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Category: Recovery

Forgiving the Unforgivable

God can give you rest

I have been hurt bad.

I did not deserve it.

It was something that happened to me and not because of a decision I had made.

Read More…
My Son was Murdered by my Wife

I have joined a local support group, The Parents of Murdered Children (POMC). I have heard many, many horrible stories. They understand how horrible my story is, as well.

But I have also witnessed the continued physical damage that stress puts on the survivor—cancers, tumors, sleep difficulty, digestion problems and other “strange” issues that doctors cannot diagnose.

I think the root of these problems is anger and unforgiveness.

By no means should you tell a homicide survivor that they must forgive their assailant. This is a horrible thing to say. Anger can, and usually is, a healthy part of the grief process.

How did Jesus put it? Oh yes.

Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?
Jesus Christ, Matthew 7:3 (NIV)

Saying such a horrible thing will drive survivors away from the church, and that is something they dearly need right now. But perhaps they need to find a more loving and understanding church.

A church should be where you feel at home, loved, and welcome.

But I wanted to tell homicide victims that they can choose to forgive and that letting go helped me. Every journey is different. I am not telling you what you should or shouldn’t do. You may feel horrific anger now that will soften over the years. You may never forgive. That is your right.

Forgiveness Has a Bad Rap

There is a misconception about forgiveness. Some think we are saying the sin is all right. Nothing could be further from the truth.

If we sin against God, nothing will ever make that all right.

There is nothing the perpetrator could do that would make the crime right. No matter what the court system decides. No matter what restitution she pays. She could go away for the rest of her life, but that will not bring back my son.

Rather, forgiveness is about debt. It is balancing the scale. When we ask God for forgiveness, he counts us as righteous. He doesn’t make us righteous. That ship has sailed.

There is nothing she could do to repay me, so why am I still holding this anger? It only hurts me, not her.

They say that hatred is like drinking poison and hoping that other person dies.

So what do we do?

If you have been hurt, you have been given a rotten fruit. You didn’t want it, but you didn’t have a choice. It was given to you. Now, what do you do with it? That is up to you.

You can eat it—stuff it down deep inside—but that will only make you sick.

Or you can choose to forgive. Let God take that spoiled fruit of anger and hatred. Let him clean you up and remake you.

Tell God, “I have anger built up in me against [person] but I do not want it. I choose to forgive her. The debt is gone. Please take it away and heal me.”

Believe me, I did not come to this point right away. I was good and angry for many years. My hatred burned hot.

I think a little bit of that is healthy.

I had deep, deep love. That love was taken away—not lost.

Now my love is broken and incomplete. For the rest of my life.

It was in desperation that I prayed that prayer. What could it hurt? Why do we turn to prayer as a last resort? I try to make prayer the first resort now.

What happened next?

Instantly, the burden of emotion was taken away. I was still sad—that will never go away. But I no longer felt the burden of hatred. That yolk was taken from my shoulders immediately.

From that point, my heart has been softened to the plight of others. I am more understanding of the anger and hatred of others. Someday, they might forgive—or not. What will be will be.


Don’t forgive because they deserve it. They do not deserve it.

Forgive for you. You deserve it.

You are in a prison cell, but the door to the cell is open. You can leave any time you want. You are choosing to hold on to the anger and stay in the cell.

This is sad to me.

You are being victimized again.

I hope that you someday choose life and freedom.

The Great Autism Debate

I understand now.

Many adults with autism want to be called “Autistic.” That’s how they self-identify. For them, they are an Autistic individual. Others feel it’s important to use “person-first language” (i.e. “a person with autism”).

The debate has been going back and forth is the ASD community. I could never understand why the convictions on both sides were so strong.

Now I understand.

Read More: My Son was Murdered by his Mother

London, my son, was Autistic. The autism was severe and pronounced. His symptoms were unmistakable. But you got past that. You gave him grace. You didn’t focus on his limitations. He was a happy, loving boy. Besides being beautiful to behold—blue eyes and blonde hair—he was beautiful on the inside.

He laughed and jumped and played. He loved other children, even if he didn’t know how to play with them.

He didn’t like what he didn’t like. He made that quite clear. But he made it clear what he did like. He took to those things with great gusto. When he was eating food that he liked, he cooed. The air was full of “mmmm”s and “yumms”s. He couldn’t talk, but he was always making sound. His “almost-words” were nicknamed his “Ewok Language.”

He adored physical contact with those he loved. He liked to be held and tossed, and he always slept pressed up against me at night.

The story of his life is love personified. London personified love.

You and I can honor his memory best by loving each other. Love your children. Love your parent. Love your friends. Love those you meet.

Love with great gusto.

I’m going to cut through all that naming debate. Just call an individual by his or her name. London was London.

