Here Comes Goodbye

Image source: music7seven.com

Image source: music7seven.com

I’ve been contemplating what I would write about next. I always have several ideas brewing, just waiting for the time to be right. As I poured over those ideas though, none of them incited that feeling of urgency. When a thought, belief or idea wants to be written about, it just won’t leave me alone. It nags at me, following me around like a toddler tugging at my shirttails. I had several options that were interesting (at least to me); things that have been mulling around in my brain. But none of them were begging for my attention, jumping up and down shouting, “Pick me! Pick me!”

Until now.

The weather has been beautiful here in the Pacific Northwest and I decided to go outside for a walk. Earlier this week I searched for, and finally found, my pink iPod Shuffle. I love how light and easy it is to just clip on and go, but I haven’t used it in quite a while. It was a gift from my previous boyfriend for our first (and only) anniversary on June 9, 2010. I had completely forgotten that date was significant until just this moment. If you’ve been following me at all, you know how devastating that breakup was.

I haven’t been using my iPod for a couple reasons. First, music touches me deeply and I know some of the songs on there are from when we were together. I was afraid to relive those memories and the emotions they might invoke. Second, it’s something tangible that he held in his hands and the music on it is from his collection; music he thought I would enjoy. So in some ways, even though it’s an inanimate object, after all this time it still feels like a link to him.

But I was ready to let go of that fear. After all, I just wanted to use the damn iPod! So I put in my earbuds and turned it on. And the first song that played was “Here Comes Goodbye” by Rascal Flatts.

I don’t think I’d ever heard this song before. I didn’t even know it was on there. But the moment I heard the words, “Here comes goodbye,” I felt that old, familiar sadness well up in my chest as tears filled my eyes.

“Here comes the last time
Here comes the start of every sleepless night
The first of every tear I’m gonna cry
Here comes the pain
Here comes me wishing things had never changed
And s[he] was right here in my arms tonight, but here comes goodbye”

My reaction was completely unexpected and I don’t think I could’ve stopped it if I tried. Before I knew it I was on my knees, my body heaving with sobs of pain I didn’t even know were waiting there. My heart felt heavy, as though it were made of lead, and the feeling of it rose in my chest until it almost choked me.

“Why does it have to go from good to gone?
Before the lights turn on, yeah and you’re left alone
All alone, but here comes goodbye”

I listened to the song twice and just let the pain wash over me. I didn’t resist it or make it wrong. And then, just as quickly as it had appeared, it moved through me and was gone. Surprised, I dried my tears, went for my walk and went about the rest of my day with unexpected relief.

In that moment I realized why most of us resist feeling our pain. We’re afraid if we let it in it will never go away. We believe that if we let it catch us, it will somehow get us in a strangle hold from which we won’t be able to escape. So we run from it, resist it, stuff it down, numb it out. But the truth is pain, like any other emotion, just wants to be felt; to be greeted with open arms so it can move through us. It’s only when we fight it that it gets stuck.

Many people have tried to tell me I just needed to get over it….I needed closure. And even some of those who didn’t say it out loud were thinking it. I could tell. But not wanting me to feel pain was more about them and less about me.

I don’t believe in closure and I wrote about that in a previous post here. Pain and sadness resulting from a devastating loss is not something to be gotten over or moved past. Grief is something to be felt and embraced…to live in harmony with. It will come and it will go…sometimes when you least expect it. But it’s nothing to be afraid of.

Perhaps that moment of pain is your loved one saying, “I’m here and I will always be a part of you.” And next time, instead of resisting it, you’ll pull it in close, wrap your arms around it, and hold it like a child until it’s ready to be on its way.

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I’d love to hear your comments below. If you liked this post, then please ‘Like’ it and share with your friends. And don’t forget to click ‘Follow’ to get email notifications whenever I post something new. But most of all…thank you for reading and being a part of my journey.

The Winter of My Discontent

I’m sitting in my living room with the sun streaming through the window. It feels warm on my face and I close my eyes in an effort to take it in fully, soak it up, hold onto it. This is a rare moment of peace these days. A moment when it feels like things are going to be okay. There’s room to breath. The sun is shining…all is well in the world.

