“It’s not the load that breaks you down, it’s the way you carry it” — Lou Holtz
How do you show up in times of adversity? Growing up, I leaned on my faith. I asked God to help me when I was nervous before a test or waiting for a boy to text me back. I asked him “why” when disappointments came. I told him I knew it was all in his plan. I asked him to help me understand.
Even now, when my steadfast Mother tells me she’ll pray for me before a big event in my life, I feel a wave of peace wash over me. I still believe God hears our prayers. I just can’t rectify his willingness to help me pass my 8th grade math exam with the fact that so many other children my age were being sold into slavery, sexual servitude, or death. I believe in the comfort God provides, but I also believe in free will and chaos.
So how do I cope with adversity now? I wish I could tell you I was good at it. That I reach deep down and become Tami Taylor-meets-Khaleesi, when life’s at it’s hardest. But I don’t. I generally reach deep down, reemerge with a pint of cookie butter and a sleeve of Oreos, and proceed to dwell on everything I see as wrong with my white, reasonably successful, middle-class life.
That’s not to trivialize that these last few weeks have been pretty hard. Leaving a home, a life, and a community behind has not been easy. We spent six weeks in a tiny rental basement apartment while we waited to close on our new home. I kept telling myself that when we were finally in our home i would feel better. I didn’t. Then I told myself that I just needed to unpack everything and I would feel better. Spoiler alert: I didn’t.
After a night when I was particularly brutal to JD, I found myself remembering a few words my blessed therapist shared with me. “Sit in your feelings. Really feel them. Acknowledge them as valid. And then decide how you’re going to move on.”
I realize that I haven’t been allowing myself to feel the loss and loneliness that is only natural when leaving all that is loved and familiar behind. I’ve been looking into the future and waiting for it to fix me. The truth is. I feel broken right now. And that’s OK. I need to take a minute and acknowledge the fullness of that brokenness. Then I get to decide how to move forward.
As my worldview has changed, I’ve had to build new “agreements” around how I handle difficult times. That, in itself, has not been easy. For me, that looks like taking more responsibility for what I feel, why I feel it, and what the outcome of those feelings is. I still ask God for peace and clarity, but I struggle asking for help when so many others require it more.
I could keep waiting for circumstances or a Heavenly Father to make me feel better. Or I could acknowledge what I’m feeling, decide how I’m going to move on, and then go do it. “You get to decide who you’re going to be here,” JD has been telling me excitedly over the last few weeks. And he’s right. Who do I want to be? Who do you want to be?