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  • Writer's pictureCristina Waldner

Breakthroughs After the Breakdown

First off, I want to thank everyone for the sweetest notes as I worked through my feelings about the future in my previous blog post. To say that my circumstances are confusing is an understatement, and the narrative I shared with you all a few weeks ago certainly slanted towards the complicated side of My Beautiful, Complicated Life.

Selfie after my first day of work

When I was dreaming up this blog two years ago, I was very intentional in creating a title that reflected the dualistic quality of my life. Yes, my life is made up of beautiful moments, but also moments filled with pain and grief. What I share on this site encompasses my lived experience with a chronic disability, and that can sometimes be a messy process.

Over the last two years I have received nothing but love from my readers and the last post was no exception. I can’t promise that every post will be rainbows and sunshine and I want to thank those who understood the anxiety I was expressing.

However, after I posted "When Adulting is Stressful, Look to Dr. Seuss," I had an uneasy feeling for several days. I wanted to share the exciting news about my new job as a UWF, but I didn’t know how to separate this from the swirling thoughts I was having about all the other aspects of my life. Leading up to posting, I was convinced that sharing about the job in this way was necessary. Yet what I ended up feeling like was something reminiscent of a conversation from 27 Dresses:

Casey: So what happened?

Jane: He needed to know the truth.

Casey: You could have told him face-to-face. I mean, I know my moral compass doesn't exactly point due north, but... if I say something's wrong, something's wrong.

Jane: You're the one who's always telling me to stand up for myself.

Casey: Yeah, but that's not what you did. What you did was unleash twenty years of repressed feelings in one night. It was entertaining, don't get me wrong, but if it was the right thing to do, you'd feel better right now. Do you feel better right now?


Other than showing my obvious love for chick flicks, this quote points to the fact that the posting-regret I was feeling was not that I shared my struggles, but the way I shared. Previously, I have written that one of the worst reactions people can have about my disability is pity, but what happens when you fall into the trap of self-pity?

For the first time since starting this passion project, I leaned too far into my emotions and became self-focused and self-absorbed. With blogging, egocentricity is a possibility but with Beautiful, Complicated Life, I had hoped to create a space for connection, not individuality.

Pink calla lilies

That being said, one thing I gained from writing the last post was perspective. I was able to see that I was not alone and that life wasn’t as despairing as it seemed. When I clicked on "Publish Post," I experienced a mental breakthrough. I’ve heard that writing can be cathartic, but I have never experienced it in such a direct way as this.

I wonder if some of you weren’t quite sure of the appropriate reaction with such a post. You might have thought, "Am I supposed to congratulate her on her new job when she is struggling??" Haha I totally get your confusion as I too was obviously lost in how to navigate these feelings of stress and burnout.

A month and a half into my position, I have gained enough perspective to understand that the turmoil I was experiencing about the future had little to do with the job itself. As a UWF, I have loved seeing the students improve their writing and acquire the skills to think critically about the world. I have also learned a lot from my students, which shows that there is always an opportunity for growth. I can work from home, which is great for me, and I feel so honoured to be offered such an amazing experience.

While I know for other people this position would be considered a side job because of the part-time hours, to me it is such a big step in my life. On a recent episode I watched of Fixer Upper, I saw something like this quote on a letter board and it totally sums up my experience:

If you can’t do big things, do small things in a big way.

I have embraced this message now, but I was not able to understand this in September. In her book The Gifts of Imperfection, Brené Brown refers to her mental crash as her "Breakdown Spiritual Awakening." I am grateful for the lessons I have learned through my own "Breakdown Spiritual Awakening" and I hope to keep growing as I embark on this new phase of my life.

- Crissi xo


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