I’m coming up on an anniversary of a particularly bone-jarring loss that occurred in my life awhile back. I wasn’t public about it. I’m a counselor and I’m supposed to know how to deal with these things! So I did what I’ve been doing my whole life – put on a smile, hide the tears, and pretend all is well. On the inside, I nursed a hollow and bruised spirit. I went to war with life and naively thought I was winning! As these things go, an unseen force joined the battle, and the war was done. I lost.
I wrote an article last week about the “light” I saw in the eyes of my friend’s baby. I had recaptured that light in myself years ago after events in my life drove me into recovery. I had rediscovered joy, peace, faith, and trust. I had a song in my heart, a dance in my step. I was enjoying my life! But our world is not always kind. I was naively unaware of a poison that had been seeping into my otherwise great life that I had worked so hard to attain. The world knocked me out of a deep, restful sleep and kicked me squarely in the teeth. Time to wake up, sweet girl!
This isn’t to bellow and moan about the crap I’ve had to endure. Quite frankly, it could be quickly knocked of the grid of importance by the events of tomorrow (i.e., Hurricane Sandy). I simply want to be honest about this journey that I am on – that WE ALL are on. We are not put here to have a good time. There is a purpose in everything that we experience – good and bad. We get to choose whether we let it define us or refine us!
The kicks I’ve endured throughout my life have taught me to appreciate things in a way I never did before. For the past year, I was fortunate to be able to take my 96 year old grandmother to lunch (or visit her) nearly every week up until her passing in August. Each time I was with her, I was aware that it could be the last – and I cherished it. I was able to be present and to drink in the moments. When she died, I had no regrets, just joy that she is in Heaven skipping, laughing her amazing contagious laugh, and kicking it up with The Big Guy.
Getting kicked in the teeth certainly sucks, but it does wake you up and make you appreciate what really matters. I approach things differently now. I’ve reached new levels of appreciation, intimacy, awareness, passion, growth, personal power, forgiveness, vulnerability, and spirituality that I never would have risked experiencing before. There’s a freedom that comes from hitting rock bottom – there’s just nothing left to lose! And in that freedom, if we allow it, comes growth.
Please don’t think I’m professing that we shouldn’t allow ourselves to feel the pain of the blows we receive in life. In fact, the very opposite is true. If we don’t allow ourselves the natural process of grieving our losses, as scary and unfamiliar as it is, it will no doubt come out in other, unhealthy ways. I see people every day that are walking proof!
So when the events of life come your way, allow yourself to feel every emotion that comes – Shock, Rage, Denial, Hurt, Contempt, Fear, Irritation, Instability, Sorrow, Regret. Then, when it begins to subside, often months and sometimes years later, look for the things you learned along the way.
You may not like all the things you learned, or the unfortunate way you had to learn them, but they are valuable lessons none the less! For me, I know I wouldn’t willingly have learned the lessons any other way. Yes, I lost that particular battle, but there is much that I have gained because of it. If we refuse to go through the process and learn what we were supposed to learn, another refining lesson will be coming our way! Consider this your Wake Up Call!!