How to Survive a Life-Altering Change

How to Survive a Life-Altering Change

Have you ever been through a life-altering catastrophe? The kind of event that turns your entire world upside down! Maybe you have suffered an abusive relationship and was pushed to a breaking point, and finally managed to escape. Or have you suffered an abrupt loss of community that you have been entrenched in for years? Have you found yourself suddenly unemployed and left with a mountain of responsibilities? Has tragedy knocked on your door in the form of the loss of someone close? I have found myself facing these disasters, and many at the same time! I am eager to share my story, as I know that I am not alone, and want to help you overcome any obstacle you may be facing. 

Chapter 1: Gobsmacked!

My life fell apart, sending shockwaves through the core of my being. I was feverishly reeling from recent changes in my life. I found myself scrambling to make sense of everything that I had experienced. It all felt surreal. I was in absolute disbelief - such insanity could not be real! I felt so aware of what had happened to me, yet at the same time, I found it difficult to accept my reality. Why did this happen to me?

Chapter 2:  Lost and Confused

In the first two weeks, I stumbled deliriously through each day, spending most of my time in tears, or in vapid detachment. Waking up each morning was torturous! The uncertainty of each moment filled me with dread. I feared discovering just how much worse this life could possibly get. I did not want to go to sleep either, because then I would have to wake up and face another day. When I look back at that time now, it appears like a blurry moment all mashed-up into a singular painful memory. I cannot decipher when one day ended and the next began.

Chapter 3: What did I do wrong?

I spent over a decade devoting my life to something that crumbed to pieces overnight. As an introvert, I withdrew and began self-imploding. I felt guilt and shame for my predicament.  If only I had read the signs and heeded the warnings. If only I walked away at a certain point in time. Was I too lazy to make a change? Did I spend too much time focusing on the wrong things? Why was I such a fool? Did I do something to deserve this? What is wrong with me? Initially, I blamed myself even for the actions of others. I questioned my own integrity and self-worth. I felt that I must be inherently bad to have to face such hardship and maybe I was always destined for unhappiness.

Chapter 4: Fear and Anxiety

I was assaulted by thoughts of how I was going to face life and the possibility of not making it through. All the worst-case scenarios flooded my mind. They seemed to pass through my bloodstream, crippling my entire body with fear! Trying to remain calm in the midst of erratic thoughts and emotions is challenging- especially when faced with a sudden crisis that catches you off guard. There was so much to process, to plan, and so many decisions. I was still trying to wrap my mind around it all, what had actually happened, and this added to the anxiety I felt.

Chapter 5: An Unpredictable Bundle of Ups and Downs

Carrying a heavy heart makes for a difficult walk. I felt like a failure, dejected and defeated. Some days were like traversing a never-ending treacherous road. Then unexpectedly, came a day considerably lighter and more peaceful than the day before. On those good days, I felt optimistic and hopeful. Maybe everything is about to turn around for the better? Then I would find myself ‘down in the dumps’ the next day again! This unpredictable swing of emotions left me feeling terribly unsettled. 

Chapter 6: Conclusion

It took two months before I perceived positive changes. The initial shock steadily faded away. The better days soon began to outnumber the bad ones. The intensity of fear and anxiety slowly dissipated. Although lingering, it did not consume me like before. My problems were not solved all at once, and my future remained unknown. Somehow, I managed to climb out of the pit and make tiny advances towards a new life. Speaking out (to people I trusted), accepting all help available, and fierce honesty were among my first steps to healing. Some of the support I received came from close friends, a family member and a counselor. I write this with the hope of inspiring someone today, who may find themselves picking up the pieces after a life-shattering event. You may feel like you cannot take another step forward, but as long as you are still breathing, you will survive. Keep breathing. Keep walking. The seasons of our life change and we are only passing through. 


Written by: Andrea Kisten


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