“At first I was afraid. I was petrified,
kept thinking I could never live without you by my side…”
- Gloria Gaynor – I Will Survive
When I was in university I could relate to this song. Each heart-break felt like the end of the world but I played the song, belted it out with Gloria and I carried on.
My best friend used to joke: “Cheer up; things could be worse! And sure enough, I cheered up and things got worse.” Ironically, at the lowest points in your life, you have to do the hardest thing of all. You have to cheer up.
We always have a choice when we’re facing challenging times and maybe the first and strangest choice is to decide that you will survive. This choice becomes our compass when we face the other choices:
- to collapse or to claw our way over the rubble and go on.
- to make ourselves sick or to fight our way to acceptance.
- to curl up in a ball or just move. Grief, like fear, is paralyzing. Moving feels good.
- to find a way to navigate through the pain and grief, the universal sadness which is an natural part of our human existence even though, at the time, it feels intensely personal and uniquely ours.
I remember one very low point in my life after my mother died when I faced a number of other challenges as well. My cousin helped me to turn a corner. She literally grabbed me by the arms and said: “What you’ve got to say is , ‘I can handle this!’” She was right. Affirming the opposite sentiment hadn’t been serving me well at all.
Maybe it is because I survived the loss of my mother that I know I will somehow survive the loss of my son and other challenges I have yet to face in life. I have to hope and believe one becomes adept at surviving.
Still, there are times I need to remind myself:
- life can be tough but I can be tougher
- I will grab onto joy wherever I can find it
- this too shall pass as everything does
- I can handle this
The simple fact is we do survive until we die. How we survive (sick or healthy, broken or whole) is the part we determine.
Have you ever felt that you were dealing with an insurmountably painful situation? How did you hold onto the will to survive?
photo credit: Yandle