The situation can go two ways when the universe decides to hurl a spanner your way. One, you immediately pick yourself up from the ground, shake off the throbbing pain, and move on. Or, second, you stay where you are and ride the waves of pain. Number one is the ideal way to deal with the pain in life – pain, after all, is the flip side of joy. One should never let, as author Kurt Vonnegut said once and I am paraphrasing him, let the world make you hard and bitter. But self-healing is easier said than done. Admittedly, there are people who are quick to recover from life’s cruel jokes, flicking off acrimoniousness as if flicking off lint from a jacket. Who doesn’t want to be such a person who cruises through life?
Conversely, there are those who are overwhelmed with the pain. For some the pain is a slow mind- and heart-numbing experience while it is instantaneous numbing for others. Unfortunately, I belong to the first group of people who take a little longer to repossess a vim for life. As if to add insult to injury, the spanners thrown at me are laced with sardonic jabs. A life-altering experience turned me jaded, turning me skeptical of men and relationships having been duped by one. It took several years before my heart thawed to the possibility of opening up to another human being. Riding the pain was the sole therapy I did until time healed the wound and before I knew I took the risk again.
A risk is a risk. Like a spanner situation, the gamble can go south or not. I don’t regret taking the risk; I just mourn the less-than-amicable turn it took. This time I rode the wave of pain briefly and embarked on a journey of healing quickly by heeding the words of wise women including my inner voice.
1. Follow your heart.
This advice is from my gal-pal, Theresia, who, without judging him – I still consider him my wonderful man despite everything – said I should follow my heart. There is no denying that I still feel for him, but at this point my heart is telling me to let him go for now.
2. Be strong.
I got this advice from a buddy of mine, Vissy, who also has been through tumultuous times. I practice this by steeling myself emotionally and refocusing my energies on something else like myself and work. There is, I tell myself repeatedly, no point in wallowing in self-pity.
3. It is time that you are happy.
This is the other advice I got from Vissy who was a witness to the cataclysmal period in my life several years ago. I recite it like a mantra when I feel the icy presence of sadness.
4. Cry all you and then stop.
This one is from my mother who sat me down aeons ago after a break up I had. There really is no point in crying over spilt milk albeit one good cry session does wonders, but more than one is bad for one’s physical and mental health. I have done my crying – literally and figuratively.
5. Every heartbreak is different. You will come out of it fine.
This one came from my long-time friend, Patricia, who has been a constant witness to my heartbreaks. I must have burnt ears countless of times with the phone calls I made through the decades of my friendship. I take comfort in her words because it pushes me to shift my mindset and see the positive slant to everything.
6. Keep the door open.
My gal-pal Nina wrote this in one of our Hangout chats. I have shut the door on my wonderful man, but I haven’t locked it and throw away the key. He just needs to knock if he wants to enter my life again.
7. Have faith and believe that everything will fall into place.
This is not an advice that was given to me. It is a lesson I took from working with my boss, Ibu Luh Gede Puspini Rini, through the years at Global Prestasi School. She is a formidable tower of patience and a deep well of hope and faith that never fails to astound me. When the chips are down she never throws in the towel and soldiers on to get the people or project on the right path. I am slowly rebuilding my well of hope and faith that got depleted through the years of disappointments and heartaches. The same goes for patience.
8. Acknowledge your feelings.
This came from a commencement speech delivered by Filipino ballerina Lisa Macuja-Elizalde two years ago at the Ateneo de Manila University. She shared the eight things that led her to her current position, which is a successful woman despite not having a university degree, and one of the eight was addressing one’s feelings. It made sense because healing won’t begin if one doesn’t sort out the roiling emotions, identify them, and weed out the ones that are noxious. Emotions are powerful and can dictate the course of action which is why getting a grip on them is vital. It is important to feel and go through the emotions, but it is equally important to not let them control one completely.
I am angry because he believed something of me that is not true and, to make it worse, didn’t want to listen to me. Worst even, he shut me out of his life completely. These thoughts still leave me feeling as I have been sucker punched but I have learnt to divest my mind of such thoughts after admitting them briefly.
9. Go to your happy place.
Lastly, this one is from my inner voice. I have a few happy places to run to: Helios, the gym I go to at Bekasi Cyber Park; a quiet corner to read; my blog (writing is cathartic for me); and Starbucks when it just opened in the morning – the smell of coffee and the sound of jazz wafting through the cafe are invigorating plus the place isn’t packed with coffee lovers yet.
The decision to let my wonderful man go was fraught with difficulty and heartache. I struggle through each day not to think about the beautiful time we had together and not harden my heart against the world because of the hurtful words he said. But my self- healing wouldn’t have started if I didn’t. I am walking away because there isn’t anyone to walk towards to.