Goodbye Survivor, I Have Work To Do

I first met her after my husband was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer.

Her first words were... you should have been the one dying.

It would have been easier.

Then she went on to tell me that I would not be able to raise my kids without him,

that he was the smart one.

He was the strong one.

He was the one with a job.

He was the one who could do it all.

It should have been me with the cancer.

After he died she told me how I should start looking for a job immediately and not think about my dreams.

She told me to be afraid. Very afraid.

She told me that I was not a good parent without him.

She told me I would suffer for the rest of my life.

That I would fail at everything.

She convinced me to get the job I hated. She said...it’s better than nothing.

It took me a while to figure out that she was the voice inside my head making my life after loss much worse than it had to be.

As the years went by I named her My Survivor and I have trained myself and thousands of others to gently show her the door.

My response to her took years but I finally found the strength to talk back.

And, I have been proving her wrong for the last decade.

I showed her that I am one smart woman capable of things that seemed impossible to her after he died.

I showed her that I am one heck of a mom raising my daughters.

I built my own company despite her telling me I was not worthy.

And I have been making my dreams come true regardless of her daily presence, still to this day.

Our Survivor voice does not go away... ever. Never.

As the years go by she gets very skilled, very loud, very convincing but we get really good at shutting her down.  

The Survivor self finds her way in, especially after loss, when our identity is in crisis. (Click Here to Tweet!)

I nearly believed that my life after loss would not be worth living. That was a lie.

So look out for the Survivor trying to influence you.

Start writing her words and sentences down.

What is the one thing she keeps telling you about your life after loss?

Remember she wants you to be safe and run away from life.

Don’t listen.

With a thriving voice,

Christina

P.S. Just a few seats left for our online Life Reentry class that starts Tuesday. Join me and many others who are ready to rid of their survivor voice: https://lifereentry.com/life-reentry-class/


Loving Again After Loss

Someone asked me the other day on Facebook about my husband, the man I married after my loss.

She wasn’t the first one to ask.

Many people over the years have asked about him.

I mention him in the Second Firsts book a little bit.

But over the course of the 8 years I have been writing to you, I hardly ever talk about him.

I met him during my second year post loss at the local children’s support group I was taking my girls to.

I saw him walk in with his children and I immediately thought he was just dropping off, and not staying.

But he was.

He had lost his 35 year old wife a few months prior.

He sat next to me and I remember very vividly, how he said that it was really nice to meet me.

I mumbled something back and kind of turned the other way.

I didn’t like that I found him attractive.

It made me feel uncomfortable. Mad even.

I found myself thinking about him after I got home.

And the days that followed.

The group was running every two weeks.

For the next group meeting, I remember putting something on that was nicer than normal.

When I realized that I was actually dressing up for him. Shame and guilt came over me.

Over the course of the following weeks we kept meeting at the weekly group meetings.

And making small talk.

One night when I returned home something took over me and I wrote the whole group an email.

Asking if we should all go out for dinner.

To be honest with you, and it is something I didn’t admit to him for a while, my group email was mostly about meeting him and not the others.

But I didn’t dare let that thought enter my mind at the time.

I pressed send.

30 second later, I received an email responding just to me and not the whole group.

It was from him.

His name is Eric by the way.

He thought the group dinner was a great idea and that he was looking forward to it.

We emailed back and forth a few times that night.

That was Monday night. By mid-week we had decided to meet for dinner, just the two of us.

I remember thinking. Is that a date?

I didn’t know what to make of it.

We met at Chily’s. Yes nothing glamorous.

And there was a snow storm coming that evening.

I emailed him and said maybe we won’t be able to meet after all with the snowstorm coming. His response was the first time it felt like this could be something more.

He said “I will find a way to get to you, don’t you worry.”

It felt wrong. I felt married.

But that Saturday evening I got in my car and drove to Chily’s.

He smiled when he saw me and told me I look like Princess Leia.

How dare he be so forward.

I thought to myself.

Was he flirting with me?

The commentary that was taking place inside my mind was comical.

At the end of the evening, he gave me a kiss on the chick and said that he would love to see me again.

I walked to my car and drove straight home.

Something was happening. Butterflies arrived in my stomach.

