When I was young, my parents would take me and my three siblings on road trips to visit the East Coast. We loved exploring Nova Scotia’s beaches and would spend hours looking for ‘beach treasures’ that had been left behind by the tide. It’s a long drive from Toronto, and eager to start our holiday, we tried to make the trip with as few detours as possible.
On one of these trips, we were on a remote road in Nova Scotia when my younger sister complained of feeling nauseous.
“Are we there yet?” she asked, holding her belly.
If we were smart, we would have pulled over quickly. Unfortunately, we didn’t. Minutes later, all I can say is that we all got an unpleasant lesson in wind velocity and splatter patterns.
Had we paced ourselves better, this likely could’ve been avoided. Taking needed breaks is very important, even though it makes the trip a bit longer.
I recently spoke to my good friend Finka about pacing myself at work, and I was wondering aloud about when I’d know when I’d “arrived”. At what point would I get that sense of accomplishment that the job was done, and I could take my foot off the gas for a while and not have a never ending “to do” list in my head.
“Ah, that’s the myth,” she smiled wryly, “It doesn’t matter how successful you are, in any business, each success brings more challenges. Challenge is the one thing that’s constant”
I thought long and hard about this. I’ve been operating on the principle that one day, I will arrive. My job will be done. I realize now that life simply isn’t like that. The more I do, the more I open the possibility for more to be done.
So what if recovery is like that? It’s a steady stream of building, growing and understanding. Each day we evolve into a better version of ourselves, whether we have PTSD or not. If that’s the case, the need for pacing becomes incredibly important. Maybe the point is not arriving, but the journey itself. I’ll need to be sure to stop and enjoy the view, taking a breather when needed.
What if we remind ourselves to take those precious moment to appreciate the little things. Thoughtful interactions, humorous moments, small victories. These are indeed the stuff life is made of.
Belinda Seagram, Ph.D., R. Psych.
Executive Director, Landing Strong