Monday, March 18, 2013

On Tragedy

I like to think of myself as good at many things, but there are equally as many things that I am downright terrible at. One thing I've never done well is letting myself rest emotionally.

The past two weeks of my life have been filled with incredible amounts of stress in my personal life. Two weeks ago today, my horse underwent surgery to remove bone chips in his foot and hopefully solve a problem that has plagued him since August. I have spent countless hours since then, every day, giving him medication, changing his bandages, talking to vets, and worrying. His prognosis is good and his healing is on track, but every minute has been fraught.

In addition to that, these two weeks have been filled with unimaginable tragedy for people I love. Painful things, horrific things, the kinds of things that you never, ever get past. Nearly every day has brought news of another crushing blow to a good person in my life. There is no possible comfort in the face of these tragedies. I can do nothing but send love, flowers, cards, and casseroles.

I've been learning lessons, these last weeks, about being kind to myself. At a time when I desperately need rest, I'm not sleeping. At a time when I'd like to curl up in a dark corner and escape, I'm committed nearly every minute of the day. In some ways, no matter how fierce I would like to be, I can't possibly be 100% present for everything right now; some back corner of my brain is always processing my stress and the pain of others. That frustrates and angers me; I am hardworking, ambitious, and happiest when active.

That's life, unfortunately. We never know if the person in a meeting with us is secretly brokenhearted about something and simply putting on a good face. We can't expect our brain and our emotions to perform on command, in an instant, when there are huge things taking up our emotional and mental energy. I've come to feel that it's smarter to acknowledge that, to be aware of it and plan for it. If I feel myself losing concentration, I'm trying not to punish myself for it, but to give in for a bit, to let my mind loose and indulge, and only then to move on. Not wallow, but respect that I need to take a moment and regroup.

Maybe some people have the knack of this, but I never have, and learning to cope in this way has not been an easy lesson.

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