Happy New Year, Y’all! It’s 2018 and I hope this year brings you prosperity, joy, success and health! I’m a big believer in learning from the past in order to move toward a better future. In this post, I’m sharing the truth about being strong and what I overcame in 2017. Life truly isn’t perfect and even though I’m young, I’ve learned so much in the past year. Sharing how you truly feel and being authentic and vulnerable helps humans heal and grow. This post on being strong is my way of doing that with you. It’s my hope this post can either help you in some way whether it’s feeling like you’re not alone or inspiring you to affect change in your life to make it better.
I’ll start with one of the over-arching themes of my life: gratitude. I truly believe there’s always something to be thankful for. Think about the chances of being alive. If you want to start small, it’s 1 in 400 quadrillion according to this Harvard blog. That in itself is more than enough to be thankful for. However, this year, I’m thankful for you. For each you who read Color & Chic, who follow me on Instagram, who support me in any way, THANK YOU. This blog started as a hobby and has grown beyond that. Plus, I hit 50k on Instagram, which a few years ago seemed like a distant planet in a galaxy far away. I’m thankful to work for a station with bosses who truly care for me. They’re compassionate and help me grow as a journalist each day. I truly couldn’t ask for a better work family.
Now comes the truth about being strong. It’s exhausting, draining and you cannot keep all of your emotions in. In 2015, my Dad suffered a traumatic brain injury. The severity can be mild such as a brief change in mental status or consciousness. However, it can be severe such as impaired brain function. Unfortunately, my Dad falls into the latter. This year my family climbed mountain after mountain with him. Unfortunately, seizures are a side effect of his injury and this year he’s been hospitalized for four different seizure episodes.
Watching my Dad deteriorate in front of me after more than a year of relearning how to do everything, including eating, walking, using the bathroom, is the biggest challenge. It’s heartbreaking. His brain is no longer what it used to be. It’s no longer the brain of a soldier who fought for freedom during the Vietnam War. It’s no longer the brain of a Dallas Police Officer. He can no longer be the loving husband, caring Dad and giving friend he used to be.
I’ll write more about my Dad’s journey with a TBI in a future post, but here’s my truth about being strong:
- It’s Draining: Going on with my day, reporting the news, writing blog posts when all I want to do is cry and question why my Dad is going through this is beyond exhausting. Trust me, it’s physically and emotionally draining and I’m not even talking about physically caring for him.
- It’s Comes & Goes: There are pockets of time, whether it’s a few hours or maybe a few minutes, where I’m okay. I’m content or focusing on the task at hand. Then, a wave of emotions will hit you.
- It’s Up To You: Laugh all you want, but for more than a decade, my Mom has this saying hung in our bathroom: life is 10 percent what happens to you and 90 percent how you react to it. It’s up to you to continue the fight. Your mind will decide whether you make it out alive or shrivel up and give in.
- It’s Okay Not to be Strong All the Time: Yes, there are times I just sit in my apartment and cry. It usually is triggered by a call home and hearing my Mom explain how much she’s suffereing and going through alone. She stopped being a wife years ago. She’s a caregiver now. Part of being strong is being aware of your emotions. The truth about being strong is it’s okay to be weak and let your emotions come out. Cry, eat some ice cream, indulge in some delicious garlic knots. Do what you need to do so you can get back up and keep being strong.
- It’s Not Something You Do Alone: You need a support group. My family may be small, it’s just us five, but we stick together. We surround my Dad with love every single day. We help each other see the positive. Praising each other is key. We lift each other up. We are each other’s backbone. Being strong by yourself is totally possible, but it’s so much better with a team.
- YOU CAN DO IT: Whether you’re going through a family tragedy like I am, having issues at work, a falling out with a friend, or nursing a broken heart, you can be strong. Find things you enjoy and go after them. Take advantage of this time to learn more about yourself. I’ve learned I’m patient and will do just about anything for my Dad, but I need an air mattress or a place to sleep, even if it’s just 20 minutes. Discover who is really there for you, or who just says they are. Finally, look to yourself. Look in the mirror and say something positive about yourself every day.
If you are here at the end of this post, thank you. I hope this honest and revealing post can be a tool in your arsenal. Also, don’t forget. 2018 is here and let’s kick some butt!