I work best under pressure, when I don't have time to process. When I am forced to react, I stand and deliver. In the beginning stages of Jeff's illness, I was a rockstar (as much as one can be when your husband has been committed to a psych ward). I had things to do. I had a household to uphold, support to give, problems to figure out, studying to do, appointments to line up, business to take care of. Those times were not hard for me. I was still in the comforting stages of shock, where adrenaline washed over me and numbed me like a powerful anesthetic and I had no choice but to give up or carry on. I carried on, as most in my situation would be forced to do.
Panic mode is a distraction to the reality of the situation. Unfortunately, it is not good for your health to remain in constant panic mode. But, more than just your physical well-being, it is not helpful for your emotional and personal growth to remain in a period of high alert. When you are in high alert, you don’t have time to think about why, how, or what. Panic, much like complacency, allows you to just keep moving on, without any growth. Regardless of how comforting that feels, that is not my ideal of a life fulfilled. Time to process is a necessary evil. It allows the whispers that you have been quieting inside of you to escape. But the problem with processing time is that if you have been living on a high tide type of panic for a substantial amount of time, in my case, months, when that tide ebbs and that warm blanket is removed, you're left feeling confused, cold, vulnerable, and exposed.
When the world slows down, it can be really overwhelming, especially if your loved one is working the program as they should (Jeff is at meetings and therapies every day), processing will most likely naturally start. Feelings I had glazed over, suppressed, or bypassed started to surface, and it felt uncomfortable. At the beginning, I fought this by keeping myself busy all of the time. I attended events, scheduled trips, had people over, went out with friends, and essentially did everything I could to maintain the hustle and bustle to prevent my mind from diving into the scary unknown frontiers that lived below the surface. Jeff’s recovery went nowhere. My recovery went nowhere.
I realize this doesn't sound very hopeful. But, the truth is, I've been settling in to recovery lately, and it is starting to feel more comfortable, day-by-day. Change is hard, but necessary, and the signs that I am changing are the discomfort and in some ways, pain. If none of this had ever happened, I would have been sitting in my old life, in my own destructive patterns, stagnant. I don't want to be stagnant.
Some days, it is frustrating, especially now, to realize that less than a year ago, I still had this blissfully unaware happiness. I can still count the numbers in days back to when things were "fine." But were they really fine? I would love to get in my time machine and go back to erase this pain and destruction, but I know that is impossible. And honestly, I don't know if I would want that. I can't explain it, but there is meaning to be found in pain. I know people look at me sometimes and feel pity, or sadness, or sorry, and sure, some days, I feel those things for myself. But I actually feel that way much less now than I did before we started down this road. I feel sorry for that blissfully ignorant person I was. I know that the pain that has occurred for Jeff and I this year has been very real and very scary, but I feel thankful that my eyes have been opened as a result of what has occurred. Only I can make this a negative experience, or choose to take positivity from it. I feel a much greater understanding of the world, connections, and meaning in ways I have not in the past. I'm more empathic to others, I'm finding that the fulfillment I thought I had before wasn’t really fulfillment, and in some ways, I feel that I’m a much more multi-dimensional person. I can make a brand new start. It’s somewhat shaky ground, not being able to fall back on the identity I once had, but it’s also empowering that I get to decide where I want to go from here.