Do you remember falling as a child and getting the wind knocked out of you? Do you remember the feeling of laying flat on your back wondering if you were going to actually die because you couldn’t even draw in a single breath?
That is what it feels like when your life as you know it is abruptly pulled out from under you. That’s the moment when the person you thought you were going to spend the rest of your life with dies.
For a moment you can’t breathe. You wonder if you might actually die. You are temporarily paralyzed.
And then you manage a single, shallow breath. Your body is resetting and learning to breathe again. A few more of those shallow, raspy ones, and you take a huge breath. You are breathing. Your body remembered what to do.
Do you immediately jump and and start running? NO!
The same applies to recovering from a tremendous loss. Let’s take a look at 8 year old you laying flat on your back on the playground.
- First you catch your breath.
- Then you do a quick body scan to determine if there is any major damage. If there is, you address it.
- Then you sit up and get oriented. This may take a minute. Being without oxygen can make you dizzy or disoriented.
- After you clear your head, you get up and usually take a deep breath. You did it!
- You take a few steps and may stagger a bit, but each step is more confident than the last.
- Only once you have done all of these steps are you ready to rejoin the game, and perhaps this time you may have a little more wisdom, such as “I can skip two monkey bars, but not three.”
While we would never chastise a child for not jumping up and taking off at a sprint after falling, we hold our adult self to a much higher bar.
How many times do you catch yourself saying, “but I should…”
After my husband died, I actually wondered if I would survive. My first task was learning how to breathe again.
I mastered first the shallow breathing and then the deep breaths. Every decision and “date” knocked me down again, until slowly I learned to breath through them.
It was only then that I did my mental scan and determined that I might actually survive. Only then was time to orient myself to my new world as a single person and mother. Just like eight year old me on the playground, it took a minute.
Getting up and taking the first steps in my new life was intimidating. I staggered and stumbled a bit, but with each step forward I felt myself becoming more confident in myself and my abilities.
I eventually decided it was time to rejoin the “game of life”, but did so with a new respect for my mortality and a deeper wisdom. I was a different person, more cautious but also more passionate. I knew what was coming for me eventually and I was determined to make this new life count.
I was determined to not only rejoin the game, but to give myself permission to live.
Give yourself the gift of grace and time. You have suffered a life changing loss. You’ve had the wind knocked out of you. Stop berating yourself because you are not immediately running the race again.
It takes time, and the gift of grace. My program, Permission To Live, can help. Just send me a message and we can talk.
All my love,