“The Cutlery Wars” by Lisa Bondarenko – Mind Heart Body
So the past few days I’ve been trying to get back to “normal”… whatever that means! Up until the middle of this past week I have had my husband home for close to seven months. We were an example of those affected by the current employment economy — and it was tough, like really tough. But now we can exhale.
We kept riding the wave week after week of interviews, reject letters, no reject letters, conversations, coffee dates, phone calls, conference calls all over the country. It was not fun. I learnt a few things about myself, and let me be clear most of those few things weren’t fabulous!
What I learn over and over is that ultimately we walk a solo path. Sure, we have family and friends who support and love us (and ours are the best) but everyone has their own “stuff” and whilst we’re all good in the immediate crisis, we’re not so great at the ongoing trenches. I started to withdraw around the half way mark for a couple of reasons, I couldn’t bear the questions and the, “Oh yeah apparently the whole country is collapsing in the engineering and mining industry”. Then there were those who didn’t ask anything at all.
Like most things in life, the unknown feels like the enemy. I kept trying to remain focussed on enjoying the upside of this experience and there were definitely many. But, there were days, oh there were days, when that little thing called “anxiety” would knock me down for a six. And I wasn’t happy about it!
I say it all the time, if we don’t work on ourselves and our marriages then when the tsunami’s of life hit you, you can drown quickly. Who knew that in the first few weeks there would be arguments over the “styling” of the dishwasher…yes you know how it should look when it is packed….or the cutlery draw….fork, spoon, knives in that order left to right became a battle… we were buckling under the pressure.
As a wife I was aware of many things I needed to consider, but mostly I knew for men, employment forms a huge part of their identity. So when this is taken out of the equation, they flounder. I know this also because I have counselled couples in this predicament and watched grown men sob in despair and distress, over lost homes, possessions, mental health but mostly self-esteem. It is very real, not to be underestimated and I was onto it in my home.
But for us wives and girlfriends, it’s no picnic either. I found myself the “encourager” always remaining positive, hopeful, saying all of the “right” things at every corner. But it wasn’t my truth all the time – yes I faked it! I faked it so much at the 11th hour I was hit hard with a nasty case of shingles. I had been feeling so unwell, run down and just “flat”, clearly my immune system and emotional health had been living under enormous stress for months.
So what do you do when you are walking the unknown of employment, health diagnosis, relationship struggles, financial strain, children’s issues, family dysfunction, consequences of choice and every other challenge under the sun?
:: You acknowledge the situation, become honest with yourself and others.
:: You put things in place like people or things that help you detach from the issue to help give you perspective regularly.
:: You build resilience.
:: You reflect on the other times you have “made it through” and engage those habits. You know you will be okay. He or she will get another job.
:: You take care of your body, mind and heart. Be fiercly protective even. Exercise is brilliant for this.
:: You hold onto all of the good in your life, and dance around that regularly.
:: You know that time has a way of moving, changing and dealing with you — so trust it. It will all work out and probably for the better.
And the more difficult part;