Strike Out or Still at Bat?
by Teresia Smith
Have you ever watched a baseball game where the pitcher’s best throw was his curveball? The throw looks great to the hitter, coming right down the center of the plate and he swings feeling he’s just hit a homerun! However, with a curveball, right at the last minute, the ball takes a downward spin that causes it to drop and veer as it approaches home plate. Strike three, you’re out!
Sometimes it feels like life has thrown us a curveball. Everything seems to be going well and you feel your life is on course and then unexpectedly, out of nowhere, a traumatic event happens and your life feels like it’s over. This could be due to an unexpected job loss or maybe you didn’t get the promotion you deserve, ending of a marriage that you had no idea was on the brink, death of a loved one or a life changing diagnosis, a violent exchange with a mate that leaves you in shock, a sexual assault by someone you trusted, betrayal in a relationship, or any number of painful experiences. It’s not really a matter of “if” but rather “when” we must deal with some of these realities. So when that curveballs comes, what should we do to regain our equilibrium?
The first thing is to realize life is not over. Just like in baseball, you may have struck out, but you may have another chance to bat in the next inning. Don’t let yourself believe that just because something has temporarily knocked the wind out of you that life is over or that your life is doomed to struggles and failure. There will be another inning or even another game which will give you another chance. How you handle the curveballs is your choice. Will you lose your confidence, subdue your spirit and love for life or will you stand strong at the plate and swing like it’s the first time and know there’s a homerun to be had? We can’t see the future so who’s to say that some of what we perceive as a tragedy may actually be a blessing in disguise – a fresh opportunity. Many times the people who persevere through tragedy are the ones who come out much stronger and end up doing so much more with their life. As Karen Salmansohn says, “No matter how tough things may feel, there’s always something good waiting around the corner.”
Make sure you don’t get stuck by focusing on the wrong questions. Instead of focusing forever on questions such as “Why did this happen to me”, we can ask ourselves “What do I need to do to get through this” or “What can I learn from this”. We don’t want to be held back, rehashing the event over and over but instead we want to focus on moving forward. It helps to focus on the good things still in your life. Do you still have good health? Do you still have a job? Do you have family and friends you can lean on? Those positive things are what we focus on. Taking a few days to mourn your loss is healthy; however, falling into a rut and not moving forward is not. Give yourself permission to mourn for a certain period of time; eat your comfort food, binge watch your favorite show, listen to music that touches your soul. Then, get up and get on with your life.
The curveball you were thrown probably knocked you off track with your goals. Set new goals and start working to achieve them. Laura Berman Fortgang calls this “anchoring to your future”. Just because the promotion didn’t work out doesn’t mean you will be stuck in that job forever. Just because your husband was abusive doesn’t mean every man you meet will be abusive. Just because your last relationship was not trustworthy doesn’t mean the next one won’t be. Whatever your curveball was, it makes you feel powerless and like life is out of your control. Unfortunately, most of life is out of our control. But we can focus on what we can control, such as learning more skills to get that better job, learning about the red flags to recognize a bad relationship, taking a class to meet new people, spending more time with those who love and cherish us, or even joining a support group to work through our feelings so we don’t get stuck. Life is an adventure worth pursuing, so don’t let stumbling blocks, even big ones, derail you. Step up to the plate again!
Crisis Services of North Alabama offers free and confidential services to survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. You may reach our Jackson County office at 256.574.5826 or our 24/& HELPline at 256.716.1000.