Rebuilding Together

Our awesome Friday writer, Kelley Lynn, is having some technical difficulties today while attending Camp Widow West, so she's asked me to write something in her place. I didn't hesitate to help her out, even though I have other work to be writing on this morning that I'm actually a bit behind schedule on! 

Now, this got me thinking about the unexpected, something that quite a lot of us - if not all - are familiar with. It made me think about how we have each other to turn to when the unexpected happens now... and before, we didn't have that. I know, we had our person then, which all of us would much prefer to have. But still, there is something magic about finding community in the face of adversity. Although none of us want to be a part of this club, it is truly a remarkable family filled with such fierce dedication. It's a kind of support I had never had in my life, certainly not in such numbers, before I was widowed...

I was reading an article on the Huffington Post this morning about the surprising benefits of going through hard times. One of the things they talked about was post-traumatic growth, and that after something horrific happens in our life - the sort of thing that rocks our foundation to the core - there is a rebuilding that often leads to a great deal of growth. I know that's not new information to anyone here probably. I suppose it just got me thinking about how it changed me for the better. The author states: 

"We are shaken, almost literally, from our ordinary perception, and left to rebuild ourselves and our worlds. The more we are shaken, the more we must let go of our former selves and assumptions, and begin again from the ground up.

As I think back, it is no surprise to me that I am so different from the person I was back then. That so many of us express that same feeling. The change in itself is also painful, as becoming a new version of ourselves is yet another loss in the midst of it all. As we rebuild, we are missing some pieces - or they don't fit the way we want them to anymore. The author goes on to say:

"The physical rebuilding of a city that takes place after an earthquake can be likened to the cognitive processing and restructuring that an individual experiences in the wake of a trauma. Once the most foundational structures of the self have been shaken, we are in a position to pursue new—and perhaps creative—opportunities."

It felt so accurate to liken trauma to an earthquake... think of all the damage that happens to our internal selves, whole structures inside our minds and hearts fall, crumbling down into ruins. There are so many pieces, and take a long time for the dust to settle enough to even see them. It can be so daunting. And that brings me back around to Kelley, and to our community, and the whole idea of how people unite in the face of adversity. This is one of the ways that my personal trauma has changed me for the better. I used to be much more self-centered. I used to feel like it was me against the world. I had a difficult childhood and twenties, and there was a chip on my shoulder about a lot of that. It's a part of myself I don't particularly love, but one that trauma has had a hugely positive effect on. 

My fiance's death, and the rubble I was left in afterwards, left room for me to see some things more clearly than I ever had before. For the first time in my life, I knew I couldn't do it alone. I knew I needed help, and although I didn't want to trust anyone, I had to. Those around me - especially other widows - reached out to help me rebuild myself.

What I discovered within the ruins of my trauma was that this tape I'd been playing in my head my whole life, about the world being against me, was false. It couldn't be farther from the truth in fact... when I was finally broken enough, that tape stopped playing long enough for me to realize the world isn't out to get me. It's filled with beautiful, loving, incredible hearts that - despite their own inner earthquakes - are still loving and lifting each other up... and they are there for me, if only I will risk letting them into my world and lean into theirs. 

Resource: To read the full article I referenced in this post: "The Surprising Benefit of Going Through Hard Times"

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  • Kelley Lynn
    commented 2016-06-22 17:08:37 -0700
    THank you forr covering for me that day, and this blog piece is awesome. I need to read it again and again to really let it sink in.
  • Penny Sharman
    commented 2016-06-18 06:49:10 -0700
    Some really good words in here Sarah. I forwarded it to my niece who has just gotten out of a very abusive marriage and is still suffering very much from that trauma of the abuse and the end of the marriage. I think she will find it helpful.