I remember going to work the next day and thinking about him.

We went on many dates after that first one.

And as he likes to remind me often, our first dates were icy cold.

I would sit across the room from him and not move closer.

Even though the butterflies were fluttering inside my stomach, it felt quite abnormal to hold his hand or be with him in a physical sense.

Eric was the complete opposite to Bjarne (my hubby who died) he looked different, acted differently and he might as well have been his opposite in every way.

It took awhile for me to trust him. And let him in.

It took me at least a year before I let him even pay for dinner.

And it took a lot longer until I really allowed him to become important to me.

It is a scary thing to fall in love again after loss. (Click Here to Tweet!)

You may be wondering why don’t I talk about my relationship with Eric more.

I believe with all of my heart that I would not have the marriage that I have today if it wasn’t for my own personal life reentry.

Which had nothing to do with being in a new relationship.

It had to do with the woman that I became.

The finding of my own identity. My independence.

Who I became because of my relentless need to find myself again is my proudest accomplishment.

Eric and I have now been married for 8 years.

My advice to anyone who is out there considering a new love in their life, is to find the new you and let that new you fall in love.

Don’t fall in love with the old identity still here.

Loving after loss requires you to find your new self.

With butterflies.

Christina

P.S. 10 DAYS BEFORE NEXT CLASS BEGINS. Sign up here: https://lifereentry.com/life-reentry-class/


One Single Thought

I have so many things to tell you today.

I wish I could just drop in at your home.

Have coffee and chat.

Tell you that you will be ok.

Tell you that life is hard but it is also very good.

Tell you that we will lose so much but with every loss we will find our way again to a new beginning.

To a new understanding of what it means to be alive.

And what does it mean to be alive?

It means to have new experiences.

To say yes to what you used to say no to.

To dare to be someone different.

To want things for yourself that you never wanted before.

Then I would tell you that some days you will feel as if the whole world is on your shoulders and one thought brought it all there.

Yes just one thought.

Here is what happens with thoughts.

One thought walks inside your mind and tells you something that colors your whole day. It is almost as if that thought defines your existence.

Let’s say this thought tells you that you will always be alone in your life.

This one thought takes your present life and your future life and with just a few words it destroys them both.

This is a regular occurrence inside the mind of someone who is going through change and loss.

Now imagine this destructive thought being multiplied.

You see, this thought doesn’t just happen once, it happens every day.

And quite honestly, many times a day.

Now you are not just you, you are this thought.

Everything you do comes from this thought.

This is how we die without dying. This is how we get destroyed without seeing our destroyer. A single thought can derail our lives. (Click Here to Tweet!)

A single thought can take us from here and now and drive with us all the way to the end of our time.

I am not going to let this happen.

Not to me. Not to you.

There is really one reason why I still write this letter 8 years later.

To battle these destructive thoughts with you even for a few minutes once every Friday. So I am going to inject a new thought for us all today.

You are capable of living a really good life.

What is a good life?

For me a good life is that I honor myself by following my heart every day.

When I do that my life is good.

When I listen to my survivor self (destructive thoughts) I am miserable.

Now it’s your turn.

What makes a good life for you?

Let’s not allow something that is invisible take away everything that is.

With love and good thoughts,

Christina

P.S. Join my free Life Reentry webinar this Tuesday. Sign up here: https://lifereentry.com/life-reentry-class-webinar/


Who Am I Now?

When I dropped off my daughter to college last week, it was as if my whole world was demolishing.

All the buildings that made my life, were falling apart.

I could even hear the buildings falling.

The rubble.

When your life is changing there is an audio of the universe moving things around.

The maneuvering stops time.

Or it feels like it does because our lives are about to take a turn.

My two daughters and I just stood there hugging in the middle of the parking lot.

We knew everything was about to change, and it was hard to move outside of that moment.

You would think that having gone through big tragedies would make these moments easier.

I thought it would.

But it didn’t.

We stood there crying, not saying anything.

It was as if our souls were doing all the talking.

We became this unit when their dad died.

Inseparable. Until that moment.

One of the things I prayed for was to stay alive long enough for my kids to at least make it to 18 years of age.

When their dad died, they were only 4 and 6.

