How to Bounce Back When Life Falls Apart.

Via on Nov 26, 2013

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Seven years ago my own life did—and I survived.

 I make it a rule to never take advice from someone who hasn’t been there, so I’ll share with you what happened, and then I’ll share how I got through my own personal tunnel of hell.

In a 30 day period, I lost it all. My money, love, health, a baby, beloved pets, security and pride.

My boyfriend at the time broke up with me while I held the still dripping, positive pregnancy pee stick, his response to having a baby with me was to end our relationship and share that he hoped to tile his kitchen and travel that summer.

I lost the baby at nine weeks and suffered an extreme crash of hormones. Being in my 40′s, I realized this was probably my last chance to have a child. To make matters worse, 48 hours after losing the baby, I learned my bank accounts had been emptied. I had 40 cents in my pocket when I stood at that blinking ATM on an early July morning.

Someone had sued me out-of-state and due to a loop-hole in the serving process, I never received notice and didn’t show up to defend myself. When you don’t show up, it’s as though you’re admitting guilt and judgments were issued—every account was emptied.

Seven days later, I was faced with putting my 16-year-old pet down, only to be followed by the rapid decline of my other 15-year-old pet 10 days later. If you’re like me pets are family. This was a loss beyond words.

My health was shot and continuing to decline, my mind was a mess, my heart broken and I had 40 cents to my name. My father died years ago and I had been the one helping my mother financially.

I was in my own words, lost.

Ancient cultures understood the dark night of the soul as a time of transformation. A time when personal strength is tested and the knowledge you’ve gained over the first half of your life is drawn up from the depths of your being and utilized. In this culture, it’s considered a Mid Life crisis.

We get face-lifts and sports cars. Couples run screaming from other couples divorcing, neighbors turn a blind eye as neighbors go into foreclosure, and fair weather friends back away quickly. Instead of community support and wise elders to lean on, we’re left alone isolated by shame.

What could be viewed as a phoenix rising is in today’s world, considered contagious drama.

For me, only a handful of people knew what was happening while most thought I was suddenly nuts. In the past, I’d been the person others leaned on for advice and financial help. Now, I was an empty vessel without a financially secure family for support. I looked like hell and felt even worse.

When I woke in the morning I wasn’t sure what to mourn: the relationship or the baby? My two pets, or my financial security? My health or the fact I could be homeless in a week? (My biggest fear in life–at this time a reality.)

The grip of my biggest fear in the face of utter despair is a cold sharp knife that cuts deeply.

Have you ever experienced your life falling apart all at once? If you’ve been there or find yourself there right now, you’ll know what I mean. Sometimes during our darkest hours, a great light awakens inside and heightens our awareness.

I learned many things during that time, most of all I learned what true happiness was and how to actually be happy-–happy when there was nothing outwardly to be happy about.

What I learned:

• If you’ve always been the strong one other people lean on, there’s a lot of growth when you ask for help. I learned who my real friends were and I learned I was loveable even when I wasn’t perfect. Had it gotten to the point of my moving in with family or friends, I know there would have been growth.

• The thought of selling everything and starting over was in a tiny way freeing. I realized nothing material mattered. My only fear was losing my remaining two pets if I had to couch surf.

• Because I tried to hide my pain by going to dinner with friends while pretending I wasn’t hungry since I had no money to spend, I learned who truly cared and who was in tune with my subtle changes. Lucky for me, a friend handed me a small amount of money unsolicited to get by while I got my head on straight. Her generosity taught me the phrase: While you may only be one person in this world, you may be the world to one person intimately.

• In business, I’m required to be clear and strong. You can’t be broken and effective at the same time so I learned how to: fake it until you make it. By faking my strength, even my smile, I slowly felt like myself again. I witnessed the miracles of the universe as suddenly those cereal boxes and toothpaste samples coming free in the Sunday paper were valuable. With the help of my friend, I was able to cover my rent long enough to start billing in my business even though extras weren’t an option. Gone were the monthly hair salon trips, extras like cable, Internet and dog treats.

• I realized how wasteful I had been with food, clothing, and coffee shop stops. I rode my bike a lot that summer without gas money and reasoned with my car loan and insurance agents for reduced monthly payments—while witnessing the kindness that comes when we admit defeat.

How I did it:

• Each morning I forced myself to think of three things to be grateful for before letting my feet hit the carpet. If I didn’t do this, I would begin my day in the depressed way I had ended the night before. Soon I began doing this before bed and found that nights got easier.

