Life’s Curve Balls
I was chatting to someone the other day, and she commented that sometimes it feels like life dishes up one-character building experience after another.
Do you ever want to scream at the universe – ENOUGH ALREADY?
How many character-building experiences does one person need in a week, month, year, a lifetime! Those experiences, the magnitude of the impact on your life and how you deal with it depend on so many factors. Some of which are, whether:
- those changes are by choice
- your life stage, and
- whether you perceive it to be a positive or negative experience (how we frame it).
In the last couple of years alone, I and those around me have experienced family relationship issues, difficulty falling pregnant, loosing multiple pregnancies, moving countries, ending a career, starting a new career, fracturing a hip, surgery, death of loved ones, mental health issues, chronic illnesses and relationship breakdowns. Anyone of those is enough. Concurrent ones can be enough to make you want to give up and quit for a little while. Which is OK, but life doesn’t work like that.
Understanding the process you go through really helps.
It can give you a sense of security and peace, something to hold onto when every thing else around you is shifting like quicksand. It can help you let go, and just float for a while.
“Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
So, what happens when life throws you a curve ball and you have to change direction? How do you move forward? Gain perspective, change the frame?
My experiences have taught me there are certain stages that you need to go through.
When I found the first small patch of eczema on my neck I didn’t think anything of it. I used some soothing cream and kept going. When that didn’t work, I used some mild steroid cream. Then I noticed my eyes were swelling and the eczema was spreading and getting more severe. I kept using the quick fixes, antihistamines, steroid cream. I kept avoiding making any other changes. There was a lot going on in my life.
This was just one more thing that I was not ready to face.
I kept looking for an answer that I could accept. In hindsight, dealing with the dietary changes I needed to make was probably the easiest part of my journey and that was challenging enough. My entire relationship with food was upended in one 15-minute doctor’s appointment. I had to work out what to eat, how to prepare it, where to find it and how was I going to fit all this into my family’s busy life.
I was three months into the healing process before I started to understand that it wasn’t just my relationship with food that needed to change.
What worked for me in this phase was to find out as much as I could about my own health situation and ask myself and others a lot of questions. Was I doing everything I could? Had this happened to others? Was there a quicker path to recovery?
I could no longer deny what was happening as soon as I started chasing facts and acknowledging how I felt.
Once you get it, that you have to make some changes comes a whole new stage.
Grieving what you have lost, what you have known and been familiar and comfortable with.
I wanted to rant, rave, complain to the universe, feel sorry for myself! I was hurting (both physically and emotionally), I was scared and embarrassed. Food has always been a social experience for me, a time to pause and catch up on the day, a way to show my love for others. I had always eaten what I thought was a healthy diet.
I had to relearn everything.
You have to allow yourself to feel the emotions that change brings on so that they no longer have as much influence over how you behave. How you behave then becomes a choice rather than a reflex.
The thing about feelings is that, all feelings are transitory, the good and the bad.
So, allowing yourself to sit with how you feel, acknowledge how you feel and know that this too will pass, is so important to the process.
When you do make peace with how you feel, you are moving into acceptance. An acceptance that the direction you were headed in has changed. A place from which you can regain your perspective and start to look at the change in a new light.
Changing the way I ate and the other aspects of my life that were contributing to my well-being was hard, really hard. Once I began to accept that the path to greater health and wellness for me was to change, I was able to draw on my past experience and my love of structure and process to design a way forward that worked for my life and the life I wanted to be living.
Once you have made peace with the curve ball, you are ready to move on and look at what else life has to offer. With one door closing, many more are there waiting to be opened.
It was a long road to healing myself, with the support of a lot of people. Part of my journey included a radical overhaul of the way I ate and the way I lived my life. The result of that journey has not just been a healthy, thriving life but also the birth of my business, Savvy Belly.
I now help others in the grip of chronic illness. Food and diet are only part of the story. I work with people to help them reconnect the threads of themselves, so that they can find the person who is more than the IBS, eczema or other chronic condition, so that their condition no longer dominates their life, it takes its place as part of their story.
“Your living is determined not so much by what life brings to you as by the attitude you bring to life; not so much by what happens to you as by the way your mind looks at what happens.”
Everyone will move through these phases at a different rate. Not everyone will go through each phase, or go through them in the order shown. You might even move back and forth a few times. There is no right or wrong, only YOUR experience.
That is the funny thing about change and growth, whatever it is that drives it. It can hurt – a lot. But, I know you have got this!