Today is where your book begins; the rest is still unwritten. These song lyrics have run through my mind all night, keeping me from sleeping. A perfect lead in to today’s topic.
I am old enough to know that setbacks are not the end of life; they are usually just a transition point. If you have been reading along, you know that it is the stuff of my writing.
When I experienced what we used to call a mental breakdown, at the age of thirty-one, I recognized that it was a wake up call to make some changes in my life. Obviously, the way I had been living was not working for me, so I needed to learn a new way.
Losing my mind was like falling into a black hole. I felt as if I was at the bottom of a deep abyss, with no visible means of escape. Four things saved me: my faith, my children, my writing, and my friends.
I knew that if I was to survive the experience, I would have to build my own stairway out. I began with my beliefs.
Step one. I believed that God never gave us anything we couldn’t handle, so therefore, I had it within me to heal.
Step two. I believed that what happened, happened for a reason, so that there was a purpose for my suffering.
Step three. I believed that God gives us what we need, so that help would be there for me.
Don’t get me wrong, losing one’s mind is a horrible thing. In the beginning, I shook uncontrollably for most of the days, lying in a fetal position on my bed. But I knew if I was ever to get better, I had learn to “walk” again.
I set baby step goals for myself. As my children were still considerably young, I made them a priority. The first goal was to spend fifteen minutes a day of quality time with my children, without the trembling and tears. I found I was able to control the anxiety for short periods of time, when I focused on them, instead of me.
The second goal was to get out of the house everyday, even if I was only able to walk to the end of the street (driving was out of the question). This was difficult, but I knew it was important not to give into the fear and become housebound.
In between times, I wrote and wrote, processing every thought, fear, and emotion, until I reached some aha moments. I used my dreams as a guide.
When I grew a little bit stronger, I called upon trusted friends, who put together a healing circle that met once a week in support of my healing.
I learned many things from that time of darkness. Mostly, I learned that if something is not life or death, then it is not worth worrying about. I let go of my need for perfection. I learned that nothing is as precious as the relationships that sustain us. And I realized the depth of my own inner strength.
None of us would ever choose setbacks, but in retrospect, would we ever grow without them?