This week my daughter got 2nd degree burns on her face.
It was as crazy and traumatic as it sounds, and we are still recovering and resting from the experience.
Writing seems to help me gather my thoughts, of which I have a lot. Earlier the day that this happened, my husband and I went out to lunch (thanks to my awesome mom for watching the kids) and we were talking about our expectations of life and emotions. We talked about how much of the time we expect to feel awesome and “happy”. I told my husband that lately I’ve been expecting to feel good, positive emotions about 50% of the time, and negative emotions about 50% of the time. He was surprised. He said, “Wow, that’s crazy. Mine right now is probably like 85/15–I expect to feel happy 85% of the time and crappy 15% of the time. That’s probably my problem.” I agreed. I felt pretty smug and content in choosing to believe this idea that I’ll feel positive 50% of the time and negative the other 50%, and that it’s okay. Then the universe decided to see if I really believed in my 50/50 theory or not and my daughter got hot liquid sprayed all over her face.
But even when really crazy, awful bad things happen, I still believe in it. I have to, right? It’s a huge part of the idea in the first place, haha. (By the way, I first heard this theory from one of my mentors, Brooke Castillo. I didn’t come up with it myself.) I’m learning more and more that that’s the part of life I can’t change. No matter WHAT I do, crappy things are going to happen to me in life. I might even purposely choose negative emotions by trying to do big things and setting big goals. If I don’t go about living my life EXPECTING that half of it will feel great and half will feel not so great, then I will tend to feel ripped off and start resisting my emotions (which causes even more pain). See, when we experience a lot of negative emotions and then we have thoughts like, “Things shouldn’t be this way. I shouldn’t have to feel this“, we’re arguing with reality. I do not believe that we are here on earth to feel happy all the time and have everything go our way. We don’t learn that way; we don’t evolve that way. And we can’t escape negative emotion, either. You can choose to leave your job that you hate and start your own business, and you will feel a LOT of negative emotion. Or you can stay at your job that you hate and you will feel a lot of negative emotion too. Life is not about escaping negative emotion, but a lot of us live that way; that’s why in the past I’ve watched a ton of TV, eaten pints of Ben and Jerry’s in one sitting, and browsed FB and IG for literally hours in a row. I saw it as an escape from negative emotion, but all it really ever has done for me is numb things. Then when I come out of it the pain and negative emotion is so overwhelming that I just go back to it and the cycle continues.
I’m done. I’m resolved. That doesn’t mean I don’t ever do these things anymore. It doesn’t mean that I didn’t have a whole CRAPLOAD of negative emotions when my daughter burned her face and that I don’t still have them. It just means that I’m not going to be derailed by these things anymore, and I’m going to accept, expect, and allow them as a normal part of my life. I’m not going to get stuck in thoughts like, “I can’t understand why this would happen. Why is life so hard?” I don’t have time for that. What I do have time for is allowing and leaning into the feelings of grief, stress, overwhelm, anger, and whatever else may come up. I allow them, I experience them, I. let. them. go. And I let them come back again like a wave on the ocean. I do not fight them, I recognize them as part of being human. And they subside again. They splash upon me like water and recede like water and all the time I just allow them. This might all sound a little new age/hippy dippy/gaga/whatever-you-call-it to you, but I PROMISE YOU, it’s helping me now more than I can say. I am not overwhelmed by emotions because I am surrendering to them and having this experience we call life. I can be present with my daughter this way and help her through all the trauma she’s experienced. I can tell her that how she feels is totally okay and normal. I can sit still and quiet with her and softly stroke her hair. I can ask for and accept help from those around me who are willing and waiting to reach out. I can believe in her and in me and in good things to come. Because just as surely as we will have crappy things happen to us, we will have beautiful amazing things happen to us too.