About a year ago, I thought my life was as bad as it could possibly be.
Then things got worse. So much worse.
Survival, at times, seemed somewhat elusive.
Things are so much better now, thank God. And while the details are private and irrelevant here, my feelings, as always, are fair game for my posts.
As a writer, I've always shared my feelings with ease. I find there's no better way to make sense of this crazy life than to consider and assimilate others' feedback after calling it like I see it.
And though I try my best to understand life from every angle, our views won't always synchronize, because life is -- and always will be -- a series of waves. And waves, as you may know, are measured in many different ways, most notably:
Height -- Is a wave high or low? With enough warning, the tallest waves are survivable. Just think of tsunami warnings.
Period -- Is there a measurable distance between each wave? With a solid plan, the incessant pounding of wave-after-wave is tolerable. Think of preparations for hurricanes.
Direction -- From where is the wave coming? When faced head on, it's possible to conquer the most ferocious of waves. Think of a boat, cutting bow-first into a monster wave rather than getting knocked flat from the side.
But it's in the absence of warnings, plans, and clear direction that any type of wave might knock us flat on our asses.
During this past year, I've stared down multiple waves -- simultaneously -- and survived. How have I done it? Frankly, at times, I've wondered that myself.
When faced with waves I didn't expect -- without warning or a plan or a true sense of direction -- there's been a stillness before I'd take action. Some might call it shock. Others might say paralysis. At times I felt it was both. Other times I just felt exhausted and numb. But with time and perspective, I've learned what it really was.
It's called acceptance.
When the storm is upon you and there's no clear way around it, trying to outrun the bugger feels completely impossible. You have only one choice, and that's to keep going. To accept what's there in front of you.
Whenever I was flooded with intense emotions, I'd ask myself questions, hoping to survive.
How did I get here?
Where is the exit?
What's the least destructive method of escape?
I'd never have the answers, but it turns out asking the questions was enough.
Entirely, completely, unquestionably enough.
In fact, more than enough.
Because, while it sometimes felt like inertia, it was actually progress to hold myself still and say, "Dear God. I don't know what the hell this is or what I'm going to do right now."
Knee-jerk, panicked responses, like turning the wheel or jumping out of the boat, sometimes seemed like the only options, but they never, ever were. These tests, and this past year, have taught me I'm not the type to turn away from things, nor is abandoning ship in my nature.
And I'm guessing, if you're reading this, you feel the same.
I sometimes did find myself attempting an attitude of faking it, acting like the badass-self I wished I was...acting tougher than nails and capable as hell...which only took me as far as any façade will. But then, I still found myself up against those waves, with my sails (and cape) shredded after playing superhero.
Façade worn away, finally accepting reality -- that's when progress happened. That's when I found myself moving through the storms.
I've learned a lot about myself in one year's time. About how I process things...what I'd like to see improved...what I stand for...what I can tolerate...what I need to survive...what I can let go.
I've learned how to respond to situations I'd never before experienced. I've survived some of the circumstances I'd always feared most.
Not because I had all the answers or because my tools were at the ready. I survived because I didn't bail. I survived because I said, "I don't have all the tools. Will someone show me?" I survived because I accepted that I had to.
Whatever you're facing right now, you will survive it. You don't think you can. In fact, you are certain you cannot.
And that's okay.
Your pain and fear and sadness and anger are real.
But so is your ability to overcome this. Survival is all about believing and holding still until you're ready to face the storm.
Don't fight against yourself trying to fix it all. Just look at those waves, from whatever direction they may be coming, and breathe.
You've got this.