I’m so ashamed.
I hate being here.
I miss him.
She hates me.
I can’t let that go.
I’m so embarrassed.
Why not me?
I feel so alone.
I want to go home.
I don’t know what to do.
Those sentences, and many like them, reflect a time when I found myself tangled up in an inability to control what I wished I could. Those moments of sharp-edged emotions seared clean through me. I believed there was no other choice than to grit my teeth and hang on tight.
Time stood still when I didn’t know whether what was happening would end soon, or if what I expected might arrive. Fear, embarrassment, rejection, and shame paralyzed me. I searched for anything that offered a quick-fix release of those feelings. While today I have healthy, reliable, proven options to recalibrate and course-correct negative thinking, that certainly wasn’t always so.
For decades, I relied on an untreated addiction to instant relievers. From a never-ended glass of wine to a sketchy relationship with food to manipulation and lies, the examples of their use are endless. I glossed over what hurt with what helped me believe I wasn’t.
Yet the day came when the magic of that immediate gratification stopped. The consequences of them became unavoidable. I had no choice but to feel the pain and shame and unbearable truth of what I hoped I could avoid.
Then, someone said something that shifted my perspective. The following words helped, and still helps, to exhale when I don’t even realize I’m holding my breath.
“Alison, this is just your right now, not your forever.”
That sage suggestion brings about an immediate sense of calm. I’m reminded that what I feel in any given moment is not how I’ll feel next year, next month or, maybe even within a few minutes. Every blink of the eye and beat of the heart offer opportunities for reconsideration or alternative perspective. We never know when an overheard word, a small gesture, or note of music might bring about an ah-hah moment that could help push away an unwanted feeling and bring about change.
However, even after all these years I’ve heard and reminded people about right now versus forever, I sometimes forget their value. The list of examples whereby this wisdom saved my sanity is long and ever-growing. Even as I type this, situations are simmering that require I repeat those words in a mantra-like fashion.
Seems when emotions run high, what makes sense runs low. This is why I surround myself with people who help me find that middle ground. They remind of the importance that I feel every feeling I once ran from.
I don’t run. I stand strong because I now know that whatever hurts, scares, or belittles me, they are only my right now, not my forever.
A Moment to Breathe
What causes your fear of the truth? Are you reaching for things that offer a quick fix? Will a short-term choice lead to a long-term consequence? Before you do anything, take a slow deep breath. Take another. Is there another option? Can you acknowledge that what you feel right now won’t last forever? If you doubt that’s possible, try this tactical example. Find a pen and piece of paper. Jot down what you’re feeling and the circumstances that led you there. Tuck that piece of paper away and make a note to re-read what you wrote a few days from now. My sense is, the truth will be revealed that how you once felt about that situation changed. Practical experience is our best teacher.
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