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Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Permission to Fall Apart..and Grace for the Journey

Cutting Yourself Some Slack

I’ve been talking to some different people lately, who are struggling with a variety of issues, some divorce related, some not.  And, of course, I am dealing with my own period of grief, too.  As these conversations have developed, I have found myself remembering some words of wisdom a friend shared with me during the time of my divorce, that I thought worth passing on.

In the months following my divorce, I really struggled.  I didn’t want or seek the divorce, but found myself in that situation anyway.  There were other factors that affected my mood, as well, but the bottom line was that life was very hard, I was very discouraged and listless, and I had no clear direction of what I would do next, except that I knew I needed to do my best to look out for my kids.  I was very frustrated that I didn’t feel like I was moving ahead, and that the sleepless nights and daily worries seemed neverending. 

It was in that context I was visiting on the phone with my friend, expressing my frustration that I wasn’t able to get back on track, that it was just so hard.  The response that meant a lot to me was this:  maybe you need to yourself permission to NOT get over this quickly, to allow it to take some time, to heal slowly. 

Have you ever thought about the importance of giving yourself permission for things to not be so great?  
Permission to not be able to handle it so well?  
Permission to fall apart?  
Permission to struggle?  
Permission to not know all the answers?  
Permission to feel devastated and in need of time to heal? 

Dumb as it may sound, this very thing made a huge difference for me.  I had never been through this experience of divorce before, and yet, I had created expectations of how long it would take me to get over it, and how one OUGHT to be able to move on in life.  

Those expectations had no basis in experience, no basis in reality…they were just my internal best guesses, and because I believed them, it created a sense of not doing well enough.   Once I was able to let go of my expectations, I was free to deal with the realities of what actually was, rather than the fiction of what I thought OUGHT to be. 

In some ways, this is the same idea as the Biblical concept of grace.  It is the notion expressed in the modern phrase “cut me some slack.”  Sometimes we are better at doing that for other people than we are for ourselves (although, I know plenty of people who give themselves lots of slack, and have no grace for others, too).  As in many other life experiences, we face divorce as individuals, and sometimes we simply have to feel our way through them, because they aren’t how we might think they are from the outside looking in.  

So if you are struggling with something in your life, maybe you need to give yourself some permission, too.  For me, it was permission for the struggle to take longer than I would have preferred.  But once I had the permission, I discovered that the healing that came was genuine, because I didn't force it into some artificial schedule of my own creation.  


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