Thursday, November 18, 2010

We Survived!

Walking at lunch the other day, off to go do some retail therapy to try and make myself feel better about heartbreak, and wondering why emotional pain can hurt so badly that we sometimes wonder if we'll survive it, I had a thought. I remembered other times I've been in intense pain, even the day before, and how I despaired of making it another minute with this pain, and how I did make it. It seems melodramatic in times when we're doing okay to think of emotional pain as something that can kill you, but I think all of us at one time or another have had moments (or longer) of being in such pain. And in this moment, I wondered how many of us have given ourselves credit for surviving those moments. Yes, perhaps the thought that we will die from heartbreak or disappointment is unrealistic, but in the moment, it can feel like the ultimate reality. When's the last time you stopped and congratulated yourself for getting through those moments, and even getting past them, healing, and moving on?

I went to lunch with a friend a few days ago, and she happened to pick a restaurant where I had gone with an ex- (not the most recent one.) We just happened to sit at the same table he and I had shared. My friend and I had a nice lunch, and it was only that evening that I realized: I had had no twinge whatsoever of pain from that old breakup! I almost texted my friend, but held back, figuring I'd already talked her ear off about this latest ending and she was due for a break. But when I realized that I had moved past that painful time and moved on, and that the old memories no longer haunted me, I got a new shot of faith that I will survive the current time and come out alive, kicking, stronger, and healthier for it.

If you're struggling with emotional pain, despairing that it will never end, remember the old pain and give yourself credit for surviving those times. Give yourself a pat on the back or an ice cream or a new book and congratulate yourself for being so strong, resilient, and courageous that you've made it here!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

 On Letting Go

I have to let go. I know that. Even as I grasp this situation, this person, the way someone grasps desperately at leaves of grass as she tumbles off of a cliff, I know that my grasping is only doing damage, and will not help either of us. I've become someone I'm not proud of, someone who lashes out with jealous comments and little snipes to ease the pain of loss. Last night, at a very special event that fills me with pride and joy, I was forced to act easeful, happy, and welcoming in a group of others. I was the hostess, I had to be strong and poised, even though that morning I had been weeping, angry, and desolate. After that night, I knew, my new life would start, one that I had to walk into with the same poise and confidence that I displayed to our guests. As I closed that door behind me after a wonderful evening, carrying with me flowers and compliments and a strong feeling of the love and support of the people around me,  I wanted to cry, I wanted to rage, to be called back and to be told that it was all a mistake, that I didn't have to walk away, that I didn't have to let go. Even as I write this, when a car drives up in front of my house, I look, halfway hoping to see that familiar car. The joy of witnessing something I helped create come to a gorgeous crescendo is still inside of me, as is the feeling of love for someone that will never (hopefully) go away, even if our relationship must change.

I just wrote a blog post for Psychology Today about how accepting the feelings of anxiety and terror that I used to have about driving a car helped me finally get my driver's license at age 36. I realized as I wrote that I can use those same skills now, as I make a new life for myself. I can sit with the loss, the grief, the sadness, and even the hope and the good memories, and still choose to move my life in a direction that supports my values of being a good friend, speaking and acting with compassion, surrounding myself with beauty, supporting creativity in myself and others, and generally living a life of integrity. I realize that, in the recent past, I have not acted in accordance with my values, and that, though it hurts to let go, that letting go will actually help me get back to my valued path. At the event where I helped host, I was able to be there for others, be strong, confident, welcoming, and happy even though I knew that every hour that passed brought me closer to walking out of a door that I never wanted to have to walk out of ever again. If I could do it then, in the midst of people and chaos, music and laughter, I can do it now, in the silence of my house, with the light streaming in and the warm breeze. I can let go of wanting life to be different than it is, and I can wish everyone in my life - past present, future and maybe-future - love and wholeness.