Over a decade ago we invested everything in a dream and I do mean everything; our home, our finances, all of our time, but most of all our faith and hope. The dream was tied to our spiritual journey and everything we believed in was wrapped up in this dream. Long story short, we were betrayed and it all fell apart in a devastating way. It was unbelievable to us that this outcome was even possible, much less that it actually happened. We were shaken to our core. Our whole belief system had to be reevaluated. We were completely in shock and the grief was so severe there were days we could barely get out of bed.
Fast forward 10 years. We have started over in a new place with a new outlook. It has taken us 10 years and a lot of hard work to get here. We had one couple who were faithful to us and supported us throughout the whole ordeal. Without them we would not have survived. Everything in our life had to be reassessed and rebuilt – from finances to faith.
I can tell you without any doubt that if I could go back and choose to avoid that experience I ABSOLUTELY WOULD! It was bad enough that even with the good I have learned I would NOT do it again. It cost us years of our lives and our children paid a terrible price, but we acted in good faith and there are no guarantees in this life. Sometimes things that seem impenetrable break. Sometimes relationships that seem solid tear apart. Sometimes we give our very best to something and through no fault of our own, it all blows up. Even if we bring a situation on ourselves through bad choices, there is still the question of what to do when the bottom falls out.
Life just doesn’t always make sense or go the way we think it will. So what do we do when life betrays us, when friends fail, sickness comes, plans fall apart, or we get thrown a curve ball? Here are a few things that helped us get through the hard times. I hope they might be helpful for you when you need them:
Remember what is true. When you are in the midst of a major disruption in life it is easy to lose perspective and forget what you know. Things often feel out of proportion in a crisis. Find some time to sit quietly and write down what you know to be true, about yourself, your life, the situation, and what you believe. Looking closely at these things will help you regain balance. Keep the list with you and review it when you lose focus.
Be compassionate toward yourself. Often in a crisis we can feel angry, upset, and confused. We can start to blame ourselves for being naive, vulnerable, weak, or shortsighted, or we blame someone else and feel like the victim. Either way we can end up being harsh toward ourselves. Staying in a compassionate place is vital to healing. The truth is, most everyone is just doing the best they can – so are you.
Find a safe place to work through it. You will need someone to talk to who you can be totally honest with. You will need a place where you can feel free to be angry or sad, confused, or whatever you are feeling. Look for a friend or a counselor to help you. Reach out to your spiritual family or the people who provide safety for you.
Look for beauty every day. There were many days when the only thing I felt like I could trust was the beauty that was around me. It was the only thing that helped me feel like life might be worth it again. Look for things that lift your heart and inspire you – seek them every day. Establish this routine and stick with it. The world can get pretty crazy but to stare into the face of a flower or to observe the sunset is restorative. DO NOT underestimate the power in this habit!
Let Love in. It is easy to shut down when we are hurt. It is natural to want to protect ourselves from pain and suffering, but when we shut the pain out we also shut the love out. Identify the sources of love in your life. Be deliberate to let that love in despite the hurt. Accept that to love or care means that we are vulnerable, but vulnerability is critical to living a full, authentic life. This video by Brene Brown addresses the importance of vulnerability and is well worth your time.
As you begin to heal, be open to a new start. There is a period of grief then healing that is required when life is turned upside down. It takes what it takes. You cannot rush healing. What it takes one person to recover might not at all be what you need. Mark and I were so deeply wounded that it took many years for us to heal and in some ways we are still working on it. I often felt embarrassed that it was taking so long, and I felt like no one understood how devastated I really was. If you will welcome it, healing will come in its time. As you are restored, be open to change. A new start is possibility and opportunity. Life may bring you something totally unexpected. Be open to starting over and give life a chance to surprise you.
If you are in this place of pain and crisis right now I wish Goodness for you. I encourage you to try to see the Goodness around you every day. There are small things, little moments, beauty and love that you will see if you train your eye to catch it. Take hold of these moments and let them help balance the hurt you are feeling. Let me remind you that the human spirit is resilient and that you have reason to hope. Sometimes a crushing blow is making way for a new thing. Take the time it takes to grieve and heal – to short-circuit this process will hurt you in the long run. As you heal, be open to a fresh start and possibility. You never know what Goodness is before you.
What can you do to cope with life's disappointment?