There’s so much pain, heartbreak and destruction in this world and it hits all of us differently. This Is Us paints an accurate picture of life losses with truth and authenticity (whew, I cry every episode. I don’t know anyone with a pulse who isn’t moved by this series).
When I became a widow at 29 I was hit with the exact cinematic illustration of pain that we see in the NBC hit series. When we watch it on Thursdays, we find ourselves getting choked up during moments that express profound love or deep agony. When we cry for Jack, we cry for our personal losses, too. When we feel deep compassion for Kevin’s addiction, Randall’s anxiety, Kate’s health struggles, Rebecca’s grief, William’s cancer, Deja’s neglection… our own pain is triggered in that moment. It’s relatable. It’s real. It’s a universal feeling that connects all of us no matter our differences – this is ALL of us.
Whatever brings you to your knees, let me tell you, you can not only stand up again but you can also step into growth and rebuild yourself into the best version of you.
Dr. Katowski said it best in the first episode, you can “take the sourest lemon life has to offer and make something resembling lemonade.”
It’s true. Trust me, I’m living proof that we can go through the most unimaginable tragedy and find our way back to a whole heart through simple choices that activate healing. Life will frequently hit us with ups and downs; that’s why it’s important that we have practical tools to help us navigate hardships in a healthy way – this will restore our joy and build resilience.
Here are a couple of examples of Lemons to Lemonade:
Viola Davis (Excerpt pulled from interview with Brene Brown)
“I spent the first three-quarters of my life feeling like a square peg in a round hole. I did not physically fit in. I lived in an Irish Catholic area of Rhode Island—white girls with long blond hair. I was a kinky-haired girl with dark skin who spoke different. I wasn’t pretty. I carried the trauma of growing up in abject poverty—the daughter of a violent alcoholic. I was a bed-wetter until I was twelve or thirteen. I smelled. Teachers complained about the smell and sent me to the nurse’s office. My language for belonging was about survival: Can I take a hot shower? Is there food today? Will my dad kill my mom? Will there be rats in the house? I spent all of my energy hiding and keeping the brutality of my life secret. I carried this dysfunction with me into my adult life.” Although her childhood and upbringing left deeply rooted pain, Viola sought tools to heal from these wounds and she says it wasn’t until she was in her late 30s when she realized that her past did not have to define her.
Terry Crews (Excerpt pulled from article on ABC News)
“It’s hard to believe Terry Crews has ever been anything but a positive person, but he says that many of the entertaining aspects of his personality that he is known for came from moments of great sadness in his life.” Terry comes from an abusive home and vividly remembers watching his father beat his mother countless times. He says he begged her to leave, and as a young boy he wanted to protect his mother – he wanted to somehow save her. Tough times didn’t stop there. Later in life, “Crews struggled after retiring from the NFL in 1997. The transition from athlete to civilian, he said, is something that he and other football players always have a hard time dealing with. And after football, Crews said he later turned to a career in acting because he was literally hungry.” Now he gives back in big ways to women and children who are victims of domestic violence.
Becky Savage (Excerpt pulled from article on CNN)
In 2015, Becky Savage experienced a trauma that’s incredibly hard to fathom. “The Indiana mom’s two oldest sons, Nick and Jack, were celebrating at high school graduation parties the night before. The boys came home about 12:30 a.m. and checked in with their mom, who had been waiting up. The next morning, as she was picking up laundry in Jack’s room, she noticed that he wasn’t stirring as she tried to wake him. Nick had slept downstairs in the basement with friends.” She called 911. “The first responders arrived and tried to resuscitate Jack, and then she noticed one [of the friends] going downstairs to the basement… then one [of the friends] came up asking for a coroner. That’s the last thing that I remember that day.” Nick and Jack were both pronounced dead. “Both had accidentally overdosed on hydrocodone and alcohol. Someone at one of the graduation parties had passed around the prescription pills. Savage says the boys had never been in trouble with drinking or drugs. They just happened to make a bad choice that unfortunately cost them their lives.” They started a foundation to share their story and prevent “another family from having to endure the pain” they experienced. Becky has spoken in front of approximately 23,000 students and was also invited to testify before a US Senate committee dealing with the opioid crisis.
No, it’s not easy walking through this life beat up, torn down, and with heavy heart. It’s hard as HELL!!! But take it from me, Viola, Terry and Becky, you can choose how life’s toughest moments impact your life. You don’t have to stay in a bitter, destructive, miserable place – you can heal, grow and help serve others who are bearing similar pain.
Still sounds too far fetched? I know, I remember that feeling. But that’s why sharing tools, resources, healthy habits, books, and encouragement with others is critical! I’ve found that the pathway to a whole heart is in the word HEAL…
H is for HEALTHY BOUNDARIES
Set healthy boundaries as you focus on personal growth. We can’t allow others to poison what we’re trying to grow. There are many ways to set healthy boundaries – emotional, mental, and physical. It applies to people you work with, family, friends, and even our connection to technology and social media.
E is for EMBRACE EMOTIONS
There’s no healing if there’s no feeling. It’s important to learn how to identify our emotions and then properly manage them, otherwise we’ll resist the flow of life. There will always be ups and downs, so if we don’t learn how to control our erratic feelings, then they will control us.
A is for ACCEPT WHAT IS
We can’t change what’s happened in the past and we can’t control what’s going to happen in the future. This is why accepting where we are now is absolutely critical in the healing process. We may not like it, but if we first accept where we are then we can start moving forward in the right direction.
L is for LOVE YOURSELF
This is where most of the work is done because the truth is, we often don’t know how to love ourselves. The focus here is self-care; there are simple habits that you can start doing today that will radically transform your quality of life. Loving yourself is loving your whole self, your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing.
If you’re ready to release trauma, heartbreak and pain, I invite you to anchor yourself to this thought,
“I am responsible for my healing and I am responsible for my joy. I will honor all of my feelings, good and bad, but I will not let my life be controlled by them. I own my thoughts, words and actions. I will hold my wellbeing sacred and adopt healthy habits that nourish my heart, mind, body and soul.”