Our two questions today are super-duper unrelated to each other. First up, the one on grief:
Hi Kristen, how do you manage/ overcome the “what could’ve been/ should’ve been” thoughts and the sadness that ensues? Are you one of those people who are naturally good at it or did you learn to manage it better? If the latter is true, please share what worked (and what didn’t). I did read the wistfulness post :). Thank you.
This is a great question! I have two answers to offer.
1. Make peace with the pain
I would say that I don’t really try to overcome woulda/shoulda/coulda thoughts or the sadness that inevitably accompanies them. Rather, I’m trying to coexist with them and make peace with their presence for now.
In Maggie Smith’s memoir about her divorce, she mentions the idea of metabolizing grief, and I like that metaphor.
It’s as though there are all of these feelings of sadness and loss and trauma that need to be digested.
If you ignore the hard feelings or push them down, they will just sit there, like rocks in your stomach, weighing you down.
But if you are willing to digest them, then they can move on through and you can be free.
The metaphor breaks down (as all do!) because one does not digest pain and trauma in 24 hours. It’s a bit different than digesting pasta. 😉
And that’s why I say I’m trying to make peace with the presence of these feelings for now. I know it’s going to be a slow digestion process.
BUT, I trust that every time these waves of anger/sadness/grief come over me, it’s just part of the process of digesting it all. I might not feel like I’m making progress, but I trust that I am.
I trust that these moments are getting me closer, closer, closer to the end of metabolizing the hurt and letting it go.
And that makes it way easier to lean into the pain when it shows up.
I know the pain isn’t pointless or endless. I’m just…metabolizing.
2. Look at the possibilities you have now
There is a lot that I am grieving; there are things I have lost that I will never get back, and things I will never have the chance to experience.
There are dreams that I will never see fulfilled.
…there is still time for life to be beautiful, now and in the future.
You know how I often say that there are many ways for life to be beautiful? Well, that’s important to remember in times like these.
Life may not have turned out the way you thought it should; it didn’t go according to plan. But the good news is that there’s more than one plan that leads to a beautiful life!
We can grieve that our first plan got blown to pieces, AND we can also make a new plan for life to be beautiful, even though it’s gonna look different than we thought it would.
So I ask myself, “What is currently good in my life? And what can I do now to make my life more beautiful/good/meaningful?”
I like this combo of strategies because it allows me to:
- Grieve the past
- Look at now/the future
Both of those things are important, and I don’t think you have to choose one or the other!
(Nor do I think it would be healthy to choose. You don’t want to be dwelling solely in the past, but also you don’t want to completely ignore it either.)
I have found that it is possible to have space for both in my life.
And while I am obviously still in the thick of dealing with all of my mess, I do see progress and healing in my heart, and I do experience quite a lot of peace, even in the midst of all of my troubles.
So. I’m not an expert, but this is what has been helping me. I hope it helps you too!
My kids (2&5) are finally at the stage of wearing out shoes before outgrowing them. Do you have any recommendations for finding durable, affordable kid sneakers? Everything seems to be knit uppers with vegan leather trim; the knit gets filthy, the trim peels, and washing doesn’t help much. My parents just cleaned scuffs off of white leather school shoes, but I’m struggling to find anything that will last more than a few months.
I share your frustration with faux leather; I find it to be generally way less durable than real leather, and once it peels and flakes, there’s no reviving it.
It’s not just shoes either; there are a lot of faux leather backbacks, purses, belts, and couches too. I know people are working on developing better faux leather options, and I hope they are successful because the current offerings are rather dismal.
And I hope they can come up with something that’s a little more eco-friendly; a lot of the current faux leather options are usually petroleum-based.
Anyway! Back to the topic at hand.
My youngest child is nearly 18, so I’m not very well-schooled in the current children’s shoe offerings. However, I do remember that my kids got a lot of wear out of their Converse, so if those fit your kids, they might be worth a look.
A really nice thing about Converse is that they are quite washable (we’ve thrown ours in the washing machine many times), and a Magic Eraser cleaning pad does a great job of removing scuffs from the sides of the soles.
That said, I know there are a lot of readers here who are in the thick of raising small people, so I hope that they will be able to share some more kid shoe suggestions for you!