Where is my plane?
“Rock Bottom will not only show you who you are, it will show you who you are not.” Early on in my separation from my ex-husband, I began reading a ton of self-help books, CD’s, blogs, googling self-help articles, inspirational quotes and spending my evenings drinking wine and listening to TED talks or pod casts on divorce recovery, loss and personal growth. The reality was, most of them just pissed me off. I was so angry at these people that had it all figured out. Yes, they went through their own hardships, but they were on the other side of it and I was so angry at them, I wanted to fast-forward through my pain to get to the other side so I would stop hurting.
On my first solo trip a few months after my separation I was driving in my car to Telluride listening to a Brené Brown CD. I was so frustrated with her soothing voice and her uplifting words that I shut her CD off and cranked the radio up super loud to prevent me from tossing the CD out the window yelling “There is your Rocky Mountain High Brené”. I was sick and tired of hearing and reading these peoples’ happy stories about how it was all going to be ok, how “time heals”. I couldn’t stand it anymore. I felt as if these books were contradicting each other, “jump in head first and tackle it” vs “take time for yourself, don’t rush” …and some of the books I felt were even contradicting themselves from one chapter to the next. I was so mad that I couldn’t just hear from someone that was actually going through it (at that moment) and didn’t have it all figured out yet, they could still feel that raw emotion that I was feeling.
***Side note: I actually really do like Brené Brown and after I stopped wanting her to fly out my window I feel like I was able to gain insight from her books. One of her quotes that is my favorite is “We cannot selectively numb emotions, when we numb the painful emotions, we also numb the positive emotions”.***
After I got back home from Telluride, I decided to give it another go and try to find something inspirational online to listen to and get ready to tackle the week ahead of me with a positive light. That night I listened to a TED talk by a woman name Janine Shepherd called “A broken body is not a broken person”. Janine was an Australian Olympic skier whose dream was shattered after she was hit by a truck during a training ride, becoming partially paralyzed from the waist down. After 6 months of being in the hospital having multiple surgeries, she went home to start a life that was no longer going be to the life she had planned as an Olympic athlete. Her unexpected tragedy changed the life she had planned, and while I could not relate to her accident, after listening to her TED talk I felt that I could relate to the fact that the life I had planned for me was never going to be the same after my divorce; in essence I was comparing her broken body to my broken heart. After Janine got home, depression set in. While she was sitting in her wheelchair outside one day, a plane flew overhead and she said, “That’s it, if I can’t walk I might as well fly.” She then goes into detail about her journey of obtaining her private pilot’s license, then commercial pilot’s license and then her instructor rating all within 18 months of her tragic accident. Inspirational isn’t it? Well, at that moment I actually said out loud “What the F*CK, are you kidding me, where is my plane?!?!?” I was so mad! Here I was crying every day, trying to get inspired, and this lady is making me feel like a loser because after only 18 months she has her $h!t together? NOT FAIR! All I could do in that moment was turn off my computer; then I started to cry. I felt so alone, so lost, so defeated. Here was this woman who lost the use of her legs and almost died blabbing about being amazing and teaching herself to walk again and becoming an amazing pilot. Here I was a divorced 40-year-old with no kids; I’m a loser and I’m going to die alone…pity party table for one please! Thanks a lot Janine Shepherd! Now I wanted her and Brené to both fly out my window, I was done! After a few months of self-help book hiatus and realizing that Janine didn’t personally do anything to me, I went back and decided to listen to Janine’s TED Talk again because of all of the inspirational books, blogs or TED talks I read or listened to, her short 18-minute TED talk stuck in my head. After listening to it a second time, and then third time, I started hearing things that made me think, “ok, maybe I am going to be ok one day”. Now don’t get me wrong, I still was asking myself where my plane was, but I was able to absorb more of her story, particularly the part about accepting the circumstances of my life because I couldn’t go back and change the past and change what happened to me. We can’t go back and change what has happened to us, it’s part of our story now. All we can do is figure out how to move forward. This journey of healing is hard and some days it sucks. Don’t let someone tell you “you should be over it already” or “why are you still crying over that” or “why are you still upset about XYZ, there are starving children in the world”. Yes, there are times when I feel guilty because I’m upset with what I’ve gone through, yet there are people in the world who have gone through or are going through worse. The truth is, while that last sentence is true, my pain is still real and your pain is your pain and we need to stop comparing it to others. Whatever has caused your pain and whatever your grieving process is, it’s yours and there is no chart to tell you that on day 148 you should be all better. All that matters is that you are doing something (even something small) each day to heal yourself and move a little further in the right direction. Easier said than done for sure, but that is why I’m here, to tell you that you aren’t alone.
There are 12,048,272 self-help books out there (give or take) and each one of them is going to say something a little different. I am not discouraging you from reading any of these books, because after I gave myself a break from self-help overload and went back and re-read many of the books and I was able to pick and choose what spoke to me. I am writing my own life recipe for healing and I’m still tweaking my spices. Remember that this is YOUR journey, your story and you need to create your own life recipe for healing, no one can create it for you, ONLY YOU can do that. Reading self-help books can give you ideas on what steps to take but YOU have to choose what works best for you. Your therapist giving you homework to make a list of things that will make you happy is great, but you still have to make the list. No one, no one, no one but you can tell you how you should heal, you have to find what works for you. I’m not going to tell you “Ok, you can’t “walk” so it’s time to fly a plane today”. For today, baby steps. I challenge you to change or let go of one thing that’s causing you pain today. Is that deleting a picture off your phone that makes you cry? Is it unfollowing a friend on Facebook for a while that keeps posting things that are triggering your pain? Maybe it’s just moving the spot in the fridge where you usually have your orange juice so the next time you grab a glass of O.J. your pattern changes slightly. Whatever it is, I hope you can find one thing today that will make you feel like you are starting to create or fine tune your life healing recipe. And if you don’t have the energy to do it today, that’s ok, make a plan to do it tomorrow.
Remember, You Got This!
XOXO~ PS: Here are other books/authors/self-help guru’s I also felt helped me or gave me some insight after my book/CD throwing days were over (remember pick and choose what works for you): * Glennon Doyle * Rachel Hollis * Byron Katie * Mark Mason There are so many out there….these are just a few.