How to Survive the Worst Year of Your Life
“How do I survive the worst year of my life?” a young friend asked, around two months after a bad breakup.
She wanted to know because it appeared to her that I’d one day snapped my fingers or taken a magic pill and all my heartaches had disappeared overnight. They didn’t. They haven’t. They’re still there, with me, just as anyone else’s grief is still with them. You never “get over” deep losses but you do gain perspective and “get through.” Intellectually, you may understand that one day you’ll get to that place, but that doesn’t help the heart right now when you feel like you’re going to die. You may even recognize that this heartbreak is the best thing that could happen to you because you’ll–in the long run–end up in a better place. That also doesn’t really help emotionally.
Emotionally, you’re caught in the missing closeness of the past and you’re nowhere near the future when all this is long over. So how do you get through the pain now?
Day by day. Hour by hour. Sometimes moment by moment.
The trick–if there is one–of getting through each moment is to take a step back and look at where you are right now.
Right now, in this very moment, can you be okay? Are you okay?
You’re not in that past moment of pain. You’re not in a new future. You are in the present moment. It sounds trite to say the present moment is all you have, but it is.
What’s happening in your present moment? Are you breathing? Are you okay right now?
And in this place, this moment in time, can you find that understanding and knowledge that in this one moment, you are okay?
Don’t worry about yesterday. Don’t fret about tomorrow. Are you okay right here, right now?
When yesterday’s pain and tomorrow’s uncertainty tug at you, can you just stop, focus on the present moment and your present location and see that just for this second, you are okay?
Whenever you start to obsess about your pain, stop and look at the moment. This moment. Not when everything went to hell. Not when everything will be fine again. But this moment. Separate yourself from the timeline of events and focus on yourself, your existence, no one else, just your breath and your heartbeat and that just for this moment…
You are okay.