Life has been weird lately.
And by weird I mean it has been, categorically, undeniably, absolutely, a complete and utter shit show.
However, today I am okay amongst my chaos.
The difference between this Shit Show and my “Shit Show’s” of old, is that in the past few years, I have learned how to bounce. Instead of completely crashing and having to spend countless days and sometimes weeks picking up my broken pieces, I have worked incredibly hard on perfecting the art of “the bounce”.
Let me back up:
I am an empath. I feel things incredibly deeply and I take things to heart in a big way. I have an ability to suck in the energy around me and when I use the term “I feel your pain”, I mean it quite literally. This has been both a blessing and a curse over the years. I am sure that at least a few of you reading this understand what it is that I mean.
Having empathic traits can be incredibly overwhelming at times. Whether or not you are knowingly, or unknowingly internalizing external energies, if not properly acknowledged and addressed, can feel like a million hard objects hitting you all at once.
That is what life has felt like lately. A million hard objects flying in my direction, and I don’t seem to have enough tennis rackets, witty come-backs, or enough emotional balance to send them flying back in the other direction. When this happens, an Empath’s solution is often to run, to run as fast as we possibly can in search of solitude and stillness. Here is the issue with that: No problem has ever been solved by running in the other direction.
After years of running away from my own feelings and getting absolutely nowhere, I decided that it was probably time to start changing my approach.
Let me be clear: this lesson was not one that came easily. When I decided to stand my ground and be present for what life had to give me, I took it on the chin for quite a while. I got beat up by my own feelings towards the universe and everyone in it. That is: until I adopted “the bounce”.
“The bounce” is the ability to fall, but not crash. To hit the floor and bounce right back up. The ability to feel everything all at once and allow it to propel me in a different direction, as opposed to breaking me to my core.
Again, this practice was one adopted over time, not overnight and I will never claim to “bounce” gracefully, but by golly, do I bounce.
So, how do we bounce not break?
We change our perspective.
The only thing certain in life is that it is going to change. I honor and understand that this certainty certainly does not help while in the midst of hardships, but it is a truth and one that we must accept. If the world feels like it is ending to you, it certainly will not help for me to tell you that it is not. In the “my world is ending” moments our only requirement is to muster up the strength to go into “survival mode” and that is all. Sometimes survival mode is the only thing that makes sense.
For example: A good friend of mine recently lost her mother. With deep loss comes deep grief and in the deep moments of suffering, survival mode is the only imaginable response.
But here is the thing about survival mode: If we continue to survive one day at a time, eventually we experience enough sunsets and sunrises between us and the moment that changed everything, that we can move into “bounce mode”.
The bounce is where the beauty lies.
Here are the things that have helped me conquer life’s inevitable hardships:
This is the most important facet of my life today. The realization that I should never ask the question “why me?”, but always, “why not me?”. Am I really that egotistical that I believe that I should never experience hardship? The thought is laughable. With great joy, comes great loss, and none of us on this earth are immune to either.
In the moments that are chaotic, painful, or the moments that cause immeasurable anxieties, I have learned to spend a moment taking in my surroundings to acknowledge where I am. Acknowledgement is the first step towards acceptance. No matter the shit storm that you are in, it is YOUR shit storm and the only way out is through.
- It Isn’t Personal
I am currently in the process of wedding planning. You know the saying “opinions are like assholes, everyones got one.”? Well, that lovely phrase has been a little oasis for my psyche throughout this journey. It has been my internal mantra during the moments that I have had to genuinely question if the person across the table from me knew that they weren’t the one that was going to be walking down the aisle in a white dress in front of 150 people, or if they were aware that they were not the person that was going to be responsible for feeding that many people, or putting their asses in seats.
In one lovely moment of weakness I actually replied to an overly opinionated acquaintance by saying “Well, if you give me access to your bank account, we can definitely provide you with the napkins you desire.” (Oops. Sarcasm is alive and well, my friends.) On another off day I said, “Well, if a buffet style meal doesn’t seem fancy enough for the wedding that you are planning to attend, feel free to bring a sandwich.”
So, to answer your question: No, I am not always a beacon of Grace.
I have realized that to get down this aisle, I will need to accept the fact that there is no humanly way to make 150 people happy (much to the people-pleaser inside of me’s dismay), and sometimes some of those 150 people say things for no other reason than to just hear themselves speak.
We are all victims of our own perception and our own experiences. Sometimes we think we are right, because our way is the only way that we know. Letting go of the notion that I had to prove my “rightness” to the rest of the world has saved me a lot breath and a lot of drama.
Also, the deep knowing that people don’t set out in the morning to hurt my feelings has been a big game-changer. Again, it is all about reminding my ego – that more often than not, it isn’t about me.
- Hurt People Hurt People
On this same note, when I realized that most people deal with pain by using the ever famous “hot potato” method, I stopped taking things so personally. Pain is uncomfortable and people like to pass that shit off. If I can be awake and present enough in the midst of a difficult conversation, I can usually come to the conclusion that the verbal attacks have nothing to do with me or the issue at hand. When we are hurting, it is much easier to pass that pain off for someone else to carry, then it is to sit with it and wait for it to cool.
I try my best to remember: It is not my job to hold some one else potato, nor is it their job to hold mine.
- There Is a Lesson
I have a feeling that the day we stop learning is the day we meet our maker. My experience has shown me that every difficult experience that I have endured has prepared me in some way for the next. As we experience more life, and as we get older, the ebb and flow of life widens and deepens. Our relationships mean more, and our decisions have harsher consequences. I believe that this is by design.
I had to be broken up with in 7th grade, so I could survive being dumped by my first love. I understand that you may see this as a silly example. However, I truly believe that I had to stand by the toilet and watch my Dad flush my 5th goldfish (All lovingly named Kimberly in honor of the Pink Power Ranger) of the month down the toilet, so I could endure and survive the loss of our beloved family Dog, Rebel. Every experience prepares us for the next.
Nothing makes sense in the moment, no matter how old we get, no matter how mundane or how dire the circumstance. Faith is believing in what will only make sense in reverse.
So in the difficult moments hold on to the knowing that you are learning, and you will be better equipped as you climb the stairs for your next turn on the water slide that is life.
Last but certainly not least. The only difference between “bouncing” and breaking, is how we choose to look at our lives. We ALWAYS have a choice. We can crumble under the weight of what life is bringing to the table, or we can stand up, climb right up on top of it, and if you’re not the dancing type, stand in stillness and go with the flow.
The rude lady in the grocery store line this morning can no longer touch you. I promise she didn’t know that you were late for a meeting with a client. That experience is gone, done, and over. You have to choice to let it go.
Did you sleep last night? Did you feed yourself this morning? Are you safe? If you answered yes to these three questions then you are okay. You can and YOU WILL survive.
So take it in, you lovely human. Feel it, hold on to your own potato and bounce right on into the next thing. The better thing.