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Falling Flat With A Thud

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I really like this theme of bounce. I like the image of a ball bouncing along its path, sometimes hitting something hard, yet bouncing back up into the air, free. However, as I’ve been writing these blogs, I realize that I have been talking mostly about people who have bounced back up after hitting a hard spot. And they seem to do it quickly. Although I know we all have the capacity to be resilient, sometimes bouncing back up takes a long time.

I played basketball when I was younger and occasionally even now I enjoy going out and shooting some baskets. I love the feel of the leather and the springy sound of the ball as it hits the pavement and jumps into my waiting hands. If I haven’t played for awhile, though, sometimes I get the ball out of the garage and when I push it down for that first eagerly-anticipated bounce, it produces a dull thud and lies there on the pavement. No air. The ball is totally flat.

Life can be like that, too. Several years ago, after my partner died, I felt as though all the air had been sucked out of me. The joyful life I had led with her had suddenly gone flat. And I could not get back up. For a long time.

I tried to pump myself with air by resting frequently, talking with loving friends, and working on the little house that I loved. My bounce would come back for awhile, but it was kind of like a ball that’s not quite full of air. You bounce it hard at first and it jumps up to the right spot but then slowly the bounces get lower and lower and lower until the ball is flat on the pavement again. It just seemed like I would never get my bounce back. I had no idea grief would be that hard.

To be honest, it’s taken me several years to get my bounce back. And occasionally I still feel like I’ve lost some air and am just dribbling along the ground. But now I know that I will get pumped up again. With the perspective of years, I have a better idea of how to fill myself with air. I know I still need rest, loving friends, and lots of new projects to stimulate me, but most of all, I need the patience to know that sometimes it just takes time to get filled back up and be able to bounce again.

I hope that you are not at a flat spot in your life. But if you are, try not to judge where you are right now. It’s just a part of life. To slowly start pumping yourself up, talk with people who have walked your same path. And remember that it may take time, but someday you’ll bounce up into the air again, free.


One Comment

  1. Todd says:

    I think bouncing is a good metaphor for overcoming minor events. However, major losses–such as losing a community or a partner–is more complex and is rarely overcome, as you know, for the objects that we lose–such as loved ones–can never be replaced. Thus the lost is always there–more or less.

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Bobbi Emel is a therapist who helps people in Los Altos, Palo Alto, Mountain View and the greater Bay Area manage their stress and develop their strengths.
She is effective in helping people dealing with anxiety, worry and grief; and also those who want to improve their effectiveness and performance.