“I miss her every day. I’ve never cleaned out her closet. I’m not there yet. I want to keep her memories as alive as long as I possibly can. She was the woman I adored. Although she’s been gone a year, the pain is still raw. When the cruel arm of death snatched her away, it ripped my heart into shreds.” Jack wrote these words in a social media post.
Last Wednesday was precisely one year since a tragic road accident robbed Jack of the love of his life. Trying to come to terms with his loss has been a roller coaster ride of mixed emotions. On some days, getting out of bed is incredibly difficult, and others feel a tiny bit easier.
Jack wrote his heartbreaking story on a social media platform in the hope of inspiring people going through traumatic events. If you are going through a difficult time, adopting these strategies can help you stay strong.
Rip Off the Band-Aid.
In the first few months after his girlfriend died, Jack took to heavy drinking and overeating to mask his pain. He spent hours playing video games because he couldn’t bring himself to process the pain. The truth? Jack is no different from us.
When trauma brings down the walls of our lives, we do whatever we need to escape the pain. Most people have devised coping mechanisms to distract from uncomfortable or negative feelings. You try to keep your heads above the water by numbing yourself in drunkenness or overeating.
You clutch on to “straws” that can never give you the anchor you so desperately need. You’ll be surprised at how many people mask their anxiety by reaching for a glass of wine whenever they are alone. Other times we hide behind the nimbus haze of social media.
We dress up and put on a façade to show the world how amazing our lives are while everything continues to crumble to dust on the inside. Yet, the blunt truth is that no amount of numbing can give you the relief you need. Any emotional trauma swept under the carpet continues to fester like an untreated wound.
The first step to inch closer to healing is to bring the pain to the surface. At times, the best way is to rip off the band-aid. You do this when you practice mindfulness. This means focusing on the present without suppressing negative emotions.
If you can do that, pat yourself on the back because you’ll have made the first most crucial step towards healing. I’ve found the best benefit for mindfulness- as it relates to dealing with uncomfortable emotions — to be from Dr. Muireann Irish, a Senior Research Officer at Neuroscience Research Australia.
He told the Huffington Post that mindfulness activates a part of your brain called the anterior cingulate cortex, helping you make effective decisions when going through tough periods.
If you can sit yourself down amid the clutter in your soul, you’re one step closer to standing on your own two feet. When you stop running, you can finally find yourself.
Let People See Beneath Your Hard Shell.
The good news is that you never have to do this alone. You should always ask for help. Please don’t be like me. I never asked for help when I went through the darkest points of my life. As my marriage fell into pieces, dropping a bomb on my vision for a dream family, I tried to brave through it all.
Had I reached out to someone, I’d have overcome the situation much faster and prevented my self-esteem from eroding. I know the words “Ask for help.” sounds cliché, and we hear them all the time. But in my experience, asking for help can make a difference between finding yourself again and losing yourself completely.
If you’re like me, you probably have high and thick walls. And although this is a good quality to have because it protects your emotional well-being, it can also be self-harming. Being extremely self-protective can act as an obstacle when you need help because it’s practically impossible to help someone who can’t embrace their vulnerability.
When you ask for help, allow people to see beneath your hard shell. The good news? People actually love helping. Psychologist Heidi Grant explains that human beings are basically wired to want to give help. It’s one of the richest sources of self-esteem, and it has the potential to be a real win-win.
Helping is rewarding for people because they like to be supportive and connect with other people.
Remember You Are Here to Create a Ripple.
One day, a morbidly obese Jack received a note from his niece asking if he could walk her down the aisle on her wedding day. That simple text became the big moment, the point that changed his entire life’s trajectory. He finally understood that his life was much bigger than him.
It dawned on him that just because he couldn’t change his own life didn’t mean he couldn’t change the life of others. And just like that, Jack resolved to get healthy and fit before the day of his niece’s wedding. To date, he has lost over 80 pounds and is fitter than he’s ever been.
If you ever find yourself wondering why you should keep fighting, why you should want to see tomorrow or why you should carry on, remind yourself that your life isn’t just yours. It’s hinged on more people than you could ever imagine.
David Mitchell sums it up beautifully when he says,
“Our lives are not our own. We are bound to others, past and present, and by each crime and every kindness, we birth our future.”
You are not here just to serve yourself. You are here to create a ripple that will become a wave that will touch many. So if ever you come to a fork down the road of your life, pause for a moment and remember it’s not about you. Our lives are offerings meant to be poured into the lives of others.
Jack still misses his woman, although the pain of her loss has lifted a bit. He says that scars fade with time, but they never fully disappear. The blows of life inflict the worst emotional scars, and no amount of numbing can make them go away.
Rather than waiting for the sunny skies, do what you can to find calm during the storm. Go for a long walk even if you don’t feel like it. Meditate, do yoga, or pray, even if that’s the last thing you want to do. Go to that party even if you can’t stand being around people.
Sometimes taking the first step is what opens the door for the light to enter.
Be comfortable being uncomfortable. It’s only by sitting down with the pain that you can be able to process it and find ways of managing it. Ask for help, because there are plenty of people willing to help you navigate through your emotions.
Most importantly, remember that your life is much bigger than you. It’s a vessel that can impact many. So do whatever you can to stay strong and resilient. We’re looking up to you.