Yikes...I Think I Bonked!
by Erin Prewitt on April 21st, 2015

A few weeks ago I wrote about climbing the mountain of grief and I shared how my style this past year has been to find the most direct route no matter the terrain.  I was determined to move through my grief.  This has been my style, my hike of choice through the grief and all the many changes that accompany a death of a spouse.  What I didn’t realize was the potential that I might bonk (bonking is term used in the world of hiking and biking when you run out of steam in the middle of the climb).  A couple of weeks ago I BONKED, and I bonked majorly! 
My bonking started with getting sick.  Then I became exhausted, and my back and shoulder started hurting me.  After several days I began to feel like the walking dead, but I could not figure out why. Several people in my life shared that maybe it had to do with the year anniversary of Chris’s death.  I had expected that I would feel sad, maybe even weepy, but I did not think I would feel exhausted and have this chronic pain in my body. I processed my body aches and increased emotions for a few days and I began to understand that I was feeling responsible for everyone’s grief.  I was feeling that I was the one that needed to reach out to them, that I needed to be someone they could rely on to move through their loss, and I felt a need to host loved ones in my home. 
This self-imposed burden had worn me out.  I needed to get really honest with myself, and once I did, I realized that what I really wanted to do was to retreat and be with myself.   I knew I needed to share with my loved ones how I was feeling, I needed to tell them about the exhaustion, the body aches, and my need to retreat.  My friends and family rallied around me and encouraged me with their loving support, to do what I needed to do and not what I thought I should do.  Once I did that things started to flow.  A friend who was out of town let me stay in her house for a couple of days.  Soon, my body started to feel better, and I was able to really explore how I was feeling.
In retrospect I see that I just bonked.  I ran out of steam and I was not able to keep my pace.  I needed to rest, to stop charging up the mountain and allow myself to take a breather.  In some ways I feel silly that I couldn’t figure it out on my own.  It took 4 different people to tell me in 4 different ways before I got it!   Retreating was the very best thing I could do for myself.  Letting go of feeling responsible for everyone else was another gift I gave myself.  It wasn’t until I finally committed to resting that I realized how exhausted I really was.  After resting, I was able to recognize that most of what I was feeling was because I didn’t know how to slow down and just take a time out.  I know my natural pace is fast, and that I don’t sit idle very well.  However, I have learned in these recent weeks that slowing down can be fresh air to the soul.
Taking those days for myself also helped me see that I was balancing sadness for an old life and the death of my spouse.  But on the flip-side, I was ALSO grateful and happy with the life I have created.  I also realized that I hadn’t celebrated my journey.  I forgot to tell myself "Good job lady!" for accomplishing so much this year and for truly turning the losses experienced this year into opportunities to wake up and create a life that greets me with a smile each morning.  So that is what I did.  I rested.  I explored my feelings, and in the end I celebrated a job well done.  Bonking opened me up to ask for what I needed.  I’ll be the first to admit I would not want to bonk every week, but I found that a good bonk can be a beautiful opening to go deeper with yourself.  I wonder if in the future I can be more alert to the signs of my feelings and body and maybe rest long before I fall on my butt with a good bonk?!   I hope so!!

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