In life there are many circumstances that require us to develop and implement coping mechanisms. Death, Abuse, illness, Divorce, etc. All traumatic events equally for those walking through them. With any thing, some coping mechanism manifest themselves positively and some negatively. Drinking alcohol is probably the most well known and most recognizable coping mechanism but there are many others that afflict.
It wasn’t until I started going through this journey that I recognized that I had them too. Implemented to cope with what my life had become over the last 25 years. It took me a while to peel back the layers of my behavior and discover the root of their origin and to call them what they were.
It’s our body’s natural response to protect itself. Our body has the ability to fight against infections and disease. The same concept is true when our heart, mind and soul are under attack. Early on in my relationship, I would try to fight back with words but quickly learned that got me nowhere. Silence became a learned behavior and my voice was heard only in my journal entries. Those entries chronicled the worst of our relationship. I penned hurts and feelings as if I was talking directly to him. This was my way of coping with being silenced, never heard and not wanting to fight (because I knew I could never win and was always made to feel it was my fault). Once confronted face to face with infidelity I just stopped writing in my journal altogether. It was too much for me to feel to write it down, I just needed to be numb. I numbed my emotions so much so that the dysfunction and lack of feeling anything began to feel normal to me. Eventually stuffing those feelings and not dealing with them in a healthy way made me a neurotic mess. I would fly off the handle at the simplest of obstacles or roadblocks in day to day life and I became rigid with schedules and how I envisioned plans should be carried out, so much so that I eventually needed to medicate myself with anti-depressants.
Once I began the divorce process – the coping mechanisms looked differently. They weren’t as deep and rooted into my personality, because once My ex left my physical space, the elephant that sat on my chest got up and went with him. I could finally breathe. My new coping strategies helped me find laughter in the midst of the storm and they helped me create a new normal, which really was NORMAL and healthy. Soon after he left, I found myself changing all the pictures in the house to those of me and my kids. His name in my phone changed to something that was not so nice – but it sure was funny to have siri say it. My best friend monogramed everything with my maiden name initials – Hand towels for my bathroom, shirts, shoes, bags and purses. I slept in the middle of my king bed as a statement that I was the queen of my castle. Those things that I knew my ex held near and dear were fair game now – for example, I recently painted a table I bought for the camp and to paint the legs I had to get a little bit of paint on the concrete in the driveway. Could I have put newspaper under the legs of the table so that I didn’t get paint onto the concrete – Absolutely I could have – but I chose not to, symbolically, because I don’t care about the paint on the driveway and I know that would have infuriated him had he still lived in my house. Oh, and after just a few short months of him being gone I stopped taking the anti-depressants that once helped me “keep it together” – if you know what I mean, and have never felt the need to take them again.
It’s funny the things we, as humans do to cope with our bag of lemons. Our bodies and minds go to extravagant measures to protect itself from the pain and sorrow that life sometimes offers, to get us over the hump of the sour fruit and into the land of fresh squeezed lemonade.
And so as I look back at my sour fruit, my lemons, it just reaffirms the way I now live my life – authentically honest. Because anything short of that gets me what I once had – silenced, numb and a vast array of unhealthy coping mechanisms. God gives us life to live it abundantly and as I look in my rear view mirror I see that I was not living it abundantly – I wasn’t living it at all. I was just existing, going through the motions, and medicated at that. The windshield is vast with opportunities for a life God intended for me to have. Remixed and plucked from dysfunction so that I could thrive and give him all the Glory, telling my story, giving witness to his greatness and drinking the lemonade.