Thursday, February 3, 2011
Moment-by-Moment Survival Guide for the Heartbroken
It's a matter of focusing on the "now".
It's perhaps no coincidence that, perusing the bookshelves for something – anything – that would help me cope with my maelstrom of pain, I picked up a little book called The Power of Now, by a guy named Eckhart Tolle. (This was in his pre-Oprah days and I'd never heard of him.)
I began reading through my tears. And though it's not a simple read, I managed to discern this: Pain comes from focussing on the past. And anxiety comes from focussing on the future.
Yet we live in the present. All we ever have is this precise moment.
Consider that so much of the pain surrounding betrayal is about focusing on what happened (the mind movies imagining the two of them together, the reading and re-reading of text messages and e-mails, the triggers that transport us back to the moment when we first discovered or that remind us of what was happening one week/month/year ago) or on what might happen (he could do it again, I could wind up destitute and alone, they could be laughing at me from their yacht...). In both cases, however, you're not focusing on the now. Right now, for example, you're reading this post. Whether or not he is or is not still having an affair isn't the point. You, right now, are okay.
That's not to say you're not hurting. Probably a lot.
But you're alive. You're breathing and functional and able to read. So, for all intents and purposes, you're okay. Stay focussed on that simple truth.
You are okay. I am okay.
And guess what? What happened is over. All the hand-wringing and finger-pointing in the world is not going to undo what's already occurred. And about what might happen? Well, you likely have a lot less control over that than you realize. You can control yourself. And that's about it. The rest, you have to take on faith.
It's not easy. Certainly not for a reform(ing) control freak like I. To give up the long-held notion that I can magically control those around me was tough. But the evidence that I couldn't – for all my best intents – was all around me.
I had "now". So I held on tight.