March 28, 2014

There Are No Ruined Lives: It’s Simply Time to Start Rebuilding.

Depressed by Sander van der Wel (Flickr)

Warning: naughty language ahead.

Recently, I heard someone say that their life was ruined.

It wasn’t the first time someone around me has used this phrase: “My life is ruined.” Lord knows, I’ve even said it myself (perhaps dramatically) on a few occasions. I didn’t judge the person who said it. The words were spoken from genuine suffering and anxiety about an uncertain future.

I’ve been in that place and likely will be again. I felt nothing but sympathy, not for the circumstances this person felt had ruined everything, but for the way this someone seemed, in that moment, to have lost hope.

Because there is always hope and no life is ever truly ruined.

Everything can always be rebuilt.

I try to see losses as fresh starts. Endings and beginnings always overlap. It’s just hard to see when one’s eyes are looking through the lens of pain.

Many years ago, I suffered what I’ve dubbed as the worst breakup in history. It was so awful I wrote a book about it, and for a long time, I grieved the end of my relationship. I truly believed that my life was over, ruined because I couldn’t marry the man I’d hoped for and live the life I’d imagined.

But my life wasn’t over. The end of that relationship was the beginning of several subsequent years of fun, freedom, self-discovery, travel and adventure. I just didn’t know it at the time because it hadn’t happened yet. I wish I could go back in time and give my former self a little pep talk and let her know how okay things were going to be.

The idea that a life can be ruined is nonsense.

The language of recovery calls it “hitting rock bottom.”

You may be there now. It may seem as if hope is lost. Solutions may elude you right now. I promise though, that you can make it better. Sometimes hitting rock bottom is a gift because it’s the only thing that allows for a totally clean slate and a brand new start. Begin a better life now, right this second and understand that everyone’s life is a constant series of ups and downs. Try to have realistic expectations about that.

We are all exactly where we are supposed to be right this second. We are all part of a beautiful, intricate divine plan that is so enormous and complicated that we can’t even comprehend it. If you feel your life is “ruined” think of your challenges as the preparation for an extraordinary destiny. Think of how strong you’ll emerge from what you’ve endured.

There are times in our lives when we need life to kick our asses. Sometimes these ass kickings are our own fault and other times, well, shit happens and there’s just no seemingly logical explanation for why. I believe that when our lives shatter, when things fall utterly to pieces, that this is when the Universe is whacking us over the head saying “Hey, Ding Dong, wake up. You’ve got some progress to make here.”

And we can wallow in misery or we can get to work.

Ultimately, we are the ones in control of our lives. We can’t prevent tragedy and we can’t control what other people think, say or do. I’m not talking about that kind of control, as nice as that would be. We are in control over how we react to trauma, grief, negativity and losses of all kinds. We are in control of our perspectives on these things. We are in control of what we do with the unwanted, most awful, painful parts of our lives.

Use the mess of your life as a foundation upon which to build a brand new masterpiece.

We can roll around in the shards of rubble and let ourselves get cut all to pieces and bleed everywhere or we can start cleaning up, rebuilding and making a gorgeous mosaic out of all the broken stuff.


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Editor: Catherine Monkman

Photo: Flickr

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