Putting the Past Behind You

We all have at least one sad story that we have experienced at some point in our lives. Sadness is a part of life. However it is what you do after the sadness that dictates how happy your future will be. So what have you done when life has taken an unexpected turn? Moved on like nothing happened, treat it like a lesson to build your strength or hung onto the emotions until it feels like a giant boulder that you must carry for the rest of your days?

There is a song that comes on K-Love called “Burn The Ships” and it talks about putting the past behind us to be able to rebuild life and move forward. It took me years to be able to do that after Randy died.

I feel that the most hurtful part of our grief journey was when people that we had known for years stopped talking to us. One of the worst experiences that I had was when the kids went back to school.

It was extremely hard to walk into the school building again with memories of school activities and events that Randy and I attended together flooded my mind bringing on unbearable sadness. I really didn’t know what to expect at first but what I did know is that I needed to be loved, hugged and feel less broken. I desperately wanted to bring some normalcy back into our family again. That is not what happened. I guess people didn’t know how to treat me or what to say. So instead of supporting me, they ignored me. Friends that I have talked to for years in the hallway suddenly had nothing to say to me, not even a hello.

Even 4 years later I remember the pain and humiliation of being what I called “alone amongst people” and it was really starting to affect me. There is a movie with Michael Keaton called “My Life”. It’s about a man who is dying from cancer. I remember part of the movie where he is seeing a Chinese Herbalist to see if natural remedies can cure him. The doctor tells him that he needs to come to terms with forgiving his father and release the anger that he has been holding in for many years.

I truly believe that pent up anger and hurt can destroy you from the inside out. It can change you, harden your heart and ruin your life. It can strip away any chance of a wonderful future and it simply needs to be released. In our experience the kids and I have done a few things to help release the anger that we felt from Randy’s death.

- We went to therapy.

I think the coolest service that was available to us was at Brooke’s Place. They had a room there where kids could go in tear up phone books and hit giant mats with pool noodles. It was supervised violence that was necessary to get the anger out. One of the counselors told me that a little girl who had lost her father to cancer would come into that room, immediately grab the pool noodle hitting the wall for 10 minutes straight, crying and yelling “I hate cancer” over and over again.

- I worked out……. hard

One day I was at the gym in the small studio and I was having a particularly bad day. I wrapped my hands, put on my gloves and for 20 minutes hit the heavy bags hard. LOL hard enough that people in the big studio poked their heads in to see if everything was ok.

- I did a lot of screaming.

About a year before Randy died I met a widow who lost her husband to a car accident. She was deep in her own grief journey and was looking for a place to workout that felt like home. FIM fit the bill and she became a client. She was there to help us right after Randy died and she told me three words that I will never forget, “Scream, Cry, Breathe.” I did a whole lot of all three of those words for years, usually in my car. Something would trigger the sadness, anger, confusion, desperation, disbelief and guilt all at once and I would Scream, Cry and Breathe. I got used to crying in public and after a while stopped caring what people thought of me while tears streamed down my cheeks. Even now, 4 years later I don’t do as much screaming but I still cry…...and it is ok.

- Journaling or Letters Of Release

So this type of therapy was recommended by my therapist (go figure). I wasn’t sure if I wanted to try it so I put it on the back burner until I felt it was necessary. I am not really a journal kind of girl so writing every day doesn’t help me personally but I do know others who have benefited greatly from daily journaling. However, the Letters of Release intrigued me. Writing a letter to someone who has hurt you, holding onto it for a while and then revisiting the letter later seeing if you still want to send it. I did two letters. I have held them for over a year and I have decided that I will be mailing them. I will be revising them a bit because I believe that when you pen your words with more logical thought than emotion, your words will actually be heard. I mean that’s why we send them letters right? We have something to say and want our point to be heard.

- Finally, Forgiving And Releasing Those Who Have Hurt You

Sooooooo hard to do but very necessary. I still have conversations with my family where people from the past that hurt us are discussed. It’s human nature to harbor anger. Isn’t that crazy? Anger will kill us but we struggle to let it go. A while back I posted on Facebook about the importance of prayer and how as Christians not praying for those who need it can be very hurtful. I posted this about a week after a conversation I had with a friend who told me she was no longer praying for my family. After my Facebook post she reached out to me asking me if the post on Facebook was about our discussion. Instead of saying my usual “Oh It’s no big deal” answer that I sometimes give because I hate confrontation, I said “Yes. I am upset about what you said.” Such a weight was lifted off just speaking those words and at that point I had a real choice to make. Forgive her and release or continue to let it fester. I chose to release right then and there and the forgiveness came a few days after.

Sometimes release means that you need to let go people from your life that continues to hurt you. That is hard but again very necessary if you are going to improve your mental health. Bringing in positive people into your life that can lift you up and support you is one of the most important choices that you can make. Another movie reference…”Brittany Runs a Marathon” has that message ingrained in the story. In the beginning of the movie Brittany has some horrible friends that don't support her at all. Actually they are responsible for her unhealthy mental state. As the movie progresses she meets new friends that build her up and help her become a better person.

Are you at a time in your life where you crave to get rid of the anger and find happiness again? There is hope my friend but you need to find what release works for you and do it. If the first thing you try doesn’t work, try something else until you find a good fit. Don’t give up on your happiness. Keep fighting.

Beachbody’s Master Instructor Jericho says “You Get What You Fight For” and I believe that. So no matter what your past story is, Get Back Up and Brush Yourself Off. Release the bad and embrace the good because you have a life. Now go choose to enjoy it.

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