I drove a big YukonXL for 13 years. When you have four children in 7 years you haul a lot; kids, sports equipment, carpool kids, rummage sale finds. You get the picture. I needed a workhorse of a vehicle.
At one point this vehicle also became the place that provided the space for a turning point in my life. My youngest daughter was predicted to live only two years due to a degenerative disease. Because I was always busy hauling my other children around in the “truck” I rarely had time to wallow in my daughter’s prognosis. But one day after dropping off the last of her older siblings at various activities, I had a full breakdown. Right there in the big SUV. Bawling. I had to pull over.
I didn’t get it. I had been tough through these first two years of my daughter’s life. Managing the other three children’s activities, taking my youngest to lots of appointments, learning the ins and outs of metabolic syndromes. But on this day – BOOM. I was a mental mess.
I pulled the truck off the road and into a parking lot. I sobbed. Then I started to ask why? “Why are you losing it?”
Maybe through this pandemic crisis you’ve held it together great. But I’m guessing at some point you may have lost it. Your event may not have been a big, ugly cry. But if you had feelings of doubt, overwhelm or disbelief you probably were affected by the same thing driving my reaction: FEAR.
Fear is a good thing, meant to save our lives. But living in fear holds us back from moving through a disruption or crisis.
But how do you talk yourself down when fear overwhelms? You get really honest with yourself. Going deep into why you are afraid isn’t easy. All that vulnerability looks weak. People will talk. Be tough. Don’t let it show. WRONG.
Asking myself the hard question, I wiped my tears, “What are you so afraid of?” It wasn’t actually my daughter’s diagnosis I realized. Her prognosis had been with me for two year and I had made peace. I was afraid of “sad eyes”. When I used to greet friends, they were upbeat and fun. Now everyone looked at me with sad eyes. Empathy is great and we should display it. But sad eyes all the time were bringing me down.
This situation needed re-framing – quick – or sad eyes may surround me forever.
I let people know I was okay. I presented myself with more confidence and humor. Acknowledging my fears and going deep into what I was feeling was not an easy step. (Remember I had a full melt down before I did it!) But to move through a crisis our fears must be confronted, explored and worked through.
If you are fearful you may not want to work through your fears alone. And that is okay. Get a friend, a therapist or colleague and ask for the help you need to get through the fear. Vulnerability is the friend needed to move through a disruption. Introduce yourself to her today, acknowledge the fear and start to move through it. You’ve got this.
If you are in a state of fear that is leading you to feel overwhelmed, please reach out to a professional. I did.