In my last post, I wrote about Manmade Islands. I ended the post with this mission statement of sorts:
In the pain. In the mess. In the shame. In the happiness. In the victories. In the addictions. In the sobriety. In the frustration. In the peace. In the bountiful times. In the times of lack. In the times of new life. In the times of loss. During times of career success. During times of wandering & searching.
Always Choose Connection.
But what if you aren’t ready for bridge building or island hopping? What if you aren’t ready to abandon your island?
Maybe you find yourself flailing your arms & legs as your body bobs under & then above the water not too far from shore.
The waves of life are violently tossing you around like you’re a beanbag in the parachute game at gym class.
Water enters your lungs.
& you think to yourself:
“This is it. No one can even see me through all the gray, all the clouds, all the rain.
They don’t even know where I am to be able to save me.
I’ve made myself an island because of my pain & now this storm is wreaking havoc on my world & I have no one.
Calm. Breathe. Think. Take action.
- Calm – Surrender. Stop fighting the waves that won’t relent. Instead, you float.
- Breathe – Slow the panic that accompanies your lack of control. In our house, we call this a yoga breath. You breathe in & then as you exhale you pretend like you are blowing bubbles. This forces you to be intentional with your breath so that you can stop reacting emotionally to every.single.thing.
- Think – Now that you are floating & breathing you can brainstorm…Who seems safe? Who’s already offered help? Where are your resources? What do you personally need to make it back to land?What comforts you when you feel broken, out of control, or maybe both?
- Take Action – Put yourself into motion towards one of the answers you just came up with: 1. Reaching out to a safe or available person & making your needs known to them, so that they have an opportunity to help you back to shore. 2. Figuring out which scriptures, authors, heroes, music, help you feel empowered & then surrounding yourself with them. 3. Investing time in a pedicure, yoga class, reading, or vacation. Practice self-care.
Now that you’ve managed to get back to shore. What will you do to prepare for the next time the waves sweep you off the dry land & start playing volleyball with you?
In this moment you can make the decision to make a bridge & be intentional about connecting with others.
The first time I gave birth I experienced major postpartum depression. It was awful. The meds I finally broke down & took, put me into a zombie-like state. & that was awful. I ended up trying a number of things & had a long road back to feeling like myself again.
Always wanting a large family, I knew I wanted to get pregnant again, eventually. Once that finally happened & our due date neared, I started letting people whom I was close to aware of what I might need after baby arrived. I remember telling them things like:
I will most likely stop talking to everyone, please don’t take this personally, keep reaching out to me. I will need people to come over & hold my baby. I will need people to bring me meals. Don’t let me disappear. If you haven’t heard from me in awhile, please reach out. I will need encouragement.
This was my way of prepping for the storm. I was leaving a map for others to find me if I ended up washed out to sea again. I didn’t want to take any chances of being lost again.
I wasn’t being pessimistic. & I wasn’t believing for the worst. I was doing everything I could think of to combat a known enemy – postpartum depression. Something I knew I was susceptible to. This did not make me weak. Taking it seriously & taking action took strength.
I not only reached out to others & had nice long chats with my Hubby, but I also got vitamins, comfy postpartum jams to wear around the house, cute underwear instead of the granny panties I had the first time around. I made a soundtrack for my birth. & I prayed a lot.
I’m grateful that it wasn’t as bad the second time around. Because of all the loss we had endured along the way to these moments, my heart just overflowed with happiness.
In my last post, I spoke about the importance of letting people witness your journey no matter what:
“We must allow others the opportunity to be a part of our journey. Even the messiest parts.”
When we let people in, our victories are sweet to them as well. They understand the depth of our excitement. So when depression didn’t consume me & all I could do was beam & smile while holding my little bundle, the ones I had allowed to be a part of the messy parts of my journey, understood just how big a deal that was. They understood that it was more than just the joy of a new mother. They were witnessing the joy of someone who had almost drowned from the waves life had tossed her in. I had survived. I had fought back. & I had won this round. Celebrating with people that “got me” made it all the sweeter.
How are you getting ready for the next storm of life? Who are you intentionally reaching out to? We all have mess. Stepping over the shame that comes so naturally to us & also realizing the power & joy awaiting us when we decide to be vulnerable, is a great way to get started.
Reach out. Leave a map for us to find you. Let us witness your journey in all its messy glory & then you can be certain that You will not drown.