Who doesn’t love a good comeback story?
A book or a movie about an underdog who beats the odds to overcome a personal challenge to realize their potential. I’m thinking Rudy, Rocky, Remember the Titans. These stories are inspiring and hopeful, and I’ve come to realize that life ebbs and flows with opportunities to bounce back from adversity.
This past weekend, I flew to Atlanta to speak at a cancer ministry event at Johns Creek Baptist Church. I was super nervous because, like most things in life, if you’re not doing the craft on a consistent basis there’s the potential to get a little rusty.
It had been six months since my last speaking event at a medical conference in San Antonio, TX, and even though I’d spoken consistently for the two and half years prior to that event, so much had happened in my life over the past year and a half. In some ways I felt like I was speaking for the first time ever.
It’s hard to believe it’s been five years since I lost my husband, Andrew, to cancer. Looking back I can now see patterns in my grief that, at the time, I couldn’t see because I was too busy surviving.
Grief is a process and I learned the hard way it’s better to surrender to the flow than to fight against the current. There’s no skipping steps or finding short cuts or hiding from it, because in the end grief confronts you with an invitation to either address the pain or push it down deeper into your body.
My confrontation came in the form of a violent attack against my body and almost a full year of debilitating symptoms. I was overcome with fear and had no real answers from the doctors.
I’ll never know for sure why I got so sick, but part of me feels like it could have been caused from unknowingly suppressing my grief. I never consciously ignored it, but I think my mind was stuck in denial for years in order to protect me until my body could no longer host all the grief and thus manifested illness.
During that season of my life, I was forced to slow down long enough to allow the pain of what happened to my family to sink in and that’s when I accepted the invitation to acknowledge my pain and loss.
It was a slow and painful process, which was by far my darkest and scariest season to date. Physically my body was weak, and mentally I was falling into a sink hole of depression. I didn’t really understand what was happening and I could feel myself withdrawing from society and turning inward.
I just wanted to be invisible.
At my sickest I lost quite a bit of weight, but then as my body recovered I gained it all back, plus much more. I felt like an alien in my own body and my confidence took a major hit.
It was an all-time low and I feared I’d never come back from going through this stretch of grief, and that’s exactly the direction I was heading in until an unexpected turn of events.
Next week I’ll share with you how I came back stronger from the most difficult time in my life, what steps I took to get there, and the lessons I learned along the way.
Thank you so much for reading and I’ll catch ya next time. Blessings.
PS -I’d love the opportunity to come share my message about overcoming challenges at one of your next events, meetings, or gatherings. Feel free to shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re interested ☺
We love you and miss seeing you. You and Ellie will always be part of our family. Stay close.
We love y’all too Caryolyn. So grateful to forever be a part of this family!