Let me fall if I must fall. The one I become will catch me.
Do you see what I see?
I spy a family - people that love each other and got together to play and have fun. Yes – that’s a bouncy castle behind them and in a helicopter hanger of all places.
The truth is, when I look at this family – my family – I also see a family that three years ago, almost to the day, stood not so far away to bury the third member of their family who died by suicide.
As you can imagine, that day was a very different scene. When I look at those pictures, I also see a family who stood together, who supported each other the only way they knew how and who loved each other through the darkest of days. I still see that.
In the days, months and years after, I went searching for answers. Why? Why, me? Why, us? Haven’t we been through enough?
We were part of a club none of us signed up for. There were days I couldn’t see out of the dense fog of grief and sadness. It was not what my life was supposed to be. This is not what I had in mind. I didn’t want this life.
The truth is life happens for us, not to us. It took me a long time to understand that and to be honest, there are still some days I struggle with it.
Yesterday, I stumbled on the book Option B by Sheryl Sandberg through a friend’s facebook post suggestion and I absolutely loved it. I devoured it. I couldn't put it down. In one of her chapters, she describes a term I’ve heard before but never fully understood – Post Traumatic Growth.
She describes the five areas of post traumatic growth as:
- finding personal strength
- forming deeper relationships
- gaining appreciation
- discovering more meaning in life
- seeking new possibilities
I’ve experienced each of these to a different degree in the days since. She so eloquently describes personal strength as, “I am more vulnerable than I thought but much stronger than I ever imagined.” That strength, I never knew was inside me, I now know, in a way I never could have before. I’ve got this.
One of my favourite quotes from author Brene Brown is “of all the things trauma takes away from us is our willingness, or even our ability to be vulnerable. There’s a reclaiming that has to happen.” I didn’t always see it this way, but when I think of trauma in terms of post traumatic growth, the reclaiming starts. It happens each time I see all the good that it’s brought to my life and I’m oddly grateful. I see all the changes it forced me to make and the ones I chose to embrace.
I’ve gained appreciation – for my family, for strength and resiliency, for the good days, for joy and love, for how short life can be and for how very long it is when you’re suffering.
I’ve discovered new meaning. What I used to think life was about got turned upside down. Those things no longer have the same meaning. Instead, I went in search of understanding love, connection, forgiveness and empathy. Most importantly, I am giving meaning to choosing your life and in doing so, I’ve found a whole new world of incredible possibilities.
Even though I wouldn’t have picked it, I am living the shit out of Option B - and from the pictures, messages, videos I saw yesterday, so is my family.
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