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"In the depth of winter, I final...

Posted Sep 13 2008 12:22am

“In the depth of winter, I finally learned that there was within me an invincible summer.” - Albert Camus

It is in our darkest moments, when we feel the weakest, when we feel that we cannot go on one moment longer, that our true tests happen.

It is also the time when our true self is revealed to us. Our egos and everyday masks are pulled away from us. When we are raw and aching and convinced we will not make it, we are left with ourselves and our pain. The unbearable pain of human sorrow from loss, of uncertainty as to what the future brings, of how to repair ourselves after someone or something has turned our entire lives to shambles. It is here, in the dark, in the pain, in the complete collapse of all we love and all we know, that we come face to face what with what we are truly made of and find the will to go forward.

These are deep, dark and truly frightening moments. We feel bereft and alone, anxious and frightened, unable to be comforted even for a moment. We know not where our salvation or our healing will come from, if it comes at all.

We are not sure of anything except the searing pain in our souls and in our hearts. We cannot think, we cannot make plans, we cannot hold a conversation. We want to take to our bed and never come out. To go to sleep and never wake up. But sleep is impossible and we cannot wish ourselves well and we cannot pray ourselves into immediate wholeness. And we think that is SO unfair. And adds to our pain.

When we have a loss, we feel that loss deeply and undeniably. But if we have not dealt with other losses, every one comes rushing back to us, reminding us that we have not dealt with our losses. We start to fear loss and begin to accept unacceptable behavior from unacceptable people…anything to keep them from walking out…anything to keep us from experiencing loss.

If we have been abandoned in the past, every new abandonment brings up the old abandonment, reminds us of everyone who has ever left. We don’t just feel this new abandonment, we feel them all. Add one more to the pile. Everyone leaves me. The hurt is incredible.

The only way to “feel better” eventually is to stop, in the deepest darkest moment, and face the losses. If you try to avoid this one too, it will just come back to plague you later on. Acknowledge each loss and let them go. Face each abandonment and know that it was what it was, and you have survived those and you will survive this one too.

Journal. I recommend that everyone journal on a daily basis but this is so important when you are hurting. When I was a therapist, my clients would roll their eyes when I said this. In seminars I see the exasperation when I say it. But it is healing and it is an incredible tool. When you are in pain you should journal at least once a day…free form writing…just let it out.

For the person you have lost acknowledge, IN YOUR JOURNAL, all your uncommunicated feelings, what you ask forgiveness for, what you forgive them for and whatever you didn’t tell them.

You don’t have to (and should not) try to do this all in one day, you cannot heal a loss in one day…and you can only do so much in each 24 hours. Spend 10-30 minutes on your list. Then close the book or the computer.

Get up and do something relaxing or invigorating, whichever one feels better to you. If you feel the need to say more things, to have another journaling session, do it later on…2 or 3 times a day…but know when to take a break and be gentle with yourself during the “break” times.

Go easy with yourself when you are grieving…learn to cut yourself some slack. Insist that others cut you some slack, if not by words, by actions. Don’t be the one who is always there. Don’t go places you don’t want to go or do things you don’t want to do.

Know that it is hard work but in order to resolve the losses, all the losses, it has to be done. Allow yourself all your emotions, cry, get angry, get irrational. Just don’t harm yourself or anyone else. If you think you want to, GET PROFESSIONAL help. There are crisis lines or go to your local emergency room. Every emergency room in every hospital can deal with emotional crisis.

If you feel too sad or angry, let your emotions out in your journal, to your friends, to your therapist.

It is true that in your darkest moment, you will find the invincible summer…if you use this time as an opportunity for growth…to become the person you were meant to be. In this dark, dark time you will find that you are much stronger than you thought you were… you will find a way out of the sorrow and the pain…you will find yourself tackling this loss and one day you will wake up and realize you feel better and that the worst is over.

You will go on and you will find the strength and the will to not only survive, but to thrive. You CAN get there from here…a little bit, one day at a time, in small steps. You can do it.

Find your invincible summer.

It is there. Wait for it.

Work for it.

Enjoy it when it comes.


- Susan J. Elliott 12/27/06

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