You don’t know it at first, not until it stings you for a long time.
The loudness of laughter. The proximity of people.
The constant talking. The ear piercing noise.
Everything closing in.
You start thinking about ways to exit.
To find the perfect moment when you can leave the room, end the conversation.
Prevent closeness with people you don’t know.
You crave going somewhere else. Not anywhere better.
But somewhere without proximity.
Where your boundaries stay intact.
You don’t know what’s happening to you.
You can’t explain it to yourself.
It’s too simple for it to be a problem.
It’s just a room of people for goodness sakes.
What is wrong with you.
You can’t even do that?
You come back to the room.
You try to make it through the rest of the evening.
You let the invasion of your personal space continue.
Because nobody told you that after loss your personal space requirements are completely altered.
Your breathing accelerates when in a space that is not your home.
Your body stiffens.
Your nervous system works overtime.
You see, your whole system never made it back after the loss.
There is an interference.
The station you used to broadcast your life from is no longer available. @SecondFirsts (Click to Tweet!)
This interference is not really understood until much later when the pain of loss lessens and life is starting to come back.
Your body, your breathing, your personal space, your tolerance levels are not the way you left them.
You realize that some things, simple things like picking up the phone, hanging out with friends, running into your neighbors at the grocery store are not so simple anymore.
This is when you start to seek the Waiting Room, when the most human interactions cannot be tolerated by your nervous system.
You are then left with very few choices.
The very basic routine of life.
How do I know all of this?
I could tell you that I know it from all the people I have helped so far.
But the honest truth is I learned all of this first from my own life.
I am the woman who finds it hard to be in a room full of strangers.
My personal space is larger than you can imagine and when it’s invaded all I want to do is run home. I still don’t like picking up the phone.
And my nervous system has so much interference. Still.
I was the complete opposite before he died.
But here is the part of the letter that is even more important than all the words I wrote so far.
I refuse to live like this. I refuse.
So here is what I do.
It’s kind of like physical therapy but instead, I call it Thriver Therapy.
Every day I practice all the senses that were lost and try to bring some of them back.
I make myself pick up the phone.
I make myself hang with friends.
I make myself thrive.
I force life into my life.
One thing you will never hear from me is that I am now healed and happy.
What I am after loss is complex.
Loss is not solved mathematically.
It is not defined by words, described by colors or resolved with time.
It is a systemic interference.
One nobody prepares you for.
This week I am going to ask you to be aware of your personal space and respect it.
Allow who you now are to be without judgment.
Once you do that give yourself some Thriver Therapy.
Go do something that you used to find easy but not anymore.
Practice doing it a couple of times.
Then go back home. Rest. Breathe. Be in the Waiting Room. Try again tomorrow.
Remember the easy things are going to feel hard after loss.
Now you know. And you can do something about it.
And I am just like you. Learning to do life still, years later.
With thriver therapy,
Christina Rasmussen is a bestselling author, speaker and philanthropist on a crusade to change the way we live after loss. As the founder of Second Firsts and Life Starters both organizations to help people create a pathway back to life after loss, Christina has helped thousands of people rebuild, reclaim, and relaunch their lives using the power of the human mind. Her book Second Firsts: Live, Laugh, and Love Again, aims to take her message even further. You can find more information on her website and follow her on FB or Twitter.
Image courtesy of Daniel Roizer.