But what you haven’t heard me say is that I am realizing, a year later, that I did. I lost a portion of myself. It was an idealistic and naïve portion, to be sure, but there’s something to mourn in the midst of that. I’ve become a wiser, kinder, stronger person as a result of that loss, but I will never recover that portion again.
As it pertains to the professional world, I’ve learned that I have to take care of myself rather than expecting others to have in mind my best interest and, sadly, that not everyone can be trusted. This is what everyone eventually should learn, I suspect, but I had to learn it the hard way. The fact that everyone should be kind and generous doesn’t mean they are. In fact, they frequently aren’t. And with regard to the struggles I've faced in my relationship, I’ve had to learn that Mr. Wonderful’s needs and struggles are as important as my own, sometimes more than. And that, too, is of critical importance, as there is no place for ego in happiness. You can pound your fist and say, “I deserve this, and you’re not giving it!” but there’s a fine line between what they are able to give and don’t and what they aren’t capable of giving at that moment. We have to be sensitive to those things, and we have to be compassionate in those moments. We can’t demand that our partners be super human.
But as I’ve come to grips with these losses – the loss of innocence on one hand, the inability to always get what I want on the other – I’ve reached another conclusion: neither of those losses requires that I be bitter. In the crucible of our lives and in our most painful experiences, we can either grow as a result of the lessons we’ve learned or resent the fact that we’ve had to learn them. There are no other options. The first requires my oft-stated openness to acceptance, the latter thrives on a cynicism that believes life is a series of constant disappointments.
Fourteen months after I lost my job and a year after grief threatened the foundation of my relationship, I’ve run the full gamut of grief. I’ve encountered shock and denial, pain and guilt, anger and bargaining, depression, the upward turn, reconstruction and, finally, acceptance. I’ve fought for control, screamed at the heavens, studied the theoretical reasons behind certain developments, battled loneliness and come to grips with the new life that I now live as a result of the aforementioned losses. And now the clouds have lifted. The only thing left to do is to rebuild, to take the next step and the one after it...
This has been the hardest part of loss for me: figuring out what’s next. When there is no longer an external crisis to fight, life can feel painfully empty and meaningless. But that doesn’t mean it is: it just means it’s another step in the process. And we can't demand, in turn, that equally good things happen. I now have finished that obstacle course as well, and I’m rebuilding in the space that prior tragedy left vacant.
It feels good. It feels gradual. It feels necessary.
With that, I am closing out the commentary portion of this project. You may get a little more explanation from me, but not much – because I don’t feel the need to dwell on my past losses anymore. I’ve survived them, I’ve mourned them, and now I’m moving past them. I am really, really proud of this development.
That doesn’t mean you won’t hear my last 40 lessons or be able to see me finish out my 500 reasons. You will. It just means that I’m going to let those lessons speak for themselves.
Thank you for supporting me on this journey to healing. And when you go through your own struggles and pave your own way through the pain you've suffered, I would encourage you to keep going, and I would say this:
- Slow down. (lesson 11, reason 461)
Choose compassion. (lesson 12, reason 462)
Take a deep breath. (lesson 13, reason 463)
Be patient. (lesson 14, reason 464)
PS: It has come to my attention that the post for lesson #8, reason 458 was accidentally deleted. It was this: There is no place for ego in happiness.