I hate that phrase. I hear it a lot.
It’s not that I’m not strong, I’m sure I am, but I don’t necessarily FEEL strong.
3 years ago, I went into a tailspin of depression, anxiety and it eventually took me to a point of having to take stress leave.
I was fortunate that I was able to connect with an amazing counsellor who helped me overcome it. He gave me the tools to work through it.
My anxiety was about losing my job. And what would happen if I did lose my job.
The funny thing was that when I finally came to terms with what would happen and understood that the worst case scenario wouldn’t happen, and I WOULD be able to handle it… I actually lost my job.
And I laughed.
I had been given the tools to handle it. I had the means to cope.
In the meantime – my husband had 2 heart attacks. He had been hospitalized 3 times due to his health issues before I lost my job.
So while I didn’t really deliberately think about it…. the “what would I do if he died” scenario popped into my head frequently.
As we moved away from the heart attacks, as he got healthier, and we adjusted to his new abilities/limitations, the thoughts slowly disappeared. I wouldn’t have to worry about what would I do – because he was still there and while the life wasn’t what we planned – it was going to be a good one.
And then he got sick. And then he was hospitalized. And then he was admitted to ICU. And then he got sicker and sicker and better and better and sicker and better and sicker and sicker and better and sicker and sicker and better until finally he got sicker and the doctors said there would be no better.
I had time, in there, to think about what would I do. I had time in there to envision a life without him, although I discounted the possibility right up until the moment it happened, because I was living a life without him. I would go to the hospital for 8 hours a day, leaving my boys to be latchkey kids. I would manage my life without him there.
I never expected to have to do it forever though. I always expected that he would come home. That while there would be a “new normal” that “new normal” would very much include him.
We planned the reno of the house that would create a living space for him downstairs.
We bought furniture to accommodate his needs.
So when he died… While I was blindsided, while I tried to make sense of my world without him (it still doesn’t) I was still able to understand that we would be “ok” in the end.
We’re getting to ok. We’ll get there. We miss him, our lives have a huge hole where he should be, but we’re going to be ok.
The only reason I know we will is because I’ve already looked at the “what if” and understood that we will be ok.
The worst has happened. My life has been tossed upside down and sideways. And I’m still here, with my kids, learning to live life again.