Post by Sharon
Life gives us so many opportunities.
Some of them are great, like a job opening that fits us perfectly or the ideal mate, but other opportunities involve things like loss and sickness.
No one hands us the key to how to handle life's opportunities (bad and even good).
Many people hit the lottery and their situation goes down the crapper. Good opportunity, right? Well, not if you don't know the principals of how to handle opportunities.
The key is -
Even in the worst situations, you can be thankful that you have family, you have support, you learn something about the other person or the nature of life on planet earth that gives you experience and perhaps refocuses your life path. You will not come out of it the same and that's a good thing because we are supposed to be adaptable.
Adaptable means, something in the path blocked an easy course and we were flexible enough to make changes.
Go through life's ordeals as there is no escape from reality, even in a bottle, some pills, gambling, or depression. What happened still happened and you will still have to make sense of it in the course of the life you had imagined in your mind.
When my dad died, my brother began drinking to deal with the grief. A couple decades later, he died of alcoholic cirrhosis.
The problem with finding an escape from feelings is it causes a secondary problem that is worse than the first. You can't medicate away grief or anger, hurt or loneliness, anxiety or depression. It just causes another problem to overcome and the first one never resolved.
When my dad died, I went off on my own, trying to make sense of how to do my life from 16 onward without the greatest influence I had.
I cried a lot. I considered how my future would unfold. As the baby of the family I felt responsible for my mother. At 16 my life should have been starting but it felt like it had reached a dead end. I was certain I'd never smile or laugh again.
Ironically, by going through it I later found out the best moments of my life happened afterward.
Life is so organic, it forces the new sunrise, the next day, the next decade, the new situations, the new people, the new perspective....
I went through it, as agonizing and long as the process took to be able to think of dad and smile instead of cry.
I also said "thank you" each evening in prayer.
It's a simple and humble act of not begging like a child at the candy counter or striking out because of what you don't have, but being a mature and healthy human being who is thankful for the chance to say another prayer, another day, with more events in it that help you adapt, master, and receive comfort.
When I used to sponsor folks in an anxiety disorder group, I would explain that a panic attack rises and crests and falls back. It's a matter of sitting through it, observing it and reframing it.
Instead of "I'm dying" or "I'm going crazy," you study the symptoms, knowing it crests and dissolves and cannot hurt you.
It's your response to it that causes more problems.
If you run from it, you get can end up with limiting your life and becoming agoraphobic. This thing that happened ends up having such power over you, it can make you run in circles and search for ways to tamp it down. It has a HUGE power over you.
And so it is when you have losses and challenges in life.
If you realize in the framework of your life that this is an event you must sit through and witness, it loses its terror and anguish. Each time you sit through the feelings and observe and allow and know they are a natural course, the more you heal.
Breathe. Be thankful. Remind yourself that all you are feeling is exactly what you should feel.
When we have a head cold, we know the usual course from scratchy throat to sneezing, coughing to clogged up nose and we don't get anguished. We know in a certain time period, it will resolve. It is an immune response.
Emotionally, we have an immune response team and its formed by thoughts, perceptions, and inner interpretation and language.
And we emotionally become resilient when we say thanks, even if it's thanks for another day survived. When my father died, I started focusing on our dog that offered something furry to love, the swimming pool that offered a late night escape in the moonlight, the songs on the radio that lifted me up.
Even in the worst of times and all the swirling of emotions that come up, the reminder each day that there is life out there moving on, offering new input, experiences that shed perspective, can keep us grounded.
Allow for some suspension of the usual routine, as this new loss or hardship has changed the daily patterns and expectations. Know that what you feel is exactly how you should feel. Sit through it, watch it, archive it, journal about it.
But, don't think for one minute you can escape it.
Life gave you a chance to grow and be resilient, to change course when priorities change. We may get caught up in expecting the same situations and same people every day in our lives, but when the routine is broken and we now have to assimilate a new reality, many dig their heels in.
Consider it a road trip.
You're driving in the dark. All you see is in the scope of the headlights. Trust you get to your destination even if all you see right now is 30 feet ahead of you.
All that is there in the light is also there in the darkness. All the factors that make a life continue on.