It is possible not to react to every single thing someone says or does. It is possible to scroll past social media posts that get under your skin and not look back. It is possible to ignore a snarky comment or an unhelpful piece of advice from someone who ACTS like they know what you’re going through but really has. no. idea.
Now if you are new on this journey, you will read these first few lines and think, “Is this woman crazy????”
I felt EXACTLY the same way in the first months and even through the first couple years in this Valley.
But, I will tell you this: the sooner you can embrace the habit of practicing the pause, the sooner you will begin to feel like you have some control in your world again.
And isn’t that one of the things we crave after the tsunami of child loss sweeps over our lives-order, control, a sense of purpose and direction?
Really, really hard not to react against every arrow shot into my wounded heart. Even when I know it was an accident and the offense is collateral damage, it still hurts.
But I’ve found that if I just take a single, deep breath I can put a bit of distance between the oomph of the impact and my reaction. And there is actually power in choosing to ignore offense.
Because then I am in control, not the person lobbing the arrows.
So what do I do in the split-second it takes to draw in that preparatory breath? I consider the source. I think (quickly) about my ongoing relationship with this person, what’s happening in THEIR life and why they might have said or done what they said or did.
Is it ignorance? Is it sloppy choice of words? Is it due to stress in his life? Is she just worn out and not thinking?
And I decide: is reacting to THIS particular exchange worth damaging the relationship?
Is it worth the negative emotional energy that I will have to expend?
Is it something I can overlook and move past?
Most of the time the answer is, “yes”. I CAN let it go. It’s not that big of a deal. It is not a fair representation of our relationship and it is certainly not worth ruining a friendship.
I’m not just doing THEM a favor. I’m doing ME a favor.
I’m not “letting them off the hook”. I may actually revisit the issue later on, when emotions aren’t running high.
But I have learned that I only have so much emotional energy to expend in this Valley. So much of it is already absorbed in carrying the missing and sorrow and reining in my own outrageous feelings that I just don’t need to waste the rest on trivial things.
So I don’t (most of the time).
Practicing the pause helps me do that.
It gives me control.
There is far too little of that this side of child loss.
So I will take what I can get.