My Journey of Healing Part 2- Healing Through Happiness
I think it is often the case that the healing journey begins with the question, “What’s wrong with me?” and should eventually bring about the answer, “Nothing.”
I personally remember the first time I asked myself, “What is wrong with me?” I was watching Finn as he was working through a little cough, maybe he just swallowed wrong even, and I thought, “Alright, here it is, our next trip to the hospital.” When the coughing fit passed, and it was clear he was fine, I felt what I can only describe as disappointment. I thought, “What the hell is wrong with me wanting my son to have to go the hospital!?” The truth was I had PTSD from Finn’s previous hospitalizations and other family member emergencies and my internal clock for trauma was just set to go off. I was ready for the next shoe to drop as they say, but like, really ready.
Asking the question was a good first step. That was not a “normal” response to my son coughing and it needed to be addressed. Through the work I did in therapy, journaling, praying, reading, learning, and more, I was able to identify things like PTSD, unprocessed grief, guilt, and a sense of brokenness in myself. Some things I believe I truly worked past, like the feeling of being broken, and some I know are just a part of me now, like grief. In addressing these issues it helped me to realize there was not actually anything ‘wrong’ with me, but rather just parts of myself I needed to understand how to navigate. I am so many different things and just one of them is someone who still grieves the great losses in her life; and grief is not something that you fix, it is something that you learn to give its place in your life so that it does not overwhelm you.
So after learning what I needed to let go of and what was mine to hold onto, and that there was actually nothing ‘wrong’ with me, what was left to do? The simple answer? Be happy. Choose joy. Or whatever other Hobby Lobby sign you want to pick. It was time to heal through happiness. It was time to focus on all the many, many good things, time to stop looking for what was wrong and look for what was very right.
Having lost my dad when he was just 51, and my mom at 65, gave me a unique perspective on life. Firstly, to live the crap out of it while I have it, and secondly, to take care of myself in a way that would hopefully afford me a longer one. Having had bad days that involved literally trying to keep my son alive, I had a better perspective on the other, not so life threatening hardships of life. So I started to do things that made me happy. I traveled, spent time with friends, ate delicious meals, worked out, reached out to help others, took family trips, and just felt freaking happy.
My family and me enjoying a summer day out on the lake.
When Covid hit my first reaction was fear, almost panic, but then I had to take inventory of my reality. My family was healthy, we were safe, and we very much knew how to handle quarantining. We had SO MUCH to be thankful for—a home, a yard, work that wasn’t furloughed, and so on. We are coming up on a year of Covid and if I had allowed myself to sit in the fear I initially felt, I would have missed out on so much life.
In our society its seems like we can enroll in the school of, What Is Wrong With Me, and choose to never graduate. There is always something more we need to “fix” with ourselves. I’m so thankful I quit that school. I’m thankful I took what I needed so I knew how to handle hard things that do come up, that I accepted grief and loss as a part of me, but not as who I am, and that I changed the question then to: “What is Right?”
I think of it now like a child in school with so many new things to learn. Everyone inevitably has their strengths and weaknesses. It’s important to help children with their weaknesses so they can at least get to an operational level with a basic understanding to get through life, but we need not force the poet into MIT or the future scientist into art school. We encourage them to pursue their strengths and what excites them. Similarly we have to address our short comings so we can know how to handle them and work with them in life, but then focus the bulk of our energy on what makes us wonderful, what brings us joy, and what makes this life worth living.
I really love to laugh, and sometimes I’m even the funny one. I’ve learned to be really intentional about holding space for people’s feelings without judging them or invalidating them, so I’m a great person to talk to. I’m a really good mom and I’m raising incredible humans. I freaking love my husband and I’m the best wife I have ever been. My body is strong and rather miraculous actually. I run a small business that is intentional and thoughtful and is really helping people. I have a beautiful life.
I’m also someone who carries some heavy grief and I have messed up pretty big in my life, but I am terrible at science so chose not to become a doctor and I cannot change the past so I choose not to focus on it. I am enrolled in the school of ‘What is good?’ and I am learning more every day. They are now accepting students; come join me.