• When the magnitude of my situation would hit mid day, I forced myself to get outside, go for a walk and notice something beautiful. When life is bleak even the smallest gifts like the song of a bird or color of the sky can jar you up a notch.

• I listened to or read something inspirational daily. I couldn’t control the world around me but I could control my inner emotions. Yes I cried a lot, but I balanced those moments with what I was grateful for and kept moving towards what I wanted—stability again.

• If I felt desperate and scared, I would imagine my worst case scenario: I would loan my dog and cat to people I trusted and couch surf, I would go on antidepressants, I would ask a friend if I could share dinner with them. Once I knew my worst case scenario, I was able to relax a tiny bit and focus on what I was grateful for~often times the worst case scenario back up plan or the fact my dog was laying there next to me loving me no matter what.

When life blows up there is a crystal clarity that comes:

• All of the issues you’ve been hiding behind with your job or your money or your relationship are out there in the open.

• In the middle of the night, I learned to pray for help and finally learned to listen for the answer.

And in the end, most of all I learned that when we’re broken, we’re really just broken open.

I became the seed that sits in the dark, damp earth waiting for spring, deciding in which direction to send up a sprout. When life unravels, we’re all that seed needing to trust that the darkness we’re residing in temporarily, will in the end move us towards our next fertile direction.

 

Originally posted Daily Transformations.com

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Editor: Bryonie Wise

Photo: elephant archives

About Tamara Star

Tamara Star believes happiness is not an end destination, but instead the ability to see the ordinary through eyes of wonder. If you let her, she'll show you how to take the life you're living and turn it into a life you'll love. Want more free scoop? Click here to subscribe to her mailing list. She's an international best selling author, life coach, and the creator of the original 40-day Personal reboot program for women--a 6 week virtual deep dive into clearing the slate on what's blocking you from living a life you love. Find the description here. Tamara Star's global reach inspires women around the world through her programs, newsletters and teachings. Connect with Tamara on her websiteFacebook or Twitter. Tamara's work had been featured on The Huffington Post, Positively Positive, The News.com Australia, Blog Her, The Good Men Project, Yoga Mint, The Elephant Journal, Twine Magazine, Eat, Drink, Explore Radio, Think Simple Now, Boulder Life, BOLD radio, and Yoga Anonymous.

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36 Responses to “How to Bounce Back When Life Falls Apart.”

  1. Ana says:

    Having been through something similar, but not even close to as earth-shattering as your story this past year, I can appreciate every single piece of advice that you shared. So many days I felt like there was nothing left, but the REAL friends helped me realize that I was loved, I was enough and that it too would pass. Today I am able to look back and find the blessings in my personal earthquake to realize that the universe was taking matters into its own hands to get me out of something that I would have never realized wasn’t meant for me. Every single day I say prayers of gratitude for my awakening because it forced me to see how blessed I truly am. Thank you for sharing your story.

    • Tamara says:

      Thank you Ana. I’m relieved to hear that you’re looking back at the situation and you’re past it. I believe when we survive these things, we are stronger for it and forever changed like weathered wood. Different but even more beautiful.

  2. kaya10 says:

    Thank you

  3. tnbroom says:

    Tamara, I could have written this but only because I am living this. After a long professional life, a home life where I was blessed with two children, good jobs and some help from their dad after divorce, I had a degree of financial success where it appeared I had it together — then the world busted open. To say it 'broke open' would be much too neat a picture.

    You have painted exactly the picture of someone in my situation. One I never thought I would find myself in, except in my nightmares. All that you've said is true and I can't add much except to say to those reading, you will never know what your small gestures of kindness, acceptance, and understanding mean to a friend who is in distress. Thanks for writing!

  4. Tamara says:

    You will get through this and you will come out the other side and feel like yourself again, I promise.

    Please continue doing the practices I mention, they are so small yet as you know, powerful….and trust that this is happening for you and not to you. A day will come that you look back and so ooh, now I get it. Sending you strength and love.

