Walking the dragon.
In our house, I'm affectionately known as a dragon.
This very fitting description started when my kids were really small and needed imagery to help them listen when Mommy was compromised and about to breathe fire over all the things!
It helped them connect to the intensity levels that we all feel at times.
I am an awesome tea dragon!
When you follow the guidelines and listen to the boundaries, I am a magnificent creature capable of all manners of awesomeness.
When you disrespect the boundaries and ignore the warnings that intensity is building, you will then get to choose if you wish to have your face ripped off, or have fire breathed, or acid spewed, or whatever level of communicative humour that will defuse the situation and remind us all that we all have limits and need space sometimes.
Please note that I do not endorse actual face-ripping or fire or acid.
They have their uses, but not for children please.
We promote warning systems and boundaries, and talk about how everyone gets compromised sometimes and needs compassion in those moments.
There is a script to follow with each person, so our needs can be met and the days can proceed as smoothly as possible.
Boundaries are important, and communication is important.
But what do you do when life walks over and hits you with a ton of pain?
Death of a loved one, unexpected trauma, expected trauma, the past reminding you it is still there?
How do you navigate through these times, these episodes of grieving, with the most grace?
How do you still function when all you want to do is curl up and self-medicate and feel incapable of anything except pain?
My lovelies, this is grief.
It comes in waves and may show up at random times and anniversaries and reminders for the rest of our lives.
These waves will be tsunami-esk at first and gradually, over time, will ebb into a series of smaller waves that don't hurt as much, but still exist.
So what do we do?
We have to create a way forward that allows healthy room for these episodes. Episodes of grieving that can range from mildly annoying to extraordinarily overwhelming.
We call this way the Full Dragon Protocol.
Useful in those moments when everything seems too hard or sharp or painful or sad or dumb or unfair (or all of those together).
The point of this protocol is to allow for enough space and gentleness through the grieving process to maintain the most function. Because we can't just skip out on life and ignore our responsibilities.
Each persons' protocol will be different as each person has a special set of gifts and talents.
To develop your own Dragon Protocol, strip each aspect of your life to its very basics. Pretend you were actually taking care of a simple pet.
A baby dragon if you will.
This serves to remove the personal thought process.
When we are compromised, it is easy for us to blame ourselves or others and over-think everything. Stop thinking for a moment.
Put the brain on pause and follow these steps:
Nourish. Hydrate. Walk. Sleep. Entertain appropriately.
That's really all a baby dragon needs.
It's important to plan out what foods will properly nourish you and have those on hand. Make a list and tell your support friends to help by bringing those items.
Remembering to nourish your physical self is important to make it through this episode with minimal damage.
It will be tempting to eat all the junk food and grab whatever is on hand, but try to include equal amounts of healthy.
Yogurt and frozen berries is easy and snack-like. Snap peas, cheese and crackers, cucumber slices, carrot sticks can all be consumed in front of the tv while you numb and distract (for a time).
If you are one of those lovelies who prefer not to eat when stressed, please have some bone broth simmering and sip at it when you can.
It will give your body the nutrients it needs to make it through this time.
If you are going to be compromised for a while, at least you don't need a dehydration headache to compound the pain.
Fill water bottles and keep one on your desk and by your bed. If you wake up in the night, have some water to ward off the grossness in the morning.
You've got this! This also has the added benefit of being a really simple action item that you can tell your brain you are accomplishing something! YAY!
The change in perspective and the fresh air is vital.
It doesn't have to be for long. But again, it is an action item that we can wade through.
If you had a pet dragon, you would have to walk it too.
Now you are the dragon - get on out there lovely!
Have you tried turning it off and on again. Remember even Jesus took naps!
This is a beautiful gift to help your subconscious process the new normal. Humans (and dragons) are amazingly resilient. Your body knows what to do and will move through this if we let it.
Sleep should be used with care though and not entered into as an escape for too long. On the days where grief is a tsunami, yes.
But not as a long term solution. It will rob you of joy otherwise.
Any healing tool used inappropriately will cause more pain in the long run. Tsunami days get a pass.
I say appropriately because there are many ways to entertain unhealthily.
I am not talking about self-medication. I am talking about a healthy balanced amount of distraction to move you through the dark times.
Light humour. Cheesy vampire flicks. Whatever you are drawn to, just be mindful that it isn't being used to pull you from your ultimate goal of health and wellness and capable.
As you practice the protocol it gets easier and more fluid.
It doesn't make the grieving process suck any less, but it does help remind us that it is temporary. It gives space to move through the motions with health.
That even though it feels gut-rippingly hard and heart-wrenchingly awful, that there are still beautiful moments. And that we are still worthy of love and belonging. Even if we don't feel awesome, it doesn't change the fact that we still ARE awesome.
So, here's to awesomeness - even when it feels dark and pointless.
Allowing the proper space and putting the serious thinking of hold for an allotted time will make the process easier.
Often, when we are overwhelmed with grief, it doesn't feel like we will pass through this time, but I promise you, it will shift.
It will clear and joy will creep back in.
What do you do to wade through the grieving process?
I would love to hear any tips of nourishment or entertainment to add to my collection. May this season of grieving be kind and courageous.
Holding you in my heart and wishing us all gentleness,
Andrea, the awesome tea dragon.