Am I allowed to feel a moment of personal pain? I feel guilty expressing my pain when it pales in comparison to other’s pain.
The pain of Humbolt. The pain of Toronto.
The pain on the other sides of those stories. The pain of the truck driver. What kind of pain did Alek Minassian feel before driving a rented van through the throngs of an uptown sidewalk on our first spring-like day? The pain his family must feel.
The pain of watching your child struggle to take a breath.
Terri warns me not to bear the brunt of others, as I so often do.
I didn’t lose my life, but I lost hope. Lost sight of the horizon for a brief moment. I’ve carried the stress load as far as I can, and felt the crack. What began as a rivulet of fear broke into a mountain-wide chasm of of anxiety. I wrote a list of all the stressful events I’ve lived, categorizing each experience with colours. RED for really acute stress like cancer, abuse, single income parent, broken leg, work, miscarriage. YELLOW for milder stressors … ending friendships, spending a fortune in legal fees and GREEN for “good” stress … like new jobs and new homes and new boyfriends. My list added up to a whole page.
I got back up only to face another betrayal.
Seeking help, I asked “How can I get through this?”
And I realized I am not alone. I have my son. I have a loving boyfriend. I have my two dogs. I have my family and friends. I have doctors who care. I have God.
My body, my mind, my spirit and my soul have taken a beating. I feel like I am drowning slowly. Once a confident swimmer, I grew tired, carried more stress and finally slipped under the surface for a moment. Again and again. “Does everyone suffer?” I wonder. Or just me. Then I look around and realize I am not alone in my suffering. While other’s lawns look much greener, there must be weeds in their grass.
Stress kills you. Stress is most likely a cause of cancer and other diseases. I am sure stress could be found in my breast cancer cells.
When my thyroid went rogue, underactive and overactive at the same time, I didn’t know what was happening. I was diagnosed with both Graves Disease and Hashimoto’s Disease, both autoimmune disorders. I sat in my endocrinologist’s office, crying “Why did this happen to me?”
He sat on the corner of his desk and said “Lisa, I can show you all kinds of research on this and that. Pollution in the air, the water, the foodchain. Living too close to a major highway. But one thing is ALWAYS present and always the catalyst. Stress. You need to get whomever or whatever is stressing you out of your life.”
Since then, I have layered on thirty two (32) more layers of stress. Thirty two more burdens. Traumas. Illness. Financial. Legal. Personal. Professional. Love. Hate. War.
And I have had to turn the negative into a positive just one more time. Turn stress into success. Finding meaning in all of this. What if there isn’t? I can’t allow myself down that rabbit hole because I will get stuck there. Wallow in hopelessness.
I have to believe that I am being given this life to write. I have been given time and space to write. And access to topnotch creative writing classes and people at the University of Toronto.
My life can’t suck just from karma because I am not that bad. Hate to break it to the haters … but I have done more good than evil. When my day of judgement arrives, I will be ready.
But there must be a missing ingredient to success. Otherwise how do the hated make it to the top? Again, I find myself wondering if this world is upside down and something else. Hell. Who is in deeper?
Everyone has a story. Be mindful of that.
How do you cope with stress?
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