April 7, 2016

The Most Painful Thing

The past few weeks have been beating me up - physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. It's been an all-out brawl just to get through a day lately. School still happens. Dishes and laundry still happen. Dinner still has to be made and kids still have to be put to bed. My responsibilities at my son's school and at church still need managing. It's often maddening and overwhelming.

In a moment of clarity, I realized something. Something that applies not only to what I've been experiencing, but to life in general.

The most painful thing in life is transitioning from one state to another.

Let me explain.

I've been battling back problems for years now. There are days when it HURTS to go from sitting to standing and vice versa. (TRANSITION) Fortunately, the good days outnumber the bad. Most of the time, I'm able to function without too many problems.

A couple of weeks ago, I did something stupid and my back and neck rebelled harder than they have, well, ever. I went from being completely functional and feeling great to barely moving and in constant pain. I could barely move my right arm without crying out. X-rays revealed the problem, but that didn't do anything to lessen the pain. (TRANSITION)

I spent the next couple of days in a state of shock, burying myself in binge-watching Netflix and binge-reading one book after another. How could I be so incapacitated? How could this happen? What did I do wrong? Why me?

Once I accepted my new state, the pain became more bearable and I figured out ways to cope, but not until after I allowed myself to wallow in my self-pity a bit. (Hence last week's post.)

Several visits to my chiropractor, a bunch of diet Pepsi, and hoards of chocolate later, I started feeling better. By Tuesday morning of this week, I was more limber and moving easier. In fact, I was rearing to go and ready to knock out my final revision before May. I had my laptop jimmy-rigged at my kitchen table so I could type without aggravating my already sore neck and back, I had my notes inputted, and my kiddo was sufficiently distracted so I could work in peace. Oh, yeah. My book was going to get done, gosh darn it!

Before I could write a single word, my sister called.

She was crying.

It took a bit for me to first decipher and then register what she was saying. My grandma's husband, who wasn't my grandpa but whom I love dearly, had passed away unexpectedly that morning. I desperately tried to hold back the tears as she explained what had happened. Once I hung up the phone, I allowed myself to fall apart. (TRANSITION) When the tears subsided, I dried my eyes and got to work.

In the flurry of events that followed, I was given the heartbreaking responsibility of notifying other family members while my grandma, mom, and sister dealt with paramedics, the coroner, and a million other things.

I will never forget those phone calls. Deep breath before I dialed to calm myself. Forcing a pleasantry before delving into the real reason I called. The sudden intake of breath followed by a heavy laden silence as they processed the news. (TRANSITION)

Tears. Many tears shed. Often at unexpected moments.

Busy work. Funeral details. Arranging for child care and travel. Finding replacements for responsibilities. Simply putting one foot in front of the other. Trying to not fall apart in front of my kids. At least not too badly.

And finally - two days later - acceptance.

Mostly. I'm still struggling to maintain my composure at times.

I take comfort knowing that a few months ago when my uncle died, I went through the same process and somehow came away from it in one piece. Maybe a bit battered and bruised, but alive and well. Once I became accustomed to my new state - one without someone I love in it - things became easier and I could once again breathe.

Yes, transitions are the most painful things in life. Especially when faced with so many at once. But without those transitions to remind me what I have, I wouldn't appreciate the little things as much.
I appreciate the pain-free moments when I can walk or sit without flinching. When I feel like myself again.

I appreciate my family and how we band together in times of sorrow to support one another and lift each other up.

I appreciate the warm sun on my skin, the soft breeze on my cheek, the taste of freshly baked bread, and the breathtakingly beautiful flowers gifted to me by my neighbor.

I appreciate laughter and hugs.

I appreciate Handyman Husband taking care of me and allowing me the space to grieve as I need.

I appreciate my children and their unconditional love.

I appreciate friends who lend their support and a helping hand.

I appreciate being alive.

Being free.

Chasing my dreams.

Being me.

These transitions may have slowed me down, but they haven't stopped me. After all, the transitions themselves are temporary. Life will settle back into a steady routine. The pain will subside.

There will be times when grief will wash over me, giving me pause and reminding me of what has been lost, but for the most part, I will heal.

For I am a dream-chasing dragon slayer.

That's what I do.

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