Simply Changing Me

Simply Changing Me

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3 Grieving Thoughts I Processed Through

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This post is based on my opinion and my personal experiences. I’m not a counselor or medical professional. You should always consult the proper professional for your life circumstance.

Have you ever had grief in your life that you just didn’t want to deal with? Even though it’s hard, it’s healthy to process through the pain. I’m learning that sorrow comes in all shapes and sizes. I was blindsided by a type of grief I never knew existed. With it, came some difficult feelings. But over time I was able to process through them and find my way to a place of strength.

Several days after moving off to college, I bumped into her. It was a surreal moment on a riverside dock, meeting eyes for the first time. Our campus arranged this day trip, and so here I was—getting out of a car at a park by the river. The day was perfect for getting into the water. The air was fresh and the warm sun invited me to stick around for awhile. I noticed a cluster of students near the water and so I figured I’d join them. That’s when our eyes locked. She introduced herself to me. And I—well…A few mustered words of introduction from me, whatever they were, are forever lost in time. I do remember everything around me quickly blurring out of focus in that moment. Except for her. Somehow the other campus students drifted away, but the two of us remained.

Somehow the other campus students drifted away, but the two of us remained.

 We found ourselves kicking back on that dock talking for hours. A jet ski zipped across the murky river water, bouncing itself off little waves. I took note that rides were being given to unsuspecting students. Then I took note of her. She was looking at me. An animated glint flashed in her eyes. Her adventurous wishes danced upon my tentative inclinations to remain safely upon dry ground. She wanted us to ride that jet ski. I, on the other hand, felt no need to leave the relative safety of the dock. Needless to say, I rode it anyway. Of course…we fell off—against my wishes—but something changed in my life that day. Nothing else mattered to me. Little did I know, things would never be the same.

Little did I know, things would never be the same.

 One night, a couple of weeks later, we sat down at a picnic table underneath a large tree on our campus. A streetlight offered a yellow glow offsetting some of the darkness. “There’s something I need to tell you,” she began. Her honest tone troubled me. I braced for impact. Gracefully, she eased the news to me that she may not live a complete life. “I have cystic fibrosis,” she explained. I searched my mind for anything I could relate to. “Isn’t that something that children died of a long time ago?” I asked. “Yes.” She expressed that things were changing. Medical science had given her some hope. “How long might you live for?” I asked. My heart sank as she told me the average life expectancy: “34 years” she said. There it was. The hammer had been dropped. Those words rushed into my lungs and stole every ounce of breath I had in that moment. Instantly I was flooded with denial, questions, and overwhelming grief.

Those words rushed into my lungs and stole every ounce of breath I had in that moment.

 In the coming weeks, I tried my hardest to be strong. I tried my best to be the hero. I wanted to be the one who could be by her side through it all. But something was happening inside me that I wouldn’t come to terms with until later on down the road. I could see we had a deep love forming. I could feel a bond between us so close that it scared me. In my mind, I had to get away from that feeling.

And so it all started to come to an end. On a November night, about six weeks after we started dating, we sat outside together on cool-to-the-touch steps. I mumbled some nonsensical words about needing to be just friends. And that was it. Our relationship was over.

 I don’t think I truly understood why I pulled away that night. It took time for me to sort through those reasons. Here are 3 thoughts I had to process through as I faced my own grief:

1. This isn’t happening to me.

I instantly felt like I was in some sort of bad dream. I wanted to escape. I was sure I could change my situation if I could somehow find the “rewind” button. Then everything would be better. That’s what I wanted. Inside I knew it wasn’t possible. So I ran. Over a period of time, I began to accept and adjust. Accept reality. Adjust my way of thinking. I decided that running away was not going to help. I knew for myself, I needed to turn back.

 2. Life is against me.

I began drifting towards a sorrow mixed with anger. “God never lets me have anything good” I thought. My perspective skewed. Life seemed disproportionately negative. I saw my circumstances only through pessimism. I didn’t stop to consider that my present difficulty might actually be good. I found a remedy: truth. When negative thoughts come, I recall good circumstances in my life. This includes seeing my present difficulties as…good. As my recollection of good circumstances pile up, the truth is revealed. It becomes difficult to see life as only bad.

 3. I have to be the hero.

Initially, I decided not to deal with my grief. I attempted to solve my problem through pure strength. This was problematic for me. Problematic because the typical hero seems to be invincible. To create that illusion, I had to stuff down how vulnerable I felt. And I was successful! I managed to hide my feelings, even from myself…for awhile. But I wasn’t able to keep the charade up for long. Eventually, I caved in. Eventually, I had to admit how I was feeling. That admission did something inside. It freed me. I no longer had to carry the weight on my own.

After being blindsided with a type of grief I never knew existed, I had a decision to make. This decision would be an intimidating one. But I knew I had to change the way I faced fear.