We’ve all been there, haven’t we? Some who are reading these words right now may find themselves under a dark, heavy sadness.
Unfortunately there are no magic words. If there were, I’d bottle them and give them away. You can’t GOOGLE “How to be happy,” early in the morning, click on the first result and be on top of the world by noon.
However, there is hope. There’s always hope. For every one person who is, at this very moment, in the shadow of sadness, there is another stepping out of the shadow. For every one person who is on the verge of crying, there is another who is suddenly having trouble containing their laughter. One can’t remember how happiness feels and the other can’t completely remember how sadness feels.
I only hope that something within these words can help you find your way out of your own personal shadow.
The Heavy Love Seat
Not long ago, we got a new couch and love seat. They are incredibly heavy. I remember when my husband and our daughter Stephany’s boyfriend (Rusty) moved them into the house. Each looked like he’d just ran a marathon – while packing a bison on his back. These are strong guys, mind you, but the furniture nearly did them in!
Last week, while watching an episode of the Golden Girls (an afternoon ritual for me and our cat, Alexa), I decided that the love seat needed to move back some. I love to do yoga while watching the Girls, and my feet kept hitting the love seat. With great heaving, I pushed its ridiculously heavy girth backward.
I noticed that it had left indentions in the carpet. How could it not, when it was the size of a bison? I’m nothing if not anal, so I tried to force the crushed carpet to rise to the occasion. I coaxed, fluffed, and tried to make it look as good as it did pre-burden.
It was having none of it.
A few days went by, however, and the carpet seemed to lift its spirits. The spot of the weighty burden can’t even be detected. It’s as though the carpet told me, “I just needed a little time.”
It was like a huge bison standing on grass, then slowly moving away. The “injured” grass beneath his heavy feet slowly heals and rises to blow in the wind once more. For the grass that was once crushed beneath the beautiful bison’s weight to stay crumples would be perfectly ridiculous and would serve no purpose whatsoever.
In “My Life’s History,” Grandma Moses wrote, “Then Anna was born, so I had four babies to care for. But we got along very nice till the children got the scarlet fever, that was a hard year but it passed on like all the rest.“
Given the fact that Grandma Moses lived to be 92, she knew a thing or two about the passing of time – good or bad. As she looked back over her life, she was able to see, clearly, that a very bad time passed on like the rest. She remained (for over 90 years!) alert, creative, happy, and full of life and, in my very humble opinion, her attitude was one of the reasons. Grandma Moses realized that… well… life is as beautiful as you want it to be.
Life may be full of people getting knocked down but it’s also full of people getting back up, dusting off their backsides, and telling their opponent (whether it be cancer, the economy, an individual, a personal struggle…), “I’m stronger than you gave me credit for. You may have caught me off guard and knocked me down but it’ll take a whole lot more than YOU to keep me there!”
It’s human nature, after being knocked down, to just stay there. I’m not sure if we stay down because we’re afraid to get back up (after all, that’s where we were last time we were knocked down – what if it happens again!?!), we’re too weak to stand, or it’s simply easier to stay down than to exert the effort to rise. Whatever the reason, we all have a tendency to just lie there – creating spiritual and emotional scars the way my love seat created indentations in the carpet.
I moved – with no small effort – the love seat and allowed the indentations to rise. We can just as surely move – with no small effort – our heartaches and allow the scars to heal.
It’s all about making a choice. Remember, we make our choices and, then, our choices make our lives. You have to choose to get back up, choose to look at the beauty around you and within you, choose to let go of negative emotions, and choose to get on with your life. Bitterness, anger, resentment, and jealousy are the things that give sadness its weight. When you release these negative emotions, you’ll find that you can move the burden off of you.
Say, out loud, I‘m releasing my anger (or bitterness, remorse, guilt, pain…). Good riddance!
I know I’ve shared this story before on Self Help Daily and Out of Bounds, but it’s worth repeating because I know that if it’s an emotion I’ve felt before, others have as well. The first Christmas after my mom died, I felt so completely sad and missed her so much that Christmas trees and decorations were the furthest things from my mind. Me… the person who loves Christmas more than anyone in the world!
I had brought in the Christmas ornaments, the tree, the lights, the decorations, and so forth. Stephany and I stacked them in a corner of the living room.
Then, I more or less ran to my bedroom and threw myself across the bed. Tears came down hot and heavy as I recalled the years my mother and I had put up Christmas trees – talking a mile a minute about cookies, candy, presents, and so on. I got my profound love for holidays from my mom. She always did things up HUGE and I’m proudly carrying on the tradition!
While lying across the bed, I knew that my daughters and husband were in different parts of the house – possibly even wondering if it would be okay to even try to get in the Christmas spirit. I’d managed to slip away and have my tear fest without them seeing – but they had to know what I was going through.
I reasoned with myself that I could lie there and feel completely miserable or I could get up, wipe my eyes, and get on with life. I knew full-well what my mom would want me to do: Get up and decorate that Christmas tree with the brightest lights, the flashiest ribbons, and the most magnificent ornaments at my disposal.
She’d want me, Michael, and her much, much, much beloved granddaughters to be happy and our home to be filled with joy and the Christmas spirit.
I made the decision to dry my eyes, put on a little makeup, throw on a smile, and get after that tree. My husband smiled at me as I walked through the house, and Stephany sprung up to help make the Christmas tree magnificent. We talked a mile a minute about cookies, candy, presents, and so on.
I made the right choice.
I did the right choice in another very emotional and trying situation as well. Due to my husband’s career, my family and I lived on Pensacola Beach (in a beautiful beach house – right on the water) for a while. We lived on Santa Rosa Island with countless sea gulls and pelicans. The dining room wall was nothing but windows looking out over the ocean and its beautiful gulls, pelicans, waves, dolphins, and so on. Each morning and each evening, I’d watch with joy as dolphins played, basically, in my back yard.
Paradise? You betcha.
Michael’s career then pulled a fast one on us and demanded that we leave Florida and move back home to Kentucky. I love Kentucky, but it’s never easy to leave paradise.
On the day we were leaving the island, I drove our Caravan while Michael drove ahead of me in the U-Haul. While driving over the bridge – leaving the island – part of my mind questioned me, “Are you going to take a look back in the rear view mirror to see what you’re leaving one last time?” I thought, “Heck no. I’m looking forward, toward my next great adventure!”
Right decision. Where we live now (Kentucky) is greener and I can actually enjoy snow again! We also got the blessing of spending a lot more time with my mom in her last years. Huge blessing! It was just in a bit of a disguise, that’s all.
When things happen that hurt, you have to INSIST on healing and INSIST on moving forward. Don’t stay where you are, weighed down with “bison-like” weight – cementing your emotional scars in deeper and deeper. Please make the decision to get up and move on with your life.
We all only get one shot at life. Any time spent feeling sad is time wasted. The best revenge you can have on anyone or anything that has knocked you down is to get back up….. stronger, better, and happier than ever before.
Heck, that’ll knock them down. Sweet.
Photo Credit: Bison Pictures