I remember the first time I heard that phrase. I was 6 or 7 years old and still using training wheels on my bike. All the other kids in the neighborhood were riding their bikes and I would be too embarrassed to ride along with my little squeaky training wheels. I think my father put off taking them off my bike because he knew once I got the hang of it I’d take off. Part of me also thinks its because he didn’t want me to grow up being the only girl in the family. But the day came and I begged and begged and off came those wheels. I practiced for almost a week before I got the knack of it, but he the first few days were a disaster. I would ride 2-3 seconds, wobble about, and fall over. The first time I fell I was on the ground and heard this big berley voice from the garage bellow “Get your ass back on that bike and do it again”. Yes, exactly in those words. Being the only girl also meant I was expected to keep up with the boys and that included being spoken to like one.
Why do I bring this all up? Because little did I know how much more getting up and trying again I would have to do in the coming years and just like that little girl on the bike, I always hear my dad’s voice from that day to “try again”. But what happens when there’s a life shattering event, another voice begins to fester, and you start to hear “I don’t know if I can do this”?
The first time I felt that way was in the middle of my chemotherapy. Besides the painful physical transformation that had occurred, the treatment I received gave me such horrible side effects, that it really tested my mental strength. I was a teenager right dab in the throws of high school drama when suddenly I found myself bald, bloated, in excruciating pain, couldn’t attend school, and was isolated from my friends beyond belief. It would be another year before I started school again and went into remission. The teasing and whispers behind my back didn’t bother me as much, but I was a shattered 15 year old. I used to say “why me?” or “why am I so alone, is this really life?”. But in retrospect I had to go through this grief and anger to move forward. I had to give myself time to be angry and sad and piece my life back together. I started seeing a therapist and when I began to feel better I joined some sports and tried to socialize with people I meshed with. It wasn’t an easy process I’ll admit, but nothing ever really is.
After high school is when the real healing started. My mom was always very involved in our diets throughout my brother and I’s cancer treatment and remission. Together, she and I learned different healthy diets and food options and it had a big impact on how I felt. She also strongly suggested yoga, which she had done her whole adult life, and that had a positive impact as well. By the time I got to college and began nursing school, health and well being were my main priority.
But life isn’t perfect and tragedy struck again. Throughout the next 6 years I lost my father, my grandmother, and was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. And all three times I had to…..”pick myself up and try again”.
Besides the constant hospital trips and exhaustion that comes when a loved one is sick, there’s still such a taxing mental aspect of it that you may not realize till it’s over, and that’s exactly what happened to me. It might sound silly but I never really thought how our physical and mental health really depend on each other until I had fibro. But it’s soo true, and as I look back on how I got survived these tribulations, when I took care of both at the same time I was able to get back on my feet a little more stable.
Realizing, reacting to my emotions (including crying while I eat a king sized Hershey bar or snapping at someone), talking to a therapist, meeting up with friends, being with my dogs, getting involved with my hobbies, books, art, light exercise, healthy diet, alone time, and rest are just some of the things I find help when I’m at the starting over point. The point where I’m so drained, tired, hurting, and don’t know where to go from here point. I’m not saying this is for everyone, but it may help you think of some of the ways you’ve gotten over some pretty hard times. When you do think of these things, make a list, tuck it away and save it. Life isn’t perfect and I’m sure there are more storms to weather, but at least now I’m prepared, and know I’m stronger for what I’ve been through.
I hope you find ways to recover and heal after difficult time and I’d love to hear some of your stories! Please feel free to share below and know that your strong, beautiful, and never alone.
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