Sometimes we are blind to our circumstances and despite the gentle prodding of others, who are trying to help us, we continue to spin our wheels, digging ourselves deeper and deeper into a rut. We’ve all encountered hardships and sometimes they may have seemed insurmountable, so you indulge yourself for a little while because you’ve been wounded and need time to heal and gather strength. That’s ok because that period of reflection is what allowed you to process the circumstances, accept that you may not be able to change them, learn from them, and move on, positively. At least that’s how it should work.
I have a friend whose husband left her thirty years ago. It was a painful and horrible time in her life. She felt betrayed, rightly so, and unwanted. With 3 small children yet to raise on her own, she focused on them; trying to keep life as normal for them as she could. With a full time job and her kids she had little time to dwell on the circumstances of her now defunct marriage, i.e. she did not allow herself to mourn the loss, thereby denying herself the opportunity to heal. Over the years her resentment grew. Her disappointment in her ex-husband festered into full on hatred for him and anyone with whom he associated and she wore that loathing like a badge of honour. Now granted, she was wronged, but she’s not the first or the last person to be abandoned by a partner and denying herself the right to heal only hurt her. The ex-husband went on to have a very happy life, eventually remarrying and raising a new family. He moved on and she sadly didn’t. Had she faced the pain of her loss and dealt with it, perhaps she too could’ve moved on to a new and happy life, but she didn’t because despite the prodding of friends and family she simply refused to help herself heal. Who won here?
Another friend lost their partner to cancer. It was devastating and moving forward seemed unimaginable. Friends and family were supportive, offering company and conversation when needed, and while she appeared to respond to these acts of assistance, she was reluctant to move beyond this to create a new life. She spent much of her time reminiscing about life with her late partner and any attempts to suggest new activities and social outings were flatly refused. Friends and family were baffled as to what to do and eventually they gave up. Eight years later, she is still despondent and lonely, and I can’t help but wonder if she wouldn’t be in a better place had she ventured out instead of allowing her grief to consume her. You will never replace the loved one you lost, but life is for the living and someday you may be surprised to find that you can find happiness again. You just need to be open to helping yourself heal.
Another old friend who had a challenging relationship with her parents all of her adult life, suddenly found herself their sole and primary caregiver in their old age. Years of resentment made it difficult for her to be compassionate and she could’ve walked away, leaving them to their own devices. (she was an only child) There are many who knew the strained relationship she’d had with her parents and would’ve understood her turning away, but she didn’t. She sought help in the form of therapy through which she eventually accepted that the nature of her relationship with her parents while not perfect, was one they could all learn from, and grow from. She got past her resentment and accepted that they would never be ‘friends’ in the traditional sense, and by doing so came to appreciate that their relationship as family was different, but just as valuable. With age came maturity and with maturity came acceptance. She cared for them for the next six years until they had both passed and to this day she is grateful that she did. She helped herself and by doing so found her peace. No regrets.
Several years ago a good friend suffered a career setback that emotionally cut them to the core. Typically strong of character, they were convinced that they could navigate their way through this chapter of their life on their own, but they couldn’t. Family and friends offered advice and support and it’s lucky they did because without their persistence my friend likely would not have sought the help they needed to help themselves. It’s not to say that they’re over it. Maybe we never get over the pain of a loss, whatever the loss, but every new day dulls the pain a little bit more. They don’t allow themselves to look back, and as a result, the road ahead is brighter.
Life isn’t easy, and sometimes the circumstances of our life tests us to our very limits, but remember what you’re made of, what you are capable of. Break the cycle of defeat. Dig out of that rut. Get out and do what you have to do to get back your confidence, your zest for life. Your friends and family can only do so much to help you, so don’t turn away from life – help yourself.
All the help in the world won’t help unless you help yourself