If I could pick out my biggest mistake during recovery, it’s rushing back to what I thought was normal.
Rushing back to my familiar routines took my focus off the process of healing. It distracted my attention from taking in the victories of the day. I ended up feverishly working toward this standard that wasn’t relevant, helpful or healthy. It’s similar to watching a mouse in a maze, but the mouse made the maze for himself. It sounds odd, but I’ve observed that we all have this tendency when we’re managing change, even if the change is GOOD for us.
What I would’ve done differently:
1. Scrap what I thought was normal. I tried so hard to do all the things I was doing before surgery and treatment. I completely missed the mark. My job was to recover, not retreat, revisit or regress. Recovery takes work. It pulls out things about us that we don’t normally tap into. The luxuries are gone. The energy isn’t the same. That’s actually the beauty of it. Re-purpose recovery to CREATE something functional, purposeful and aligned with this season in your life. Recovery means redefining. In some cases, we will have to be our own emotional pioneers.
2. Celebrate the daily victories. No wonderment from winning the day is too small. Everything counts. Recovery forces us to view life at almost millisecond speed, honing in on every quirk and balance. We need a really keen eye for joy, a tuned ear for contentment, a clean heart for change.
3. Leave the other stuff behind. What once was, was. Reminiscing on how we used to do things and what we used to have, has its purpose. But be careful that we aren’t dwelling and longing for something that will choke our chances of contribution in the present time. What I’ve said to people is to put those memories in a mental drawer and open it when it helps you feel WELL, not worthless.
I had a boss who took over our department after an 8-month job search from being laid off from a large international insurance company. She seemed like a nice lady, but every time we would bring up ideas, she would refer back to her old job. “Back at so-and-so, we used to…” Her memories became this wall and it was challenging to appreciate her expertise.
When friends or family would see me during recovery, one of their first questions was, “Are you back to normal?” Can’t knock ’em. That’s their only gauge of wellness. “The new normal is good,” I would say. And smile really big so they believe me. 🙂
But that’s the truth. And that’s what I would encourage you to hold on to. Change and recovery gives us a unique license to explore and create new standards of success in our lives that we would not have, if it were not for these situations. We don’t have to go “back to normal.” It’s already here.