I have been posting a series of “Truisms About Grief” that I received from fellow grieving dad and friend, Charlie Schmidtke. I met Charlie as part of this grieving dads project.
11. Understanding Your Personal Limits is Essential. We all have limits in everything we do. Americans sometimes slip into the myth of invulnerability. The levels for these limits are so varied that there is no way to identify the markers or even the characteristics associated with our limits. Sometimes we may even surprise ourselves with how far some of our boundaries may reach. When we exceed our limits we will “pay”: psychologically, emotionally, physically, or spiritually (sometimes all of them). Our limits vary with time and experience. There are times and situations when we are able to tolerate what some people say or do, while at another time or in a different context we are unable to do so. Becoming attuned to ourselves and the changes that emerge in our lives will help us avoid situations and people which are poisonous or tormenting. Understanding our limits will help us “go to the pain” in healthy and meaningful ways.
I have no doubt in my mind that I paid dearly for not understanding my personal limits. I paid psychologically, emotionally, physically and spiritually. There wasn’t one aspect of my life that didn’t pay. It started with my emotions to the point that it began to impact me psychologically. The depression and the anxiety started to impact me physically. I couldn’t eat and I was losing weight at a rapid rate. I believe I was slowly dying. The thought of food made me gag. It wasn’t uncommon for me to throw up after I was done eating. My wife forced me to eat most of the times. Textures of food really got to me. For the longest time, the only thing I could eat was smoothies. But even those had their limitations. It took me a while and a lot of work with a counselor to become “attuned’ with myself. I learned to stay clear from people, thoughts and situations that caused me greater pain. Even after 4 years I still know what and who to avoid. There are still parts of me that want to unleash the anger on people and situations from time to time. But I have become good at knowing when that is about to happen so I excuse myself accordingly. I know my actions and words have consequences.