We will survive

Thoughts to Ponder

 “Years ago fairy tales all began with ‘Once upon a time…’

–now we know they all begin with, ‘If I am elected.’”

Carolyn Warner*

We’ve recently ended another presidential election season, the most contentious in my memory. That’s not to say it has been the worst in U.S. history. There was a lot of name calling leading to states seceding from the Union in 1860 when Abraham Lincoln was the candidate of the newly formed Republican party. Recently I was listening to “The Thomas Jefferson Hour” on NPR and heard an interesting story.

The election of 1800 was a three-way race among Jefferson, John Adams seeking re-election and Alexander Hamilton. Hamilton started a rumor that Jefferson had died. Communications being what they were at that time, Jefferson first heard of this several weeks later when he received a letter from a friend. He immediately sat down and wrote letters to several people telling them that he was, indeed, still alive and still a candidate. Those letters also took several weeks to find their recipients. But they had the desired effect. As a result Jefferson was elected to be our country’s third president.

So, should we be surprised at the recent political shenanigans we just witnessed? I’d guess not. The difference is that we now live in a 24-hour news cycle with information coming from many sources. As the election drew near I found myself becoming irritable with my great-grandsons who were just being their age. I was cranky at work. Each newspaper article I read or news program I watched made the situation worse. The vitriolic words spewed by both candidates and their supporters kept my insides in a twist. Yet, I felt compelled to stay informed, though I limited my exposure.

To do otherwise would be detrimental to my health, so I made a decision to take steps to improve my mental outlook. About a week before the election I began to pray to accept the outcome whatever it might be. On election day I went to the polls early and immediately felt a slight easing in my distress knowing that I had done my part in making this momentous choice. That evening I periodically checked election news to learn what was happening, then went to bed at my usual time. The next morning I clicked on the television long enough to learn who had been elected. I asked God to guide Mr. Trump as he assumed his new duties. These small steps eased my distress significantly.

Healing came Thursday evening when I attended a 4th grade Veteran’s Day program at my oldest great-grandson’s school. The children were decked out in patriotic vests and presented a program of U.S. history and patriotic songs. Each child had made a list of relatives who had served in the military. Those names covered an entire wall of the gym. At one point in the program each service’s song was played and audience members who had served in that particular branch stood to roaring applause. Then we were treated to a slide show of photos of many of those relatives in their uniforms. The program concluded with the audience standing as one child’s grandfather sang “God Bless the USA.” I was not the only person wiping tears of joy from my eyes.

As I write this, I’m crying, but my tears are healing months of distress and worry. I’m still nervous, but for my own sanity I must trust that we can survive this election and continue to grow as a nation. I trust that this will continue to be our legacy.

Spirit: Most of us have lived the past several months in pain and distress. You have shown us that the human race has survived worse and continues to thrive. Each of us, no matter who we are or where we live, has the ability to change the world just a little bit for the better. Please keep reminding us of that responsibility and privilege. And, so it is.

*Warner, Carolyn, Treasury of Women’s Quotations, 1992, Prentice Hall, page 239

© by Sharon D. Dillon, November 12, 2016

Sharon D. Dillon, energywriter@cox.net, http://energywriter.me “Laugh your way to peace, love and joy” Author of Echoes of your Choices, 2016, available as a paperback or e-book at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other online sites.

Chesapeake Bay Writers, Erma Bombeck Writers Workshop, Southern Humorists, National Society of Newspaper Columnists, Voices of Williamsburg Toastmasters Club.

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Healing to Growth

December 17, 2015

“The more we try to keep our wounds concealed,

the more they will emerge into the areas of our life that do not pertain to our wound.”

Window of Wisdom 985*

That single sentence says in a few words what it takes most of us years of talk therapy, 12-step meetings and journaling to understand. Some of us just go about our business hoping no one guesses what we have endured or cope with in our daily lives. We think our bravado and competence erase all traces of pain, but we’re wrong. It slips out in little ways.

We may lose our tempers when a situation really doesn’t warrant that reaction. We may accuse a person of being an alcoholic, thief or slacker. We may demand punctuality without excuse, valid or not.

We may laugh too much at jokes or maintain a jolly demeanor. We may overly dramatize an unpleasant situation when relating the story to others. We might act like a hurtful event had no impact.

