New Castle News

Lisa Madras

July 7, 2014

Lisa Madras: Somewhere between ‘showing up’ and ‘giving up,’ there is hope

NEW CASTLE — What do you do when you feel like giving up?

I've been writing for a long time. Longer even than my time with this newspaper, but I do have to say that this has been my favorite writing stint of all time, and I'm going to miss it.

It's hard to believe that I have only three blogs left. In many ways, I feel as if I've already said everything I could possibly say. In other ways, I feel as if I've barely dipped my toe in the water.

What strikes me the most about approaching the end of this blog is how different my life is now than when I started. I look back at who I was then with an almost incredulous horror. I was so broken, so destroyed, that I still can't even fathom how I managed to put the pieces back together.

It's a bit like looking at a photograph of a plane wreckage, parts strewn about the ground, engine smoking, flames making quick work of what's left — then seeing a picture of that very same plane rebuilt — perhaps a little cosmetic damage and a minor crack or two in the fuselage, but revamped and ready to fly.

Is there any one secret to how I managed to come out on the other side of that with (almost) all my pieces intact? Not really. It's a process, and it will always be a process.

You've been with me throughout most of it. You've seen the days where I sang songs about rainbows and clicked my sparkly heels, and you've seen the days when I released the flying monkeys. I love that so many people tell me that I'm the strongest person they know, but here's the honest to God truth: I'm not really that strong at all. I just made a conscious decision to keep showing up.

It's easy to cry into your pillow and wrap yourself in a cocoon of blankets and watch Netflix until you're numb to the pain, and it feels so, SO good. Despite what anyone thinks, it's easier to drown than to try to save yourself.

I've been there. I still have days where it seems like every ounce of my strength is gone, and I'm physically and emotionally exhausted, and the only place I want to be is in bed with my Kindle and a heating pad. And I let myself do that sometimes. But when the moment is over, I know I have to get back up ... and show up.

I do my hair when I feel like just pulling it back in a ponytail, peel myself out of my jammies and put on some decent clothes, and march myself out to wherever it is I need to be that day. I may start out looking and feeling like an extra from the “Walking Dead,” but sure enough, if I do it enough times, that feeling of wanting to cocoon myself gets fainter and fainter.

You see, I learned early on that I'm not the center of the universe. The world isn't kind enough to stop and wait while I get over my pain. My children still need me to show up, and my job still needs me to show up, and while I might have been a shell of a human being, I still wasn't selfish enough to disappoint everyone else. I didn't have the luxury of giving up, and I thank God every day for that.

Eventually, if you keep showing up, showing up becomes what you do naturally. And then one day, you realize that you're not forcing yourself anymore. The process, somewhere along the line, has brought you back to normalcy. You almost didn't notice all the little things that healed you along the way — a kind word, an unexpected burst of laughter, a new friendship, a violet growing through a crack in the concrete. You catch a reflection of yourself in a mirror, and you realize that you no longer have that haunted look in your eyes.

No, there is no one, single trick for getting from there to here. Everybody's story is different, and because of that, everybody's path to recovery will be different. But one thing that those who come out better on the other side have in common is that they keep showing up.

I love this idea because "not giving up" seems like such an insurmountable task when all you want to do is give up. "Showing up" is different, because it doesn't require as much from someone who may feel they have nothing left to give. Somewhere in between one and the other, though, is where hope springs up.

Sort of like a violet growing through a crack in the concrete.


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Lisa Madras
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