“Adversity ever after." What? That’s not how it goes.
Hmmmmmm. Brain tumors are messy…
I am a fairly organized person. When you see me running around like a chicken with my head cut off you may not think so, but by nature, my brain LIKES to be organized, and wishes I was all the time. My socks are in rows, my cups and plates have designated shelves, and my forks and spoons certainly don’t touch in their drawer. I like to cross things off my “to do” list, literally! I feel so productive as each item gets a line marked right through it. If an item is bigger and gonna take more time, I make a sub-list under it, so rather than get discouraged I can see how I am still making progress, by completing each smaller step to the task. I see things with a start and a finish, and as long as I see a finish I will work hard to get there.
Well, this tumor experience with Zayne is not start to finish, and my experience with him has raised my awareness to other struggles that are also not start to finish. My brain says, if you track mud in on the floor you mop it up and it’s gone. If you get a sinus infection you get on an antibiotic and in 10 days you are good as new. When you get the flu, you endure an up close and personal relationship with the toilet, vowing to clean it better in the future, and usually in 2 days, even though you may have thought you were on your death bed, eventually you are back to yourself again.
But what about those experiences in life that aren’t start to finish. They seem to be more “too infinity and beyond.” After the year of treatment he had, only to have the tumor start growing again, 3 months before his first predicted end date, I begin to wonder, how long will that finish line keep moving.
My own pain through this situation has caused me to tune into the experiences of others. Children with special needs, chronic pain victims, and life altering accidents. As I look at these people I know personally and combine it with my own experience as Zayne’s aunt, the “organized, productive, cross an item off my list personality” really struggles! How do you deal with forever. I mean sure, we all love to relate to “happily ever after” but “adversity ever after” who picks that story to read at night? It has been through this experience with Zayne that I realized my mind has a hard time grasping the thought of “on-going adversity”. Even death, as definitive as it seems, I just struggle to grasp it. I lost a dear friend of mine to a car accident last year. We were high school besties and even roommates in college, and I still, after a year I have hard time really believing that I can’t just Facebook her a message, or give her a call. And in all honesty, my parents separated 15 years ago, my dad is even remarried, and I STILL struggle at times with the fact that my family isn’t assembled the way I thought it would be. I mean seriously Jamie, “GET OVER IT!”, is what I often say to myself. And Zayne, I just can’t believe that this tumor could be something he has to deal with for the rest of his life. It may not, I’m not trying be “oh ye of little faith” I’m just expressing my issue with accepting “long term adversities.” You all know what I am talking about. We each have our own in different areas of our lives.
But I have been learning to cope more and more every day with the long term adversities in my life, and I hope I can share with you some pieces that are helping me and I hope may help you as well.
Even though it is a LONG TERM adversity per say, I have to divide it up in my brain, kind of like my to do list with those projects that seem unaccomplishable(that is not a word by the way, but I am using it) I have to take some adversities on “sublist” at a time. Or rather, “moments at a time.”
So let me show you my moments
Feel the Moment of Adversity Exactly As It
This is probably the one I struggle with the most. I hate crying. I hate feeling pain. But I am learning that I have to allow myself to truly experience the moment in order to move out of the moment. In order to leave the tears behind, I must shed them.
Accept the “Short Term” Moment
I specify “short term” because with these “long term” adversities our emotions are short term. There are moments of tears, and moments of joy. There are moments of defeat and moments of determination. They are moments of fear and moments of faith. We need to accept the moment exactly as it is and know it is a short term. It will serve it’s purpose and we will continue moving forward.
Breathe Through Tough Moments
If it is a painful, high stress, or scary moment, remember to Breathe. I know it seems elementary, seriously it’s not like you have to be told to breathe, but it is important to breathe through these moments, noticing yourself taking in the air and releasing it. Experience the pain and release it with each exhale.
Breathe IN the Moments of Peace
If it is a peaceful, joyous, or grateful moment, again, intentionally breathe, only this time breathe to allow yourself to fully experience the peace, joy or laughter. Often times with long term adversity we squander these enjoyable moments on fearing the next moment of pain. Just as it is important allow yourself to feel the moment of adversity rather than fight it, it is just as important to feel the moments of reprieve, no matter how slight or impactful they are. Breathe in soaking up each ray of peace available. This not only gives you the opportunity to enjoy the moment but it replenishes you and gives you stamina to keep going.
Let Each Moment Go
Experience the moment at hand but when it has past, let it go. So often in our trials, we long and wish for moments of the past or wish for better moments of the future. And then in those peaceful moments we try and hang onto it in fear. Clutching to it like a child trying to take home a handful of sand from beach, only to see that the grains of sand were squeezed out through her tight grip. Experience each moment as a breath. Breathe it in, take life from it, and breath it out.
Accept the “Long Term”
As we have broken our adversity down into a “sub-list” we can handle, we must also accept the adversity as a whole. Accept it, and learn from it, moment by moment.