For a long time, I wanted my life to be perfect, thinking this would make me happy. Everything had to be in its place, my home and life tidy and clean and everything brand new. Life was frustrating, after all, nothing is perfect. My frustrated desire for tidiness and order could not be satisfied. Even when something was perfect in my eyes, the excitement would soon go. Then I’d be left with the same heavy feelings of fear, anxiety, and emptiness.
What was I looking for? Looking back, I realise I wanted a painless life. Because of the difficult times in my early years and adult life, I had developed a fear of being hurt by others. To my mind, making everything perfect would prevent criticism and avoid the significant losses I had experienced. I took responsibility for my relationships by appeasing others to avoid their criticism. But I could not control others, nor change how they treated me. This left me vulnerable to criticism and abuse.
My self-blame increased to the point where I blamed myself for everything that went wrong. I just didn’t want to hurt any more. My efforts did not make me happy because it is impossible to avoid pain. Pain is an inevitable part of life.
Over time I learned that the answer was not to avoid pain, but to find an antidote. Hurtful situations can be fertile ground for growth – if we know we are loved. This seemingly simple answer was difficult for me to learn but nurturing myself amid pain proved to be the road of relief. I learned self-compassion and how to love myself.
True happiness lies in accepting life just as it is with all it’s beauty and pain. Amongst the harshest things of life lies beauty and beauty cannot truly be recognised without pain. True appreciation is the result of having lived with pain and finding relief.
This is the joy I now live with, not to avoid pain, but to find love even while I am hurting. Love brings hope which is a balm to despair. The answer is to look for the flicker of love which will bring hope and joy. I have come to peace with my past as without it I would not appreciate the beauty in my life now.
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In love, Jenny