No Vacancy

Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.

When we are hurt by another person we can choose how to respond to it.  Do we deal with it immediately and let it go, or do we nurse a grudge and let it fester?   Holding on to the hurt is like letting the perpetrators live rent-free in your head.

Do you think of things to say after the fact that really would be a zinger and it haunts you?  You know you really could have hurt back.  It feels like insult to injury.  But the person who damaged you may not even be aware that they did more that stub your emotional toe

As a survivor of drastic offenses, I am not a victim because I have chosen to let go of it.  I had an ulcer at age 14 because I couldn’t get past what had happened in my childhood and teen years.  The thing is, my inner turmoil wasn’t hurting the offenders.  In fact, had they known how much I was hurting, might they have received a bit of pleasure at the notion?

I understand that it is over and my peace of mind is worth saying that I am done letting it roost in my head and heart.  My experience with it is that Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, with its focus on current coping mechanisms, has been effective in purging the torment.  There is nothing to be gained by reliving it over and over.  Picking at scabs and watching you bleed over and over again is destructive and not necessary.

It wasn’t until my early twenties that I learned that if I kept that up I was subject to flashbacks.  I lived the episodes over and over again.  They weren’t pleasant the first time around and going back was unpredictable and horrible.   I’m not saying that I am no longer flash-back free, but without holding the wrongs in my heart I have a great deal of control over how I handle them.

I had to learn how to forgive.  Not for their sakes, but for mine.  I never talked to the offenders personally.  I didn’t need to roll that dice.  I didn’t know how they would respond.  But I forgave them unilaterally.  I wasn’t going to give them the satisfaction of punishing me.   During the abuse they had more power than I did.  Now I have power of my own.

Life In the White Spaces

John Lennon sang that “Life is what happens when you are making other plans.”  Life in this case is something that we barely recognize because we are so invested in having everything run the way we think it should.   We hang on white-knuckled, so afraid that something may go awry; that we miss what is really important about life.

White spaces are the occurrences and adventures that happen between the planned activities and compulsory duties.  We work so hard to have free time, getting all our chores done.  But then, we rush to fill the gaps, frenetically filling in the spaces that could otherwise be used in contemplation, re-assessment, re-booting.

The world of artists and graphic designers refer to white spaces as the portion of a page left unmarked; the space between images.   White on a page is not wasted space.    They are necessary for us to see the intended subject matter.  They outline and give depth.

Sometimes there isn’t much room for ‘spaces in between’ because there is so much information that has to be transmitted, resulting in a busy sensory overload that is hard to manage.   If there aren’t enough places for your eyes to rest, you miss out on what you are supposed to be learning that day.  Mismanaging your ‘time between’ can make your day feel incomplete.

Filling your time with indiscriminate activities can actually be detrimental to your emotional and physical health.  Our spirits cry out for sincere input and positive experiences.  If you are fleeing from yourself, you are missing all the scenery that composes the time between.  Living in the white spaces frees you to be so full of life that you can overcome the ‘gray’ areas of despair, anxiety, and depression.