Coping with Life-Altering Events and Changes

How do you cope with life-altering events? Do you take them head on? Do you avoid them all together? Do you quantify them because some are just worse than others? I’m struggling right now with a life-altering event that trumps all others before this one.

my new normal

Some events are life altering. Birthdays, marriage, birth of a child, divorce, job change, house purchase, financial woes, moves, and broken bones. In my lifetime, I’ve been through all of those life-altering events and some are just easier to cope with, to move on from or rejoice in, than others.

Life altering. It’s all in your state of mind, right? I mean, I’ve been through most of the events I mentioned above multiple times.

Birthdays. I’ve had a few. Each is significant. Each is life altering. Each brings new challenges, but I embrace them because it’s just another year. Another wrinkle. Another day that I’m thankful that I’ve been afforded. Some are not so lucky.

Marriage. I’ve been there a time or two (or three…see divorce…I’ve been there too). It’s life altering for sure. Those men folk can be messy, they stink, and they’re stubborn. But when a marriage is better than it is worse, altering your life is truly worth it. If it’s not, you say good bye and deal with another life altering event.

But let’s face it, if the marriage was really that bad, if it was worth giving up on, it’s not that hard to say good bye and change your life. It might seem like it in the short term, but in the long run (shorter than any other recovery time), altering your life, for the better, was the right thing to do.

The birth of a child. OK, I’ve done that a bunch. Always life altering. Always worth it. The end.

Job change. Ain’t nothing but a thing. It happens by choice, or not. But it happens. We all deal with it, we move on, we find bigger and better things. Life altering? Yes. A bad thing? Not usually.

House purchase, financial woes, and moves. They all kind of go hand in hand. Money can make or break you. I’ve chosen to let it make me, whether good or bad, I always rise above and move on. I’m in a good place now financially, I’m in a nice home, life is good.

But broken arms? Those are different kinds of life altering changes all together. It’s something that’s hard to explain. I’m not talking about falling out of a tree when you’re 7, wearing a cast for 8 weeks, and going on about your life kind of broken arms. I’m talking about broken. Like, life is painful broken.

In 2003, I made a rookie move for someone in my 30’s. I attempted a cartwheel. In a hotel corridor. By a pool. On a wet floor. Slip. Fall. Ouch. A broken bone or two, a blown elbow, one surgery, some therapy, almost good as new 12 years later. Life altering? Yes. But I’ve dealt with the pain, the popping, the slight ROM loss, like a champ. My life has moved on and my left-handedness has won out. I win. Take that life altering event!

But in September of last year, 9/4/15 to be exact, I experienced the first life-altering event of my entire life that has me wondering what my new normal will be for the rest of my life. Sound dramatic? It is. When I slipped on that day, when that unsuspecting and harmless person stepped on my flip flop as I tried to take a step and I lost my footing and grabbed a chair and broke my arm in 6 separate places and shattered my elbow in a zillion pieces? That day changed my normal. That day altered my life for real.

Let me explain. These days, almost 5 months after that life-altering event, my normal is a hidden sob while trying to be normal. One day, I was cooking meals, cleaning my house, taking pictures, running a successful site, taking care of my husband and my kids, and going on as normal as an abnormal person does. The next, I was trying to figure out how to move again. How to be “normal”.

My arm really doesn’t move. Every meal I cook, every can I open, every click of a camera button…hurts. Yes, one click of a camera button sends my arm…my body…into fits of pain that I can’t explain. Fits of pain that leave me sleepless most nights. Hell, even Bubby’s huggie time hurts. My 7-year-old son approaches me for a hug and I wince. It will hurt like hell to bend that arm just to hug him, it will bring tears to my eyes, it will leave me swollen and incapable of doing my job in the morning. But I hug him anyway. I have to hug him!

This is my new normal.

Sex. Something I don’t discuss here often. It’s something that hurts. Have you ever had sex without moving your arms? You might not notice because you can move them normally, but you move them. Although I enjoy it, although I know my husband needs it, it hurts too.

Everything hurts.

Making lunches for my kids for school? That hurts. Try to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with an arm that doesn’t bend. It hurts.

