The Tsunamis of Life Will Come
Sometimes life comes in like a tsunami, all ferocity, waves, and weight. One can’t help but get knocked off their feet.
Suddenly, the roadmap of life no longer makes sense. Are you up or down? Your feet aren’t touching solid ground, so how can you determine whether you’re hovering over grass, rocks, or a chasm?
We Lose Our Anchors
Particularly, this happens when a sense of security is overturned. All of us use touch points to orient ourselves day to day. Loved ones? Check. Morning routine? Check. Job and paycheck? Check. Phone calls and texts? I’m cared for. Check.
In a hundred ways we navigate our days… weeks… lives, by these anchors. Then, one day, the tsunami rolls over us and the anchor chain snaps.
Tsunamis Come in Different Forms
The reasons why this happens are innumerable. Loss, grief: a loved one, gone in a moment. Relationships, twisted, misunderstood. A ripping apart of our very heart strings. The job loss, the money loss—will the house be lost too? A health scare, a diagnosis sitting on the chest like a boulder, immoveable.
How to Navigate the Unnavigable
What do we do then?
Truthfully, I think that answer is different for everyone. It depends on where you are in our journey, how bad this tsunami is, where your true center is, and what you trust or distrust. Have you been through something like this before, and did you navigate it and come to feel acceptance and peace in retrospect?
Once upon a time, I lost what felt like everything:
- All the friends that filled my days.
- My entire psychological perspective on everything I had ever encountered.
- My spiritual connection and trust in a greater power.
- My sense of calling, purpose, and fulfillment,
- Family relationships irrevocably altered,
- and, as a lifelong people-pleaser, the respect of a great community of people, which was like oxygen to me.
And most of this gone in a matter of days. The loss was so great that I felt like a heap of bones on the ground—a skeleton collapsed in, lifeless. How would I ever recover?
Connection Supports Us as We Rebuild Security
I don’t think anything could have been said or done to improve how I was feeling. The only thing that eased my pain was empathetic connection. Connection, because there were people who had walked this path before me. They knew what it was like, and they told me it would not leave me dead forever. Empathy, because again, those same people could sit and listen with their hearts wide open. They didn’t judge me even when I judged myself.
Be Selective About Connection
What didn’t help were the people who tried to be helpful by fixing my circumstances or mouthing platitudes. Here I humbly suggest that a good response to suffering that is beyond your imagination is: “I’m so very sorry. Can I make you a meal?” or “I’ll be sending some money in case you need anything,” or “I know there’s nothing I can say to make it better, but I’ll check in on you. You’re not forgotten. You can share if/when you’re ready.” You don’t have to feel bad that you haven’t experienced it; just be willing to hear my uncomfortable story.
The best thing for survival, as I’ve said above, is to connect with a group of people who have experienced the same type of suffering. Their words don’t feel meaningless, they don’t offer platitudes, and they rarely judge.
Vulnerability is Necessary
Painfully for me, my circumstances weren’t very common. Or at least, I didn’t think they were. It was hard to find people who knew what it was like to suffer in this particular way, and I didn’t really find any until I started sharing my raw pain. Then they came one-by-one out of the woodwork, and some of them are dear friends to this day. I will also never forget the acquaintances who heard of my pain and took time to write me a note or encourage me. Their words like, “We haven’t been through what you’re going through, but we see your courage. Keep going,” soothed my heart.
It’s paradoxical that in the time of greatest pain, open vulnerability is required to find support. The very time we want to gather ourselves in underneath a shield and hole up in some dark corner of our bedroom is when we most need to speak our suffering and hope that it falls on tender, responsive ears.
Here is my caveat, though: Don’t share it broadly and publicly, unless you have the strength, trust, and resilience to navigate the public response while still hurting.
Reach Out In Small Ways
Instead, look for the person who has understood you before. Find support groups around the suffering you are living through. Speak your truth in whispers through Instagram DMs to the stranger who has healed through the same story and can speak strongly and publicly.
But for the love of yourself and everything you are, don’t hold it in.
If there is a suffering that is so deep and private that you have not found someone to speak it to, my Inbox and my ears are open for you. I have been through deep spiritual and emotional pain, and have always viewed people and life through the eyes of the heart, which never judges motives. You will feel loved and seen by me.