I began 2016 with unbridled enthusiasm and optimism, convinced it was going to be a wonderful year.
How wrong I was.
I can’t remember another year filled with so many challenges and tragedies, both for me personally and for the world at large. And 2016 is barely halfway over!
We’ve lost David Bowie, Prince, Muhammad Ali, and Alan Rickman, to name a few.
The bombings in Brussels. The horrible mass murder at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando over the weekend. Numerous school shootings, bomb threats, and other attacks.
On the personal front, my publisher closed its doors. I was betrayed by someone I love, someone I trusted unconditionally. A good friend died of cancer without even telling me she was sick. I was sexually assaulted by a massage “therapist” in Tuscany, fended off two very inappropriate advances from married men during the same trip–and endured a long wait in an Italian emergency room and a highly uncomfortable procedure. After the assault, my credibility and integrity were repeatedly attacked by two people who should have protected and helped me.
To put it mildly, it’s been a shit show.
Maybe some of you are also struggling. I’m not the only person who’s had challenges this year–far from it.
And I’m certainly not an expert when it comes to bouncing back. Sometimes I grieve, or feel sorry for myself, or chastise myself for bouts of indecision and uncertainty.
But I always get back up.
A dear friend said something today that made me feel so much better. He said:
“If anyone can deal with these challenges, it’s you. You are strong in so many ways.”
With that in mind, here is everything I know about getting back up when life knocks you down repeatedly:
- You can’t do it alone. Remember that old song, “That’s What Friends Are For”? It’s true.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help. People aren’t mindreaders. Someone who seems cold might be unsure how to support you.
- Be kind to yourself. After the sexual assault, I beat myself up–why didn’t I punch the guy? Why didn’t I get the hell out of there? Why didn’t I tell him to go perform an impossible act on himself? But that kind of thinking doesn’t do it any good–it just makes things worse. What’s done is done. All you can do is take the horrible experience and use it to react better the next time, if you’re unlucky enough that there is a next time.
- Count your blessings. We all have them, even when life is at its darkest. I have my health. I have people who love me. I have work, enough work to pay the bills and travel a bit. My animals are healthy. I have a home. What are you grateful for?
- Help others. When you feel like you are in a deep, dark hole, the best way to get out is to shine a light for someone else. It’s amazing how much strength and positive energy will return to you. It always works. It can be as simple as being there for a friend who is also suffering.
- Express yourself. I can’t stress this enough–don’t let this stuff fester. Get it out. Talk, blog, journal, whatever you have to do.
Anything else? I’d love to hear how you’ve gotten through tough times in your own life.
And I’d like to thank all of you for having my back, for championing me and encouraging me and being such a wonderful community of bighearted people. Your kind words and support have never been more appreciated.
I promise to return to my regular spooky posts next week.