Let’s be real: you’re not the only one going through it. I know, it sounds crazy, but for me it was easy for me to forget this fact and I found myself taking out my frustrations on my family after sitting at home recovering for a few weeks. I would get really short and distant. Apparently you can even get pretty depressed, which is one of the strangest experiences of my life, because nothing is “wrong”, but you feel like everything is off somehow. I don’t know how else to explain it. But here are a few reflections I have this time around:
1. Be clear with what you all need.
For me, I came to realize that many of my frustrations during this time came from unspoken expectations. We all know what happens when you assume, am I right? Apparently my family can’t read my mind. Being clear with what you need is going to save some heartache and vain conflicts. There is nothing wrong with being clear with your expectations around recovery, not just for your own needs, but for each other’s needs. I was talking with my father-in-law yesterday and he was telling me how difficult it was for him to watch me go through the past few weeks because he just felt so helpless not knowing how to help. From my side of the gurney, I didn’t feel like there was anything that anyone could really do, but sit with me. In retrospect, I could have done a better job of letting my family know how much I appreciate them just riding out the storm with me and make it ok to not have to do anything, but be present.
2. Seize the moment(s).
Do something special just with your family during your recovery time. You can’t work, heck, you can’t even lift anything more than 8 lbs, so you might as well seize the extra time and do something to make your family feel special. I took to the kitchen to treat my family with new recipes and even attempt to bake, which as it turns out, was actually tasty. Cooking was a great way to take a small load off my family and make me feel productive, creative even! Take them to the zoo, the aquarium, or to dinner. This is your opportunity to be spontaneous. I saw a hashtag campaign from one of my favorite athletes, Dave Mirra, on Instagram that I have been trying to live by #beadadnotafad. I’m big on social media, I love it, but I’ve been trying to make a greater effort to be in the moment with my family. This means little things like leaving my cell phone in the other room at dinner time and consciously think, “I want to actually live the kind of life that I portray online.”
3. Be gracious with one another.
Take a moment to create pauses in the midst of conflict to call out what is really going on beneath the surface. Turn off the tv and recognize, this is probably one of the most stressful things you and your family will ever go through. You’re tired, frustrated, most likely in some pain, and you’re sick of stuff getting stuck or causing nausea. You and your family are making this transition to your new way of life together. It will get normal, but until then, choose to be gracious and patient everyday.