What Holds You Together?
Last week, my 90 year old grandmother had a massive stroke. By the next day she had made a miraculous recovery—beyond what her medical staff had ever seen for a stroke of that proportion or a patient her age. She will still need a bit of rehab to get her brain and strength back to full capacity, but the woman who gave me my sass and sweet tooth is all there and ready for another piece of chocolate, thank you very much. I witness strokes of luck every day, but this was a GD miracle. I laughed and cried and jumped up and down right there at the 7th floor nurses’ station. Which is why it’s so hard for me to admit that when I got the call about her being in the hospital, my first thought wasn’t oh my god, my poor sweet grandmother but oh my god, what if I can’t go on our vacation next week?
It was fleeting, but the sheer selfishness sent me into a guilt spiral. I adore and love my grandmother deeply. She took care of me when my mom went back to work. She has been a warm hug and a mischievous giggle and a constant cheerleader for me even when she doesn’t know what to do with my nutty life. She has never judged me, only loved and accepted me unconditionally. So why was my first thought for myself?
Slumped on my therapist’s couch in tears, I asked the question. Her response: “None of this sounds selfish. It sounds like traveling with your boyfriend is one of the things that holds you together.”
Holds me together. I had used the phrase before, but always with an undercurrent of shame. As if needing something or someone to keep it all together was a sign of weakness or failure, not a natural human condition.
“What else holds you together?” she asked.
Meditation. Long walks with the dog. Friends and family. My amazing co-workers. Music. Rest. Baths. A good book. Sunlight. Cooking a healthy meal. And yes, getting out of town for some quality time with my partner.
I was beginning to see. These everyday gifts—not just the exciting or the grand—they count for a lot. They ground us and support our well-being. Especially when we are hanging on by a thread. The things that hold us together need to be nurtured, not written off as nice-to-haves. Once I understood the reason for my panic, I was able to release the guilt and be fully present with my grandmother in the hospital. She thinks she’s the patient, when she’s really the one holding me together.
What holds you together?