We're allowed to mourn the loss of our normal lives, without being shamed for it.
This has been sitting with me since I started going through my recovery. And now, it seems that we are all going through it together as a society.
I lost my "normal" life the moment that aneurysm ruptured. My life will never be the way it used to be. It might seem like I live a pretty normal life and I mostly do - but only I will ever know how my life has drastically changed.
To be honest with you all, there is not one day that goes by that I don't miss my pre-annie life. I miss it deeply. Like missing a person that has passed away. You yearn to see them, to hold them, to speak to them one last time - just for a second. Seeing their pictures makes you miss a time that you were together. I feel that way about the part of my life that I lost. I feel the loss in my bones, in my soul and every part of my being.
I miss the simplicity of it all, even though it was never simple as a single mom. I miss not having to worry about my blood pressure, or another aneurysm rupturing. I miss not worrying about that headache I suddenly got. I miss not struggling with my left side. I miss not being constantly worried about myself. I miss not worrying about my son losing his mommy. I miss my normal comings and goings.
At times, when I expressed the slightest complaint, dissatisfaction, or frustration about something that was going on - it was followed by . . . "But this made you strong. But you learned so much. But you're such an inspiration to others.But you survived!" Yes, yes, yes, and yes. But guess what?
I get to be sad about not having my old life, while being grateful for surviving. I don't have to pick and choose my feelings. I get to have all them and sometimes at the same time! As do you!
Coronavirus has impacted all of our lives. In my personal opinion, our "normal" days are gone. It might sound a little dramatic to some of you - but at the very least, we will all think twice when we don't wash our hands or when we are standing too close to someone.
At a time like this, a lot of us often think, "Oh I shouldn't complain about not being able to see my family. Because at least they are healthy." Or, "I shouldn't complain about having to do double duty of teacher and my job, because at least I still have a job." Without realizing it, we shame ourselves for our feelings. Then we take to social media to share our anxiety, fear, sadness and disappointment in hopes to find a connection with others at a time when we are in isolation. But sometimes we are met with shame from strangers.
I've seen people on social media shaming others for sharing their own sadness about the loss in their lives, big and small.
I've seen mothers stressed about working from home while trying to be a teacher to their kids, followed by - "be grateful you still have a job, people are losing their jobs!"
The sadness of canceled events such as weddings, trips, and graduations has had the backlash of, "people are dying, be grateful that you're alive."
Grief about not being able to physically be with loved ones has had negative comments such as, "be grateful that you still have a family, when so many are losing theirs to this virus."
Through all of this, I have thought, but can't we feel both? Can't we feel bad about our own circumstances while having perspective on of the bigger picture? Just as I thought, about my recovery, "can't I be angry and sad, while feeling grateful for being alive?"
Then I came across Dr. Brené Brown's new Podcast, Unlocking Us. On March 27th episode, Comparative Suffering the 50/50 Myth, and Settling the Ball (at mark 16:05)*, she talks about exactly what we are all experiencing right now,
Comparative Suffering is the thought or feeling that we don't have a right to feel a certain way because we don't have it THAT bad. Dr. Brown says, "Unfortunately, one of the things that is immediately triggered when we go through fear and scarcity, is comparison. . . . Who's got more. Who has it better.*"
As if when we feel bad about our own situation, we won't have enough empathy for others. But it doesn't work that way. We don't get a certain amount of "empathy chips" that if we use for ourselves then oops - we don't have anymore left or anyone else.
The important thing in these kind of tragic, life-altering events is to keep perspective. Keeping perspective doesn't mean that we don't have a right to feel the heavy sorrow for our own situations while feeling the same for those who are suffering with other tragic events in their lives.
To all of us who are suffering, don't feel ashamed for it. Don't let others shame you for it. Our suffering is not a competition and it most certainly is not something to feel ashamed of.
May we all Triumph through these trying times.
*Brown, Brené. “Comparative Suffering the 50/50 Myth, and Settling the Ball” Podcast. Unlocking Us. Publisher, March 27,2020. https://brenebrown.com/podcast/introducing-unlocking-us/