Mix one part determination (AKA stubbornness) with one part wide-eyed innocence. Then add heathy doses of help from your friends and lots of prayer. This recipe helped me through a very difficult time.
The month of October kicked my butt. The train I worked on went to double shifts (12-13 hour days) with multiple days in a row and we lost some valuable co-workers so we were short handed. I’m older and not in the best physical condition so the workload proved to be difficult but I did get through it. Here is how:
I like to call it determination but it is really that I am very stubborn. I hate to admit defeat so I kept going long after I should have admitted I was done. In my alone times, I threaten to quit but that stubborn side of me just kept going.
Not fully understanding what is happening, or wide-eyed innocence, also helps. I believed it could never get as bad as everyone told me it would, that helped me move forward. I did not believe the stories of Octobers past. My innocence told me that my experience was going to be totally different. It wasn’t but I didn’t realize it until much later.
I got so exhausted that one night I forgot how to open my car door to go home. I had times where I felt like I was the walking dead. I cried uncontrollably for days. Then came the big meltdown. With one week to go I went into work and completely lost my composure. I started to hyperventilate, spewed a continual line of “f” bombs and went straight into panic attack mode. I was exhausted and completely overwhelmed. The thought of standing up in front of another group of 44 strangers and acting like everything was fine was more than I could bear.
I never worked 70+ hour weeks before. To some people that may not be a big deal but I was crushed. That’s when the last parts of the recipe kicked in. Having always considered myself a loner, I learned the absolute, unwavering truth about being part of a group. My co-workers, now my friends, got me through the hard times. They freely showered me with encouraging words, an abundance of hugs, a helping hand when I could not perform a task and many shoulders to cry on. It was because of them I made it through to November in one piece.
I find myself remembering that when I got to Bryson City and to this job, I knew no one here. I was starting a whole new life completely different from the last one I had. These people welcomed me freely and completely. Over the last several months we went from co-workers to friends to family. I know now that is what gets you through the tough times and makes the good times even better.
The last part of the recipe, which should really be the first part, is prayer. Prayer for strength and guidance gave me the tools I needed to successfully accomplish getting through the dark nights. The hope that the sun will rise on a new day becomes the expectation.
I know people who have gone through much worse things and I am not saying this challenge is the worst thing that could ever happen. I have had harder personal challenges than this myself but this challenge changed me. Just like most of my journey of late, I’m coming out the other side a different person. I have learned the value of a strong belief system and the power of human contact. My life is forever changed because of the people I have met either casually or long term. I will never again consider myself a loner able to move through life untouched and unaffected by others. It is those handprints on my soul that have made me grow, change and learn to love life. I’m just sorry it took me so long to find out the truth.