  5. Marie-Claire says:

    Tamara, thank you for this post. In the space of a year, I gave birth to my son (as a single parent from pregnancy), at the same time my mother passed away unexpectedly. I lost my grandma a few months later. I started to suffer from anxiety and depression, and consequently lost my job. It was my 'annus horriblus'. Now, nearly three years on, I am in the final year of a degree and due to start training to be a teacher next September. I have stayed at home with my son, we are on state benefits, and have to live very frugally day-to-day so that I can spoil him with little day trips or camping weekends when I can. I have thrown myself into being a good parent, read up on nutrition and make sure we are strengthened from within on a daily basis. I do several 'jobs' for charity each week, whilst my son is at a free nursery placement, and I start each day with a repeated prayer/mantra "all is well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well' – which my son sings with me. I've found that since pulling myself together from what was an experience which very nearly broke me, that I can now handle other disasters much easier, because I know in myself that I have strength, and if I got through that, I can get through anything. My son, saved me. We all have our nugget of strength, and he proved that for me.

    • Tamara says:

      Marie-Claire, thank you for your comment. Agh, my heart cracked after reading what you went through. You are a strong woman with a huge heart. Please make sure you're creating some time just for you. We have more to give everyone around us when we take care of ourselves. It sounds like your son is a huge source of love and inspiration and you're an amazing mother. It will be important to create some solo "me" time for yourself so you can continue to stay in healthy balance. Sending you love.

  6. Lisa Trank says:

    Sometimes the opportunity for deep transformation comes so suddenly and from all fronts – having just gone through a remarkably difficult and traumatic time, it would have been very easy to pull the covers over my head, take my anti-depressants and call it a day. Instead, I've sweated and cried my way through daily yoga, written, rested, and connected to myself in a way that my former life would have never allowed. Not easy, but intensely important.

    • Marie-Claire says:

      Lisa, I too have found yoga (kundalini yoga for me) and meditation to be a great way to lift yourself spiritually, and agree – I would not have been able to do this 'pre-armaggedon'. What you do with the worst of life, shows who you are as a person. I hope you continue to prosper :-)

    • Tamara says:

      Hi Lisa, I know that one! There were times that the covers over my head and a big dose of denial sounded heavenly. So happy to hear you denied that urge and instead sweated and cried your way through it. So beautiful to read your process. Thank you for sharing it here.

  7. Ben says:

    Thanks Tamara,

    Like you, I've been through a very dark time, where everything seemed to dissolve. Reading your story, it strikes me that my trip was easy by comparison.

    I've written on the topic of coming back from a crash. The writing became long, but people I gave it to were happy to read it all the way through. Thank you for putting this writing in such a public place.

    Parts of me seem burned away, and haven't really recurred. Phoenix symbols come to mind.

    I've read that many traditions suggest that a life will have a Dark Night of the Senses, one of the Self and one of The Soul. I ponder the idea – was that event my dark night of the soul? Or is it still to come?

    • Tamara says:

      Hi Ben, nah, you can't compare pain. What you've gone through is painful and there's no comparison. Yes, phoenix symbols are powerful when you're in it aren't they? Good question on the dark night of the soul…I like to think that we only get one dark night if we take what we've learned and find the blessings in it~no reason to keep getting banged on top the head with the cosmic hammer if we get it the first time.

  8. Cornelia says:

    Thank you,this post makes my heart sing so joyfully!

  9. Tergali says:

    Thank You! Sometimes we need to remain that everything is temporal and we have to enjoy life no matter what is happening on this time the best is yet to come :D.

  10. Liz says:

    Tamara, Thank You so much for such a spot-on piece. It speaks to me so deeply, as a year ago this time I lost my baby (and my bf at the time refusing to be with me during the miscarriage), two days later found he was cheating, my one-year old business on the verge of dying, and moved out with $300 to my name. What a year of growth. So many lessons I understood intellectually, now I was given the chance to very truly understand them and cement them in my life on such a different level. It was absolutely the most difficult year of my life, and I can see countless lessons that needed to be learned. I feel strength and trust in myself like I never have. Thank you for sharing the line about broken open. So often I felt that I was "broken" by the experience. And while I work on maintaining positive language, up until now I hadn't been able to find a word to replace broken that felt right. Broken open feels like I can do that now. I wish you absolute continued success and thank you again for your courage and vulnerability!

  11. Maura says:

    HOLY COW!!!!

  12. 4simpleliving says:

    Been there, done that, sold the tshirt to put gas in the car. I hit another recent pothole that reminds me that's life is still a 4 letter word. Thank you for sharing.

  13. Steph says:

    Thank you, Tamara. I needed to read this today. Namaste.

