Monday, April 10, 2017

How To Know You've Turned The Corner

... it's when you can start empathizing with others again.

I got whacked with a staggering setback late Thursday afternoon and have been blogging my recovery experiences since then. I apologize to my regular readers who are looking for my normal, hypocritical, uninformed snark. I promise I'll get back to having opinions on things I don't understand soon. For right now, as this blog is a learning tool for me, I want to share the journey from grand-piano-falling-on-me to emotional and mental normalcy.

As blows go in my life, this is in the top 10, maybe as high as #5. It's been a long, strange trip from birth to today. The really big blows have given me perspective and balance, so this one was devastating, but, taken in proportion with the others, not the end of the world.

I tell our kids not to sweat failure because you can recover from almost anything and this is no different.

By the way, next time you have to face a personal hurricane in your life, check out this reddit thread wherein people share the worst things that have ever happened to them. I've got two events in my life that can match most of these examples for sheer horribleness, but some of these are just over-the-top crazy awful. All you want to do is hug and listen to these people and let them know they're loved.

Therein lies the corner-turning.

I was at Mass with my lovely and supportive wife last night, in the pew behind a good friend and his wife. I suddenly had an overpowering urge to take him out for beers and have him tell me about the worst thing(s) that ever happened to him. I didn't want to unload on him, I wanted to learn of his intimate sorrows and comfort him in whatever they were.

I started looking around, particularly at the older parishioners and imagined what they might say. Children lost to disease or drugs, marriages that had failed, abuse by parents, the church was full of people who had experienced deep sorrows. I wanted to hear them all and give them love.

I thought of my own friends and family. A son who had been sick recently. A personal sorrow my wife was experiencing. A dear friend who had just lost her mother. My own parents and their physical ailments. When we left church, I texted our son and asked him how he was doing. I texted another of our sons and asked about his weekend. I thanked our daughter for coming over for dinner on Saturday night. We then went out to dinner with our recently-bereaved friend.

The readings last night were all about those times when you feel God has forsaken you. In my current case, I didn't think for a second that God was somehow behind all of this. He was there for me, I just needed to get past my animal, limbic reaction to the event, calm down my lizard brain and get back to what mattered - being more like Christ.

As an aside, I realized that was what was going on. The shock of the thing had triggered a limbic response and I was simply incapable of spiritual sophistication, hence the difficulty praying. That's a higher-order function and requires stability in the layers below.

This has reached tl;dr territory, so I'll close with this - it's when you can feel for others again and focus on giving them love and support that you know you've turned the corner.

Last night, I finally wanted to be back giving the hugs, not receiving them.


ligneus said...

Sounds awful, glad you have the means to deal with it, you're in my thoughts. [Is that the same thing as being in my prayers? I tend to think so.]

K T Cat said...

Thanks, ligneus. I appreciate it.