One of life’s most valuable lessons, one that takes too long to accept, is that life is hard.
If we had our way, there would be no pain, things would go our way, we wouldn’t have to work as hard, and we certainly wouldn’t have to suffer. We get reality instead, a reality that tells us all too often that things are not fair and as Hal Urban said, “the world will not devote itself to making us happy”.
If we do not accept life as it is and face these challenges, it is impossible to be happy or content. Instead, we keep wishing for something that we will never get. If we accept and understand that life is hard, we can live more effectively and find solutions. It is this process of meeting our problems head on and looking for solutions that gives life its meaning.
Once we accept the fact that life is hard, we begin to grow. We can begin to see that every obstacle is an opportunity to write our future, regardless of what the past has said.
Life can and will break you.
Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won’t either; for solitude will also break you with its yearning.
You have to love. You have to feel. It is the process of experiencing who you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up.
Grief is one of those experiences that feels like it could break you.
Grief is a stalker. It lurks in the cabinets and in the waiting room at the dentist’s and behind the switch on the hall light. It twines itself inside the click of pens and the heels of socks. Tea bags are infused with it, as are cereal boxes, computer games and the mail as it is slipped through the slot.
Contrary to reputation, it never looks drab; it doesn’t care about time. It isn’t elegant. It isn’t easy or smooth. It rises with the sun and hides in the corners of fog. Surprisingly it prefers hello to goodbye. It shows up on the beach and frayed the nerves in the manner of a gunshot or a siren whizzing by. It is big, hairy, inarticulate, possessing just one word, why. It is brain freeze and sour lemons and a knife to the belly and a thrum-thrumming of the heart- combined.
Grief makes us clumsy. Always falling and attempting to rise.
An excerpt from The Painted Drum, resonated deep within my bones. She wrote, “And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness. Tell yourself you tasted as many as you could.”
When it comes to grief and loss, we have to be gentle with ourselves. Grief then coping comes and goes and the stages will not follow a particular pattern.
Do not beat yourself up when after a while of “handling your emotions”, you are slapped in the face with strife again.
Acknowledge what it is, accept it as natural and own the feelings.
Swim in the feelings until your fingers get all pruney.
Taking a stance of “grin and bear it” or “push through it” doesn’t allow you to experience it, or reject what’s happening either. It keeps you stuck, and you experience it all over again the next time a similar situation arises.
Remember that accepting where you are today, doesn’t mean that you are saying it is okay to remain here indefinitely.
Understand that it makes sense for you to feel what you are right now based on the experiences that led you here, to this very moment. Give yourself the grace to feel compassion for your experience at the moment and where you are, knowing that you have the choice to start working through it again later on today, or tomorrow.
The definition of what is your best that you have to give yourself today is enough.
Only through the process of experiencing our struggles can we begin to heal. Through that healing, we can begin to experience the wonderment of being alive and to truly live.
To process fully you must first own your experience whether positive or negative. Allow the feelings to flow over you and let it embrace all of your being. Only then can you begin to make sense of why you are having these feelings, where they come from, and what to do with them next in a manner that is not pushing them aside or pretending they don’t exist.
Remember, it is your experience and no one can define it for you. Give yourself the permission to exist as you are while you are on your path to fully achieve what you are capable of becoming.
Photo by catherinecronin