I used to worry, what if something happened to me too?

And I would say, let me get them to 18.

Just let me get them there.

I didn’t realize how much of my life after was about just getting to here.

Who am I now?

The words echo inside the universe.

Searching for their answers.

One thing I know for sure is that when one big thing in your life moves, many others follow.

Where the buildings have been, something else will be build.

And right now it looks like a desert.

I am not who I have been. And not who I will become. I am change itself. (Click Here to Tweet!)

With life lessons,

Christina

P.S. I am doing a free video intro class to what is Life Reentry. I hope I get to meet as many of you as possible: https://lifereentry.com/life-reentry-class-webinar/


The Room Walker

You are one tiny thought away from a completely different life. (Click Here to Tweet!)

But we live inside a room with no windows.

A room that keeps us thinking this is the only room.

There are Infinite rooms.

I didn’t really understand this fully until the last couple of years.

You see, all of us are capable of occupying many rooms.

Some of us can live in many different ones at the same time.

Others can move linearly from one room to the next.

And some stay in the same room forever.

These rooms are separate life paths.

Separate relationships.

Careers. Dreams.

When we go through a devastating loss we are told the room we occupied all this time is no longer available to us.

This is harsh, but true.

We are then told to pack our things and move into a different room.

Yes.

But.

A lot of us go back inside the room and try to stay.

We think that we can make it work.

Sure it is darker than before but it is better than a new room.

Or no room at all.  

Our mind lies to us.

It tells us this is the only room that exists.

Exploring is a waste of time.

And we stay.

Stay in the dark room.

The lonely room.

The room with no future.

The room of ghosts. Silence.

In there, the loneliness lady lives.

In there, the anniversary train visits.

In there, the room becomes the Waiting Room.

At this point, the lock turns.

The door closes more permanently.

We go to bed. And we die there.

Yes so many of us never find our way out.

I am going to now pull you out of this picture.

Give you a bird’s eye view.

Imagine I can take you up from your room, like a drone would.

See yourself inside that room, laying on the bed.

As we pull higher up, you start to see all the other rooms right next to yours.

Some of them are big.

With incredible views.

Others have many rooms in one space. Floors even.

And they connect to other rooms.

We keep going higher up.

And we see a whole city of beautiful rooms with many lives, and new dreams, breathtaking landscapes.

I am going to stop us for a second right here.

Take it all in, it is the truth.

The truth your mind has been trying to hide from you.

You have so many new possibilities.

There are so many choices.

Now we are going to go back, back to that room.

We descend slowly, with tears in our eyes, knowing how we nearly missed all these other rooms and lives we could have had.

You are now inside the old life, in your room.

You look around you and you now know this is no longer your life.

You grab your things. Not all of them, just enough.

And walk out.

Your next room won’t be visible at first as you come out of the old room.

But keep taking the steps.

All of a sudden you will see not just one new room but a few.

You will learn that in this next chapter after your loss, you have choices.

Options. You get to choose from a variety of rooms.

You get to be a room walker.

As you keep moving forward you find out what I found out.

That your life belongs to many rooms, and your keys in your pocket can open more doors than you ever thought were possible.

To thousands of rooms,

Christina

P.S. I heard your voices read your messages and I am bringing the Life Reentry class back. Live weekly with me teaching it alongside two incredible practitioners. We open registration here: https://lifereentry.com/life-reentry-class/We have 100 spots. I hope you grab yours. Class starts September 25th.


Do Whatever it Takes to Get Through This

“Do whatever you have to, to get through the pain after I am gone.” my husband said to me a few months before he died.

“Whatever it takes.” he said.

“It doesn’t matter what it is you have to do, if it makes you feel better then do it.”

I didn’t always follow his advice but it did help me feel less guilt when my choices after loss were not perfect.

When we lose someone we love, it hurts like hell.

And I don’t know how he knew to tell me this then.

But the pain is so unbearable that we have to do whatever it takes to get through it.

You will make decisions you will regret.

And you will say and do things that you wish you hadn’t.

So what?

When your person vanishes from your existence and your heart is crushed, you have to do whatever you need, to keep on standing. (Click Here to Tweet!)

Don’t be ashamed.

