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Post-Traumatic Growth

Today, I am sharing the raw truth of the last few weeks. I would prefer to forget them, but when seen through the lens of the “dichotomy of choice,” they may have value for you, my special readers. Chaos has reigned in my world as we have tried to find answers and solutions for my son’s health challenges that sprung out of nowhere six weeks ago and left him still struggling to walk and with various other big problems that seem to keep creeping out of the woodwork. Every time someone does a test, we get another layer of news we can barely swallow, never mind digest. It seems that we are not alone with autoimmune issues. They are rife in the world today. Some say they could be the result of COVID and some the vaccine. Who knows what causes the body and it’s immune system to attack itself? The idea of fighting to suppress his immune system for the rest of his life is distinctly unpalatable and frankly terrifying. Yet it may just be what is required. So, what does this have to do with you? And why am I sharing it with you today?


The answer to this is that life is like that... it dumps things that are way beyond our control in our paths. Curve balls arrive from the deep yonder, when we are least expecting them and feel incapable of handling them. That’s just how it is. You may be thinking that autoimmune conditions come from inside and not outside and that is a discussion for another day. But when a meteorite hits (that’s how this feels), we must respond. We can't argue with reality and wish it away. We have the choice of what to focus on. Will it be that which is within our control or that which is outside our control. Knowing this, I sat down with a pen and paper and wrote a list of what we could control.


He could control:


  • What he ate and drank and how much he rested and slept.

  • Who he spent time with and how much time he spent with himself.

  • What he spoke about and who he spoke about it with.

  • How he spent his time.


We could both control:


  • Which doctors we listened to and trusted to help us. This of course only, once he was back from the UK, since we are lucky enough to have a medical aid here in SA (I am exquisitely aware that not everyone has this luxury or benefit here).

  • Offering him the support he needed.

  • What we allowed our minds to dwell on.

  • How much we allowed ourselves to catastrophize and how much we allowed ourselves to avoid.


I could go on, but I think you will see, the choice.


Somehow, we have to find our way to acceptance. The only way forward is through acceptance. The journey towards that is bumpy and difficult, but it will be easier if we focus on the controllables. Whenever I manage to hold my focus on what I can control, I feel less overwhelmed, less despairing, and helpless and some of my sense of empowerment and optimism returns. I am running the mantra over and over again: “I can deal with this, it’s already here and I can deal with it.” “He can, and will too.”

I am also running the hopeful phrase of “post-traumatic growth” through my mind, repeatedly. When difficult experiences arise, it's possible to allow them to make you shrink and retreat from life. Or to let them shrink you temporarily and then facilitate a bounce back, in time. This bounce back takes you to where you were before. But the last choice is the inspiration and the aspiration I’ve always

aimed for. It includes allowing the trauma to catalyze growth and self-awareness, build resilience and courage and make you into more of who you were born to be than you ever were before. This is another choice I have discovered.... you can suffer from post-traumatic stress or allow post-traumatic growth. I feel a long way from any ultimate success with all these processes. I just feel conviction that they are possible and that if these are my intention, then this is where I will get to in time.


I know you are engaging with your own difficulties, whether they are health issues or life issues. They may not look or seem anything like the ones I have described that I am encountering, but please try these tools and see if they can help you to keep the reins in your hands. Try these thinking patterns and see if the stress feels more tolerable. Remember as you toil and strain that nothing lasts forever, and rough times will give way to easier times and the up-hills will give way to down-hills. We are all in the sea of life just doing our best to stay afloat and we are in it together.


I wish you resilience and the awareness to choose to use these tools when you need them.


Much love always,


Sue

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