I’ve been doing these exercises and last night I realized things sure aren’t the way they used to be.

Now, some people can see that simple statement as a negative. Someone will always see the negative in things. Quite frankly, those really negative people you should kinda break away from. By kinda I mean run the other way. But, that’s a different story to tell next time.

Things sure aren’t the way they used to be.

After doing an exercise yesterday I was baffled. I couldn’t believe the amount of loss that I have been able to accrue in the span of 33 years. Yes, yes I know. Loss isn’t something you should be happy to accrue. But, I had to take stock of my losses because, well, so people don’t think I’m crazy. (Again, a different story for next time.)

These losses weren’t just people who passed on. These losses were conflicting emotions that happened due to an end to or change of something familiar. The losses included the end of the youngest child syndrome in 1988, numerous deaths of family members in the 90s, health issues arising in 2009, and a plethora of stumbling blocks in the 2000s.

I sat at my kitchen table and looked at the timeline. On average, an adult in their 40s can jot down 10-15 losses in their lifetime. I, within 20 minutes, could jot down 41.  “Wow,” I told my husband. “Is that why I’m so messed up?”

I said that in a joking manner but at closer look I realized again, things sure aren’t the way they used to be. My graph had lines coming out of all sides listing everything that jarred my heart. Between 2015 and 2017 though you could tell something changed.

Disclaimer: I’m not saying I had any control of the deaths in my family or any other loss before or after those losses. Just hold tight while I explain this.

I always believed in God. I was raised in a Christian based family. I remember being tired as heck going to church after delivering multiple routes of newspapers on Sunday morning. I remember going to VBS. God has always been a part of my life. Back in ’99 though I decided to make a conscious decision to follow Christ. Then, due to certain losses, I fell off the path.

In 2015 I stumbled, quite literally, on the path again. You hear of rock bottom all the time. Well, I was eating the rocks. I don’t think life could have gotten any worse.

Looking at my list again I realized things sure aren’t the way they used to be. Prior to 2015 all the loss that I had to endure I didn’t handle them properly or at all. I found temporary solutions or just ignored the whole thing. It was my way of protecting myself. I poured my life into something else that would get my mind off of it all.

In 2015 when my teeth couldn’t handle the stones I said, “Ok, God. What do you need?”

A transformation took place. Do I have losses still? Sure. But, it isn’t the losses that I’m focused on. It’s the strength that I have that is getting me through those losses. It is the past that I look at, the dark uncertainty that keeps me straight. It is the threat of losing it all that keeps my eyes up. It is the fact that I stopped running and forced myself to heal when I transformed.

I once heard, a staple can hold things together but it must destroy a bit of paper first to do so. The same goes for life and growth. In order to grow you have to be willing to punch through the paper. You have to be willing to bend and hold steady. You have to be willing to dig through the trenches no matter how deep you have to go. You must be willing to face uncertainty. You may get dull. You may bend the wrong way. Heck, you might jam yourself up. But, I’ve learned as I looked at my losses I’ve become stronger, wiser, more patient and more real knowing I allowed myself to face it head on.

No longer and I hiding. Are you hiding from something, unwilling to face the uncomfortableness of growth? Are you pretending you’re okay when you aren’t? Are you tired of pasting a fake smile on your face? Are you tired of lying to your loved ones and most importantly yourself?

Growth is definitely a scary thing. But, when I realized things sure aren’t the way they used to be I could smile because I sure as hell don’t want it to be. I’m happy, more alive, more free than I have ever been. Can I help you come out of hiding? xoxo