The People's Blog Vol. 1: Lesson's Learned through Struggle
I often refer to December 17, 2012 as the hardest day of my life.
At 5am that morning I had to hand over my 7-day old son to a team of surgeons that would operate on his heart in an effort to give him a chance at life. I whispered softly to him to "be brave" and then I had to walk away, with the hope in my own heart battling an indescribable weight of sadness and fear. My son made it through that grueling 8-hour surgery and the associated 2-month hospital stay. In fact, he’s had 3 open-heart surgeries in total and has been through a tremendous amount of challenges – he’s my little miracle.
To be honest, the early years of his life were also challenging on me: there were times where I felt like this was such a constant uphill battle and I was always feeling exhausted, which translated into me being impatient and snappy. I eventually learned that these were signs of Compassion Fatigue – the idea that your compassion is like a muscle, and when you’re giving so much to care for others, it can – at times – exhaust itself.
One of the important things I learned about dealing with Compassion Fatigue is to be kind to yourself and talk to yourself the way you’d talk to your friends. This includes giving a small “gift” to yourself every day: something that is an act of self-care and self-kindness. In the early days, that was an evening cup of coffee on the couch: it didn’t matter what kind of day I had, I just knew that if I could make it to that cup of coffee, everything was going to be ok.
In 2020, I started to grow out my beard and like most people, I had absolutely no idea what I was doing at first. Eventually, through lots of trial-and-error and tons of YouTube videos, I started to figure out how to properly care for my beard and figure out the types of products that work the best for me and it was like night and day! Today I have lots of oils, butters, combs, etc., and taking care of my beard has become an important part of my self-care. If it looks good, I feel good; and if I smell good, I feel confident. Caring for my beard has become the “gift” I now give myself as part of my awareness of Compassion Fatigue, which I learned never goes away. So – if you have Compassion Fatigue, it means you’re compassionate!!....but you also need to make sure to care for yourself.
The most amazing bonus about being on this beard care journey is the group of friends I’ve gained through the beard community. There are amazing humans who don’t just support each other through grooming recommendations, but through life’s ups and downs, too. We have a lot of fun, too: we laugh a lot and celebrate each others’ wins. It’s a great support system to help me be my best.
Today my son is 11 years old and in 5 th grade and I’m constantly amazed at the things he’s overcome and the things he’s able to do. I love being his dad: it’s the greatest honor in the world, but I can’t help him be his best self if I’m not trying to be my best self. And whenever I take the time to put a good-quality product in my beard, it might be a small part of my day, but it’s a big step towards being the best version of me.
- Chris P.