How ironic that exactly one week after I posted “Why Bad Things Happen to Good People“, a very “bad thing” happened to me.
I won’t go into detail about what happened, other than to say that at the time, it seemed like the end of my world. So this past week has been filled with lots of soul searching and figuring out how to handle it. Looking back, it is clear that this wasn’t the end of the world, and the perspective offered by time has helped put my mind to ease. Here is what I learned about dealing with all the monkey wrenches life throws at you:
1. Let the Stages of Grief Happen
People talk frequently about the five stages of grief. Well I went through them all vividly this past week. I tried telling myself that it wasn’t really happening. Denial. I was so mad at everyone and everything that I just wanted to punch something repeatedly, which I did (my steering wheel). Anger. Then I tried pleading with God about how I would do anything for things to go back to how they were before. Bargaining. Then I was so upset that didn’t want to talk to people and just wanted to sit on my butt and watch Netflix all day. Depression. Then finally I came to grips with what had happened, and now I’m moving forward. Acceptance.
Some people think these stages are a cliché or that they are too strong of a person to need to go through them. I disagree. I went through these 5 stages without thinking about it or even realizing they were happening. Looking back it’s clear what it was. And I’m glad I did. Because if I had just pretended to be ok with everything right off the bat, I don’t think I’d be in as healthy a mindset as I am having gone through those steps first. Let it happen. It doesn’t mean you’re weak or that you can’t handle a crises appropriately. That is how to handle it. Don’t fight it.
2. Don’t be Alone
Find someone to talk to. Anyone. Whether a family member, a friend, a spouse, a therapist, a religious leader, a support group, or some random person you meet at a park. Talk to someone about how you’re feeling. The worst thing you can do when life sucks is just keeping it all bottled up inside. It just eats at you and you feel alone and isolated, which is when most people turn to destructive habits like drugs or alcohol to escape from their problems. Talk to people. If you’re in a really bad place mentally and don’t know who to talk to, call a hotline. They are always available just to talk and listen, and they will never meet you so you have nothing to be embarrassed about. I didn’t get anywhere near that bad, but I was very lucky to have my 2 very supportive parents and several great friends who were very kind and loving during my trial. They gave great advice and support, but honestly just talking to them helped me vocalize my fears, which helped me start to put things in perspective.
3. Look for the Next Door
The saying goes “When one door closes another one opens.” There are lots of variations on that saying, but the message is always the same. If something terrible happens and you feel like your life comes to a screeching halt because you were stopped in your progress toward something, life isn’t over. Immediately start looking for the other doors. For me, it was like I was looking down a hallway, with several doors all lined up in a row, stretching into the distance. And when that first door slammed shut, I was afraid all the other doors after it were inaccessible. They aren’t! I’m positive that I’ll find a door that gets me where I want to be, I’ll just be taking a different route to get there. Who knows? Maybe it’ll be an even better, more rewarding road. Even if the only door that is being opened in all of this is a lesson and growing opportunity, I will come out of it a better person. No matter what the case may be, don’t dwell on the past. Find a reason to keep moving forward. There is a door open somewhere, just look for it.