First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win. – Mahatma Gandhi
It’s been a tough week. In fact, the last month has been challenging. The expression, “What doesn’t kill you will only make you stronger,” was in jeopardy of being proven untrue several times over the past few weeks.
There were moments when I thought the stress would do me in. I felt defeated. I felt a disturbing sadness not experienced in a long time. I felt alone.
Our past can provide a reliable prediction for our present. When I was a boy, the cruelty of the other children made me feel alone, too. Growing up in a Southern state in the late 1960s was difficult. I was the odd kid out. The kid, who wore glasses, had a speech impediment and an eccentric family, was the kid picked last for the playground games.
This made me feel sad and it made me feel alone. One part of me knew the truth but the other part of my soul felt shame and embarrassment. The loneliness of my life was sometimes more than I could bear.
So, over the past month I understood where my feelings were coming from. My job has put me back on the school playground – in clear view for others to criticize and ignore. There are some feelings I will never forget.
Thankfully, the recent events have clearly not killed me. But, I’m not quite ready to say I have been made stronger. In the times of my quiet desperation, I prayed and asked for some relief. I was angry because the relief was slow in coming. What I didn’t realize, however, was His touch was there. I was just too tired to feel it.
I’m being nudged right now.
Even though I have been asking for absolute answers and for the pain to leave immediately, I’m beginning to find the patience to realize there is something more important than dealing with a work-place crisis; I’m being prepared to heal the little boy inside of me.
By healing his heart, mine will find the confidence to go after the life I deserve to have. I just had to stop long enough to hear this. Clarity is beginning to settle over me and the loneliness is dissipating. Sadness is being replaced by hope.
I do feel the nudges and they are telling me:
Feel the pain
Our minds have a way of protecting us. Whenever we are hurting, it’s natural to try to get rid of whatever is causing the pain. However, the need to eliminate the pain could only set us up for more frustration and anxiety – especially if it doesn’t happen as quickly as we would like.
We may begin to panic and believe the only way we will feel happy again is when the pain and sadness leave. This type of thinking will only exacerbate our anxiety. Instead, true healing will occur when we face our pain and deal with it to the best of our ability.
To do this, is a matter of balance. Take a little time each day, maybe 30 minutes or so, to sit with the source of your pain and sadness. Allow yourself to really feel the emotions. Talk to yourself and assure yourself that you are allowed to grieve. Talk to the little girl of boy inside of you and offer the promise you are here now to take care of them and to love them. Tell them they are no longer alone.
Give yourself grace and mercy. Offer forgiveness to those responsible for the pain. You cannot change or heal what you do not acknowledge. Recognize what needs to change in your life and begin to create a picture of what that healing looks like to you.
Sadness is a slow burn
Except in crisis situations, sadness has a way of coming over us slowly. It happens gradually. It’s methodical pace is cruel because sometimes we don’t see it creeping in until it’s too late.
I knew when the sadness arrived for me. I lost my motivation to take care of myself and do the things I enjoy. Instead, I surrendered to the sadness and allowed it to have power over me. I got sick, I stopped working out, and I stopped believing in myself.
I became frightened that my present would never change and I would always be damaged beyond repair.
Understanding this process is an important step to resolving it. I can’t flip a switch and claim I’m no longer sad or in pain. But, I can begin to do the things that will help reclaim my dignity and sense of self. I can do the things that will nurture the little boy inside of me and assure him there is love and promise – even if it’s still a little ways out.
Each day, if I do only one thing that will help me reestablish my self-confidence then at least I’m in the position of having power over my sadness. My power will continue to grow stronger and allow me to begin the process of claiming my life without the baggage of loneliness or sadness weighing it down.
Everyday is full of hope
The enemy of your soul waits and listens for your desperation. When you are the most discouraged and can no longer see or feel what hope looks like, the enemy pounces on your confidence, shreds your dreams, and casts doubt over your ability to find the peace and happiness you are seeking.
When you feel alone and give up hope, you give in to the temptation to quit, to surrender, and to just stop trying. There are many reasons why many of us choose to give up. We either run out of time and energy or we just can’t feel the sadness beginning to slip away.
The day you choose to give up hope, will be the day before you find it, but you would never know it. The enemy will win. Instead, remember everyday is full of hope. The sun does indeed rise on His time each morning as a reminder of the life we have before us.
We are given the gift of a new day to tell us there is now light in place of darkness. The sun’s warmth will provide fuel for our spirit if we allow its energy to enter our body and rekindle our heart. No matter how painful the sadness or loneliness is in your life; hope is your companion and will walk beside you throughout the journey – no matter how long it takes.
Turn to love
You are not alone; although it may feel that way at times. When the pain and the sadness become too much to bear, remember to ask for help; to ask for some support and understanding; and to ask for some love.
There’s help all around you. Professionals are trained to offer support and comfort. Reach out to family and friends. Turn to your faith. Turn to love.
Love is the bridge between the feelings of loneliness and hope. It spans the space in between with compassion and patience. Love sustains us and provides the endurance necessary to keep moving forward, no matter the obstacles.
Love will help me finish my healing. Love is providing the power behind what is nudging me.
The past several weeks have been difficult. However, I think I’m ready to begin claiming new strength since the events have not killed me. I believe I will use this newfound strength to align my heart closer to the truth. The truth tells me I didn’t deserve the taunting I received as a boy. The truth also tells me I don’t deserve it right now.
I will pick up little Alex and hold him tight in my arms. I will listen and wipe away his tears. I will tell him that I love him and he will always be safe with me. I will tell the frightened child he is more than enough and his value is immeasurable.
I will help him replace the sadness. I will never let go of his hand until he says it’s OK to do so. I will make sure he never feels alone again.
Need to talk to someone right now?
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a 24-hour, toll-free suicide prevention service available to anyone in suicidal crisis. If you need help, please dial 1-800-273-TALK (8255).