We all go through periods of difficulty in our lives but I truly believe we are never given more than we can handle. Why then, is it so difficult to move on from some situations? Maybe the initial wound is too deep, the scars permanently embedded in our psyche, so you simply move in another direction to escape, temporarily. And often there was no opportunity for resolution, an injustice has been dealt, with you as the casualty, and like it or not, life goes on with little regard as to how you are affected. Whatever the slight, it has brought you to your knees; unpleasant memories replay in your active mind and interrupt your dreams. Why can’t we move on? Why is recovery so elusive when all we want is peace from the memories that haunt us?
Loss of a loved one, a relationship, or loss of a career, echo with a deathly finality and no matter how hard you try, you simply can’t move past it. It’s like the old record that keeps skipping in the same part of the song.
I recently encountered a woman who helped me to put things into perspective. Her name is Eileen and she works in a hair salon. Eileen emigrated from a small town in South Wales with her high school sweet heart a number of years ago. They married, had a child, and life, to all appearances seemed good. It was after 11 years of marriage Eileen discovers her husband is homosexual. He always knew this but was afraid to breach convention so he ‘played along’ with the marriage and led a secret life on the side.
Having grown up in a very sheltered home Eileen is shocked with this news and leaves to set him free so she can build a new life with her daughter. But he doesn’t ‘come out’. He doesn’t want to, and he’s angry that she has forced his hand, so he makes life difficult for her. After a costly and ugly battle Eileen, deeply wounded, finally settles into life on her own. She has loved and lost but she but she focuses on her daughter and her job, and with family and friends a world away, she also has her loneliness.
Eventually she meets and falls in love with Alex, a recovering addict. He has his issues but he’s a kind man working to improve his life and hers. He is on the road to being drug free thanks to an effective rehab program and a supporting partner, and he is optimistic of their future. They have 21/2 years together before he dies suddenly from an accidental overdose. Again Eileen is alone and heartbroken so she returns to her daughter, her job, her old life, and the loneliness. Many would crumble here, but not Eileen.
She is determined to live again, to love again, and after 3 years she meets Martin, a divorced father of 2 boys. He isn’t Alex, and she’s no longer the naïve young girl, but she is happy in his company. He is kind and considerate, and he fills the void, and for Eileen that seems to be enough. She recounts these details of her life while attending to my hair and I’m blown away with her honesty. There is no shame or anger in her voice, no regret, but I detect a note of sadness and a weariness that belies her young age. She’s not looking for sympathy or help; she’s just telling it like it is. This is her life and she has accepted it, with all the pain.
Now what strikes me about this story is how Eileen managed to move on each time life dealt her a blow. I know of any number of people who have never recovered from their first loss, never mind endure subsequent losses, but Eileen amazed me with her ability to see the glass half full. “Life is for the living’, she said, matter of factly, “and as long as I’m alive I plan to look for happiness because it may not find me on its’ own.” Her attitude is so positive, so inspiring. So why can’t we apply her strategy to our life issues? Heaven knows we all have them!
Not all of our losses or hurts are like Eileen’s, about romantic relationships, but the effect is the same; devastating, and for Eileen, clearly this life lesson was around relationships and loss. Whatever the setback we encounter, it hurts our hearts and haunts our minds, and many issues cannot be resolved to our satisfaction because we are at the mercy of another’s handling of the situation, which is likely why we are unable to move on. And because the matter has been taken out of our hands we have no choice but to deal with it in the most constructive way we can. Beaten and defeated, this is where many give up.
So! I take a lesson from the pages of Eileens’ life. (she was brought into my life for a reason) I look at my struggles and weigh them against all that is good in my life. Now I admit that isn’t always enough to bring me the escape from old hurts but I have come to accept that whatever happens in my life is meant to happen, good or bad, and while I may never ‘get over it’, I will, as they say, be stronger for it. (don’t you just hate these old clichés?)
Recovery is a return to a normal state of health, mind, or strength, and who’s to say what ‘normal’ is? Maybe we just need to find what it is in our lives that makes us happy, truly happy, and let that dominate (or over- power) our negative experiences. For me, for now, it’s the only path to peace. Every day may not be good, but there is something good in every day. Find it.
Life is good.