We all know suffering. We all know pain. We all know trauma.
This winter I knew all three. The love of my life left me abruptly. I was crushed, destroyed and decimated. I wanted to die and I believed that I was going to die, either from the pain or by my own hand.
There is nothing that can protect you from experiencing moments of despair, hopelessness and misery. It is inevitable. It will happen. For some people, which I think includes most of us, this will happen again and again throughout our lives.
So, let’s face it; sometimes we struggle.
Step 1: Acknowledge and accept that you have always survived the terrible, painful and devastating things you have faced throughout your life.
If you are reading this, you have transcended horrendous suffering. You have stayed alive. You are a fighter. The reality is that we all have faced trauma and despair, throughout our lives, and we have survived it, and the key is to be able to acknowledge and accept that this is true, that you have made it today, more skilled than ever before, in managing the avalanches that life presents to us.
Throughout my life experience, I have known abject suffering. Even during these past few days, I have known true, deep and debilitating pain. I know what trauma is and I know that it has damaged me. However, today and every day that my heart continues to beat, I choose on a daily, hourly and second or split-second basis to manage the suffering and pain that rages within me.
Step 2: We have choices to make. We decide how we deal with the painful and difficult situations we face.
Even as life throws us curve-balls and disruptions to our peace, happiness and wellness often lurk around every corner; it is our choice how we deal with what is happening. We often feel as if we have no choice in how we deal with some of the situations we face in our daily lives. The reality is that we do have choices to make and we make them all day every day.
Sometimes the choices we have to make are unfair, however; ultimately, we are in control of how we handle all that life throws at us. This doesn’t mean that this is an easy thing to do however it is something that we must do, and when we do; it can make all the difference.
I do know that there are times in which life beats us to within seconds of losing everything that we love, care about and cherish. I know this so personally and dreadfully, and as we are all made of blood, bones and tissue; our hearts can fail us when the pain becomes too much to bear. I have known this nightmare during the past sixty days and it has killed me, yet, I continue to breathe.
Step 3: Having a safe person to call or meet with who can act as a sounding board for a reality check, can help reduce and relieve the intensity of what you may be experiencing.
When we are upset, angry or hurt, or have been set off or triggered, our ability to truly see situations is skewed. Having someone who you know is levelheaded and who you trust, and who has previously agreed to accept a call for a reality check, can radically change how you are feeling about a situation. Taking this step has saved my life repeatedly as well as help me preserve many good things in my life, including friendships and jobs.
Yes, it is true—sometimes I struggle. Sometimes, I struggle so terribly that I begin to believe that my life is not worth living and that I am a worthless person who will never know peace, happiness and stability. Yes, sometimes I struggle, and today is one of those days.
Thankfully, today my pain is much less severe than it was four weeks ago, when some moments, I was frightened that my heart would stop beating. The pain and suffering had consumed me to such a degree that dying felt like it was the best hope for me to have peace.
Step 4: Sometimes you have to do what you have to do, and not everything we do to cope with intense pain and hurt is going to receive the thumbs up from family, friends and providers.
If you know that there are certain things you can do to get through the unbearable moments of despair or suffering, even as others may frown upon it, as long as you are safe, it can be okay. Sometimes eating to excess, having a pizza or Chinese takeout, or whatever food you choose, although not healthy for you, can help you get through those toughest of moments.
Some people drink or get high, some cut themselves and others exercise excessively, however, while there may be hell to pay, the goal is to stay alive and make it to the next day. Sometimes we must allow ourselves to be a human being and do what we need to.
Sometimes I struggle and this time was no different, and for death to have such appeal to me terrifies me into speechlessness and flowing tears. I had few options. I could fight for my life, for my happiness, stability and peace or I could give up.
Step 5: I had to forgive myself.
I had to forgive myself for everything. All the terrible things I said and did required my forgiveness. I needed to forgive myself, for if I did not, I would have destroyed myself. I made a lot of mistakes. I contributed to the crisis and I was responsible for the severity of the situation. I have to live the rest of my life knowing that my behavior and my actions are in many ways, responsible for losing the love of my life. Forgiving myself was the only way I could get through the torturous pain I was being consumed in.
Forgiveness saved my life.
Author: Craig Lewis
Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photo: Acy Varlan/Flickr