So here it goes....my top things I learned while having my heart (literally) ripped from my chest.
1. When you are in a really hard situation it is ok to have a bad day. In fact, it is ok to have a few really bad days. These are the days that you let yourself hate the world, hate everyone IN the world, bawl your brains out, don't wear pants, be as grumpy as possible, not like your situation, feel like God has conspired against you, not talk to anyone, look as ugly as you want, sleep as long as you can, not eat or eat as much as you want, work really hard to create a frown and those crinkles on your forehead and hit something.
......and then you. move. ON.
It is ok to have bad days, it is just not ok to have a bad day everyday and let it fester and fester until you become the victim.
The next day you make the promise that it will be a better. day. No more grumpiness. That is until the next time you let yourself have an "I hate the world day". But until then...no more oh woe is me. Period. Get over it.
2. Set Goals. They really do work.
We have this on-going joke in my family about goals. This is because we found a family home movie that is hilarious. Picture this...my 3 or 4 year-old curly headed self. First of the kiddles. My dad was the very handsome brown man. He was and has been the over-achieving type who had accomplished a lot in his life. Lover of all things Steven Covey.
In this video I was my wiggly self who had been told many times to be patient and sit still while they video taped my new little brother. While I tried and I tried my hardest I finally could not take it anymore. I blurt out, "Daddy! I can't sit still!! No matter how hard I try!!"
My dad replies......."It's ok Sis. You can do it. Set a goal!"
Set a goal? I'm 3.
And they wonder why I am all sorts of messed up?? Just kidding....but maybe a little serious? We will never let him live that one down around here.
Regardless of how funny and ridiculous this could potentially sound, it is a really great principle. No matter how small or how great the goal may be, it is good to set them.
When I had pretty much every ounce of privacy, independence, and strength taken out of me...my goals were a lot like my 3 year-old self goals. As simple as sitting still.
I started with things like first standing up. Then walking to the potty. Then walking to the nurses station. To walking around the nurses station. To taking a shower. Then taking a shower by myself. Riding in the car. Riding in the car to school. Putting on make up. Making it to school and wearing make-up.....it goes on and on.
You don't have to write them down always (but it is always better, I will say that.), but at least have something to work towards. I don't care how big or small. Just standing up is pretty small in many people's eyes, but to me... it was big. Epic even.
No. matter. what. you are going through....give yourself a reason to live.
Setting and accomplishing goals is a good way to start.
3. Everyone has their own "thing".
No matter what your comparisons on Facebook tell you...everyone has their own "thing".
Their own crap to deal with.
How many times do we go through Facebook and think, "Oh, my gosh. Seriously?! She has the. perfect. life. Look at her husband...her wedding. She's graduated. With perfect hair. Perfect teeth. Never has any problems. Look at her on all of her trips and cruises and amazing taste."Blah. blah.
Guilty as charged.
In my case, it is pretty easy to do that when you have 24 hours a day but do nothing but watch TV, read, and as many times as possible update FB and blogs and instagram and Twitter, to see how the world is going on without me while I am in pain. In bed.
Not only is the world going on without me, but everyone is living a blissful life while I am living the suck life in Suckville.
Ya. It happens.
As much as I would like to think I have moved on from high school, Facebook makes it that much easier to be stuck in it.
But then the light went on this time.
As my mom always says, "we always see the best 10% of every person while we continually see 100% of ourselves." That makes it real easy to see everyone else perfect while we are not.
But everyone has been given their own "thing". Their own cross to bear. Some are easier to see, like my big giant scar on my chest, or the girl who lost a leg or goes through cancer. But everyone has it. It might be drug abuse, or an unhealthy relationship, or not being in control of their lives, feeling inadequate, a broken heart, loss of a loved one, eating disorders...whatever. We all have it and we can all get through it. I promise.
When we finally come to accept whatever "thing" we have and that you can become triumphant over it...no matter how long it takes, or how long we have to keep going backwards, and hitting a wall. It will happen. I haven't gotten there quite yet, but I'm getting closer. I just know it!
4. There is always something to be grateful or optimistic about in any situation. Always.
My mom is probably...no definitely, the most positive person I have ever met.
She is not the type that is just flowery and bubbly all the time and annoyingly is too naive to see the situation at hand. She recognizes the problem. Acknowledges how un-fun it is. That it is not going to be easy. Maybe even cries or has anxiety. Then without even knowing how wonderful she is replies..."But the good news is....!" and immediately finds something, somehow to be grateful for.
Thank goodness for mothers. And for my mother. Who has weathered this storm with me in more ways than I can even put down in words. The very thought of the many things she has done for me brings fountains of tears that can't be stopped...no matter how hard I try.
