Capturing life in words…
I was in a car accident last spring which drastically changed my daily life. I was working full-time and clocking 55 plus hours every week along with several hundred miles. I enjoyed my job greatly, but the Road Warrior angle of it was grueling. I never took time to stop and eat lunch, so I lived off protein shakes and protein bars. Food was merely fuel to me. I wasn’t sleeping well — as not only did I have a problem turning off my brain, but I also was “On Call” about once a week.
However, one work day I hit the road after doing a couple of hours paperwork, and was involved in a motor vehicle accident which has changed my life. The eye witnesses said they could not believe I lived through it.
Nor could any of us believe I was not hit by more cars as the initial impact sent me ping-ponging down I465 during rush hour in Indianapolis. I was dazed, amazed and thankful to God I was alive.
I immediately went from working full time to rehabilitating full-time. I was no longer the provider, but a consumer of healthcare services. (Which by the way, I find it is just as frustrating to me as it was for my clients. Getting well is hard work! I will never minimize the effort needed in regaining health after a trauma or long illness– Whew!)
Yet, until was put on my butt with “no work orders” following my MVA (motor vehicle accident), I was now accessible as I needed to be as a mother, friend, fiancee’. I also was not able to access the feelings of grief, loss, pain and distress I needed to process. Basically, before the accident at age 45, I was in fifth gear– moving from one place and task, to the next one without any real awareness. I was tired, stressed and wondering if I were getting depressed.
I was “life-less”. Why do I describe myself as”life-less”? Simply because I was not living, feeling, or fully present in my moments here on earth. I had skewed my morals. Somewhere along the way I lost my emotional and general life balance. I wasn’t noticing my reduced time with my family or the fact I only ate one meal a day– dinner. I didn’t make time for living, eating, snuggling with my kids or listening to my own heart. I was not taking my own advice. Although I would tell clients to allow their grief to come and sit with it, when a song triggered a childhood memory and angry, hurt came out in tears, I didn’t sit with the feeling and work through it. I would immediately turn off the radio. Classic avoidance. I was in the zip code of avoidance as workaholics, alcoholics, exercise addicts, and all the “-olics!” .At some level I was very much aware there was an imbalance to my life, yet I stayed on the hamster wheel so I would be too busy for a breakdown. I had school, a new job (making good money), a dying mother and a legal divorce completed if you looked at the paperwork, yet in my heart there was a mess of pain left to review, process and file away. So I continued to deny myself the right to feel which I will never, ever do again. It was useless and toxic to hold it inside my heart and head.
My heart was encased in a protective layer to prevent me from falling apart during a crisis. As each week passes, another gauzy layer of protection fell upon my heart and soul — to keep the hurt from bursting out. I was not living. I was just doing. Doing this or that, doesn’t matter what I used for avoidance. Running from the pain reminded me of a children’s game often found at arcades called Whack-a-Mole where you hammer down toy moles when they pop up through various holes. But the thing is, when you just stuff something down in its’ hole, then it just comes out another way. Pain, grief, loss, emptiness and sorrow do the same as the mole. I whack down sadness and physical fatigue I could not managed popped up. I’d address the fatigue mole and then a mole of fear regarding my professional future popped up in the corner. So I became more focused on learning to ignore it. I’d be irritable and depressed — and found myself becoming a tearful person.
When baseline behavior changes, there is something inside us calling for attention. Many ignore it as I did, until it is no longer possible. I became a workaholic. In losing my professional identity from the car accident, I felt I lost my identity, value and worth. Our society endorses workaholism, and you are rewarded for long, unpaid hours by elevated status, perceived devotion by others as a “go-getter” in the company and etc. It was there I found my identity and shined. It’s socially acceptable to be a workaholic, even though I was seeking the the same outcome (numbing or reducing undesirable feelings/emotions) as many alcoholics, gamblers and even hoarders. However, the “good girl” in me would not accept coping skills which were not accepted in society.
So I lived for decades with my Type A personality, and when life was messy and ucky, I’d just hammer it down like I did when I played Whack-A-Mole. However, just as any form of avoidance of our personal issues, you will be forced in time to deal with them. It’s how we are made. It is not a matter of will I, but how will I see/deal with them. Just as in an earlier post I discussed the importance of homeostasis (equal or balance) in relationships and how you must fill up your tank as you give and give, so you don’t end up living on fumes, this need for balance is also critical in purging yourself of all the ucky emotions. If you do not deal with your emotional needs, the stress will come out in headaches, ulcers, chronic pain and even more dangerous issues. Stress and unprocessed pain or memories is toxic muck. So I’d push down my regrets over my mother and another mole would pop up in life in the form of a headache, nausea and even muscle spasms. My immune system was fair, yet I began to have more colds and flus.
So as my rehabilitate physically, I am taking the time to grow and heal mentally & emotionally. I am opening some scenes in my past which caused great pain, sorrow, embarrassment and even shame. Working through the loss of my mother and learning my father is, in essence, lost/gone to his mental illness has been literal hell. Time does not heal wounds not addressed, processed, felt with one’s whole being. If they are stuffed down, they will come out in other avenues. (Remember the whack a mole).
I come from generations of “Secret Keepers”. Yet, there is nothing to shameful to hide down here on earth– this isn’t our final stop. I am here to work through stuff and then be reunited with my Creator and Author of Life.
So this blog is going to get raw. I’m going to throw it all out there and scrub my soul. Am I afraid?
Hell yes! I’d be truly emotionally inaccessible if I were not fearful. The unknown is scary. That’s why we fear the dark. Processing hurt, pain, neglect and abuse — it’s surely going to hurt. But then when I write it down and put it out there… I will be free. I know. Words are powerful.
I am willing to step on the first stair of a darkened stair-case out of my pain.
God be with me through this journey.
No more doing for this girl. I’m going to live and do it right!