“Sometimes you have to go through a rainstorm
to see the rainbow at the end.”
Here we are deep in the middle of February and I am writing about choice again. I am writing about choice in order to get to acceptance. In life it is often true that it is easier to choose anger or guilt than it is to feel and accept pain or loss. We hide behind our anger; sometimes for generations. Yet, when we are able to let the rainstorm of feeling pass, we then can move forward into feeling acceptance and then to feeling full of life and joy. If we stay angry we can grieve or mourn a loss forever. If we move through the anger to the loss behind it, we are set free to see the rainbow.
I have a client who lost his brother last year. He had died during a howling winter storm when his truck suddenly skidded and ran off the road. This man left two children, a former wife, three brothers, a sister, and more. He was my client’s brother and best friend. He had struggled with alcohol on and off for many years. In the last year or so of his life, he started losing the battle. He knew it. In losing the battle, he became more angry and bitter and less available. My client felt he had lost his brother even before he died. He was angry. He was so angry he still doesn’t have closure with him or with his death.
As we worked together, I had him write down what he liked about his brother in one column. In another column I had him write down what he didn’t like about his brother. In a third column I had him write down what he didn’t like about his brother in the last year of his life when his addiction got the best of him. This process enabled him to see that he was angry with his brother for not listening to him, not helping him, and for being vindictive and stirring up fights with others. What he was angriest about was that his brother didn’t listen to him.
As we talked and I listened, it became clear to me that he was angry with his brother so that he wouldn’t have to feel the grief of losing his brother and best friend. My client knew he had really lost his brother long before his truck ran off the road. He was angry that his brother chose to drink rather than to live. When this realization hit him and sank in, he started to tear up and he finally felt his loss for the first time.
Just today I spoke with another woman who realized she hides behind guilt so that she doesn’t feel her loneliness and sadness. We all do things like this; hide behind guilt or anger to keep from feeling. If we can realize what we are doing we can then make a choice to feel the pain. Feeling the pain (and realizing it won’t kill us) is another word for acceptance.
Accepting his loss is what my client was actually fighting. Feeling and then accepting “what is” helps us to move to the next level. For my client the next phase that opens up is LIVING with his loss rather than feeling angry. Until he accepts the loss he will continue living an angry life that, ironically, includes smoking himself to death. If he decides to accept his loss then he can finally begin to live. This choice then opens up so many more possibilities for a life of health, vitality and happiness. In the end, acceptance is a choice; One that only we can make for ourselves no matter the circumstance.
Check out a book called Rising in Love by Bert Hellinger. It is a transformative book which talks about many important ideas and keys like: acceptance, forgiveness, happiness, and much more. My prayer is that it enhances your life as much as it has mine!