This has been—and may continue to be—‘the winter of my discontent.’ (I’m sure Shakespeare will be cool with me borrowing that line from “Richard III”.) But for those of us on the positive thinking track, it appears negative, ungrateful, destructive. Many days I have shut myself off from the world believing I should feel better. Other times I’ve written about it and then felt guilty for focusing on it. Truthfully I’m just trying to learn how to navigate—an ultimately accept—this is a part of my life.

As early as middle school I can remember having these feelings—fear, anxiety, depression–and wondering what was wrong with me. In my 20s and 30s I took anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications to quell the thoughts and feelings that seemed too dark to face. But taking medication to ‘fix’ the problem left me feeling like there was something wrong with me. So I stopped. It’s been almost 14 years since I used those drugs to get through the difficult times.

But something else has happened; something more insidious than the low moods themselves. Over the years and in the reading of self-help books too numerous to count, I am back to believing there is something wrong with me; that I need to be fixed.

I do believe positive thinking can be vey helpful. I’ve seen it in my own life. But the downside of taking positive thinking too far is that when I’m feeling angry, fearful, frustrated, or sad, I beat myself up. Mentally and emotionally I kick my own ass. And I gotta tell you…it’s exhausting!

What do we say to someone who’s feeling down? “I hope you feel better soon,” right? Because we believe (myself included) that ‘feeling better’ is the goal. But what if ‘better’ is part of the continuum between suffering and joy? Neither one of those states is superior to the other. They are equal participants in the human condition. What if we could say instead, “I love you no matter how you feel and I’m here if you need someone to listen”? What if we (and by we I mean I) could be more accepting? Especially of those feelings that are uncomfortable to us.

Moods are just like the tides…they follow nature’s rhythm. Sometimes they’re high, sometimes they’re low. But you don’t think there’s something wrong with the ocean just because the tide is out. And if it feels like it’s been low tide for far too long, don’t worry. High tide will return when it’s supposed to. In the meantime, think of all the treasures there are to discover when the tide is out—seashells, creatures of all kinds, the occasional message in a bottle.

The treasure I have found is writing.

Writing, for me, has become a way to talk about the things I don’t really know how to deal with. It’s also my way of finding ‘my people.’ Not as a vehicle to commiserate or feel sorry for myself. But just to feel heard and understood. This is how I can do something constructive with what I’ve learned; how I can help those who have similar struggles and feel like no one understands them. I write about my life to say, “I get you…and there’s nothing wrong with you.”

Like me, you may be sensitive and not realize it, feel things more deeply than other people and not know why. That’s okay. Really.

For most of my life I’ve tried to understand what I thought was wrong with me so I could fix it and be like other people I’ve admired. But now I’m taking a different approach. I’m learning to find more acceptance and love for myself. To be honest about what I’m feeling or thinking and not force it to be any different. To realize this is the way I am and I don’t need to apologize for it. It might not always be pretty or seem ‘in control’, and that’s just fine.

The irony is in accepting the parts of myself I’ve worked so diligently to fix, I realize more and more there was nothing wrong with me to begin with. And in the wise words of The Beatles…I’m learning to “Let it be.”

**This post is in memory of Debbie Ford who taught me to accept all of me…the good and the bad, the light and the dark. She believed our gifts are in the shadows. And it is only in accepting the whole of who we are that we will really become all that we are meant to be. I am forever grateful for that lesson and for the many other ways she changed my life. Wherever you are, Debbie, I hope you realize the impact you have made on the world. But most of all I hope you know how much you are loved.**

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I’d love to hear your comments below. If you liked this post, then please ‘Like’ it and share with your friends. And don’t forget to click ‘Follow’ to get email notifications whenever I post something new. But most of all…thank you for reading and being a part of my journey.

Leaning Into Pain | Take 2

This is one of the first things I wrote and posted publicly on Facebook in January 2011. I’ve been thinking alot about the lengths we’ll go to in order to avoid anything we perceive as negative. But pain is really not a negative. It’s just the other side of joy. And you can’t have one without the other. So I’m reposting this because I think it’s worth saying again. The pain will not kill you, even though it might seem that way at the time. If you let yourself feel it, really feel it, one day you will discover you had the capacity for it all along.

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I have been experiencing a fair amount of pain these days. Not that occasional out of sorts, down in the dumps kind of feeling. But a gut wrenching, tear your heart out and stomp on it kind of thing. I won’t pretend it’s been easy…it hasn’t. And there are days I don’t know how I’m going to keep moving forward. But I do; and this experience has helped me look at pain in a whole new way.

