If you were like me growing up, you dreamed about life as an adult. My dream was to marry, buy a home, become a Mom, and have a couple of pets. You know the whole white picket fence thing. You know, the life you see in a Hallmark Movie! Life would be wonderful! And, it seemed to be heading that way for me. I married my high school sweetheart. We bought a home (yup, it even had a white picket fence). We had two wonderful children, a couple of dogs, a cat and a couple of hamsters. Life as an adult was off to a great start, I was living a real-life Hallmark Movie! BUT, oh yes, there's a BUT .... what you don't see behind the scenes of someone's real-life Hallmark Movie is the alcoholic, the arguments, the mounting debt, the stress, the crumbling world, the heartbreak, the divorce. Nobody was coming to save this couple like in the movies. You know where they have a bump in the relationship and a friend or family member comes to the rescue and everyone lives happily ever after. My Hallmark Movie wasn't going to have a Hallmark Movie ending.
Life is hard PERIOD, without the addition of becoming a single mom with minimal support. I have to admit there were some pretty dark "nights of the soul" and I wasn't sure how I would ever make it through. I would cry in the shower so my children wouldn't see. I wanted to be strong for them, after all their world had been shattered too. I had many sleepless nights, and I worked two jobs to keep ahead of the bills. And there was something else that happened, during this time, something I did not realize until years later when a friend expressed how I never called, causing our friendship to dwindle. Yes, friendship is a two-way street, and I admit I didn't keep up my end of it. But in reflection, I could see what I now call "a survival bubble" had developed. I have seen it happen to others when they, too, are going through something pretty tough. They retreat inside their survival bubble. A place where you you are trying just to exist, gasping for air, trying to process what has happened, where you try to find a way to cope, as you try to make it literally one second to the next. And so you loose sight of the world outside that bubble, everything outside it ceases to exist.
While I retreated deep inside my survival bubble somewhere inside of me was a tiny spark, one that fought to keep me going. Unknowingly my "bubble supporters", family, friends, and coworkers helped to fan that tiny flame. I also invested in my and my children's mental health and sought professional help. All of this was honestly life-saving. While all these people could not fix what had happened in my life, they certainly made a tremendous difference. If you notice someone has put themselves into a survival bubble, REACH OUT TO THEM! No act is too small when someone is living in their survival bubble. Take them food, ask if they have showered (cause often they forget even to do that), sit with them, hand them a kleenex box, just sit and listen, you don't have to fix it and most of all validate their feelings! It truly can be life-saving. Did you know it only takes one person to change the direction of someone's life for the better. Social connection is a powerful thing, it is a life-saver, literally!
I did finally emerge from my survival bubble. There was no exact moment as with any healing, it took hard work and it took time. I'm happy to tell you there is a happy ending to this story (maybe not my original Hallmark Movie ending). My children are now grown, and living on their own. We are all happy and thriving (as well as can be expected during these trying times). But the best part is I have a wonderful new role as "Nana," which personally, I think is the BEST JOB EVER! So maybe in a roundabout way, I have a snippet of a Hallmark Movie ending. Remember when life lands you in a dark place, find someone to help fan that inner spark, and as Mr Rogers says "find the helpers", seek professional help if you need to, and write a new ending to your Hallmark Movie.