  14. SSG says:

    You know, I almost couldn't believe it when I read the summary/byline to this piece, that forwarded me to the article… I thought I had been the only person to live almost exactly the same – point by point- fiasco's, loss, devastation- in terms of complete upheaval and my life truly falling apart. I did not really have the benefit of any stable/reliable support system- or even one friend who helped me even attempt to transition past the utter life crush… and spent some years actually homeless, which actually triggered a deep and profound depression and isolation from myself and the world as I had ever known it. Though many of the life lessons and even spiritual lessons, gifts- that you mention… have also been similarly gained through my own experience… (complete lifestyle change to non-consumerism/minimalism… ) gratitude in the simplicities in life, etc. I have to admit, that I've never quite 'made it back' from everything I lost, went through or experienced even more falling apart as a result of- some of the very similar tumultuous changes and events that I went through. There have been some very great and deep experiences of joy and magic… a spiritual path and awakening I could have never considered being put on the path for as a direct result of what I've been through… but at this very moment and to this day, I feel like my hopes and efforts to try and 'make it back' or make something of myself, and or somehow step out of the plight that this particular journey still has me living to some extent- (I no longer work steadily and am quite limited in resources so my living situation still has been unstable or unhealthy to some degrees- and certainly not ideal-) and my depressive disorder is still something I have to deal with almost daily- and all of this is to say, that my own feelings towards my experience is that somehow everything has changed but never gotten better…. So, I write all this to say, or ask… what or how does one actually not just 'survive' one's own life completely falling apart, (and yourself along with it?) but actually come back from it, or get on the other side of it, and actually be ok again? (mentally, emotionally, spiritually, financially, etc.?) Often times, I have felt this type of experience is much harder to transition from or out of, when one finds oneself without family or friends per se, who can or will help pick up the slack or see you through the worst… but I don't want to use that as an excuse, nor do I want to stay stuck in what still feels like a rut, forever… Is there really any hope/chance that one can truly recover from adversity, struggles and misfortunes such as this- without a strong support system, and without the resources to try and rebuild one's world? I'm just curious what if anything, you might suggest- given you've actually lived this and are writing about it now from 'the other side.' Thank you.

  15. Jinny says:

    Thank you for writing this Tamara – I’m no stranger to some of the losses you speak about and I applaud your honesty in speaking about the dark times many of us experience in a world where there seems to be little to support us when we need it the most ironically. The fear and reality of rejection from others who can’t face these possibilities themselves when bearing our own losses seems intolerable yet is the door to a much richer experience of life than before as you say. I feel inspired to take a fresh look at what I’ve learnt and how I can help myself and others. Sending you blessings and love x

  16. Kent Trussell says:

    I was going through a very heartbreaking divorce, I had moved into a small appartment. I was living on beans and rice. I still had a decent job at that point, and on United Way Day of Caring I ended up filling boxes with food and delivering them to poor shut ins. Knowing that I could use some of that food, but helping people that needed it more, made me feel better than I had felt in a long time.

  17. Jacqui H says:

    Thank you!
    Some times it helps to know someone else understands the complete devastation of losing everybody and everything.
    It also helps to know that it is possible to come out the other side, wherever that may be.

  18. Carmen says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you. I've been broken open for the last 12 months. Felt everything from despair to extasy and clarity. But I am grateful for having read this in a day that tells me there is no happy ever after, or wise ever after, or balanced ever after. It's one of the "now what?" days, one of those days when I could use some stability and safety and comfort, when old wounds seem to open and bleed again. It's not all lost after all.

  19. Ibby says:

    What timing to wake up today and read your article. I am immersed in my dark night of the soul. While my last 15 years haven't been great this last year is by far the worst. My second marriage ended. I had been splitting time between 2 cites(he lived in 1 and I worked and lived in another). Due to my work being in another location, I had always rented an apt. as well as had my daughter live with me even as she began college.(I was raised where I work and all my fam is there). I started a business that is a passion while working my other full time job. I have moved 10 times in 15 yrs but in the last 12 mos., I have moved 4. My business is literally week to week. I sustained a serious back injury in May and have been on disability (40% of salary) as well as in excruciating pain. I am facing a double fusion. Previously, I was a yoga nut but now I can barely move. I lost my health insurance as I can't pay the premiums. My beloved dog was run over on Christmas Eve by the UPS truck. My hormones are insane and I sweat all night and rarely sleep more than 4 hrs. My back hurts all day and night. I was considering living in a climate controlled storage unit as I know of a lady already doing this back when I had $ to store furniture, which I no longer have. I have sold all my valuables. Jewelry, china, silver and furniture. There are days when I literally fantasize about jumping off a bridge. But your article resonated. I am not able to enjoy daily yoga, but I will begin and end with focusing on what I am thankful for.

