“Life is difficult”. This is a great truth.M.Scott Peck.
There have been dark feelings surrounding my divorce including frustration, sadness, loneliness, regret, anger, fear, anxiety, and despair. All of these have caused me intense pain. I have gradually learned my freedom from pain lies in living by the truth, and the path to truth in itself involves pain. . .
1. Delayed Gratification
In the beginning my pain was so intense I just wanted to get rid of it, run from it or cover it up. That was my focus, rather than facing the pain and the feeling behind it. For example it was much easier distracting myself in pleasurable activities (or ‘relief’ measures) such as watching movies, walking, and spending time with loved ones; than to face my pain.
To face it, it was necessary for me to temporarily fore-go those ‘relief’ measures in order to feel it. Once I took time to truly feel the pain I found that, whilst pain itself is a single symptom, the feelings behind are multi-factorial. My pain has not all been sadness of my past. A lot of pain has been anxiety over present tasks and fear of the future. Dealing with overwhelming practical present issues or planning my future require totally different techniques than dealing with unresolved emotional issues of the past. Until I spent time facing and feeling my pain, it was all one big blur. When the pain hits me now, I feel it. I am more able to separate the differing feelings of sadness, anxiety or fear; the past, present and future issues behind those feelings; and deal with them in an appropriate manner. Facing and feeling pain has clearly been the first step in resolving any issue behind it.
2. Acceptance of Responsibility
Whilst situations may have been thrust upon me, it is only me who can respond. If I remain stuck in blaming my circumstances for where I am, I will never savour the pleasure of getting to a better place.
For example, if I remain stuck in ‘why do I have to deal with all this mess’ attitude, rather than sorting through the 100 archive boxes in the shed, I will not be able to move on to the new life that beckons me. The same goes for the last remaining pieces of the property settlement process; and the planning of my future. It is up to me.
Again, I need to fore-go pleasures to bowl over these overwhelming tasks, which will involve further pain. However, I will then be able to bask in the glory of their completion.
3. Dedication To The Truth
Some divorced people years later are still in the dream of the happy-ever-after.when their reality has changed. I do not blame them. Facing reality is painful. Acceptance of my own reality and its truth was painful. Dealing with my reality of a single almost-sixty year old with a risky financial base was difficult. However, that is the truth of my present which I can change. It is not the illusion of my past which I cannot.
While the child inside me still cries out ‘give me relief’, ‘let me escape’, ‘let me build a fortress to shut out the pain’; the truth is I know that it is not ‘relief’ that will set me free, but challenge. The solving of my problems will set me free, not the deadening of my pain.
Life is for living and forging ahead will require a balance of: delaying some pleasures in order to solve my problems, yet still living joyously in the present, and keeping an ever watchful eye on the future; balancing needs, responsibilities and goals; accepting my responsibilities, yet rejecting those that are not mine; and holding on to those things that serve me well, while giving up those that do not.
Balancing will not be easy. It may even be painful. However, ridding myself of past illusions, seeing the truth, embracing the reality of my present, and focussing on solutions to rather than the pain of my problems will free me for a challenging and exciting future.
1.Quote and insight from The Road Less Travelled’ by M. Scott Peck.