“She taught me that life goes on and that I had a choice. To lament what I no longer had or be grateful for what remained.” – The Murder Stone by Louise Penny.
So often in life we think that we need to remember pain. We hold onto the painful things, ignoring the rest of our lives, and live in anguish and anger. This inhibits us from healing, it often destroys relationships that we have that otherwise would have flourished, and it stunts our growth process. People self-identify as “victims” and as “survivors” instead of allowing themselves to thrive, despite whatever the traumatic circumstance may have been. I think that we need a new word…”Thriver”. That way we can celebrate the glory of our conquest instead of celebrating the trauma that once was.
When I disclosed to my mother that I had been molested by a family friend, after her initial shock and insistence that I not tell my father (to this day I do not understand that one), she shared some excellent advice. She said that it was important for me to actually heal from this and to do everything in my power to make sure that it never leaves a lasting scar in my life. She did not coddle me about it. She did not seek legal justice for what was done. Some may gasp at that, but remember that this was waaaay back, and this sort of thing was not in any way acknowledged by authorities. To some degree the authorities are still sadly inept when it comes to things like sexual assaults, but at least for the most part they are trying.
So in telling me what she did, what she was saying was that there was something that was possible beyond the trauma and grief. It was not like my life had to be ruined from that moment onward. Thus I did the healing work that was necessary and never did allow myself to get caught up in the struggle of identifying as only a victim or as only a survivor. I became a Thriver.
But this can be said of other life-altering events as well. When we lose a loved one to death, we need to allow that grief to express (to express is to purge) itself from our system. As it does it makes room for the healing to flow within. When we lose a job we need to allow ourselves to grieve that loss and then make room for the healing to happen. When something completely alters the dynamics within a family system, we may grieve the loss of what always was but treasure that which is remaining.
In shamanic teachings, we are encouraged to not allow ourselves to get caught up in sentiment or nostalgia. These two things are emotional traps. One traps us into what always was and the other traps us into what should have been or could have been. Neither of these allow us to be fully present to the NOW. Sometimes others around us will feel that we are cold because we don’t allow ourselves to get caught in those traps. Not being sentimental or nostalgic does NOT equate to not having compassion. Compassion can flow much more abundantly if we are not caught in emotional traps that do not serve us well.
The quote at the top of this blog entry is one that a dear friend of mine shared with me from a book she was reading. It helped her to move through some changes in her family. And I think that it is a quote that would likely help many people move through challenges in their lives. So I thought I would share that. It has substance. It is not just a pithy of meaningless garble. It is real. REAL. It is profound. And, once embraced, it can completely change how we view our lives.