“How do you do it?” My friend, Casey asked.
“Huh?” I said as I looked up at her from the book that I was reading.
“How do you cope with the pain? How do you do it?” She looked at me in the eye.
“I feel like the world has fallen all around me and I’m helpless to stop it.“
I thought for a minute.
"Well, I look at my feet."
It seems a little silly, but that’s the first thing I do after something really devastating has occurred.
At the end of my last relationship, looking at my feet really kept me grounded.
Sure, your toes might need some new nail polish, but you need to tell yourself that you’re still standing.
You’re still here.
You’re still breathing.
You can get through this.
And then, you take a deep, deep breath, and let it out.
Because that’s really all you can do right now to keep yourself in the moment.
And then you look at your hands and maybe think a bit about booking an appointment at the manicurist’s, but mostly, think about how your hands are still solid.
They are right in front of you, still movable and flexible.
And that means that you are still in the now.
You have been through hard times before.
You have fallen, struggled and survived before.
This isn’t any different.
You can get through this.
You WILL get through this.
And then… with that one thought replaying over and over again in your head, you open yourself up to the pain.
It’s going to come in, maybe in trickles, maybe in waves, but it’s going to come in, and it’s going to hurt.
But this time, you will not be afraid of it.
Instead, you feel your loss, deeply and fully.
You might feel overwhelmed with so many emotions, and sometimes, to the point of thinking you are going to go crazy.
But you determinedly decide that you will survive this, so you stop resisting.
And simply allow yourself to grieve.
You grieve because something that once made you so blissfully happy has been snatched away from you.
You grieve because someone you once loved so fiercely is gone and is never going to come back.
And most of all, you grieve because that person left a huge gaping hole in your heart and you don’t know if it’s ever going to be filled again.
It will probably be the most difficult thing you will ever do, but you grit your teeth and bear with the pain.
And then… you open your eyes.
And you find that you’re still here.
You’re still alive.
Oh, don’t get me wrong.
The pain is still there and it still really hurts but…
You find that you are still able to smile.
You are still able to enjoy the things you once enjoyed.
And in-between the pain, you are somehow able to laugh.
Deeply and fully.
And you think, you think.. maybe it’s not so bad after all.
So for now, take things an hour at a time, a minute at a time, or even a second at a time.
Just know that it's not going to be this bad forever.
And it all begins with looking at your feet.
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