You are still good.

You are just hurting badly.

So I am going to give you a few examples of my “whatever it took.”

And then I want to hear yours.

We will use WIT for short.

Ok here we go.

Some of my WITs:

-I went out on a few dates with someone I didn’t see a future with after he died, but he kept me company on the phone and asked me how my day was.

-I had a few too many glasses of wine the year following his loss.

-I spent more money that I should have on things I didn’t need.

-I didn’t eat for a year or two. Then I ate everything.

The list is long. But you get the picture.

Now it’s your turn.

What are yours?

Write them down, release them from shame and know that you had to do what you had to do to get through.

I will be doing a big post on this on our Facebook page here so everyone can share their WITs. You are not alone in this.

No shame in doing what you have to, to get through your loss.

With life and so many WITs,

Christina

P.S. Do you have a copy of Second Firsts? If not here is where you can grab yours: https://www.amazon.com/Second-Firsts-Live-Laugh-Again/dp/1401940838/


What is the Meaning of Home After Loss

I have been writing about life after loss for almost 8 years and it just hit me today.

After loss, tragic loss especially, the feeling of home is hard to find.

You never feel at home again.

You move houses.

You look for new beginnings but nothing is quite like the home feeling you had before the loss.

When you felt like you belonged.

When everyone was yours.

And you were theirs.

I don’t talk about it much, but living with my stepdaughters has always made me feel like my home is not my home.

And I will leave it at that.

But here is the unexpected gift of it all.

I carry my home inside of me.

I am my home.

You can find me mostly at home walking the streets.

Writing.

In my car driving.

In the darkness of a movie theater.

At the beach.

I took my home with me.

I do live in a beautiful home overlooking mountain tops.

But the views have become more my home than what’s inside of it.

And now that my own girls are so grown up.

One of them is going to college, the other is close behind, when they are not at home I find myself not wanting to be there either.

But here is what I know.

Happiness now means the insides of my own mind. (Click to Tweet!)

It means that my thoughts, my feelings are my home.

Even when I fell in love again and married the most wonderful man, my happiness was an inside job.

I had become an island.

And I stayed an island.

Now dear friend, I must tell you that happiness that stems from you is the most wonderful thing in the whole wide world.

You never run out.

You don’t need someone else to make you happy.

Loss may be devastating for the traditional lives you used to live. But a magnificent builder of lives you never thought were possible.

May you have the feeling of home everywhere you go. A thousand places, a thousand homes made by you.

With life,

Christina

P.S. If you are a therapist, a social worker, a pastor, a life coach helping people after loss please apply for our six month long Life Reentry Practitioner certification program here: https://lifereentry.com/life-reentry-practitioner-program-home/

It starts January 15th, we have an incredible payment plan and we are putting together one heck of a class. I look forward to our interviews with all of you: https://lifereentry.com/life-reentry-practitioner-program-home/


The Monkey Bars

It’s not a dance.

Or a musical piece.

And it’s not a walk on the beach.

It’s a bruise.

A gasp.

A torture.

I am talking about life.

Not even after loss, just life.

I think the first time I realized life was hard was when this girl at my middle school grabbed me from the monkey bars and threw me on the ground.

Nobody rushed over to help me up.

Nobody told off the girl.

Everyone kind of looked away.

My teacher called my mom to come get me earlier.

And I remember him telling her, it was nothing.

I was holding back all of my tears.

Trying to look like it was nothing.

But it was a very shameful embarrassing moment I remember very vividly.

Earlier than that I remember my kindergarten teacher pulling my hair in front of the whole class.

I wanted the earth to open up and take me in.

I can go further back or I can go forward.

Plenty of torturous shaming hard life moments where the self gets trashed, shaken and ashamed.

I know you have had moments like mine, some of you worse.

And they have all been invisible and kicked into nothingness.

But here is what I know now.

Life can be a dance but not the type you might be thinking. It’s not a disco dance. But the drumming type. (Click here to tweet!)

Drumming to the beat of the bruises the gasps, the tortures and the human spirit.

Listen to this.

Feel the rhythm and the beat.

And step into it.

This is where we belong.

And when you drum like this, nothing can defeat you.

