We have certain times in our lives where we think it’s just been one awful thing after another.
We feel tired. We feel exhausted. But you know what? We carry on. Because we have to. Because we are strong. Because regardless of what life throws at us, we have a special strength to make sure our story doesn’t end there.
We fight, we battle and we simply try harder to make it all worth it. And we’ve all fought this battle. We continue to do so.
Here’s my story of exhaustion, grief, healing and recovery—the year of 2016.
Before we get started, though, I just want to reaffirm that no matter what happens, we can and we do move on. We just need to learn to be patient and let ourselves be.
I spent January through March dealing with a bunch of family issues. I found myself running around from doctors to solicitors and counselors to estate agents. Training as a teacher at the same time, I was juggling a demanding job and an emotionally straining home life.
As we do, I thought it couldn’t get any worse. Yet, on July the second I lost my grandmother. She passed away (suddenly and completely unexpectedly) and it was the first death we had had in the family for over 10 years. We spent weeks supporting each other and going through the funeral arrangements—the religious and traditional ceremonies.
Indeed, a summer holiday was going to help. And it did. Except, that on August the 27th, my nan (who had come over to visit us from abroad, and had been staying with us for two months) passed away—right before my eyes.
I watched the paramedics try to bring her back to life for 40 minutes. I prayed. I begged. I cried. I screamed. I then watched my mother break down. And my sister. Our whole life seemed to be falling apart. My nan’s lifeless body laid on our living room floor for five hours until the coroners took her away. Which I also watched. I was so traumatised that, although being at school, I’ve had to take weeks off to recover and heal.
We’ve all had awful times. You’re probably reading this and thinking about what you’ve experienced. Our pain cannot be compared. We all share this in common. No matter what it is, we all have our own “stuff” to deal with. To put it bluntly, I guess we just go through sh*t. Sometimes, it’s really bad sh*t. But the one thing I have learned is that we have no choice but to recover, heal and move on.
Recovery is a process—there is no rushing.
When we think of strength, we immediately assume that to be strong, one needs to be able to move on from a painful experience quickly and continue from where they left off. But I don’t think that is the case. Our strength shouldn’t be determined by how long it takes for us to recover and our recovery certainly doesn’t always look the same. For some of us, it might be the small things that count, like being able to go out for a coffee again.
This might take weeks or months for some of us. It can take years for others. That’s okay. It doesn’t mean that we aren’t strong.
Our inner strength lies in the fact that we still try. We are still here and we are still breathing. Sometimes, that is more than enough. It can be enough to simply realize that there’s a lot of people relying on us for whom we need to stay strong. Our family who need our support. Our friends. Our partners. And most importantly—us, ourselves.
The realization itself makes us warriors. Really strong warriors. We should be proud of these small realizations and tiny efforts.
Once we do try to rush or beat ourselves up for not feeling strong, we feel like we have hit rock bottom. We feel like the old, happy selves of us are distant memories that can no longer be. Yet, the one thing that has helped me, surely, has been to be patient with myself. And that’s what I want you to do when you feel like life has thrown some pretty awful things at you. And when you feel like you are so exhausted that you simply cannot be your old self again.
Let’s just be patient and embrace the minuscule things about ourselves.
We will heal.
We will recover.
We might not be who we once were, but we can become even stronger versions of ourselves.
Our difficult moments and battles can and often do help shape us into even tougher beings. For example, seeing death has taught me to appreciate life even more. It has taught me to be grateful for every tiny thing I have. It has taught me to love freely and express my love without hesitation.
So maybe, we should embrace our painful experiences. We should let them, coupled with time, shape us in becoming stronger, tougher, wiser and kinder souls.
Next time, when we think about what has happened to us, let’s just remember to let ourselves be and feel content with what we are right now.
We need to stop feeling guilty about being tired of it all. We need to stop trying to get back up so quickly.
We need to stop trying to be fine.
Accept what has happened, accept ourselves for who we are and life for what it is. Breathe and let go.
And in doing so, maybe we just need to appreciate that we are still here and we are still breathing.
We are living proof that strength exists. We are living proof that healing occurs. We are living proof that recovery happens. Slowly, but surely.
Keep battling and stay strong!
Author: Mizgin Koker
Image: Elephant Instagram
Editor: Sara Kärpänen