Thursday, November 7, 2013

The Episode That Changes Everything ...

Watching TV last week, I was captivated to discover that both The Good Wife and Hawaii Five-0 would be showing The Episode That Changes Everything. Just TV shows, sure. But life can be like that too.

Do you have days like that? The announcer would call it .... "The Day that Changes Everything" and there would be dramatic music following said announcement. Perhaps you lose something or fight with someone or watch a dream shatter. Perhaps you receive a disconcerting report from the doctor. It could be related to a job ...  a friend ... a promotion ... a spouse or a lover ... a part in play that you hoped to achieve ... a touchdown that would have won the game ... a basket that no one had made in ages  ... an award .... a low score on the golf course .... a bad grade ... It could be amazingly good, life-changing horrible or simply emotionally jarring.

Whatever the case, it is a day which shakes you up, throws you off balance and toggles your future. Your next steps are unknown as you gaze out onto a new path on the playing board.

On days like this, whatever shakes your world can just be too much. The project is overwhelming and you aren't up for the challenge so you sit and sob at your desk. The bill is larger than you can pay.  The health forecast is bleak. The ache in your heart is too intense to refocus on anything but the pain. The number of items on your to do list is too vast to embark upon. The sum total of the demands from your kids would make a math teacher cringe. The housework that needs to be done is endless. You don't know what to cook for dinner and your cabinet seems bare of anything appealing. And -- on top of it all -- it's grey, cold, and rainy ... The planet seems to shift. And suddenly you are shaking .... lost.

Now what?

I've heard it all ... Buck Up, Get Back on the Horse, Rise to the Challenge, Just Do It. But what if none of those seem to fit? What if today, you stall ...

Ok. Stall. Break down. Cry. Disconnect. Take time. Create Space. Assume Child's Pose or the Fetal Position in the corner and lock the world out.  Venture off on your own as long as you need to ... just remember to breathe.

Believe it or not, it is OK to fall apart.  No, the pieces may not go back together the way they once were. Sometimes superglue isn't the answer. Some things can't get fixed. Sometimes, you have to remodel. Adapt. Cope with what comes or doesn't come next. Restructure a new you ... a new something. But, first you have to allow the old one to collapse. Accept the things you may not change. And, ya can't build on a damaged foundation. The Episode That Changes Everything may be the lead in for a whole new story line. You may not be ready for it at the moment. But as everyone knows, The Show Must Go On.

Ready or not, here it comes.

Mr. Rogers used to say "It's okay to cry. Crying gets the sad out of you." He knew what he was talking about.

As Alexander noted in the brilliant children's storybook Alexander and the Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Day  "Some days are like that, even in Australia." That's no work of fiction. That's truth. Oh, somewhere deep in side, your recognize that things will shake out. It's not cliche -- it just takes time. The only thing constant is change. You know you have to lose sometimes They tell me when I lose then I eventually appreciate the stuff I win more. (Yeah, okay. But I'd rather not lose.)

A friend of mine posted this thought on FB: "As I look back on my life, I realize that every time I thought I was being rejected from something good, I was actually being re-directed to something better." Brilliant message. I can embrace that. Sometimes I just need a little time to mourn first.

No, sometimes things just don't flow the way you'd like. Sometimes you have to fight the waves and work harder against the current. Not every day is a Margarita and floaty in Key West. Some days, you swallow too much salt water. Some days, you get discouraged. Some days, you just can't grin and bear it. Some days it just hurts too much. Some days, the Episode That Changes Everything plays despite your best efforts.

What works then? A book without any emotional intensity. A simpler TV show that doesn't remind you of anything you are going thru. A craft project to focus your energy. A workout. Cooking. Baking. Cleaning. A round of golf. A run or a brisk walk. A sand volleyball game. A swim. Playing the piano or guitar. Yoga. Just something ... anything to distract.

On days like this, it would be nice if someone would reach out. Wouldn't it? Watch the Episode play out by your side. You know, just a random call. They were suddenly thinking about you. You suddenly popped into their mind. Oh, a little alone time is good. Time to find your ground. But watching it play out with someone close to you helps you get thru the whole show. On those days, give yourself permission to show your weakness and cry on a shoulder.

Unfortunately, people don't have ESP so you might have to venture beyond yourself to find that shoulder. And most of us don't show weakness well so we end up trying to manage the "episode" alone. Then we dry our eyes and add more concealer, going back out in the world when we feel smashed and shattered into millions of tiny broken shards.

buck up. 
get back on the horse. 
rise to the challenge. 
just do it. 

And no one knows. But you. That it was the Episode That Changed Everything. Up to you. Go in. Reach out. But you will get thru. And next week, there will be a new episode that makes you laugh, cry, celebrate, or grow. Your choice to watch or change the channel.

                                                                                                                                                 -- Jenni