Today i have been divorced for 6 months...separated for 9 months. It has been a hard week. It would be so much easier to hate, to be bitter, to be angry, and to give up all hope. Or, as Vonnegut says, to be HARD. In being soft, we open ourselves up to hurt and tears...but we also open ourselves up to kindness and love.
When i went to my counselor this week, she recognized that i was trying to suppress my emotions; i wanted to be hard...to be a survivor. She challenged me this week to FEEL. Apparently strong emotions last for about 20 minutes; she told me that if i felt lonely or sad to let myself be caught up in that emotion because it would soon pass and it would help me to stay soft. Now, at the end of the week, i'm shocked by how much i cried...my eyes were puffy for most of the week and my nose is raw from using so many tissues. What really surprised me was how liberating it was. i became an unashamed public crier; i would let the tears stream while at my desk, driving in my car or walking through the grocery store. Sure enough, the strong emotion would wash through fairly quickly and the release was cathartic.
The other part of Vonnegut's quote kind of bothered me. This world can really be ugly and i often struggle to find beauty in it. All through this week i felt like i was exposed to an extra atrocious side of the elements AND humanity. The wind blew full force and the skies were grey and gloomy. There were a couple instances at work that showed people at their lowest, basest and most dishonest. i bemoaned the world and even said that i was fed up with this life and wished the Mayan prediction for the end of the world had been right.
But in the end, i was proved wrong. i came into work in a crappy mood and my employees boosted me up almost instantly by laughing and joking and picking happy "Friday" songs that we blasted and sang along.
An even better example? i went to the temple last night; i badly needed a refuge from the world. As i sat in the chapel before the service began, there was someone playing beautiful music on the organ, the setting sun was streaming in through the stained glass and i sat and let the emotions flood me and the tears fall. Later, after the session, i stayed in the celestial room and just sat there...not really thinking of anything, just breathing. As i meditated, a young man came up to me and introduced himself. He said that he had been the one playing the organ, noticed that i was struggling and intentionally picked the most soothing and hopeful hymns that he could think of to play for me. He then said, "I don't know you or what you are dealing with, but I wanted to leave you with one of my favorite scriptures." He handed me a Bible opened to the passage, put his hand on my shoulder, said "God bless" and walked away.
This is what he left me with:
"Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths."
The world is still beautiful and full of some beautiful people. i thank God for putting them in my life...if only long enough to play me a soothing song and pass me a heartfelt scriptural boost.
"BE SOFT. Do not let the world make you hard. Do not let pain make you hate. Do not let the bitterness steal your sweetness. Take pride that even though the rest of the world may disagree, you still believe it to be a beautiful place."