Every few years I grow my hair out to be really, really long. Then I get 12 inches cut off to just below my shoulders and donate it to Pantene Beautiful Lengths. In my culture, the East Indian part of me, long hair is valued and considered beautiful. I happen to love having my hair long and I miss it when it’s gone. But I also know that it will always grow back. I’m lucky.
Endings Are Not Really Endings
It’s nice to be able to have something you can rely on. As much as my aversion to the end of a therapy session dictates that I monitor the clock closely so that I am the one to call the end of the session, and not my therapist, I do know that I will get to see him soon again. It’s something that I have learned over time, that endings are not really endings, but a continuation.
Let’s say you experience the end of an intimate relationship. As much as it seems like agonising torture at the time, days and weeks will pass. Slowly, what loomed so imminently overhead, becomes a part of the past, your past. It comprises the continuation of the story of your life. The more time which passes by, the more distance you achieve from that painful breakup, and the smaller it becomes as a percentage of the total span of your life.
A Personal Example
For example, say that you were in a 12-year relationship from the age of 16 to 28 and you happen to marry this high school sweetheart halfway through so that you are now tied together by the vows of matrimony. Then, as you mature, you grow apart and your value systems no longer align. Later, when things are at their utmost worst in your life and you feel so depressed that you cannot even fathom there to be a way out other than to attempt suicide, divorce comes into the picture.
Those next few years of recovery are going to be horrific and terrifying. But then another few years pass, and instead of the span of that sometimes emotionally abusive relationship having taken up half of your life, it becomes two-thirds of your life. At this point, the relationship and the breakup aren’t as important any longer because you have built a life of your own and are involved in other projects and endeavours. Then some more years pass and what was once upon a time so painful, has been resolved and the span of that relationship now comprises a fourth of your lifespan, then a fifth, and so on.
This Too Shall Pass
That’s what happens to us in life. We get so caught up in what is happening to us right now, in the moment, that we forget that it too, shall pass as all things do. Eventually, instead of staying stuck, we move forward with our lives. It’s not that we move on and necessarily leave events in the past never to be looked at again. It’s that we learn to reconcile with what happened and when the inevitable time travel happens in our minds, we learn to be able to tolerate those emotions which come up.
Emotions Come and Go, But I Remain
It’s important to recognise that emotions are just that: emotions. They exist for a reason, and that reason is to inform us of something. Sometimes that “something” is important to look at, and eventually to come to a level of acceptance with it. My favourite phrase in therapy is that “emotions come and go, but I remain.” I have repeated that phrase time and time again, and will probably do so until the day I die. For I too, am not an expert at emotional regulation. That phrase comes in handy when I am having a bad day.
Sometimes I forget it, only to be reminded of it at a later time when I am feeling better. I never force it to be there. I let it appear whenever the rational side of my emotional mind decides to show itself, and then I embrace that phrase. The more and more I embrace the phrase and accept it into my life, the more peace that will be granted to me by the measure of my acceptance. Don’t we all just ultimately want to feel a sense of peace? To be able to sit back and fill our lungs with air, and then breathe it out while knowing that, in the end, everything will always be okay.
The Practice of Being Okay
That is what I want for me and it is what I wish for other people in my life whom I love. It is what every therapist wishes for their patients. The world is not full of ill will and subversiveness. The world is filled with worthy people who only want the best for themselves and their fellow men and women. We don’t have to be martyrs to help other people. We just need to be able to be ourselves, our true, authentic selves, and let the power of human observation take its natural course.
If someone else sees that you seem to be happy and at peace with yourself, over time they might begin to wonder how this is possible and how you do it. Then, they might begin to emulate the way in which you interact with them and with other people. With practice, they will learn that there are some ways which are helpful in interacting with people, and there are some ways which are not so effective.
You Are Enough
Because, here’s the thing. All you have to do is be you, and that’s enough. That’s it. That’s the key to the path toward happiness. No more and no less. You never have to be someone you are not, and if another person wants you to be someone you are not, then that is not a person to be around.
Hold Yourself Close
If they cannot accept you for who you are, for some people have a limited ability to do so, then you can either accept them for their limitation or say goodbye. Sometimes saying goodbye is easier said than done. That is when you hold yourself close and remind yourself that in the end, and the end is never really an ending, everything is going to be okay.