to my last one; the lesson. The fact is, depending on your personal situation, beliefs, and spiritual journey, the last post may or may not have resonated with you.

And therein lies the problem with electronic communication – complete expression is hard to achieve. I know I can go back and reread something and realized I could have worded things differently or better. Or added or removed something for better clarity. If you haven’t read my previous post, here’s the general gist of it:

  1. Positivity can be toxic
  2. Toxic positivity can cause guilt and/or shame in yourself or others
  3. Toxic positivity can avoid authentic human connection
  4. Toxic positivity can become an avoidance mechanism
  5. All emotions are valid
  6. Hard emotions need to be addressed and expressed

“I get it. Truly. Hard emotions are hard – whether or not they’re yours. Before I had those experiences, I wouldn’t know how to respond to someone going through that, but the world doesn’t need more people shut down – it needs more compassion and empathy.”

My previous blog post

One experience I talked about was that I had 2 miscarriages between 2007/2008, within a year. The first one was definitely the worst as I needed medical intervention so my situation was noticed by my coworkers, but when they talked to me about it, I would get “It just wasn’t meant to be” and “at least it was early in the pregnancy”- in fact, most, when they found out how early I was in the pregnancy, were completely dismissive of it. Yes, miscarrying at 20 weeks is worse that at 8 weeks, but my body was already changing and I felt that loss. After a while I wouldn’t talk to anyone about it and if I had a crying fit, I’d hide to avoid talking to people. I didn’t even feel like I could talk to my husband as he had a hard time reconciling the loss due to the “lack of evidence” – there was no heart beat or anything. However, I felt that loss. My body felt that loss. And I needed to mourn in a situation where I felt I couldn’t. My second miscarriage was “easier” to deal with as my body naturally terminated it.

So what was my lesson? I didn’t want kids. I never have, to be honest. I always wanted to adopt. I was doing it for my husband. However, 6 months of trying after my second miscarriage, my husband broached the subject of not having children. What would have happened had I carried the baby to term and I had horrible post partum and I resented the baby I never wanted? Yes, I’m certain my opinion would have changed, but willing to chance it? That was something I’m not willing to do. Plus, if we did have children, we both would have felt obligated to stay in jobs we hated in order to pay the bills – what would that have done to our mental health which would have transferred onto the child. I can look back at the miscarriages and know that they were the lessons; that I wasn’t meant to bare children.

And I can talk about the miscarriages now with no guilt, shame, or remorse – and they should be talked about. Most women, when they suffer a miscarriage, typically say “I never knew they were so common” – it’s because people never talk about it! Hard emotions – hard situations – need to be addressed and talked about – if anything, so people know they’re not alone!

Every shitty situation can be used as a lesson, if you choose it to be.

My third posting in the military, I hated. I absolutely hated going to work, and I would come home in tears several times a week. The woman I had to deal with – a civilian – was condescending and a nightmare to be around. I would rather do something wrong than ask her how to do it right. And as much as I couldn’t see the lesson at the time, she turned me onto chiropractic care – which I was firmly against prior – for dealing with my migraines. I had a concussion in February 2016, I started at that office in July/August 2016 and that September I had been at home for a week with a migraine – though I had suffered from migraines previously, the intensity, frequency, and duration increased dramatically after the concussion. When I got back into the office after a week off – and requiring time in the hospital to get rid of it – out of the blue, she suggested going to the chiropractor and told me of people she knew who had immense success with chiropractic care for migraines. I made an appointment for the chiropractor a week after and it has been a God send.

I probably would never have considered the chiropractor if it wasn’t for her, and for that, I’m grateful for that shitty year.

Being an extremely empathetic person, it has taken a lot to learn how to protect my energy, especially at my current job – and especially over the past 18 months, since covid. I have remained (surprisingly) positive throughout this ordeal and I know it wouldn’t have been as well off if it hadn’t been for my spiritual growth over the past several years. However, I have also allowed myself to grieve and be angry – and happy! – since all this started. I felt incredibly guilty at some points because how good we have it. Covid fatigue is a real thing and no matter how good you have it, no matter how much you protect yourself, no matter how positive you are, things can still get too much and those moments need to be expressed. I try to be as real as possible – so people know IT’S OKAY to have these shitty days! Acknowledge these emotions, express them, and move on – don’t wallow.

I have found that most people aren’t able to find the lesson when they’re in the grips of an emotional breakdown. Breakdowns happen when you’ve been through too much and can’t hold things together. I have found that once you get through it and can unload all the unnecessary crap, you can move forward again.

Do you find yourself in the same situation over and over again? Why do you think that is? Chances are, you’re not learning the lesson life is trying to teach you.

Years and years ago, probably in the early 2000’s, I was having problems at work and I was put on stress leave. Part of the “back to work program” was that I needed to go see a psychologist. At that time, after a few sessions, he expressed his concern with the amount of alcohol I consumed – even my friends couldn’t believe him as I drank MUCH less than most of my friends! I stopped going to him as I didn’t think I had a problem – he was obviously full of garbage! Now, if he had expressed his concerns as (me) having obsessive compulsive and addictive traits, I may have been more inclined to listen. I can look back now at different aspects of my life and identify several areas that I display obsessive compulsive and addictive traits.

Fast forward (over) a decade, and I was sexually assaulted 3 times in the same number of years – the common denominator? Alcohol. So, in September 2018, I stopped drinking alcohol as I acknowledged that I was using a cocktail of OTC medication and alcohol as a numbing agent to avoid dealing with the hard emotions.

Let me tell you…. It sucked! I hadn’t dealt with the sexual assaults. I hadn’t dealt with death of my father. Dealing with the grief, shame, guilt, anger, and everything in between was so incredibly hard, but do you know what? I survived and I’m stronger for it. I knew I couldn’t achieve true happiness without dealing with everything – otherwise it would just fester and grow.

The first moment I had after I stopped drinking alcohol, that I would usually reach for something to drink, was like ripping a scab off a wound; holy shit did it hurt!!! But you know what? I survived! Slowly the emotional anguish I had felt got less severe and less frequent. The first few years, I would dwell; every year, I would be like “X years ago today was the incident”. But eventually, it would be “holy shit, the incident happened X days/weeks ago and I didn’t even notice!” – now I can barely remember the names of the persons involved. THAT is when I knew I had healed. I don’t like to bring it up because who likes to be reminded of shitty situations from the past? But if it helps someone, then I don’t mind.

And I heard something a little while ago; your body’s cells get replaced over about a 7 year period, depending on what it is (though it’s 10 years for bones). So, for me, this means the body I currently have was never touched by the perpetrators of the first 2 incidents. This has been a huge help with recovering and my mental health. Yes, the scars are there, but to say I’m a “different person” than I was then, is doubly true!

Life can be hard – but more often than not, we make it harder on ourselves. If we play the “woe is me” card and wallow in our misery, what do you expect? Your life will continue to feel shitty! Put out to the universe what you want to receive. Look for the lessons and move past those barriers you perceive are there. Yes, obviously, there are actual barriers out there preventing people from living their best life, but a lot of those barriers are self-imposed.

You need to decide what you want your life to look like and move in that direction but keep in mind that it might not be in the direction you expect it should go – just know that even though it might look different from what you imagine, it doesn’t mean it’s wrong. Where you end up may be exactly where you’re meant to be.

Everything you’ve gone through has prepared you for your destination – how quickly you get there depends on how quickly you learn the lessons. It look me a little longer… and that’s okay… because I got there.

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