Searching for Honest Answers

“Don’t lose faith in humanity. There are good people out there. You have the power to make a difference.”

– Akiroq Brost
Photo by Chang Duong on Unsplash

When you find yourself to be the one left in charge after some traumatic experience, it can be easy to be like a turtle… pulling all of your important “things” into your shell with you and doing your best to keep everyone safe and sound.  You automatically start to think only of what is best for you and those who are important to you.  Damn the world for making you withdraw like this and forcing you to become “selfish” for your family.  As a reaction to pain created by a terrible situation, this is very acceptable.  But, be very careful that you do not limit your view for very long.  It can be easy to get into the habit of making quick decisions, and while those decisions may be good in the moment and may get you through to the next obstacle, make sure you pause and consider where you are in the grand scheme of things.

The world is not the enemy, the person that hurt you is not “just like everyone else” out there.  You don’t need to hide from the whole world. You need to maintain connections, build trust with others, and stay in the present moment. Without connections, trust, and current knowledge, you are setting yourself up for a more challenging road.   You don’t need to trust just ANYONE, but you need to trust SOMEONE.   You don’t need them to know everything about you, but you need to have someone to talk with on an adult level. People who you can trust will give you an honest opinion if you ask it of them will offer more than just an opinion, they give you a basis on which you can build.  It is so very hard to trust after being hurt. Having someone you can believe is a beautiful way to start.  It will widen your perspective, especially if you know they are being honest and you find that their opinion differs from yours.  You can dig in and find out why they feel that way and give yourself a chance to reflect on your own opinion and whether it still holds true. Being the only adult at home does not allow for opinions outside of ourselves. We all learn the most when our perspective is challenged, even slightly, which cannot happen if you seclude yourself out of fear.

Having a healthy amount of perspective will serve you and your family well.  It is easy to become overwhelmed and think “I can’t worry about other people and their problems right now, I have too much on my own plate!”  Certainly, your issues may be far worse than what anyone you know is dealing with at the moment, but do not withdraw completely.  It may be difficult to listen without judgment to someone else’s woes when you are going through your own issues. Still, listen very clearly to them and try to sort out a parallel that you can build on with them.  Maybe their issue is vaguely similar to yours in some way, or similar to something you dealt with in the distant path, or even something you hope to never deal with in the future.  Any parallel will help you build trust in that relationship.  Certainly, some people will not be “keepers” because even as friends they cannot offer honest opinions.  You may need to sort through some different people and decide who you can trust.  Having and being a sounding board is a priceless thing. Building trust is the beginning of building your new life to be stronger than your old one.

Photo by Alci Alliata on Unsplash

All of this becomes even more applicable when you are making choices for your kids. How can you make a good decision for your child, lets say perhaps joining a local sports team, without having a larger perspective about what is going on in your neighborhood?  If you want your son or daughter involved with a “team” so they can have friends and be socially healthy, please ask around about the coaches and the dynamic that other parents have experienced before you sign them up.  Some very reputable organizations are ruined by an overzealous coach or a group of parents with unquenchable expectations (think Cobra Kai from the Karate Kid movie!)

You think you are doing something good for your child, only to find out after a few months you have thrown them to the wolves, lowering confidence levels and self-worth… the EXACT OPPOSITE of what your intentions were!  Ask around and you will find out about bad coaches, and save your child some heartache and help them grow or retain the love of the game overall.  Find a neighbor that you can trust to give you honest answers.  Ask a teacher at school that you know loves your child to see what they can “find out” about the coaches with whom your child may be crossing paths.  Whatever you do, please don’t go in blindly and see what comes of it. Even though they may not yet be able to appreciate what you are doing for them at the moment (see more on this here), you still have to be sure you are making the absolute best decisions you can for them. Make sure that you do not cut yourself off from the world, because a limited perspective cannot make informed decisions. You need to make sure that you are exposing your family to healthy circumstances where growth and joy are possible, and the only way you can be sure to do this is by allowing yourself to have a broad perspective.

Get Going and Get Prepared!

The best day of your life is the one on which you decide your life is your own.  No apologies or excuses.  No one to lean on, rely on, or blame.  The gift is yours – it is an amazing journey – and you alone are responsible for the quality of it.  This is the day your life really begins. 

Photo by Tomas Jasovsky on Unsplash

There are moments in life when you can truly feel the weight of the world on your shoulders… Moments when it feels so unfair that you and your loved ones wake up to find a new mountain plopped down right in front of you.  The moments when you realize that everyone who is important in your life has to turn to you now.  Is it scary or intriguing? Are you nervous or excited?  New situations allow for open-ended possibilities! You realize you are responsible for everything that happens from here on out, at least for now, and the pressure is on!

OK. Just breathe. We don’t have time for anxiety attacks…. Instead,we have to make a plan to squelch that anxiety.  You WILL lead your family through.

Priority one!  A wide-eyed and honest assessment of your situation must be done.  Since everyone’s starting point will be different, this section wil be a work in generalities. Nevertheless, there are a few certainties everyone will need to check off the list:

  • Do you have a safe place to live? If not, priority number one must be to find that place.  There are places that will help you find safety for you and your family. (Try the Red Cross near you to start…… I will try to post more options on the Links page of this site. )  A friend who can spare a room… family that will let you stay until you can get your feet under you.  If you already have a safe place to stay, think about how incredibly fortunate you are to have this basic need already fulfilled!
  • Do you know where your next meal is coming from?  There are countless websites that will list low budget meal plan ideas.  It always amazes me how far a bag of rice and a few canned goods can really get you when you are hungry.  Getting a good set of basic recipes under your wing will ensure that you can make due.
  • Do you have a steady and reliable income? If not, there are plenty of helpful community resources, also meant to get you back on your feet when you are down on your luck. If you already have a steady job, you can now consider yourself THREE steps better off than many others!

If you have the three basics above already checked off, count your blessings! Let’s not stop there. One more thing….

  • Do you have a bank account?  You need a checking account and a savings account.  Both are necessary and non-negotiable.  People who lack a checking account can easily be prayed upon by dubious schemers (think, check-cashing fees, payday loans, etc.) that want to nickel and dime you as much as possible. Nothing irks me more than knowing that there are companies that wait to pray on those who are down on their luck.  A savings account is also required.  The best way to prepare yourself for the unknowns that are guaranteed to come up in life is by setting a bit aside EVERY time you get money (on pay day or otherwise) so that you never have to panic about money.  Think about the peace of mind you will give yourself if you know that you are OK if there is car trouble, layoffs, accidental fire, health emergency, unplanned emergency travel, etc…  Buy yourself this peace of mind one deposit at a time into your emergency fund.

These are the practicalities… There are also emotional needs that you need to tend to so you can do what needs to be done.  Often times, in cases where you find yourself with new responsibilities quickly, there is a period of a form of mourning involved.  Mourning the death of your previous life where you knew what to expect next.  Don’t short change this feeling or dismiss it. You are allowed to feel this way.  Take some time each day, maybe a half an hour or so, where you can sit alone and really think about how the changes are effecting you and about your loss.  You are alone, so, by all means, cry if you need to!  You may need a brave and strong front for your family so they feel secure, but you need to give yourself time to vent your feelings so they don’t come out when you don’t want them to.

Check off each of these points and reflect on how much you already have. Then start to build up from there! One brick at a time, your life will come together.