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Lessons Learned From a “Dark Monday”

Author: Kathleen Nelson-Simley Posted: Friday - May 31, 2019

I refer to it as “Dark Monday.” It was April 15, 2019. In a matter of hours, I learned…

  • I had to write a check to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). (UGH!)
  • My daughter was moving out and into her own place to live; leaving me to live alone for the first time in my home.
  • My aunt had hours to live.
  • My dad was diagnosed with kidney failure.
  • I was diagnosed with shingles.

I’ve had challenges, bad news and unfortunate luck in my past, but usually it’s over the course of weeks, months or years. I have never had a single day when, within hours, I have been hit with so much devastating and life-changing news.

I am someone who can juggle and manage a lot of things “on my own” without getting overwhelmed. I have a way of dissecting a problem “on my own” and finding a solution, a plan of attack or the “silver lining”. I know how to take care of myself “on my own” when my body is telling me it needs a little self-care and love. I am a very organized person and can take a long “to do” list, prioritize it and do what needs to get done “on my own.”

Yeah. I can do a lot “on my own.” And then, “Dark Monday” happened.

It really put me in a tail spin. It overwhelmed me. It threw me off balance. I couldn’t find quick solutions. It was hard to be or see the positive. I wasn’t taking care of myself. Important day-to-day tasks weren’t getting done.

Reality hit. I simply couldn’t do things “on my own” anymore.

I think it’s interesting how hard it is for most of us to admit we need help or support from others. The do it “on my own” attitude makes us feel more in control, gives us a sense of independence, doesn’t bother other people, allows us to do it our way and makes us appear as being strong and resilient.

I needed “Dark Monday” to remind me that I can’t do everything “on my own.” I need the help and support of others. It has been hard to admit and hard to accept, but it’s true.

I also needed “Dark Monday” to remind me of the gifts that come when you let go of the “on my own” attitude and allow others to step up and step in and the gifts you receive from doing it. Allowing others into my life to help has humbled me, filled me with gratitude, made me smile and laugh and given me peace, hope and balance in my life again.  

Most importantly, I have learned through other’s actions towards me how to support another person when their “on my own” attitude is no longer enough for them to maneuver through life. I know how important it is to:

  • Ask, “How are you doing?”, and then stop and genuinely listen to the person tell you.
  • Ask what you can do to help, but when the person really doesn’t know or have a clear answer, offer your own idea(s); OR
  • Not ask the person what they need, but just think about it on your own. If you were in their shoes, what would you most likely need. Then be proactive and do something to meet that need.
  • Say, “I’ll include you in my prayers” or “I’ll pray for you” and then really do it!
  • Text them an encouraging message, devotion or prayer.
  • Send them a card in the mail with a reassuring and uplifting message – when they might least expect it.
  • Be proactive. Don’t wait to hear from them. Text or call them and do it frequently.
  • Respect their time and understand they can’t always respond quickly to your messages. And, if you don’t hear from them in a day or two, reach out to them again.
  • Tell them you will call to talk on the phone and you really do it – sooner, rather than later.
  • Give your time to have an in-person, face-to-face conversation with them to talk.
  • Invite them to do something fun with you.
  • Honor them and understand that sometimes they just need to be alone in their own private space.

“Dark Monday” has also been a reminder to me that some of the kids you work with have many “Dark Mondays” in their life. In fact, every day might be a dark day for them. Perhaps it’s not having enough food to eat, living in a neighborhood that isn’t safe, being in a home of abuse, neglect or mental illness, struggling with the high demands and expectations of school or being bullied by their peers.

Whatever it might be, every day might put them into a tail spin. Every day might overwhelm them. Every day might be hard to do what needs to get done. Every day might be challenging to take care of themselves. Every day might be hard to see, feel or experience anything positive.

I had just one day do all of this to me. Now, imagine if every day is like this for your kids AND they are trying to get through every day with an “on my own” attitude.

I’m a great example of how eventually the “on my own” attitude doesn’t work any more. You need others to step up and step in.

Your kids need you. They need many positive adults to support, mentor, guide, cheer, affirm and love them through their “Dark Mondays”. Do with your kids what others have done for me since my “Dark Monday” on April 15, 2019. If you do, I know for sure you will eventually turn the “on my own” attitude into a “we’re in this together” attitude and turn more of their dark days into brighter ones.

P.S. Since April 15, 2019: My dad has started dialysis for his kidney failure. He also had a right knee replacement removed due to a staph infection and will have a new knee eventually put back in at the age of 88! My shingles are still hanging around – probably due to the stress of managing Dad’s medical care – but are getting better. My aunt peacefully passed away the day after. My daughter is thriving and happy to be living on her own. I have accepted the fact that most 26-year-olds don’t want to live with their mother anymore – even if you are best friends with one another. And, the IRS got their money as they wanted.