By Laura Marston
If you’re on this blog, more than likely you or someone you know is going through something big (huge, massive, life-changing) and you’re overwhelmed. As you start to wade through everything that’s coming your way, you’re told by your family, friends, therapist, etc that everything will be okay. And yet, when you’re dealing with such heavy topics - that’s the last thing you want to hear.
One day, whether you agree with me or not - your mindset about this trauma will start to shift but until then cry it out, cuddle it out, Netflix it out, feel all the emotions and most importantly eat only delicious things to block out the thoughts. In the meantime, hopefully by sharing my story, I’ll be able to inspire you to see things differently so that you can go from all the feelings of *the day that changed your life* to feeling positive, strong, capable, and like you’re thriving (as well as surviving) daily.
You see, I’ve been through a lot of crazy this year - to catch you up - December 23rd of last year, my 32-year-old husband was diagnosed with an Astrocytoma brain tumor and from one day to another our world crumbled and turned upside down. Since then, he’s been through two brain surgeries, 6 weeks of radiation and chemo, and now has finished 6 of 12 monthly cycles of his adjunct chemotherapy (at home). As time passed, the “tumor” became a regular topic at home, weekly doctor appointments became manageable, and through it all, we have been getting by (we even somehow bought a house this year). At this point, he gets checked every two months for any new growths and luckily is doing very well. We have now started to dream again about the future, figure out what our options are for having children, and honestly, life is still filled with joy (when you stop to look at it). It might not be the same life we used to have, but it is filled with comfort, love, and optimism.
As we deal with his trauma and new traumas emerge (I got diagnosed with diabetes last month) I know that my mindset is the single best power I have to keep moving forward. The easiest and first thought “Why me?” was not serving me and I had to start looking elsewhere. At the end of the day, no one was ever going to be able to answer why this is happening to me so more importantly was this much harder question: “now that this happened to me - what beauty can I find on this path?”.
I know right now you might feel so hopeless, lost, and overwhelmed that *beauty* is the last thing you want to think about, but I promise you that thinking about this question will help change your perspective. Here are some of the key concepts I’ve developed by using this question daily to stay strong:
MY RELATIONSHIP WITH [SCOTT] IS STRENGTHENING DAILY
- This situation will strengthen our bond as a couple. Starting our marriage with something like this will only fortify it for the years to come. Once we get through this, we will be able to get through anything. This is giving us practice on how to communicate efficiently, work as a team, and grow as a couple as a result of difficult situations. There is beauty in the way that we successfully work together to lift each other up during this really emotional time.
I AM FULLY SUPPORTED
- This situation reminds me of how wonderful our support system is. We have so many people who are messaging us or calling us. From checking in on us to making us food, ordering us supplies, forcing me to go to activities with them, to people taking care of our car or our puppy... We are lucky to have such an amazing support system.
I AM A WONDER WOMAN
- I am doing an amazing job of being the point person for this family. I have been able to keep it as together as possible during the hospital time and afterward when it comes to organizing information, passing along that information, and figuring out a plan. I am multitasking like a pro, I am still working full time, taking care of the dog, cooking, supporting, listening, keeping it all together as best as I can and I am proud of myself. There is beauty that I can do so much. I might feel overwhelmed but I realize that I’m doing so much more than anyone expects. I am freaking Wonder Woman. I am the perfect person the situation needs and the way that I am dealing with it is enough. I might not notice it day by day but when I look back two years later, I’ll see how much this situation made me grow.
WE LIVE IN 2019
- It’s 2019, technology is much better than it used to be, there are fewer risks, more data, and science has come a long way. Technology will only get better meaning that there’s nowhere to go but up. Doctors, scientists and everyone involved are working together to bring us the most up to date medical attention. There’s beauty in the fact that we don’t live in the past because a lot of these treatments wouldn’t have been possible 50 years ago.
I FEAR BECAUSE I LOVE
- All of the fear that I am feeling only means that there is SO MUCH LOVE. We have the most wonderful home, a loving relationship, & the cutest dog. We are still living a beautiful life and at the end of the day all of the fear that I have means I have something to be grateful for. Love is the reason for the fear.
THE UNIVERSE HAS A PLAN
- Remember that the universe has a plan. This is happening now so that we can get over it. So we can live a life in the future that is filled with joy and beauty without worry. Now that this is on our radar we’ll be able to deal with it better even if it’s something we deal with every day. There is beauty in the fact that we can manage the situation now that we know of it.
I AM CAPABLE OF ANYTHING THAT COMES MY WAY
- I trust that in the moment of great trauma or great grief I’ll be strong enough to get through it. I’m not saying it’ll be easy, only that I’ll be strong enough. It’s beautiful that as humans we are all programmed to move forward. To fight. To get through even the most inexplicable, horrible situations. Not only will I get through it, but one day, soon, I’ll be able to laugh again, I’ll be able to talk about it without crying, and most importantly I’ll be able to distinguish the lessons I learned vs the hardships I had and I’ll feel proud that I got through to the other side.
I AM ALLOWED TO FOCUS ON MYSELF
- I am allowed to let go of the assumption that I have to do it all. I can pause the social life, pause the social media, pause the gym routine, pause my extra hobbies. I will only focus on the things I need right now. One day, everything else will naturally come back. If things seem too overwhelming stop and ask “what’s the next thing I need?”. It might be to step outside for a second, a cookie, or water, maybe a hug. Although it wasn’t planned this is an ideal period to focus on myself again and make sure I’m the priority.
THE ONLY THING I CAN CONTROL IS THE PRESENT
- I can’t change the past. The future is not certain. The only thing I can control is right now. I will enjoy this moment (even through the hardships) because that’s the only thing that matters. Life isn’t the next big thing. Life isn’t the what-ifs. Life is today. Even if it seems like the worst possible day, today is all I can deal with. I will focus on the things that are still working. My breathing. The warmth of a blanket. The sound of the rain. I can only focus on one thing at a time and one day at a time.
I BELIEVE IN THE GOOD THINGS COMING
- I will get through this. This is a passing storm and having hope will allow me to see in the dark. It might take what feels like a lifetime but I believe in the good things coming. Not only that, but I believe that an abundance of good things are coming.
I know right now, being positive doesn’t seem like an option. I’m not telling you to act like this isn’t the worst thing in the world because it is but you can’t allow it to drown you. Shutting down is not an option so now it’s your turn: Grab a pen and a notebook (or your phone’s notes) and journal away - what beauty can you find on this path?