One of the things that happens when you divorce, when your spouse has an affair and you are left to pick up the pieces, raise your children alone or pay off massive debt is that you get a whole bucket of pain that seems to refresh on a daily basis.
It’s hard sometimes to figure out the source of the pain: anger, frustration, disappointment, sadness, disbelief, worry, fear, jealousy… well, you get the point. The end result is you hurt.
And you hurt in a way that for many of us after a long marriage is only familiar in a distant memory when you were made fun of in grade school or had your heart crushed by a high school sweetheart. Only this time you can’t run home to Mom and Dad to ease your pain. Well, you can, but it’s just not the same because when you do, you heap a whole level of “I’m no longer a grown up – I’m a mess” disaster thinking on your head.
So it hurts. For many of us it hurts for a long time. It’s hard to breathe. Your chest feels tight. And the whole world can feel as if it’s on the attack even though it’s probably not directed at you.
I know that during what I call my bruised and battered stage if someone looked at me wrong, I thought it was me, my failure and it was intended to hurt me. I knew as a rational adult that the whole world wasn’t conspiring to hurt my feelings but like a tender bruise on your arm, the slightest touch caused pain.
I was abnormally sensitive to everything during this time. I see my friends who are going through the same process experience the same thing. Even the slightest hint of a cross word sends them spiraling into hiding and depression.
The hard thing about all of this is that most people don’t understand and tell you to move on, meet someone new, get out there. I’d like to offer to these well-meaning but mis-guided friends that you wouldn’t tell someone who just broke his leg to get out on the dance floor. But that’s unfortunately what people who don’t understand tell us to do.
Yes, we all have to get back into the saddle. Yes, we all have to move on. But moving on means moving through the pain associated with infidelity and divorce. That can take a really long time, especially if you were married for many years and/or you were very vested in the relationship.
The worst thing I did with my pain was sit with it. That was when I thought my butt grew roots right into the couch. The pain just knocked the wind out of me and I didn’t know what to do and I surely did not expect it. It was easier to be still. It was easier to hide. I didn’t want to see happy families. They did not make me feel better.
Because I was getting fat and my ego superceded my depression, I got off the couch. I dug out my dusty iPod and I walked. Sometimes I ran. Sometimes I hiked or swam or rode the stationery bike as if my life depended on it. Tears would stream down my face and mix with sweat. I could feel the pain energy dissipate. It would come again like waves in the ocean, washing over me. I could feel it bubbling in my check threatening to spill over at any moment. That’s when I knew I needed to move.
I would wash the floor. Vacuum the house. Clean the car. Organize my office. Go through my things for donation. I would stack wood. I would keep moving until I could feel the pain energy leave. I imagined myself with this huge ball of pain in my chest and it radiated outward and I would run the battery down and it would dim. When it recharged and showed up again, I envisioned it getting smaller each time it came back. You know what? It worked. My pain ball is so much smaller and I don’t know what to tell you about why it worked, I just know that it did.
There were also added benefits that I was no longer living in a mess. Things were neater and orderly and I felt more in control when I got things together. There is nothing worse than being in a funk and looking at a giant disorganized mess.
I invite you to imagine your pain energy ball running out of steam. I invite you to imagine that each time you wear out your pain battery, it gets smaller. I invite you to join me in turning your pain into productivity.
Everyone has to bounce at some time or another in their lifetime. I invite you to Bounce with Style with me.