2018 was a difficult year for me, but it would all be only destruction if I simply let it damage me, not learn from it, and most importantly not let it lead me into Post-Traumatic Growth.
In November of 2017 I became a Certified Applied Positive Psychology Practitioner and I learned my daughter was a victim of domestic violence. I graduated with the intention of bringing compassion to corporate America and then learned my daughters life was being threatened by the man she fell in love with and eagerly brought into our lives.
How could the universe take my positive intentions and put me in such a scary course? I was terrified for my daughter and in the back of my mind feared my safety as well.
My daughter got out of the relationship, he then threatened her, stalked her, and finally pulled a gun on her right out in public with a witness. My daughter has always been amazing under pressure and managed to talk him out of killing her. She then talked him into locking the gun in his car, giving her his car keys, and even letting her go into her apartment alone to get shoes. You see when she saw him pull up to her apartment she ran outside barefooted in the Oregon February weather to prevent them from being out of the sight of others. Once inside her apartment with his car keys she hid and called the police. While still on the phone with police dispatch he broke through the apartment door and had just put his hands on her when the police arrived with guns drawn.
We went through all the legal steps; restraining order, testimony in-front of grand jury, moving, restitution hearing, working again with the police when he violated the restraining order. And we, especially my daughter, have been going through all the emotional and fear issues that follow this type of situation. It has been heartbreaking to see my child change and suffer. And it has been frustrating to experience the change within me.
This has been a very difficult year, but to not evaluate it and learn from it would be to let evil win. To not come back stronger would be to let evil win. And I am not about to let evil win!
As I suffered and continued on with my life as usual I embraced a really important reality.
We all suffer.
The degree to which we suffer and when we suffer varies. Fortunately most suffering does not end us. I think we need a certain degree of honesty about our suffering and self awareness while we are engulfed in it. I believe this honesty and self-awareness is what helps us to evaluate and find the lessons that lead to post-traumatic growth.
While I was in the midst of my own suffering but still going to work I realized the cruelest part of suffering is that the world keeps going. While my daughters life is being threatened the biggest complained of my co-worker’s day is what’s being served at lunch. Now that I am on the other side of this suffering perhaps the fact that the world keeps going is the silver lining I needed to embraced. The forward momentum of time allows our wounds to heal. I needed time to adjust to this new reality and the me coming out of this storm does not need to be damaged; this fear and frustration could lead to a new version of compassion.
We all suffer.
Two big questions carry me into 2019:
How do we best support each other? Someone else will bear the brunt of suffering this year. 2019 will be a year they can’t wait to put behind them. How will I support them? How will my empathy sustain, comfort, and offer them hope? How can I help others to create space and margin in their lives so they can better deal with all that life will bring this year? How do we pause in our own lives to be there for others? What tools/resources/ideas can I share with others that could shore up their foundations in a world that can be unsteady at times?
How do I better shore up myself? I was surprised by how this situation changed me. How do I build my resilience? What unshakable life strategies do I need to embrace no matter what? What are the daily practices that I need to better balance me? How do I maintain hope, focus, and clear intentions when I am being challenged?
Compassion is the foundation of my work as a Positive Psychology Practitioner. I will continue to explore what this means in all life situations. I am grateful for the deeper understanding and insights into compassion that this year has brought. As I move forward into 2019 I declare the 25th of each month a Day of Compassion, we’ll explore that more as we move through the year.
The focus of 2019 is to turn this pain and trauma into hope inducing tools, inspired actions, and smile igniting ideas. This will be the focus of the 100 Smile Challenge Blog this year. I’ll probably be a little vulnerable as I discover and live this new me.
I put off doing this year end review and of course I only focused on this main event. What I did not write about was my engagement which grounded me in a very surprising way, I am sure I will write about that someday too. If you would like to conduct your own End of Year Review I am providing you a worksheet. In the center hexagon record your theme or word of the year. Perhaps the theme you established at the beginning of the year or one that sums up the previous year best. In the outer hexagons capture the key areas or events of this last year, what went well, what opportunities for future growth were revealed, and/or what have these revealed about you that makes you smile. This is a free form page to use as you best see fit. You may need some journal pages if you are at all like me where writing helps you process thoughts and events.
You can find the End of Year Review Page here:
Please use this resource or many of the others on the internet to conduct your review and make a declaration or two that will bring you into the new year with hope, optimism, and motivation.