Sometimes life hits you with what I like to call “A Cosmic Sucker Punch” or what others might call “When bad things happen to good people.” or  even “Sh*t happens.” Life is like that. Sometimes, out of the blue, something bad happens for no reason, sometimes it is so bad that one can feel like God himself is punishing you. In my case it could have certainly been a lot worse but it was still intense: two major accidents, both not my fault nor in any way could have been prevented – two accidents which totaled my respective cars but amazingly no one had to go to the hospital.

But this post is not about my sucker punch(es), my personal double whammy as it were, which in time the lawyers and insurance companies will sort all out. No, this post is about how one deals with a sucker punch, for it happens to all of us on a greater or lesser degree. Sometimes it is simply annoying, like a transaction glitch which costs you a lot of time and energy to rectify. Other times it is more profound, like when someone steals your identity and your life spins out of control until it’s resolved. But sometimes the sucker punch causes unspeakable pain and suffering, like a serious illness or the death of a loved one, especially if it is a child.

My punches were in between the levels of annoying and spinning out of control. They were intense, dramatic experiences where I could have been hurt or even killed. But, I wasn’t. Instead, I was really shaken, especially after the second accident, wondering what I did to deserve this, what I did wrong? In my head I reviewed the minutia of the decisions I had made before each accident, looking for a lapse in judgement, a reason I was being punished in this way.

I am not a newcomer to cosmic sucker punches. Born healthy, I was hospitalized starting at 3 months for an accidental overdose of vitamin A. I spent my childhood through age 17 in and out of hospitals with over 18 operations. (Certainly I did nothing to deserve that unless one believe in past lives and then maybe my karma had come to haunt me.) At the same time I was dealing with the hospitalizations, my parents went through a horrific divorce. My childhood had so many punches that I came to think of the battered feeling that life gives you when it goes wrong as normal and to mistrust when things actually went right. It wasn’t until adulthood when I had stretches of things going well that I understood that my childhood was not the norm. So now, as an adult I have a perspective on these times when life punches you in the gut, a perspective shared by anyone who has experienced deep difficulty and passed through. These latest punches are just little bumps in the road for me, and although I take them very seriously, I don’t let them get me down.

Which brings me to my suggestions on how to deal when life gives you a Cosmic Sucker Punch:

  1. You are not being punished although you can probably learn from the experience.
    The sooner you move past the need to blame yourself or to feel like you have been punished the better. It serves no purpose to blame yourself. If the punch is a result of an error in judgement just own it, learn from it and move on. If it isn’t anything you did or didn’t do then just accept it and try to move forward. I know that if what you are dealing with is truly tragic then this will take time but no matter how much time you need, blaming yourself will not make it better.
  2. Things may happen for a reason but we may never know what it is and it may have nothing to do with you specifically.
    Not everyone believes thing happen for a reason but I do and most people of faith believe in higher plan, a purpose. This can provide comfort but it can also drive one crazy if the situation seems so random and unfair. No parent from Sandy Hook will find comfort in thinking that their child had to die and I for one can’t think of a reason for it. So I’m not saying that there is a reason, just that trying to find one is not necessarily going to help how you feel.
  3. Life is unfair plain and simple.
    This relates to #2 because if you do believe in a higher plan or that things happen for a reason then why is life so unfair? Only God knows really. I think there are chains of events that can lead you to certain outcomes but then there is just randomness. In my case the accidents took place in radically different circumstances. Both were a case of wrong place, wrong time. I can only hope I’ve filled my quota for a while.
  4. Try to turn it positive.
    The best way to heal or overcome from a Cosmic Sucker Punch is to try to turn the situation into something positive, at least in how you think about it anyway. In my case, instead of thinking that two cars got totaled, I think how grateful I am that my kids weren’t in the car for either accident or how I didn’t have a life-threatening injury.
  5. Look ahead one year and see where you want to be; look back one year and see how far you’ve come.
    When my ex and I were going through the visa process I did this a lot to get me through it. I would see the life I wanted to have with him in the future. I would focus on that. Then I would look back on how far I had come.

I hope this has been helpful. Remember, when life deals you a Cosmic Sucker Punch, stay strong because it will pass…

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