Up until now, I have had two ways of dealing with the inevitable pain that life throws at us from time to time. One way was to hurtle myself into a deep, dark depression. A place of hopelessness and despair where I feared I would never feel happy again. The other was trying to get rid of the pain by pushing it away, stuffing it down, numbing it, fighting it or running from it. I’ll be honest…neither of these were great options. Because I never allowed myself to feel the pain in a way that could ultimately heal my heart.

This time around I’ve discovered a whole new way of being with pain. Whenever those moments of overwhelming sadness start to wash over me like the waves of the ocean, I simply lean into it. That’s all…just lean in. I don’t try to figure out what its here to teach me; or what I’m supposed to be learning from all this. I don’t try to talk myself out of my pain. I simply move toward it. I lean in and rest my head on its shoulder like a long lost friend. I cry until the tears are gone and the wave moves through me.

This isn’t to say, it doesn’t hurt or it’s not difficult. It’s just a different way of relating to pain. I’m accepting these feelings as a natural part of grieving any kind of loss. And I’m allowing myself to feel what I feel and trying not to judge myself for it. As with everything, it’s a work in progress and is often two steps forward, one step back. As Stephanie St Claire so beautifully put it, ‎”Sometimes you have to take it on blind faith that your heart is healing. It may not feel like the pain is going away. You might still cry just as hard as ever. But strength, confidence, and wisdom grow invisibly and you must trust that it is there. Rock the world Steel Magnolias!”

I couldn’t have said it better myself!

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I’d love to hear your comments below. If you liked this post, then please ‘Like’ it and share with your friends. And don’t forget to click ‘Follow’ to get email notifications whenever I post something new. But most of all…thank you for reading and being a part of my journey.

Leaning Into Pain

I wrote this back in January…right before I started my blog. It was my first attempt at putting myself out there and sharing what I was going through with the world. It was posted as a note on Facebook at the time. Since I’ve been experiencing similar pain again this week, I thought it was worth re-posting here. Pain is a normal human emotion that most of us try like hell to avoid. We think we won’t survive it. But I’ve been asking myself lately, “what if I just let myself feel it?” And this is what happened when I did.

—————————————————————–

I have been experiencing a fair amount of pain these days. Not that occasional out of sorts, down in the dumps kind of feeling. But a gut wrenching, tear your heart out and stomp on it kind of thing. I won’t pretend it’s been easy…it hasn’t. And there are days I don’t know how I’m going to keep moving forward. But I do; and this experience has helped me look at pain in a whole new way.

Up until now, I have had two ways of dealing with the inevitable pain that life throws at us from time to time. One way was to hurtle myself into a deep, dark depression. A place of hopelessness and despair where I feared I would never feel happy again. The other was trying to get rid of the pain by pushing it away, stuffing it down, numbing it, fighting it or running from it. I’ll be honest…neither of these were great options. Because I never allowed myself to feel the pain in a way that could ultimately heal my heart.

This time around I’ve discovered a whole new way of being with pain. Whenever those moments of overwhelming sadness start to wash over me like the waves of the ocean, I simply lean into it. That’s all…just lean in. I don’t try to figure out what its here to teach me; or what I’m supposed to be learning from all this. I don’t try to talk myself out of my pain. I simply move toward it. I lean in and rest my head on its shoulder like a long lost friend. I cry until the tears are gone and the wave moves through me.

This isn’t to say, it doesn’t hurt or it’s not difficult. It’s just a different way of relating to pain. I’m accepting these feelings as a natural part of grieving any kind of loss. And I’m allowing myself to feel what I feel and trying not to judge myself for it. As with everything, it’s a work in progress and is often two steps forward, one step back. As Stephanie St Claire so beautifully put it, ‎”Sometimes you have to take it on blind faith that your heart is healing. It may not feel like the pain is going away. You might still cry just as hard as ever. But strength, confidence, and wisdom grow invisibly and you must trust that it is there. Rock the world Steel Magnolias!”

I couldn’t have said it better myself!

……………

I’d love to hear your comments below. If you liked this post, then please ‘Like’ it and share with your friends. And don’t forget to click ‘Follow’ to get email notifications whenever I post something new. But most of all…thank you for reading and being a part of my journey.