“Hell is truth seen too late” ~ Thomas Hobbes, 17th century British philosopher
I was feeling strong, fierce…unstoppable!
Many things in my life were turning around, and those hot, piercing pains of past events hadn’t stabbed at my chest for quite some time.
I was happily uploading my brand-new logo on Instagram for my rebrand-my-company-and-make-it-all-mine project, when suddenly, a random little thought tickled my mind: “Heyyyyy! You haven’t looked at your ex’s account for months! You have no idea what’s going on with him. I bet you can just pop on his page and have a little peek, and it won’t even affect you!”
Game on, little mind!
A bit of time had passed since our breakup, during which I’d had the miraculous discovery of my own preciousness, and had fallen head over heels in love with myself.
I knew my strength. I knew my power. I knew who I was!
So, what harm could there possibly be in seeing a couple of pictures?
Humming along to the radio, I merrily typed in his name.
Boom. There it was. One post, a collage of pictures. My ex and his (new? next?) girlfriend. She was cute, young. She was smiling, but not a full-blown smile showing her teeth.
One of the pictures was an awkward, dressed-up-to-go-out picture, where they both looked kind of uncomfortable. Another picture was almost exactly like one of me and him on a motorcycle that his mom had framed on her bookshelf—except this time, it was that girl and him. (Had she taken ours down? Thrown it away?)
And the pièce de résistance: a picture of three sunny, smiling faces…his, hers, and his mom’s. The woman I used to call Mom. The woman who no longer speaks to me or my daughter, even though I was more involved with her on a daily basis than I was with my own mom.
And then there was a comment from a woman I knew and liked: “Happy looks good on you!”
And there it was in all its wretched glory. All of the pain, anger, rejection, confusion, abandonment, betrayal, and sadness was suddenly crushing me with its weight. The multitude of questions—all of those damned unanswered questions—taunted me. The knives in my chest and the heavy rock in my belly returned with a vengeance.
All of it came rushing back with neither care nor concern for my recent growth, success, and self-love. It was all there in monstrous, spectacular form, available and waiting for me with baited breath.
Did I miss him? No. Did I wish I was her? Not at all. I love who I am totally and completely. I’d never want to trade this goodness in to become someone else. Was I jealous of her? Not in the least. My relationship with him ran its course. That book had been closed. And while it was a nice story to read, and had a fantastically dramatic ending, I have begun another story now. And I am realizing that there are so many more amazing books out there…an infinite number of stories waiting for my discovery.
So what the hell?
Like most people, my life has been filled with tumultuous times. Seriously. It’s like my comfortable resting point has been factory-set to fear, sadness, pain, and abandonment.
There lives deep within me an old story called “nobody wants to keep me in their lives.”
Whenever I get peaceful, happy, and excited for life, some event happens—usually something external—and my apple cart not only gets tipped over, but smashed to smithereens. And that old story begins to make some noise.
But this day, the day I looked at his Instagram, was an exception. No external event caused by someone else was happening to me. On this day, I’d done it to myself. I went rogue: just me and my monkey mind, playing a little game.
There are so many things that I yearn to say to my ex and his family, and about them, and so many things that my heart, soul, and the hurt little girl inside me wishes we could hear them say. When I pay attention to that, it feels so powerfully massive. Larger than life. Bigger than me. Impossible. And that pain is always available and patiently waiting for me, for whenever I let my mind carelessly dance in that direction.
Why would anyone choose that?
“Your mind isn’t looking to make you happy. It’s trying to help you survive. YOU need to create happiness.” ~ Tony Robbins
Our ego, our mind, isn’t this bad thing we need to abolish. It serves to protect us. That’s its entire purpose. It wants us to stay alive, so it creatively conceives a plethora of ways in which we could be hurt and immediately sounds off alarms. Sometimes, those alarms are real, and we need to heed them and take action. But not always. In fact, I would venture to say not even most of the time.
Every time I fry up bacon on my stove in my small apartment and forget to turn on my hood fan, my smoke detector thinks there is an emergency and we must leave right away. It screams that my daughter and I are in dire jeopardy and it wants to save us. Hearing it makes my heart race and causes a bit of anxiety, even though I know there isn’t a fire.
However, if I reacted to that smoke detector and jetted out immediately, do you know what would happen? We would not only miss the deliciousness of perfectly cooked, crispy bacon, but the abandoned pan would be left unattended, causing the bacon to burn, and eventually, it would cause a fire.
This is so freaking important! Can you feel it?
In this scenario, what would cause the dreaded fire? Believing the alarm was true!
This is the way our world works. When we believe in something, we start to see it in our reality. We are powerful, magical creators and these are the rules of our game.
The five-alarm fire bell shrieking in my brain while I looked at my ex’s page was a false alarm. My discerning ego wanted to protect me and keep me from harm. It didn’t want me going through stuff I had already been through, and looking at those pictures was making me relive horribly devastating feelings.
Those feelings and experiences weren’t happening now. They were just shadows of my past. And just like when my smoke detector barks at me about my smoking bacon, I don’t have to react. I could just smile to myself and say, “Thank you for watching out for me, but I’ve got a good handle on this,” and continue on with my day. And so can you.
That said, I have decided that there is no longer a reason for me to ever visit my ex’s social media again. My life is too precious, too beautiful, to waste lingering in the past.
Even more important, though, is the fact that with or without Instagram, there will always be pain there, ready and available for me. I can wallow in it and re-experience the disaster by reacting to the false alarm. Or I can give it a friendly nod and be on my way.
Just like when the smoke alarm goes off, I can expect to feel a slight rush of adrenaline, but as long as I keep my mind focused on what is true, it’ll just be a small disruption to my peace. All I ever have to do is return to the reality of this moment.
“When testing situations, you need to understand that the situation is not you, that the other person is not you – and moreover, that those things are not necessarily things that you can even control in the moment. The bottom line is that you must separate yourself from those situations and separate yourself from the mind that is getting upset around those situations.” ~ T. Harv Eker