Don’t just take it from me. His friends were typical children. When they played, sometimes the other children would wonder why he was different. His friend, Sienna, was the same age as he. She said, “This is my friend London. He can’t speak. He’s not a baby or anything, he just can’t speak.” His friend, John, said, “This is my friend London. Sometimes he just needs a little space.” The children around him didn’t label him. They didn’t know how to. He was just “their friend, London.”

People with disabilities are just people. I have a disability. Without warning, a brain tumor sent me to the hospital. I sill have trouble walking, but I’m trying the best I can. I deserve a chance to try. London deserved a chance to try. That chance was taken away from him.

His passing has shocked the world. It shocked me.

Every person deserves a chance to live.

When old friends greet me who knew London, they have trouble finding the words to say. That is understandable. This act defies explanation. I have trouble finding the words to say. There are no words to explain that which doesn’t make sense.

Being a parent is hard. That is no excuse for murder.

London was loving and trusting. That trust was betrayed.

London had two sets of grandparents that would have loved to raise him. I would have loved to raise him. I was very much looking forward to knowing London as an adult.

There is no excuse for taking a life.

None.

In conclusion, greet those with disabilities with love, warmth, and a first name. He or she deserves the respect you would give any friend.

Go in peace. Love one another.

How to Praise God During Hardship

This is really difficult to do

It is a challenge to praise God during your hardships. Life is hard. When it starts to rain, how do we respond?

I’ve been fighting depression for about a year now. Things seem horrible even when they aren’t. I’m a homicide survivor. Maybe that was the trigger. I am living apart from my wife and family. Maybe that’s it.

Read More: My Son was Murdered by his Mother

I know that there is a God. I know He wants the best for me. I know that He answers prays according to His will. He doesn’t always give us what we pray. When He does not, it is because He has a good reason. We may not know the reason until later. We may not know the reason until we go to heaven.

I want my story to help at least one other person out there. I have faith that it will.

But that was five years ago. What do I do right now? My life is still far from perfect.

Praise Him in the Storm

My wife asked me why I don’t write about my experience? My response is that my life wasn’t a triumphant “success” yet. But then I realized that “success” might not happen. Maybe it is “successful” right now. Maybe not in the ways of the world. Maybe in the ways of God.

Jesus tells us many, many times that the life of a Christian is not easy. Just the opposite, He tells us that our lives will have many problems. Have an honest conversation with any Christian you know. If you scratch the surface, you will find your share of problems.

We are here for each other. We can and should share each other’s burden.

For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!

Ecclesiastes 4:10 English Standard Version (ESV)

Sometimes I have to stop and think of my blessings. What successes do I have?

  • My health. I’ve experienced life in a hospital bed. It is not fun. Some people have to live in a hospital bed. I feel pity for them and I am blessed to not be one of them anymore.

  • A big, loving family. A loving relationship is more important than money. The older I get, the more I appreciate this. I will hug my wife and kids again someday. I will hug the son I lost again someday. I have family here in the US that I can hug anytime.

  • A roof over my head. I am not “rich” financially, but I have the things I need. I am not homeless. I have a bed and warmth. There is a saying in The Philippines:

    A small blanket is better than no blanket.

  • American citizenship. Some people literally wait multiple years to enter the US. Some are so desperate that they enter the US illegally. This comes with a whole list of blessings, many of which we take for granted. It usually takes a trip overseas to really understand how good we have it. It really is true that the poorest American still has more than most of the world. That is sad, really.

If we take the time to stop and think, we have many reasons to rejoice. This is “counting our blessings.” We can talk it out with a friend, or write it out in a journal.

The really hard thing is that depression ignores all the good things, and one really bad thing can wipe out 10 really good things. I was not counting my blessings when my son was killed.

God is in Your Praise

When something bad is happening, we really want and need Him to take action. He is mighty and powerful. We need Him.

Is there something that seems impossible? Is there something that only He can do? That’s where He works best.

When the Israelites went into battle, they went first with praise. When we praise Him, He is there. Do you want a miracle? Do you want Him to witness the situation and perhaps take action? God inhabits the praises of His people. Do you believe that? I do.

When Lazarus died, was there anyone other than God who could have raised him? Jesus waited for Lazarus to die before he went to visit. He said He was doing this so that the glory of God could be displayed for all.

Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.”

John 11:40-42 English Standard Version (ESV)

The apostles were instruments in raising the dead, but the ultimate power comes from God.

Praise Him.

Your praise meets several different needs at once. God is good at multitasking:

  • Reminding you that you need Him and nothing is too difficult for Him.
  • Reminding you of your blessings.
  • Bringing His power to your current situation.

Is Life Hard? Praise Him

This is difficult to do. It is a practice. I have to remind myself to praise Him in storms and difficulties. We are told to rejoice in our problems and difficulties. I am still trying to work this one out.

But you don’t have to understand the commands of God to follow them and receive His blessings. We only have to obey. He tells us to rejoice during tough times. Therefore, I practice rejoicing during hard time.

