“Once upon a time there was light in my life…”
- Bonnie Tyler. 1983
Spoiler alert (sorry Bonnie)…there still IS light in your life! Stop singing right there and read on!
I have always believed that the human spirit is so powerful in its essence that it can withstand the most unthinkable scenarios involving loss – how else can we can we explain the creative spirit of, say, Anne Frank, who lived for years in hiding during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands? How else could a kid like Bethany Hamilton, the 13-year-old surfer who had her arm bitten off by a tiger shark in Hawaii, get back in the ocean on her board with one arm and a boatload of trauma?! That is the spirit of our spirits! It is our NATURE to not only survive but to thrive, if we so choose.
I am learning this myself, in real time, as I navigate this season of my life and the choice has become pretty simple. More simple for me than before this tragedy of losing my husband… I hate thinking that it took THIS kind of crazy to truly get me to understand the meaning of putting “my mask on FIRST” but it did. Better late than never.
Let’s backtrack for a minute here…
If you know me, or read my bio on this site, you’ll know that I had been doing some pretty solid work on myself before life threw me the ultimate curve ball. I had been sober for 18 months and was happy about it – not deprived. I was steadily growing a successful essential oil business that fulfilled some of my need to be of service in my community and allowed me to use my skills as an educator and speaker. But, I was struggling with the part where I was meant to be putting myself first. To nurture my own needs made sense intellectually but still felt selfish. Like a luxury. Like it would somehow take away from my family if I were to start devoting myself to practices that made me feel good! Then quarantine hit…
With a two parent to two kid ratio, all the sudden I had all the time I needed to devote to my family AND to exercise, meditate, study EFT Tapping as a student practitioner and even try kundalini yoga…. All of this is transformational shit!!! And I was starting to do it! I could see that as I was nourishing my own spirit through these practices and devotions, I was modeling something important to my kids and my husband… and I was starting to see an evolution in the things we were focused on as a family. We got a little taste of what it felt like to be truly present, together, all the time (a bit of a learning curve for the four of us who were used to Dad being at work 14 hours a day and Mom micro-managing everyone!), my husband made the choice to join me in my sober lifestyle and we started to really have the ability to talk and communicate about things beyond schedules, finances, vacations and activities. Things were headed in the right direction for sure, but the struggle was still real – I couldn’t do any of my “self-care” activities without a mild feeling of guilt. The good news was that it seemed that over the course of a few months, I had built myself a pretty robust toolbox of practices that were helping me cope in a way that alcohol or shopping never had. (Sorry shopping… I love you, but you just don’t deliver the goodness in the long term!)
Fast forward to September 24th, the day my husband went for a morning drive and never came home. That night, as our children slept, I sat in the darkness of my home, the wind blowing torrential rains against the windows and my body paralyzed in an intense state of ‘fight, flight or freeze’ mode. I knew, innately, that he wasn’t coming back. He would never stay out without being in contact. He lived for us. Something had gone very wrong. And in that moment, all I had was myself. I didn’t have him. I didn’t have a friend to sit with me. I didn’t have booze. I didn’t have the loving arms of my kids. All I had was me… BUT… I also had that toolbox.
So, looked inside and grabbed my essential oils and took long deep breaths from my bottle of Vetiver oil (Do not underestimate the calming effects of Nature’s Ativan. It’s the real deal.) and I began my practice of EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) tapping – a simple but powerful combination of talking and tapping on the acupressure points to move traumatic energy out of the body so it doesn’t become trapped and manifest as illness or pain. Tapping through the points and affirming to myself that, although my level of worry and stress was high, I was safe in my body and safe in my home. Within a few minutes, I was able to dramatically reduce the feelings of panic I was having. I even took some time to write out my thoughts in my journal – to let my intuition grace the page for a moment – so that I could document this experience and maybe one day look back at the way I handled it and know that, after this, I could literally handle anything. Make no mistake. I was completely terrified. But what was the alternative? I was about to implode.
So I reached for my tools and It worked. I was able to sleep a bit that night and prepare myself for what would become several weeks of worrying, wondering and “what the actual fuck?”-ing. (I just made up a new verb. You’re welcome.)
To Be Continued….