  20. Jane Doe says:

    Hard to describe the feelings from reading this.. that brokenness & peace can coexist so perfectly. It made me cry, but the tears are equal measure grief & grateful, for you and for myself. In my 40's I lost much, if not most, of normal life & security..& sense of identity. Home, health, beloved pets, spouse. Much of it purposefully inflicted by the person who's supposed to be there for you, not against you. My 3 kids & I are blessed beyond my ability to comprehend by my supportive family. Even so, the reality has been that I died to one life & awoke to a new one. I have come to understand & even appreciate that amongst the loss and pain, the process of being laid bare has gifted me the freedom and transformational growth I would never have experienced otherwise. It hurts. But beauty can arise from the ashes & I am living that. Thank you for sharing your story.

  21. judy says:

    I thank you for this. I too have been broken open. My seeds have been planted and I am now waiting patiently for a sprout.

  22. Samantha says:

    One of the best posts I have ever read on this site! Since my life fell apart 5 years ago, I have had to do much of what you talk about. It was hard but also, I am realizing what a gift has been at the same time. There have been times that I would search online to find something to give me advice, understanding etc and I never was able to find any sort of article, or anything or anyone that seemed to understand what I was going through. My friends thought I was crazy and some just went away. This post is the first one that I have read that really seems to reflect what I have been going though the last 5 years. Thank you for being so open and writing such a liberating post.

  23. Ellen says:

    This is an incredible article, I am going through something similar currently. I recently had a miscarriage and on the edge of everyday living. Barely getting by! Life hits you but then we figure I way out of it to become happier with our inner self. This gave me so much inspiration on the fact you shared your steps of surviving the dark cloud.

  24. Kelly says:

    I read your dilemma and I can completely sympathize and understand. In the last three years I’ve had a lot of trauma in my life. I lost my stepmother due to a sudden death. My father became quite ill. My daughter moved away to care for him, taking my grandson with her. My youngest daughter got married. My youngest daughter lost a baby . I owned home and had a tenant from hell who destroyed it ended $10,000 worth of damage to it . My relationship of eight years deteriorated and broke up and my bf ended it when I needed him most. I travelled four hours every other weekend to help care for my father. I had to sell my house and start over. My father passed away recently. It has been eight months almost 9 months since my relationship broke up and I still feel devastated every day. I go to work because I have to but most days I feel like staying in bed with the covers over my head. I’ve been working with a counselor dealing with some issues of loss however I don’t seem or I don’t feel like I’m getting anywhere. I would like to be on the other side of this pain and stop missing my significant other as much as I do every day.

  25. Jay says:

    Thanks your experience and way of getting backon track helped me today.

  26. mona says:

    just amazing

  27. jamie says:

    Thank you so much for this. I think I’ve recently hurdled the “why me, why does life hate me?” question to “all will be well” frame of mind. I am still frightened and anxious at times because I have two little boys who need a strong mommy. I do know now, slowly but surely, that I am worthy of a wonderful life. Again thank you for this article and sharing your strength.

  28. Eugenia says:

    Hello Tamara! It is comforting to read you. I have also been going through the dark night of the soul. That's exactly how I call it. I thought I saw a glimpse of dawn but then it got dark again. But I know all of this has a purpose, and I sense it has to do with helping other people. I am a yoga instructor, but I have no formal training as a psychologist or a coach. So, I would like to know about how you started doing what you are doing. I am pretty much broke, and have no money to pay for any trainings. So I would like to know how to fulfill the purpose of this all, and make a decent living out of it, and thought that maybe a person like you could give a hint. I read a short essay on courage last sleepless-night, and I know somehow this is a special gift, even though people around me feel sorry for me, and are not able to see that this is making me stronger. But it has been going on for 5 years, but intensely for 10 months now. I need a little light. I hope you can reply.

  29. Carrie says:

    Hi Tamara,
    uncanny that I had the same thing happen just over 7 years ago and got over it the exact same way – I could have written this article (although not as well….)…thanks for sharing and for validating my path.

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