To Cope or Not To Cope...
They say that hindsight is 20/20, but I think it takes YEARS before that is actually true. I look back on some big life hurdles that I had in my 20's and a few of them I can say, "that happened for a reason because of THIS, but I don't know about that." Throughout my time in Utah, especially while I was in therapy, I was hella angry and bitter at my realities, but I know for certain that those 18 months of brutal shedding of toxins were preparing me for some tough life challenges that I would have 5 years later. As I shared in my last post, Ogden was tough, but it was glorious. I've officially been gone for 10 days today and they've been challenging, but they have also been full of peace. I have dubbed myself a "coping ninja" after 2015 because there were so many opportunities for me to give up and lay on the floor and get trampled and I didn't do it. Not once. I paid my bills with hardly any money, I served others who were in far greater need than me and most of all, I turned back to God and put the outcome of my life in His hands.
To cope or not to cope? That is the question we face at times in our lives. I wish I could diagram it for some people because it seems that it is a concept that is not grasped by many. From an early age we teach our children that crying is not acceptable in certain circumstances and then at some point we hope that as teens and adults they pick up on the memo that crying is actually healthy and necessary and not a sign of weakness. One of the first steps I had to take in my quest to be a coping ninja was letting myself cry. I'm a stress crier. It's ridiculous actually, but I've let it be. For many years, I was discouraged to cry in times of stress. The philosophy was that we cry when we are hurt; the rest of the time it shows we are weak. Wrong, my lovelies. Absolutely wrong. I held my crap together pretty well during 2015 and its long list of challenges, but there were a lot of times that I couldn't take it anymore and fell apart. Probably the queen of all comeaparts (totally a word) was on New Year's Eve (impeccable timing) when the moving truck company called me to say that they did not have a truck on their lot in Ogden (I was in Idaho) and there was nothing they could do to help me since I wasn't standing in front of them with my fancy gold credit card in hand. I LOST MY MARBLES on the phone with the truck company employee. I'm sure she was pissed about being at work on the biggest drinking holiday of the year, but I was also completely pissed that it somehow wasn't her problem that the truck I had reserved ten days earlier wasn't sitting on her lot and I was finding out about it while my friend was there to pick up said M.I.A. truck. The rest of the story goes like this: Uhaul saved the day and I got to move on New Year's Day as planned. The end result was different than I had planned, but it still accomplished the same goal and for THAT I was grateful and moved forward. That is coping. Coping is accepting that we don't have control over everything so we need to accept what is and roll with it.
The second step in my coping ninja quest was finding the root of my pain and addressing the solution from there. I think it's really hard for people to be 100% honest with themselves about the root of their struggles. We all come from different religious backgrounds and family situations that have given us differing foundations (or none at all for some) of how to analyze our life and conquer our trials. As a society we tend to opt to labels. "I have commitment and trust issues so I drink to numb the pain." "I just broke up with my girlfriend/boyfriend so I'm going to sleep with whoever will have me because that seems to make me feel better in the moment." "I've had a terrible day at work so I'm going to eat everything in my fridge and then throw it up so that I don't get fat." Each of those scenarios, drastic as they sound, are real and happen often to those around us. I've generally been a "stop eating when life gets hard" kind of lady, but this year I didn't lose the token 20 pounds....I gained it. I was SO angry when I realized that. Wait what? Because my fall back on stress should be the weight loss plan? What it really showed to me was my body was done and couldn't work on overtime to keep my brain functioning like a normal person AND burn fat AND keep me from killing small animals. Not possible! Coping meant this to my body: going to bed at night and shutting my brain down to sleep, waking up my brain in the morning and filling my heart with faith to take more steps and sending messages to the muscles in my legs to take those steps out the door so I could conquer my trials. The rest was just details.
The third step is letting go of what we can't control and giving it over to a higher being. Many times I've had the opportunity to share my thoughts on God's role in my life. A lot of those opportunities have been to kids or teens so I have composed a simple version. Ironically, the simple version also appeals to the adult audiences because it's just that: plain and simple and to the point. Our life is a time line of events here, here, here and here. Sometimes we can handle a LOT and other times we can handle very little. The good news is that God and Jesus Christ fill in the gaps for us, as we communicate with them through prayer about our shortcomings and what we can't take anymore. He then sends people into our lives to fill in the gaps, to fill our buckets when the well is dry. I've experienced it over and over. The element of coping comes in to play when we can put down our pride and admit that we are weak and the people being sent to help are there because WE NEED THEM. If you need help, ask, but don't turn away the acts of kindness when they arrive and seem remedial to you. You are the source of someones intuition to help; don't crush that opportunity for them. Let yourself be loved, looked after and blessed.
I am really grateful for the understanding that my life has a purpose and that my inability to control every little part is OK. I'm also grateful that when I have a weepy weak day of missing my friends and loves that God fills in the gaps and carries me home and puts peace in my heart while I pour myself to bed.
The moral of the story: The future is bright for each and every one of us and we can accomplish a LOT with patience and the ability to breathe, trust and cope.
Until next time, my lovelies.