We’ve all experienced wounds and have learned to cope in various ways. The most effective way that I’ve found, and is recommended by most therapists, is to feel the pain in the moment, even if the hurt is just a rude word. Take whatever time necessary to feel the feelings, but not wallow in it. Continue going to work and follow your regular schedule as much as possible. Don’t use it as an excuse nor try to overcompensate.

Here is one example. My father who had lived the horrors of Alzheimer’s Disease for many years transitioned three days before his birthday in December 1993. I had watched him slide from a strong, humorous man to a frail body lying in a nursing home. I was so relieved that he was out of his misery that I had little reaction to his leaving Earth. When anyone asked I said, “He’s out of pain and confusion now. I’m glad he’s in a better place.”

In May 2010 my mother who had lived with the discomfort of colon cancer and chosen not to treat it, departed the Earthly plane. Again I was relieved that she was out of pain and her own personal sadness. After a few tears, I took affairs in hand and did what had to be done. Soon after returning home I called work and said I was ready to return. My supervisor questioned that decision, but I insisted all was well.

The next year my son passed of a heart attack on the anniversary of his grandfather’s funeral. I took the news fairly calmly to not upset his partner who was still grieving the loss of her son. After hanging up the phone I descended into hysterics. Fortunately, a friend came to my rescue. She told me to breathe, breathe again and yet again. When I was mostly coherent she told me how to notify his sisters and each thing I had to do to prepare for the three day drive to Minnesota to handle his affairs. As I began to pull myself together I put my pain in a safe place and soldiered on. Soon I was back at work and participating in all my normal activities.

The following December the grief of all three losses hit me like a brick. I was working at a place where Christmas is the busiest, happiest time of year. Fortunately, I’d learned a little about myself and how to deal with life. I told my supervisor what was happening and that I was going to allow myself to feel my feelings and at the same time try to be a pleasant helper to our guests. He, of course, kept a close eye on me.

After Christmas our business closed to prepare for the next season. That gave me time to allow the feelings about all three passings to flood over me. If I felt like crying, I cried. If I felt like swearing at them for abandoning me, I swore. If I felt like talking about them as if they were saints, I did that. By the time work resumed I was ready to be back to work. I had done what I needed to do to heal myself.

I realize not everyone has the gift of a three-month quiet time to heal their wounds. However, everyone has a few minutes each day to feel their feelings. They can honestly evaluate where they are in the process of healing pain, dealing with an angry situation or just slogging through daily events. Taking this time is the key to healing. It is a vital step. It sets the tone for the rest of their lives. We can say, “It’s all behind us,” but only this quiet time will tell us the truth.

Beyond healing our pain there is another upside to surviving personal devastation. It’s called Post-traumatic Growth (PTG).** “Growth results from an active, engaged process of dealing with a stressor – not the stressor itself.”***

This occurs when we have accepted and learned to live with our personal disasters. For example: from my dad I learned to be sad, angry and fearful when I’m with a safe friend. The rest of the time I can look at life’s foibles with a sense of humor. My mom taught me in a backwards way, that it’s okay to feel sad but not to let it dominate my days and years. I learned from my son to be more adventuresome and willing to try new experiences. What a gift they’ve given me.

Spirit,

Thank you for this opportunity to heal everything and anything that weighs us down. We know that releasing our pain is the only way to heal. We know that we will continue to have periods of sadness, but because we have done the healing work we need not worry that the pain tumor will burst at an inopportune time. Thank you, again.

And, so it is.

*”A Window of Wisdom,” December 14, 2015, https://awindowofwisdom.wordpress.com/2015/12/14/window-985-stop-suffering-and -release-the-pain

**”Is There and Upside to Tragedy?”, Ginny Graves, quoting Richard Tedeschi, PhD, University of North Carolina-Charlotte and Lawrence Calhoun, PhD., O the Oprah Magazine, July 2015

***Suzanne, Danhauser, PhD, Wake Forest School of Medicine, “Is There and Upside to Tragedy?”, O the Oprah Magazine, July 2015

© by Sharon D. Dillon, December 17, 2015

Sharon D. Dillon, energywriter@cox.net, http://energywriter.me “Laugh your way to peace, love and joy”

Chesapeake Bay Writers, Erma Bombeck Writers Workshop, Southern Humorists, National Society of Newspaper Columnists

Author of “Twins! Oh no!,” one of 14 stories in The Book of Mom: Reflections of Motherhood with Love, Hope and Faith, published by booksyoucantrust.com. Available in print and e-format at Amazon.com.