No one has seen the hundreds hours she has spent researching in my behalf so we could figure out what the heck was wrong with me. Waking up at all hours of the night to help me to the bathroom. Wiping my tears when I couldn't endure another seizure or another painful procedure. Forking out the money that has been spent on this body that hasn't always functioned right. The hours rubbing my back and neck. Running errands I couldn't run. Taking me to every doctor and specialist known to man. Giving me a bath when I can't. Answering to every beckon and call and concern and pain. Holding my hair back when I can't help throwing up. Running to the store at 10 o'clock at night to get me popsicles because it is all I can shove down. Spending hours trying to get the pillows just right so I could sleep when I couldn't get comfortable. Rubbling lo lo (lotion) on my feet and my hands. Staying the night in the most uncomfortable chairs known to man all the times I was in the hospital.
That's my mother.
And she could have complained the whole time. Or just given up all at once.
But she always had an optimistic and grateful attitude that helped more than anything to form mine...gosh, I really love that lady. And she is who taught me that lesson. Probably one of the greatest lessons you can learn...
There is always something to be grateful for.
5. Don't ever let a situation turn you away from those you love and from God.
No matter how bad it get's and whatever the situation is, turning away from the most important things and people is definitely in no way, no how, going to make it better. It might feel like it, but it's not.
There's this one book. It's actually my favorite book! It's called The Book of Mormon. It really doesn't matter if you believe what I believe, it is a good lesson from history. So don't stop reading what I am saying!! It's for everyone, and I am not gonna get super religious on you here. This is just a little story taught me a lot.
So here is a summary. A BIG summary.
But essentially there is this group of people thousands of years ago who are doing everything they are supposed to. Trying really hard and living right, helping their neighbor...being all around good people. One day they are taken into bondage by an evil group and told that they are not allowed to pray which they love to do.
This was hard. And not a good situation. They were being made to be slaves and treated very poorly by their terrible ruler and dictator.
This would have been an easy time for them to turn away from their God, their families, and give up. Especially when there is a part that their God says "Nevertheless, the Lord seeth fit to chasten his people; yea, he trieth their patience and their faith."
But they didn't get angry and continued to pray in their hearts and turn to their families and live good lives and lean on each other. Even in slavery. They toughed it out essentially. Had good attitudes.
And this is what the God they believed in told them:
"...I will also ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs, even while you are in bondage; and this will I do that ye may stand as witnesses for me hereafter, and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions."
As the story goes on they explain that their burdens were lighter. Their situation did not change, but it felt easier because they didn't turn away. They were patient. And humble. Were grateful. And eventually they were set free...they were able to move forward and be better for it.
Even if you don't believe in God, I know all of us believes in at least family or friends. When we are going through something...turn to them, not away. Your burdens and troubles will feel lighter with good people in your life to help lift you up. Don't let whatever you're going through drive wedges through the relationships that you have. ASK. FOR. HELP. When you can't do it alone, ask. It is hard to do, but it works.
This story, even if it is from a religious book you don't believe in, it can be applied to anyone, I know it. I know it works and it's true because I've lived it.
And if you do believe it God, don't turn away from him in times of hardship. That is when you become closest! I am pretty sure he hates to see you suffer more than you hate it...but he knows what you will become when it is all over, so he has to let you go through it so you can awesome. He didn't say you had to do it alone either. So don't!
That's all there is to it. Don't give up. Don't do it alone. I didn't, and it was a whole lot easier. Cross my heart.
6. And finally...humor and Netflix and the Food Network and good music and good books....make everything better.
Laughter in my case, was not always the best medicine. It hurt me so much to laugh!! So much so that one day my mom made me laugh so hard that I cried ten times harder (not because it was funny) after because I felt like my chest was just re-cracked open.
having a sense of humor when there really is nothing funny about a situation makes it just better all the way around. Like having millions of leads all over my chest and multiple men and women come in whenever they please and lift up my shirt to reveal the leads and my very naked self.
This can be humiliating to say the least....especially with very attractive tech's working around. So me and my mom came up with the idea of putting pasties on to give whoever got the next looksie a little surprise! We never did it....but man what I would not have given to see the look on their face. Really, we didn't even have to do it because just the thought alone is funny enough.
All I am saying...is once again look on the bright side.
Am I getting preachy? Because trust me, this is mostly for myself to remember more than anything.
And yes, I am really good at getting through many series on Netflix. It really does make time go faster if you are sick. So does lot's of episodes of Chopped and some good music.
So yep. That's it. Those are the lessons yours truly has come to learn over these last 7 years of when it came to my health...zero fun. But hey, I'm better for it right?
This is a picture of me a month exactly with my doc after open heart surgery.
I made it to classes a month after as well.
It's just a little proof that life really does get better.
Hang in there!