Sometimes I think life is just smooth sailing, everything’s going as planned (whatever that means) and I am the master of my own universe. Work is good, bills are paid, hitting the gym hard, feeling proud of myself, liking myself, family seems content, kids are doing well. It feels almost easy. And then something happens.
For me, it started on June 22, 2015. My husband fell while camping and broke his right ankle. At the time, he was a full time server, aspiring photographer. We went to urgent care and they confirmed two cracks through his talus bone. Somehow, in that moment, I had peace, I knew it would be ok. I turned to him and told him, “you never would’ve quit your job and pursued your dreams. Now you can.”
Being the caregiver, OCD person I am, I immediately increased my workload, started mental lists of how to accomplish everything in our lives, groceries, household chores, family activities. You name it, I had a plan for it. I had it under control….. but not really.
Shortly after Brent fell, I became very weak. I was suffering with pain in my back and my body began to break out with patches of eczema. In December of that year, I came down with a viral sickness and had to take 17 days off work. I had never been so sick in my life. I told myself I had it under control. I could handle it all…. but I couldn’t.
By January 2016, we had moved in to Brent’s grandmas house. We were in debt. I was defeated. My skin was so bad I ended up in the hospital. I was trying so hard to manage our life but instead of feeling accomplished and successful, I felt broken and exhausted.
It was then that I realized I was worn out because I was trying to do everything on my own. I was carrying the burden of every responsibility on my shoulders. I was clinging too tightly to the notion that I had some ultimate power over my life and my families’ situation. My letting go began.
Living with Brent’s grandma meant we sold most of our belongings and what we kept, was in a 5X10 storage unit. We had to let go of a lot of things. I moved out of the home I had rented for the past 6+ years. My son let go of the home he mostly grew up in. I let go of furniture and clothes and things that felt necessary . More importantly, I began to let go of my need to control everything and my belief that I was responsible for the success of my family.
In 2017, my family was blessed with the opportunity to long term housesit and in accepting, we emptied our storage unit and continued to let go of things. I realized there were all these things I hadn’t seen or needed for the past year. It felt easier to say good bye this time. I had learned to be content with less, to live in close quarters with people, to share space, to minimize my life.
And then, at 1am on Saturday, November 25, 2017, a drunk driver drove a car through the house we were sleeping in. The home we were housesitting at. When I say a car drove through the house, it literally drove in one wall, turned left and drove out the front. My husband and I were sleeping and woke to a home without walls. There were firefighters and sirens and police tape. I was traumatized and terrified. Every emotion you could imagine feeling in that instance, I felt. How does one even begin to process that experience? Calling my friend serving overseas and telling her that someone drove a car through her house. Trying to figure out what the next step was. I felt violated and scared and unprepared.
In the last four months, I lived in the tension of having no home, trying to feel grounded, navigating contractors and legal issues while forcing myself to be calm. I walked through conversations and interactions I had never imagined. I found myself unearthing strength and faithfulness I thought people faked in trials. The letting go continued. When your existence is disrupted in such a way, when you lose so many tangible things but still have your family and your life, you naturally let go of even more.
And here’s the kicker, on March 5, 2018, in a freak accident, I tripped over air on my skates and broke my ankle in three places. Yes, I play derby, but this wasn’t a typical derby experience. All of my thoughts of control and what’s important got immediately shaken even more. I can’t workout. I can’t skate. I can’t drive. I can’t walk. I can’t work. Everything that I thought was in my control, that was a choice, was disrupted. Because I can’t work, our money is also not in my control. So today, I gave up my studio space. I have been a massage therapist for 11 years. I have been out on my own for five of those years. I do not know when I will be able to work again and continuing to pay rent for a space I cannot use doesn’t make sense.
On paper, all these things seem like enough to break someone and trust me, there are parts of me and times that felt maybe breakable. From all of this though, I have found that it’s ok to not be in control. It’s a false sense of control at best but to even accept that is ok. I’ve come to truly appreciate my struggles because I have seen them only make me better. I have found a peace that does surpass understanding, a genuine calm in the storm. I cannot stop the “bad” things that life will throw at me. I cannot spend my life in anticipation of them. I’ve never felt more prepared for uncertainty. I’ve never been more excited for the unknown.