Finding self love in a time of chaos by Kayla McCullough & guest Dhara Singh
There is a favorite story I like to tell myself. It’s the one about how my life should turn out. Though it’s riddled with missing everyday details and an occasional spree of heartaches, it’s full of a general sense of okayness. It’s the story where my toes can dig deeply into heart-warming sand on a glorious land called normal. A land I didn’t design, but one where I can nod in agreement before any drastic change occurs. And I can veto all life-altering disasters. Here my lungs can inhale fresh gusts of predictability and exhale breaths of uncertainty—the weather is always calm and never brutal or destructive.
I like this place. I don’t just want to vacation here; I want to live here. And I suspect that you have a version of this kind of story you like to tell yourself too. As humans, we don’t just want to read the end of our story and feel good about it. We want to take the pen and write it ourselves. We feel very sure about how things should play out, and when they go the opposite, the world turns over and crumbles at our feet. We say we trust and have faith in the unseen, but behind the scenes, we work our fingers to the bone and our emotions into a tangled fray of yarn. We praise God when things go right and curse him when they don’t.
I’ve yet to meet a person who can remain unattached to outcomes because even the most grounded people can feel hijacked by the winds of change - and that’s okay. There isn’t any timing that seems like the right timing to be shattered into dust. There isn’t any plan that God could present where I would agree to be broken. But what if disappointment is the exact thing your soul needs to see what is truly destined for you? And if it was, how do we fix the pain? How do we heal the hurt that we feel today? Because we have 86,400 seconds of today that we need to get through, so how do we find ourselves in this time of chaos?
When someone hurts you deeply…
I would love to give you a step-by-step answer on how you can get through the hurt – a fool-proof plan to make the pain go away. But if I’m honest with you, there isn’t a miraculous quick fix to heartache – a lesson that plenty of us have learned the hard way. No, the only way around heartache is to go through it and feel the pain that deserves to be felt. To walk through the memories that need to be heard. A good friend of mine once told me that “the first step toward healing the pain is to start feeling it,” and no matter how much I wished her to be wrong, she was right.
See our article, My Ex Left Me For Someone Else
I used to think I knew a lot about a variety of things. The thing that was the most startling and shocking to me was this: I didn’t know what I didn’t know. That’s a common phrase that older people use when trying to put younger people in their place. “You don’t know what you don’t know.” And even though I’m a young woman who has three degrees and a lifetime of experience in heartache, they were right. Three years ago, I experienced the two worst heart-wrenching breakups that any human could ever experience. In these two relationships, I completely lost myself (so maybe that counts as three of the worst heart-wrenching breakups), and it would take years for me to learn how to love myself again. During the midst of healing from the first breakup, my father passed away, and during the recovery of the second breakup, my family dog passed away. Both circumstances were unbearable, but what I’ve learned is never to shy away from unexpected knowledge. So, I put the advice to action, and I walked through the years of pain – and yes, it was painful.
Feeling the pain is the first step toward healing the pain. The longer we avoid the feeling, the more we delay our healing. We can numb it, we can ignore it, or hell, even pretend it doesn’t exist, but all those things lead to an ugly breakdown and prevent the breakthrough from happening. Try to think of it like this: The feeling of the pain is like the warning light that flashes on your dashboard when something needs to be fixed in your car. The light flashes to indicate that something is wrong and to get our attention. We are then met with the decision to fix it or ignore it – and if you’re like me, you probably ignore it. We can assume it’s a glitch in the system and deny that anything is wrong – until we experience a breakdown. That light wasn’t trying to annoy you; it was trying to protect you.
Pain is the same way. The pain we feel from the things that suddenly leave us is finally showing us that we need to slow down and study what’s going on below the surface. I’ve been through numerous breakups before, but why did these two have such a significant impact on me? Why did it take me losing myself a second time to understand what I needed out of someone? I get it; you didn’t think life would be like this, you didn’t think circumstances would be like this, you didn’t think you would be like this, or that they would be like this. You didn’t believe God could do this to you. Depending on the level of pain you feel right about now, you’ll interchange those words to describe what you’re feeling. And whatever it is, the root of all those feelings can be traced back to one thing – disappointment.
Whether that’s disappointment in God or yourself, your expectations of how you thought your life would be aren’t shaping up. And that brings me to the second and third thing that you must do on the road to self-love - apologize and forgive yourself.
Forgiving ourselves is one of the hardest things we will ever do. This is not because we are masochists who like to torture ourselves, but because true self-forgiveness means to admit when we were wrong and recognize that there is a better way. As humans, we hold onto guilt as a “reminder” not to make the same mistake again; however, our guilt is a sign that we have not truly learned our lesson. We see this in the various clips of breakups, deaths, and goodbyes in our minds when someone leaves. We don’t resist self-forgiveness because we think we deserve more pain. Instead, we resist it because we are scared that if we let go, we will end up back in the same place we were before. However, the past cannot come back to haunt us unless we carry the past with us.
Forgiving yourself gives you peace and shows that you are willing to embrace your freedom once more. Every answer to every question you ask about your pain can be answered when you look within. Healing yourself and finding love in a time of chaos exists in the reinvention of your soul.
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