I find it intriguing that we believe we are untouchable… or maybe we are so fearful of the twists and turns life can throw at us that we choose to remain as oblivious as possible.
It’s in the human condition to really dislike uncertainty. I got into my first real relationship when I was 21. Whenever I would speak about the future that me and my then boyfriend could have, this intelligent young man would always look back at me, with half a smile curving his mouth and say “we’ll see”. I hated those words! And he knew I hated them, but he was right. I knew he meant that life has no guarantees. But still… I did not want to hear anything about uncertainty. My family lost my brother tragically the year before, and the only thing I wanted was certainty, but at the back of my mind, I knew that was not realistic.
Nothing ever stays the same, no matter how badly we want it to.
Life can be quite cruel. Even when we have the very best of intentions it throws a blinding right hook at us that we were not expecting. It leaves us bewildered, knocking us right off the axis that our feet were so firmly and comfortably implanted on. It does not prepare us for the inevitabilities… life’s lessons are usually baptism by fire, and you are left with two stark choices: you are either going to be sucked into the cold darkness of anguish, doom and despondency, or you are going to have to get up and somehow get through this harrowing experience that you are going through.
Whether you have lost your job, a job that was not only sustaining you but your family as well… whether you have lost a loved one under shocking circumstances, whether you are required to make very drastic and difficult life changes that you were not expecting at all, the truth is, we are not prepared for these conditions in the slightest! And that’s what causes the tsunami that is our panic to set in violently… shaking us to our very core; nobody has ever taught us how to deal with major life changes.
The tragedy of life is a paradox, because within that very tragedy lies a new life, a new understanding, a wisdom more powerful than we have ever experienced. But we can only get there when we work through that terrifying fear and anxiety; the uncertainty and vulnerability of what we are dealing with.
5 steps to help you along:
It is the most difficult part. Accepting that everything has changed and nothing will ever be the same again. Acceptance is the bridge from desperate heartache to a calming sorrow. Acceptance is like a covenant you are making with the tragedy… a surrender to the fact that your life is falling to pieces, that you are losing everything you have ever known, even your very identity. But acceptance is necessary. It can feel like a betrayal of who you were and what you have always known, who you always knew to be by your side and what you have always loved, but as these very things that were the fundamental aspects of your life begin to dissolve right before your eyes, acceptance is your door to the next chapter, and the next cycle of your life. If you want to continue living, you cannot stay where you have been. You have to accept the change and be willing to move forward. This life may take away, but it is the very same life that has the key to your next exit and into your new journey… only if you choose to accept, and relinquish the control you were so familiar with.
2. Take Care Of Yourself
It is also incredibly hard to do this, but try your best to put everything in the perspective that it needs to be. You will die if you do not become your own self-support system… it will start with dying inside, and eventually, you will be consumed completely. I do not mean that you are to go through your situation by yourself, but the willingness to want to push through this adversity is a real necessity. Taking care of yourself also means seeking external support; talking about what you are going through and seeking the advice and wisdom of those who have gone through the same situation you are in and have pulled through it. Trusted friends and family are important at this point. Use their strength as a guide to help you through what your pain.
3. No More Blame
Blame is the opposite of acceptance to me. It means that you are still not ready to own your situation, and that you feel that it must be someone else’s responsibility. Obviously I am not saying that you are wrong for thinking that way, but the problem with blame is that it keeps you in a perpetual cycle of anger, bitterness and hatred. I bumped into a former colleague once, who was retrenched from her job some years back. She looked like a shadow of her former self, and I asked her how life had been for her. It broke my heart to hear her story, not because I sympathised with her, but because since she had been laid off, she not only never got another job, but still had steaming hot, fresh hostility towards those she believed were responsible for her circumstances. I could only imagine how that eternal toxic state she was imprisoned in was eating her from the inside. Blame is what keeps you holding on to your story. Blame is a thief that will rob you of your happiness, and the possibilities of a life that you do truly deserve. Letting go of blaming anyone is unshackling yourself from the chains of misery. I think you owe it to yourself to do this.
You did everything you could. You are not to blame.
Whoever you believe is responsible cannot bring back what and who you knew and loved. Let it go… something else is waiting for you. But only after you have set yourself free. Set Yourself Free!
5. Start Re-creating
Are you willing to design your life anew? Part of letting go means dropping the old story, and creating a new one. Tragedy is the material from which the cocoon of your change is built. It is strong, dark, and unyielding in its power, but contrary to what we believe, it houses our potential, our possibilities and the kind of courage we did not believe could ever lay inside of us. The next phase is building a new life, and it shall take courage and stepping out on faith. The same circumstances that took away from you, are the same circumstances that will give way to a wiser, more extraordinary YOU.
So I ask again, are you willing to design your life anew?
Life is not easy. You should congratulate yourself for having come this far. And as for the adversities that will occur in yours, remember: what will not kill you, will make you stronger!