Variations of the phrase “Get over it” are things we all hear at some points in our life.
“You need to move on.”
“You need to let it go.”
“Why are you living in the past?”
“Can’t you just put it out of your mind?”
The implication is that we should not dwell on something and we should move on as quickly as we can to become emotionally healthy. We are sent the message repeatedly to toughen up, suck it up and keep pedaling at all costs.
This is complete and utter nonsense and if anyone tells you that, they have never been through a really rough patch in their life. Or they might have made it through one, but did not deal with the emotional fallout — yet. There is always a reckoning for injuries to the soul.
It took me 51 years to figure out that I cannot do that. And I’m guessing I am not the only one.
I went through a terrible divorce eight years ago. It affected my life in ways I could not predict or expect. Through the three-year-long process, I was focused on just making it through, thinking that once it was over, I could start to heal.
To me, healing was being 100% successful in my career and role as a mother, 100% not sad, 100% fit like I was 23 even though I’ve had three pregnancies with one C-section that, oh yeah, cut my stomach muscles, and being 100% busy in my off-time.
Those are some pretty high standards but I am a fairly motivated person. I attacked them with a vengeance.
I started running and lost 20 pounds. I ran races. I obsessed over my work and took every mistake to heart even though I had not been in the work force for 17 years. I planned trips with friends. I met new, younger friends and went out all the time — weeknights, weekends, I was all over it because I WAS NOT GOING TO BE DEFEATED BY DIVORCE. I wasn’t going to give up. I expected my children to understand my sacrifices as a single mother and became frustrated when they acted like normal teenagers. I read the Bible, prayed and thought incessantly of ways to improve myself.
In short, I judged myself for everything and found myself coming up short, time and again.
And in the process, I’m pretty sure I had some kind of breakdown but since I don’t have a spouse and my family doesn’t live close by, there was really no one to call the men with the straightjackets to come pick me up. I had to keep on trucking through it and again, I thought I could just tough it out and I would be okay, because I just had to get over it.
Well, folks, I am here to tell you that ignoring feelings and holding yourself to an out-of-reach standard is a recipe for disaster. And guess what? There is no one to blame — even the folks who tell you just to snap out of it. There is just you and the damage and judgement you inflict upon yourself.
Whew! But the good news is you can fix it. Learning to self-care is not just psycho-babble. It’s a tool for surviving in a healthy way in this world so you can be the best you can be for your family, friends and all the people who depend upon you. And no one else can do it for you — it’s up to you. You have to take responsibility for your own well-being and learn what works for you. It may not be what works for everyone else. And I promise it does not involve pedaling as fast as you can and running from a problem.
Self-care involves time and lots of it. It also involves learning to ignore what others think about you because when you are trying to heal emotionally, the most important thing is what you think of yourself and listening to your body.
The single best thing you can do for yourself is to be still and let your mind rest. Stop letting your mind race with problems and pressures. You have the power to do it. My counselor describes it as thinking of stress as a beautifully wrapped present. You can say, “Yes, please, I’ll take it” or “No thank you, I do not want that.” Did you know that you have that choice? Because I did not until this year. You can absolutely say you do not want to accept a burden that you have no control over.
Give yourself time and grace. This is so important.
If you haven’t worked in a million years, just getting a job — any job, is a huge win. You are not going to jump into the job market and be an executive like your classmate who has worked since college.
If you have a few bumpy rolls, well, you might have had some pregnancies or you might have been busy providing for your family and just got out of the exercise habit. But you have to exercise to stay healthy. We all know that. You don’t have to exercise to have a perfect body. Find what you like and feel comfortable with and do it. If you want to dust off those old rollerblades, have at it. If you just like walking with your dog, do it. Anything you do that makes your heart rate change is a win.
If your relationship with your children is not perfect, realize that no one’s is. Think about what you can do better and work on that.
If you’ve been rejected in a relationship, you might feel the need to immediately find someone or something to make you feel valuable again. I’ve got news for you. There is no one monitoring your potential relationship worth. Being alone does not mean you could not be part of a successful relationship.
You don’t have to be busy all the time. Maybe you need that weekend to just watch NetFlix and get your bathroom clean. A clean bathroom and folded laundry are big wins when you can’t seem to control anything else in your life. Really, the value of a sparkling clean, nice-smelling bathroom is underrated.
You need to recognize that you will recover control of your life and emotions at your own pace and that is okay. Your pace might be fast for some things and slow for others. Life is not a race. It’s a journey and you will complete some legs of the trip more easily and with a smoother ride than others.
You just need to remember that you are the only “you” you will ever have. Your brain and body are going to be your only constant companion. Take care of them and they will take care of you. Stop and rest. It’s okay. Instead of getting over it, think about giving yourself time to do what you need to do to get over it.
I am to the point now where I tell myself it is okay if I’m not perfect. My little spirit is growing stronger and I’m much happier. I’ve stopped measuring myself by the yardsticks of success for other people and constantly judging myself. My measure is simply if I am comfortable in my skin for that particular day. Most days I am. Some days I am not. And that is okay, too.
Blessings and love to you all.