What to do when life punches you in the gut

On August 14th, a bright & sunny day, I was crossing the street and I turned my ankle. I fell on my foot funny. It hurt, a lot.

It continued to hurt. The swelling didn’t really go down, even days later. After some prompting, we went to the doctor. The verdict: my foot was broken. (An avulsion fracture of the fifth metatarsal. In case you’re curious.)

I didn’t want to go to the doctor. We don’t have health insurance, and we’d just experienced our second-most hellish move ever (the first being when we moved down to Austin from Missouri), which seriously sapped our finances. And I most certainly did not want my foot to be broken.

I can’t do yoga. I can’t cross my legs to meditate. I can only barely, very clumsily, ride a bike, and we just went carless (and there’s not a bus stop in the immediate vicinity, which means we’ve been racking up car2go fees for lack of an alternative). Walking up stairs is an small ordeal (and we just moved to an apartment on the second floor; no elevators). My walking cast is bulky and heavy and slow and hard to move around in small spaces and generally, a big pain in the ass.

I don’t consider myself a stranger to pain; after all, I’ve had my nose pierced (and then subsequently almost ripped it out on accident), I’ve sat under a tattoo needle for two or three hours straight, and then there was last year when I was sick and in almost constant pain.¬†Quite frankly, though? This sucks. It’s not always incredibly painful, but it always hurts. It’s messing with my sleep, which then messes with everything else; I have less energy, I’m more prone to mood swings, and I’m perpetually thatmuch closer to getting upset for a silly reason. The news that we were out of the ingredients for my nightly hot cocoa brought me to tears earlier this week.

Last but not least, it pisses me off that I need help from anyone. I’m like my mom, I can’t even enjoy being waited on; I’m just annoyed that I can’t do it myself.

Sometimes, life punches you in the gut.

You find out your significant other cheated on you or lied to you big time, you’re worried your marriage is falling apart, your marriage actually does fall apart and then you have to deal with the aftermath.

You get in a car wreck. Your child gets sick. Your parent gets sick. Your grandparent dies. Natural disaster strikes. Disaster, in general, decides to stop lurking around the corner and strikes.

Sometimes, more than one of these happens at once. I get it. I’ve been there. This whole year has been a rollercoaster of high highs and low lows – and I know I’m not the only one that’s been on that rollercoaster, not by a long shot.

More likely than not, part of the reason you went into business for yourself is because you wanted to be self-sufficient. You didn’t want to rely on anyone else for having fulfilling work to do, having pride in your work, or your income. And while that tenacity has served you well in other places, it’s likely that here it’s going to bite you in the ass. I get stubbornness, I do. But…

You’ve got to be kind to yourself.

And when you’re stressed out and angry and upset and frustrated and just trying to hold it together at any given moment, being kind to yourself is probably not very high on your list of priorities. That path leads to burnout and collapse.

You have to be able to open up to someone. You need to talk about it. Preferably, someone who isn’t going to judge you if you cry and yell and rage, because judgement is the last thing you need right now.

You need to not work as hard as you normally do, and stop kicking yourself about not getting enough work done. Take the day off. Make your office hours shorter.

Go outside, soak up some sun. Eat something nourishing – if not nourishing, then at least yummy. Smell the flowers and the sun and/or the autumn leaves (depending on where you’re at). Watch your favorite movie – the one with the happy ending. Hell, go find a funny cat video on Youtube and make yourself laugh for a few minutes.

(This is just as much me writing to myself, as it is me writing to you, by the way.)

If this is you right now:

Big hugs. Sending you love and mental chocolate from somewhere else in the trenches. You’re not alone.

If this isn’t you right now:

Think of a time when it was you. Remember if you were kind to yourself, or not, and how that affected things. No judging – just noticing. What will you do differently next time, if anything?

We all need support. That’s one of the reasons I’m so big on systems; the best systems are supportive. In fact, I consider that a key marker of a good system: it makes it as easy as possible for you to take care of yourself. With that in mind, what do you do to support yourself? How do you make sure you get the support you need?

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