The Tsunami-ed Life (Part 3)
Everyone in your life knows you've been hit, and hard. You can't hide it no matter what you do. Even the most stoic person shows signs. The changes in behaviour may be subtle, or it might seem like you've been possessed by a body-snatcher you are so different. And everyone reacts differently.
Family, in their worry that you are going to be alright, become overbearing warriors on your side, ready to fight and defend you (and to call or come see you 15 times a day). Ready to do whatever they can to end your suffering. They are your family, that’s their job, or so they think. Friends vary in their reactions, I find. Some of them pull away not to be mean or abandon you, but because they feel awkward with your struggle on a personal level, and rather than engage with their discomfort, simply fade into the background. Others offer support in the form of distracting you in some way, shape, or form, again uncomfortable when you are not your usual self. They never mention the source of the tsunami, but are determined to be there for you in some way. Others grow impatient with your process, and in an effort to be helpful push you to "move forward" and "get on with your life." Others can be voyeuristic with your story wanting every detail so as to feel apart of what is happening in an effort to relate. Then there are the few that get it. They sit and they listen, and they just exist in your world without a word because they know that just being there is what is important.
Gabor and Olga were two of those people for me. They sat and they listened without saying a word, even when all I did was look out the window and cry. There was no advice, no pressure to move faster than I was ready to, just the unwavering support of having two people in my corner quietly cheering me on, and offering a steady hand when I stumbled. And to them, I will always be eternally grateful.
For Lou, I was more of the fade into the background type, something I’m not especially proud of. I faded out of guilt, not for her wife’s death, but for the enormous fight her wife and I had that resulted in our estranged friendship. I hadn’t spoken to her in months, because I was being stubborn and self-righteous, and I knew that our planets would circle around to the same universe again… at some point. And then the phone rang, and instead of being there for my friend during her tsunami, and engaging with my discomfort of grief and loss and guilt, I ran.
I ran when she needed me. Because when you’re living the tsunami-ed life, you need people. In fact, you need all these people, even the ones that pull away, because they are the ones that show when you're returning to a new normal as they tentatively slip back into your orbit like I did with Lou several years later. Family are there to vent to, and hold your hand, and rescue you if your tsunami is more than you can handle. Those distracting friends of yours are good for a night out to blow off steam, and celebrate the two percent of what is amazing about your new life post-tsunami. The pushy ones test your limits of what you are, and are not ready for whether you like it or not. The people in your life are all resources available to you post tsunami, and truthfully some won't survive your aftermath, the new you that is forged in the fire of your rebuilding. And that's okay, not everyone is meant to.
Family, close friends, and those with empathy for your situation and struggle will stand with you, shoulder to shoulder offering that quiet cheer and steady hand. They are some of the heroes of your journey.