The drum sounds like this in words. I can do anything I want

The drum feels like this in feelings. I am hurt but I will not surrender, I will never give up

The drum moves like this in actions. I am going to keep climbing against all odds.

The drum loves like this in compassion. Give yourself a break, you need it

The drum understands in gratitude. Grateful for all the falls, the pull downs and the bruises

And the drum sounds like your heartbeat. Vibrating through the universe in eternity.

Dear girl, who pulled me down from the monkey bars, I forgive you.

May you hear your drums.

And dance to it.

When you do, nobody can pull you down from the monkey bars.

With life,

Christina

P.S. Today we open registration for the next practitioner program that begins January 15th. Apply here: https://lifereentry.com/life-reentry-practitioner-program-home/


60 Selves and Counting

It has been 12 years.

He passed 2:00 am EST on July 21st 2006.

If I could count all the selves I have been since that night I would probably count at least 60.

The first 4 came in and out really fast.

I will tell you about them later on.

There were 40 or so the first 3 years.

Then 4 every year for the next 2 years, one every 3 months or so.

After the first 5 years I evolved a little slower than the beginning.

Maybe 2 new selves in a year.

And now in the end of my 12th year I can say that I have been with this self since January.

7 months and going strong.

This self is the most equipped to stick around.

She is persistent.

Resilient.

She thinks she is the self that can outsmart all the ones before her and stay the longest.

You see, evolution immediately after loss is quite intense and fast.

We change rapidly.

It is almost like you are reborn.

You know I call it reentry.

But nobody really tells you about this.

Grief is an evolutionary experience. It hurts so much it changes our DNA. (Click here to tweet!)

It changes our thoughts. Our emotions. Our taste buds even. Yup.

Everything we were made of, gets unmade.

Pain of the soul is evolutionary.

I look back at all 60 selves and each one of them was different.

The first one came along in that hospital room, she walked me out and gave me the strength to make the calls.

The second one helped me tell my girls about their dad.

She stayed for about a week.

Got me through the funeral, the kids sleeping with me and moving the beds around.

Then number three came along and got me running outside, and moving my body when I thought I would lose my mind.

Number four, helped me take the girls to the UK for their first adventure without their dad. Number five got me through the holidays.

Number six got me my first job since his passing.

And it goes on, all the way to now. They all did their part.

It has been easier to think of myself as 60 versions of me.

I understand what happened better.

Loss brings rebirths. Plural yes.

It is time to start looking at grief and its aftermath as a reentry of selves.

How many selves have you been since your loss?

Write them down.

Tell your family about them.

They will get to know you and understand you better if you do.

Most people around us keep thinking we are still that person before the loss happened, and here we are 60 versions later. It is time they knew. :)

With 60 Christinas and counting,

Christina

P.S. Here is a highlight video of the selves that helped me do this work: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Cjh4wfAZI4


The Blades

I often think about kneeling on the ground to pray.

I don’t do it.

But I have the feeling of it.

It’s hard to be strong all the time.

Knowing that nobody can help you.

People who are strong, are strong endlessly.

I have never met someone who was strong for a few days and then wasn’t.

Have you?

Once you are strong, you are strong forever.

How does strength feel?  It hurts like hell. (Click here to tweet!)

I would go as far as to say, it feels like a blade. 

You have to walk with it, speak with it, live with it.

The blade is situated inside your heart. 

But nobody can see it from the outside. 

You just look strong.

You don’t complain.

You don’t look hurt.

You go along with life almost as if you are bladeless.

On the outside it looks like strength.

From the inside it feels like pain.

Strong people hurt. Endlessly. Quietly.

I know you are one of them.

The strong person. With the blade in your heart.

Talking to someone about the blade is not easy, is it?

We think it is easier not to say anything about it.

After all, you are getting by fine.

Why speak of the blade?

I am like you, I hide my blades. And yes. There is more than one.

I hide my blades from everyone.

I don’t want them to think I am not strong.

But today I am telling you about them.

So you can do the same thing.

Tell someone about it.

I bet they have a blade too.

With vulnerability and blades,

Christina

P.S. Make the Life Reentry class yours. Purchase it here: https://lifereentry.com/life-reentry-on-demand/