Good morning, and a very merry Thursday to you!
We put a lot of pressure on ourselves to recover from emotional hardships, don’t we? When we don’t get a job that we desperately wanted and would have been perfect for, we immediately shrug it off. When a friend lets us down, we want nothing more than to forgive, forget and never discuss it again. When we get our hearts broken, we put an unbelievable amount of energy into getting over the rejection and recovering our confidence.
My dear reader, I have an outrageous suggestion to put to you: we shouldn’t try to get over these things. We should try to go through them, instead.
The other day my flat mate asked me whether I would go for an Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind situation if the opportunity presented itself. (For those of you who haven’t seen the film, the basic premise is that a scientist offers people the chance to erase all of their memories of a previous, painful relationship. This allows them to live without any heartbreak, or any idea that their ex even exists.) It’s an appealing thought, and it reflects something that a lot of us feel when we’ve just been hurt: we want things to go back to the way they were, or we want to be the person we were before our beloveds messed us up.
It sounds ideal, doesn’t it? But I ended up saying no to my flat mate, because even though my romantic history is basically one long, embarrassing cautionary tale, it is a part of who I am. This is true for all of us. It might be exciting to imagine that we could revert to a previous incarnation of ourselves, and that we could take back the humiliation, regret, wasted time and pain, but we can’t actually do that. We can’t go back to who we were; we have to go forward being who we are.
So we can’t erase memories or travel through time, but we can recover from the situation. Excellent. In that case, we would like that recovery to happen now, please. We’ve got stuff to get on with and it would be so much easier to go about life without an emotional hangover, thank you very much.
Again, this is not really an option. We can suppress our thoughts and distract ourselves; we can refuse to think or talk about what’s bothering us and keep ourselves too occupied to dwell, but eventually the grief will find us. We will eventually have to go through the draining process of recovery.
It’s a difficult period in anyone’s life, but you never know what could happen during it. You could have some pretty interesting epiphanies about who you are and what you want in life, you might reconnect with a friend who helps you through the pain, and you may even discover a hidden talent. (For example, I have a friend who worked out that she’s an excellent darts player by throwing darts at a photo of her ex when he left her. Silver linings are flipping everywhere.)
Recovery is hard, and it also takes time. We shouldn’t beat ourselves up if it takes longer than we expect, because there are no rules governing the time frame of mending a broken heart. “Shouldn’t I be over this by now?” is not a good question to ask, because our feelings are not library books. “You’re three months overdue with your emotional recovery, by the way. They’ll start fining you if you’re not careful.”
Don’t get over things; go through them. Also, have an amazing Thursday.