You Don’t Owe Them Sh*t

You feel it. The change. The change that comes over you when your world shifts dramatically overnight, and continues to shift in so many near-imperceptible ways that they ultimately equate to a seismic event.

Where you once stood solidly with your feet planted like roots in the ground, you have now stepped away. Uproot yourself, or maybe you were uprooted by circumstances and had no choice in the matter.

Either way, here you are.

A few years ago, I went through a series of traumatic events with my son. These events were remarkable, and built on a lifetime of remarkable events, both traumatic and freeing. But those things changed me. Uprooted me. Weathered my body and soul in ways that were obvious to my friends and family, and on another plane, changed me in ways I still don’t possess adequate expression for.

For the ways the trauma changed me, I felt deep shame. Like I somehow owed my friends and family the version of the person I was before I became a mother, before I breathed into my son’s tiny lungs, before his health forced me to become a helicopter parent of Night Hawk proportions. I owed them my smaller pre-baby body, enthusiasm, less gray hair, and level of emotional availability and relational connectedness. I owed them my relaxed way of approaching life.

I have fewer friends. Many family members can’t seem to wrap their heads around this new creature. And that’s truly okay. Painful? Yes. But I refuse to apologize for the woman I no longer am, or keep promising to get back to Her. She doesn’t exist anymore.

I owed them the person I used to be, or at least a really good representation of her. And I couldn’t  conjure that woman. For months. And when she did re-emerge, she was a completely different version of herself.

I felt the confusion of my friends and family. Some of them voiced it with varying degrees of compassion or condemnation, but most of them just pulled away. Because retreat is easier than seeking to understand. Retreat is easier than staying in a relationship with someone who has undergone a profound, core-level shift. Retreat is easier than facing the heat of the fire that is transforming your loved one from the inside out.

I know it was disorienting for everyone. I understand why. I didn’t have the capacity to deal with what I was going through, even though I had to. I couldn’t expect others to magically expand to deal with it.

But on the other side of that trauma and hardship, of becoming a fierce advocate for my family and a community of families who struggled in the same ways, I emerged as a different person.

And the woman I’ve morphed into gives significantly fewer fucks than she did before.

I have fewer friends. Many family members can’t seem to wrap their heads around this new creature. And that’s truly okay. Painful? Yes. But I refuse to apologize for the woman I no longer am, or keep promising to get back to Her. She doesn’t exist anymore.

And here’s the truth, darling friend. What you’ve been through, what we’ve been through, changes people.

It’s okay that you’re not the same.

It’s okay that your experience has changed you.

And it’s even okay if other people, people you love and admire, don’t get it.

You don’t owe them shit.

Here’s what you do owe yourself, though. You owe yourself the devotion it takes to care for yourself, however you can. To survive and heal and re-emerge as whatever this new version of yourself looks like.

If you are a parent, you owe your kids a functional, present, loving care-giver. Maybe that care-giver needs frequent breaks and a xanax on occasion. That’s okay, too.

If you are in a partnership, you owe your partner the best description you can muster of what you are experiencing and an opportunity for them to show up for you.

That’s it.

However those things happen is exactly right and nobody can determine what that right way is except for you.

I hope for the sake of your heart and psyche, you are able to get the care of a gifted counselor and healthcare providers who are sympathetic and supportive.

I hope you are able to step back and take a breath, take a beat, take a walk and feel all of your feelings before returning to the hard work of recovering and re-emerging.

And I can’t wait to see who you become on the other side of this pain.

This Post By Carrie Saum  was originally posted at Ravishly 

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