Have you gone through a rough period in life and looked back, wondering how you made it? When you’re at that stage you are through the most difficult period. It takes perspective to see that a hard time has passed and you are on the other side.
Feeling back to normal does not mean that you are “ok” with your tragedy or unfortunate situation. Nor does it mean that you need to be grateful for enduring it — even if you can point to positive outcomes following it. In fact, even though a better life can be the outcome after a difficult period, I strongly believe that nobody deserves to have gone through something painful in order to be happier. For example, leaving behind an abusive relationship for an eventual happy marriage is a “happy ending.” But I believe that everyone deserves a happy partnership without having to suffer.
This is the last chapter I’m writing about Comebacks. What do the end stages of a Comeback look like? You have begun to rebuild, and now you must let some things go. Now is the time to notice that you can be yourself without feeling like a fake. Now is the time to let yourself enjoy things you used to enjoy without any guilt. How do you do this?
It is important to recognize that your life will always be about holding feelings and experiences that seem conflicting — forever. As a client once said, “I wish the divorce hadn’t happened, but I wouldn’t change a thing.” This is a more complicated idea than it seems. You can always mourn the loss of someone or something. You will always miss this person, this part of your health, this experience. AND (not “BUT!”) you can feel optimistic about the future, see the ways your experience has humbled you. You will take comfort in your rituals of remembrance and grief as well as pleasure from what your life is about today.
You will know that you are nearing the end of your comeback when feeling happy and like yourself feels like a relief. It won’t feel guilt-inducing or scary to feel normal. It may take longer than you hope. But remember that you will always hold both ideas — “I wish this hadn’t happened” and “I like my life as it is now”.