Sink Or Swim
Getting Through the Hard Stuff
After sharing personal stories with a couple girlfriends at dinner a few nights ago, one of them said, “Wow, when you think about it, it is pretty incredible that any of us are even able to be here sitting at this table right now.” Coming from a woman who tragically lost her husband unexpectedly, and recently published a beautiful book, A2Z Healing Toolbox: A Practical Guide for Navigating Grief and Trauma with Intention, those words have stayed with me all week. And what a hell of a week it has been.
Just the day before I sat with these beautiful ladies, my son had just shared with a therapist that he was considering killing himself. Why was I out to dinner with friends the day after this you might wonder? I guess the best thing I can answer with is that life does not stop for you just because bad things are happening. These two widowed women with whom I sat, left to raise beautiful children on their own, are a testament to that, and a reminder to me of how resilient we truly are. Spending an evening contemplating the road we had each traveled was exactly what I needed.
It is so easy to get overwhelmed when you are dealt a situation for which you feel unprepared. I never expected to be the parent of a special needs child. These women never expected to lose the loves of their lives.
It has been hard as hell, and people constantly say, “I don’t know how you do it.”
But we do. Every day. Just like every day you deal with whatever circumstance is yours.
Our problems are like water — it’s everywhere, but it is what we decide to do when we are in it that really matters.
In the waves I’m falling under
The weight comes crashing down
But I know that’s it’s just water
Sink or swim or float or drown
“Bloom,” by Clavvs
It would be nice if all of our problems were simple — a small puddle we could simply step over. Many of them are, and we deal with them everyday without much thought. Traffic is bad so we re-route ourselves. We forget our wallet so we borrow money from a friend. Blips on the radar of life.
It is when the big stuff happens that we are really put to test, though. Our husband leaves for a drive and never comes home. A cancer diagnosis. A suicide threat. How lovely it would be if it were just one wave we could duck under and pop back up to the surface to float blissfully in the sun without a care in the world. Sometimes we just aren’t that lucky.
After Susan lost her husband, she had to fight her way through the high tide of grief and build a new life. In her book she talks about accomplishing that through action and intention.
This week I had to navigate my son’s desire to end his life. I was thrown into the water yet again. I had to decide how I was going to respond to this monumental wave, and started swimming hard. So did he.
Action and intention are how we get through the big stuff — whether it is grief from loss, an illness, or an unexpected life circumstance. It isn’t so much what happens to us, as it is what we choose to do next that determines how we get through it.
Sometimes it feels like trouble comes wave after wave, crashing down on us. When we start to feel as though our lives are being flooded with problems, it is then that we have to choose and remember it’s just water— sink or swim, or float or drown.