“And once the storm is over, you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.”
― Haruki Murakami
There are always lovely times in life where the rhythm of it all just falls into place, where you know where you are and for now you know where you are going. There are those beautiful times (sometimes they are minutes, and sometimes they seem to last for days or weeks or even months if you are lucky), when you have been lulled into that quiet dance that comes from a satisfied life.
But the thing about life is, things go wrong.
Sometimes everything falls apart at once, in an uncontrollable heap, or one big moment explodes in flames so unexpectedly that something that was once there, has suddenly disappeared forever. Then there are hard times that tend to creep up on you, little moments that one after another after another often culminate over time, leaving you with that uneasy feeling that you’re never really sure when the heart ache is over… until it you wake up one morning and you are surprised to find that where before there was only dark, now the light is shining in.
I went through a very difficult time last week that was confrontational in a way I tend to avoid with people who I know I am not likely to ever find a resolution with. It was shocking and explosive and terrifying and then, as quickly as it appeared in my life, then it was gone again… but it left the door open for those bad dreams, for the fear that I had thought I had escaped, for the self doubt and the uncertainty to creep back in like a burglar in the shadows of night. Invading my private space and taking things from me that I wasn’t willing to give.
I was scooped up into the safety of a friends arms and I was given the love and the respect and the witness to process my feelings until I was able to talk myself back out of the shadows. One breath. One moment. One gentle reminder at a time.
I have been privileged in my life to live a vast and many experiences to their fullest, and along that ride there were some of life’s deepest tragedies.
The thing I have learned about hard times is that carrying them around in your chest like a ball of burning fire does nothing for you. It’s the kind of pain that forces you to drink your own poison over and over again all the while wondering why the hurt never ends. It does us no favours. It gives us no joy. It sucks the very life blood out of our being and it closes us off from all of the good little morsels of humanity that the world offers us every single day.
It’s not an easy thing to do of course, to let go of anger. Anger almost always comes to us in place of a much more complex hurt – when you are unwilling to feel the hurt that has climbed into your chest and made its home there. Some times we are able to breathe and be strong enough to find compassion for the person who has hurt us, or forgiveness or even an inner calm… and other times we can (barely) master just the breathing alone.
The path out of the dark starts with acceptance.
Accepting that there will always be things that you cannot change. Accepting that you will make mistakes. Accepting that other people will at times in your life betray you and hurt you. Acceptance is not about forgiveness (that can come later), or about self realisation… but it is powerfully transformative if you submit yourself to it.
Funnily enough anger is one of those emotions that we love to hold on to. We grasp it with our hands, terrified of what the world might mean if we let it go. Terrified of how much pain we may feel if we let go of the anger. We stop ourselves from accepting because we are so busy throwing our anger at ourselves, or at other people, that we can’t find the path towards the light.
But anger is never the answer anger will only fuel the hurt and the hurt will continue to fuel the anger and we all know how that goes.
The practice of acceptance is applied directly to the hole that hurt is eating away inside you. It’s a soothing balm that cools even the whitest of rage.
Accepting is not forgiving, it’s not even understanding. Acceptance asks only that you hold on to what is true.
This is what happened. This is how it feels. This is how it is. I cannot change what happened I can only control where I go from here. And I accept it.
Acceptance is the map that guides you through those times when things fall apart. Acceptance is what leads towards finding your way back to what is good and to hanging on to the good that is in you.
A healthy dose of friendships with beautiful men and women who are there to remind you when you cannot muster the strength to remind yourself never goes astray either.
Where do you turn when things go wrong?