It was something that I didn't wish to profit from as this subject kept becoming more and more present in my life.
I have heard how illness in the family can shakedown the whole system, but to experience it left me with no words.
Since last fall, really, a perfect storm was brewing. Two illnesses in my family were already happening and when the holidays approached, a third one popped up that really hit home...literally. And all that had led up to that moment (a housing crisis and a job loss) could not prepare me for the level of anxiety that awaited.
Out of respect for my family, I won't go into gruesome details on what exactly sabotaged the health of those I love, but what I will say is that it impacted everybody in the immediate realm. Lifestyles changed, future plans changed, even ideas and outlooks on life changed.
It was a shakedown alright.
Luckily and unluckily I didn't have a stressful job to report to when all of this was happening. Luckily, because I had the option to be fully present with my family. Unluckily, because I didn't have the stress of the demands to give me structure, should my mind decide to wander into dark thoughts. And sometimes, it did.
Being in a situation where my hands felt tied was probably one of the worst feelings I have ever felt. Aside from the chaos around me that was growing more and more unavoidable - my growing feelings of helplessness was not okay. As much as I wanted to pick myself up and dust myself off, there were moments of paralysis that were extremely difficult to shake off.
In a sick, twisted, sense of curiosity, I decided to unlock a decade long mystery of mine by exploring the act of seeing a therapist. I have heard good things. I have heard bad things. For me, this turned out to be a very healthy step. So healthy, in fact, that I understand how some people incorporate it into their lifestyle like going to the gym or eating healthy. Talking to someone who has no emotional, direct, ties to my life helped me create a new perspective on things.
The holidays rolled around and there were plenty of ups and downs throughout those moments. A major up was welcoming Flopsy and Cottyntail into the family. I swear, these babies served as my little guardian angels. I haven't been one to express spirituality, but these babies were truly unique from the moment I first held them. While Marbles and Blackberry continued to make me laugh by including me in their playful games, Flopsy and Cottyntail were all about expressing love and affection. They wanted to be cuddled, they were always wanting mine and Andrew's undivided attention. They have shown me that although certain hardships give me the feeling that my warmth and compassion are depleting - One look at them and that is clearly not the case.
Another reminder are the friends that have stepped up in the most surprising ways. I have enjoyed every phone call, every coffee break, every DM asking me how I am doing and through these acts of compassion and kindness, I am reminded of how much stronger love is than hate. I hate that these illnesses have caused so much pain, I hate that I have to go through this, I hate that progress appears to be happening later rather than sooner, I hate that I had to put aside my emotions to keep my thoughts straight in the midst of chaos, but the love from my family and friends became the solid triumph - showing me that this too shall pass.
One of my family members assured me that all was meant to be as these chain of events unfolded. To her, it was a good thing that my housing crisis happened because that building was falling apart and there were always major issues lurking around every corner, a stress I didn't need to carry on for what was about to happen. Losing my job was another blessing in her mind, "I think if you were still trying to uphold the daily demands while trying to juggle the three family illnesses, you would have had a meltdown." Deep down, she’s was probably right. "Maybe, you need a break," she continued. I hated the word "break" and I hated "downtime" even more. I don't know why... Maybe because I was afraid. I was afraid that if I stopped wherever I was at and whatever I was doing, I would immediately run the risk of being lackadaisical (I should touch base with my therapist on this one) And honestly...I didn't think I was deserving of a break. I felt I did a lot but really had nothing to show for it and I shouldn't stop until I do.
Downtime...what can I gain from downtime?
...Something, I'm afraid. And yes, I do say "afraid" because I am an American and our culture discourages the idea of month long vacations and paid family leave - not to mention that success is often the image of a CEO known for sacrificing sleep and the chance of a personal life to be the life support of a multi-million dollar net worth business...
Ultimately, I did come to a breaking point where I just didn’t have it in me to be afraid anymore...I felt I had no choice, but to take a moment to just breathe, absorb the stillness, and re-evaluate my life. As uncomfortable as this was, there were elements that made it worth while. My biggest takeaway was learning to embrace two philosophies I have shunned for so long and putting them into a daily practice surprisingly works for me.
Baby Cottyntail is living proof of one of the philosophies when she miraculously healed from her injury after being brutally attacked. Going through the journey of watching her prove the doctors wrong by her will and determination to keep her leg has shown me that anything is possible. And that's the mindset I am choosing to stick with, regardless of what's next to come...