It all hurts.

I could go on. I could say that my life, my pain, is so much worse than everyone else’s life or pain. IT IS NOT. I can walk. I can talk. I can hear. I’m alive. I’m thankful.

But this life altering event has the best of me. I’m not sure if I should deal with my new normal and give up on recovery or if I should attempt to go into month five of therapy, more surgery, and hope that my new normal will go back to my old normal. I just don’t know.

For the first time in my life, I’m not dealing with a life-altering change very well. I’m tired of pain. I’m tired of inadequacy. I’m tired of feeling like less of a person. I’m just…tired. I want to be “normal” again, whatever that is. I want to bend my arm, dammit. I want it to stop hurting when I try to bend my arm. I want to be able to cook a meal, take a photo, hug my son, and make love to my husband…without pain…again.

Is that too much to ask?

I’ve got to push on. I have to go to therapy again. I have to…be normal. I have to learn to deal with this life-altering event like I have with all of the life-altering events that have come before it. I have to…be normal again.

I don’t want this to be my new normal. I do NOT want this to be my new normal. How do you cope with life-altering events? Do you roll with unfortunate changes or do you figure a way to make the change? I need strength, support, and encouragement right now, so I really welcome your advice!

Can you help to encourage me to be “normal” again?

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About Christy

Christy Gossett, managing editor of SoFabFood and creator of the healthy living blog, Insanity Is Not An Option, is a WAHM of 6 kids ranging in age from 27 to 8. She enjoys sharing her heart-healthy, low sodium recipes to help others with dietary restrictions enjoy a flavorful life while maintaining a healthy diet.

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  1. Melissa Lawler says:

    My strength is your strength. I am always available for a bitch session. I know what a broken body is like. My spine is disfigured from arthritis. I cannot turn my head to the right. I cannot stand for more than a few minutes at a time. It takes me hours to cook a meal because I have to take rest breaks. I am now the slowcooker.

    I am on oxygen 24 hours a day. I have horrible days and I have mediocre days, but I keep on moving. My children may all be in their 30s but they are not ready for me to leave.

    The point of my ramble is to take each day as it comes. We have good days and bad days. We are no longer in our 30s where cracking my patella while rollerskating is no big deal. We are older. Our bodies take lo ger to heal. And life is pain.

  2. Love you, friend. Xoxo I hope this is not your new normal and that you are soon completely healed, or at least that your new normal isn’t painful and involves some significant ROM.
    Summer D recently posted…The Key to Happiness is . . .My Profile

  3. Oh my gosh, Christy! I knew it was bad, but I didn’t realize how bad. I’m SO sorry for what you’re going through. =( I wish I could take away the pain you’re feeling. Praying for you! <3
    Mimi recently posted…Ice Castles In Eden Prairie, MinnesotaMy Profile

  4. Hi Christy. I understand the healing too quickly part. That’s what happened to my ankle too. It’s why I have extra bone growth that continually grinds. My knees too. My doctors all day my pain tolerance is very high. I guess maybe because my knees have always been bad even as a small child they hurt and my ankle happened when I was 19 I got used to pain earlier. My advice to you is to remember the birth of your kids. The pain you felt then. You endured it. Sure I know you have the kids later and no more pain to deal with do easier. Think of how you got through that pain though and think of how much you like hugging Bubby etc. it doesn’t make the pain go away but it makes it more tolerable in your mind. My pain has not lessened over the years but my tolerance for it and my ability to block it out and focus on other things has grown. I am hoping that your new normal pain will soon be just that normal pain which you’ll learn to ignore as much as possible to enjoy your life Of course if it would go away that would be ideal. Mine just never had and I’m just trying to share how I deal with it. The pain has gotten worse with age if anything but my perspective attitude and ability to cope with the pain is far better now that I’m older than it was when I was a young child and teenager dealing with the pain I hope this helps some. Let me know if you need someone to listen. I do understand pain.

    • It’s not the pain…at all…that’s bothering me. That’s nothing but a thing. It’s the very limited range of motion that I’m having trouble dealing with because it interferes greatly with my day-to-day life. I totally get what you’re saying though, so thanks!

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