I’ve been in hiding for weeks. Not from anything but hiding until. Until I find what I’ve lost.
I’ve been a piano out of tune, a car out of alignment, a picture unfocused, a meal unseasoned, an overly starched garment, a snowfall in spring, an unresolved chord, a porch swing without a seat, a book with missing pages, and an ocean without a tide.
I’ve been a child without laughter, a swimming pool with no water, a story without a plot, a movie with missing actors, a World Series with no baseball, a highway with no lanes, an orchestra without a conductor, a summer without ice cream, and a night with no sleep.
I’ve been a roller coaster with no controls, a playground without children, a day with no sunset, a cockpit without a pilot, a song with no melody, a soul with no salvation, a gymnast without balance, a skating rink with no ice, and a painting with no color.
For months I have been “off”, with a warped sense of balance, uncomfortable in my own head. After taking care of my Father for 9 ½ years, we moved him into a wonderful home for people with Alzheimer’s in early spring. It wasn’t like the last day of school with unscheduled time on the horizon. It was another stage of grief. So many emotions swirling inside me. I cried. I grieved. I slept. I prayed. I wondered.
I don’t like being “off”. I tried desperately to find my rhythm but realized that if it took nearly 10 years to knock my brain and body out of kilter, realigning them would take some time. I’m not talking about the spiritual, but the physical and emotional effects of being a caregiver for years. I had to learn to accept where I was and be ok with it. This wasn’t like a bow and arrow with the string being pulled taut and then returning to its rightful position within seconds after the arrow is shot from the bow. This was more like recovering from a tidal wave. The wave comes in and doesn’t return to the ocean but wreaks havoc on miles of land for weeks.
So what do you do when you’re waiting for the tidal wave to retreat? What do you do when you’re waiting for your body and brain to recover? I’m no expert, but I’m learning.
- Accept where you are physically and emotionally. This is a crucial first step. Trying to force myself to function as if my life had not been turned upside down was not only counterproductive, but harmful. I only put more pressure on myself to live up to some idea in my head of where I thought I should be. I should be working a full-time job again, spending a lot of time with my friends, traveling, right? Here’s a thought: What does a runner do the day after he or she completes a marathon? If the answer is rest, then why wouldn’t I do the same after my own 9 ½ year marathon?
- Listen to your body and give yourself grace. If your body is telling you to sleep for 12 hours every night, then do it (if you can). If your brain is unfocused and all you can think of is Netflix, then stay in your jammies and catch up on your favorite series. If you don’t feel like cooking, then order take out ~ better yet, have dinner delivered. If all you want to do is escape and watch movies at your local theater, then grab a popcorn and enjoy. If your friends call and you just can’t bring yourself to chat, text them a thanks for their call and let them know you’ll catch up with them soon. If you happen to miss paying a bill on time, don’t beat yourself up over the late fees. (They may even remove the charges if you explain your situation.) Give yourself grace. Just as a broken bone needs weeks to heal in a cast, your body and brain need time to recover.
- Pray. In all the years of caregiving, I never felt that God had abandoned me. He was just walking me through this season of my life. When I finally understood that this was a tidal wave and not a bow and arrow situation, my prayers changed. I stopped trying to force things and decided to relent. I prayed:
“Be my center of gravity Lord. Right whatever is wrong. Heal whatever is sick. Mend whatever is broken. Fill whatever is empty. Restore whatever is missing. And until then, be my balance, my wholeness, my healing, my truth, my compass, my peace.”
I wasn’t quitting or giving up. I was relinquishing control of my recovery to God, trusting that He would show me each day what to do. He would hold me when I cried, comfort me when I grieved, restore me while I slept, answer me when I prayed, and listen to me when I wondered.
Maybe you’ve been slammed with your own tidal wave right now. You’re trying so hard to return to where you were when things made sense and life was better. But you’re swimming upstream with broken fins and you’re exhausted.
It’s ok to let go.
In fact, the best thing you can do for yourself right now is let go and relinquish control to your Creator. He made you. He knows you. He knows all the physiological changes in your body right now and He knows what you need. The best thing you can do for yourself is to ask Him for help and give Him control. He loves you perfectly and completely. And the same God who knows how many hairs you have on your head will love you through this tidal wave until you’re no longer “off” and your brain and body are restored. He’s doing this for me and He will do it for you.