When things are at their most bleak, when you need a miracle, that is the time to reach out to God. That is the time for praise.

My Son was Murdered by his Mother

“When will the pain stop?!”

That was my first question when I went to my first support group meeting, Parents of Murdered Children (POMC).

The answer, almost to my horror, is never.

The pain never goes away. I heard a man speak who lost his daughter to murder over 30 years ago. He is still dealing with his pain.

Initially, this made me recoil.

Never? The pain would never go away?

The pain of the first year is almost unbearable. The idea that this pain would go on forever was unthinkable. Over several years of meetings, I have learned the rest of the story.

Yes, the pain of a traumatic loss never goes away, but it softens. Survivingvictims of homicide are trying to save another life — their own. They are on a quest to find “the new normal.” We aren’t trying to “move on.” We will never move on from our tragedy. Instead, we “move forward” in spite of it.

But I am getting ahead of myself. Let me go back to the beginning.

My Story

I’m a big fan of motivational speaker. Mainly because… they motivate me.

My latest is Mel Robbins.

She said something in a speech that really stood out to me.

She said:

If you are doing something new, you might tell yourself that you’ll succeed or fail. –Mel Robbins

She goes on to say that we should tweak the saying. In our modern society, there is little chance that we will fail (or die). In ancient times, failure could mean death. Today, failure means we get a sternly-worded memo from HR.

Instead, she said, we should tell ourselves, “We will succeed or survive.”

I like this, because I’m a survivor.

To understand my story, we have to go back to 2013. I was living in Hood River, Oregon. I though I was living a pretty good life.

I had good friends. I had a good job. I had a good family. I had a beautiful little boy. He was autistic and non-verbal, but he gave really good hugs. I wish I could have heard him say, “I love you,” but both of us knew.

The Crash

That’s when my whole castle began to crumble.

I got a brain tumor. It was in a very sensitive part of my brain. I couldn’t feel the left half of my body. I could not walk. I was confined to a hospital bed.

I got good care at the local Providence hospital. My friends and family rallied around me. It boosted my spirits.

I was going to buckle down and recover!

Two months later, I was diagnosed with a rare form of MS. I spent a month in rehab relearning how to every common task you can think of. Standing up, walking, brushing my teeth, and dressing myself.

In the two months I had been confined to my bed, all of my muscles had atrophied.

I was starting as a baby again at the age of 40.

I’m used to tears and humiliation and hard work. You haven’t lived until you’ve messed yourself in public (that’s a joke). It makes a person humble, though.

A month later, I returned to my home in a wheelchair with a walker.

I wasn’t deterred. I was going to keep at it, work hard, and recover!

Life wasn’t done dealing me blows.

The Continued Fall

Then my wife had a “nervous breakdown.”

I’m not making light of mental illness. It’s a serious thing. If you or someone you know is struggling with mental illness, get help immediately.

I am saying that my wife didn’t have a real nervous breakdown. At least, the later police investigation didn’t come to that conclusion. Their opinion is that she was pretending to have a nervous breakdown. Why? Maybe she didn’t want to deal with a special needs son and a special needs husband?

It’s all speculation. We may never know.

What I do know is that she was a master of manipulation. You thought of her what she wanted you to think of her. She wanted everyone to think that she was a poor victim of a “nervous breakdown.”

She entered the mental health system of Hood River. We bounced around from therapist to therapist. No one really did anything. Of course, nothing would have worked. She was allegedly faking it and showing different symptoms to different people.

When they started talking about putting her in an institution, my aunt and uncle came to the rescue. They offered up a room in their house for her to stay. Yes, she has a name, but I prefer not to use it… ever.

We’ll call her The One Who Won’t Be Named.

Now I didn’t have any support at home. My wife had been the primary care-giver for my son. I had come a long way, but I wasn’t yet up to the task of parenting a very energetic, special-needs boy.

My mother-in-law extended her vacation and stayed with me two weeks. My mother took a vacation to stay with me two more weeks. She was the one who said this wasn’t a long-term solution. She had life and job back in Newport, Oregon.

“Pack up a few boxes. You’re moving in with me.”

It was like quickly leaving a disaster and grabbing only what you need. There were so many things that I left behind. Years later, I don’t miss most of those things. It was forcing me to become a minimalist — and fast!

Normal Life?

Life continued like this in Newport — maybe a month or so?

I worked on daily exercise. I was still determined to “get better.”

Then, my wife’s condition “got worse.” She made some very angry, violent threats toward my aunt and uncle. The police were called. She was taken into state mental care. Quick hint out there for those of you dealing with mental illness. The police that came to the scene would sooner have just left things alone. That wouldn’t have been a good thing. You can tell when somebody needs mental care. In this case, she was allegedly needing serious mental care, but that’s beside the point.

My uncle insisted that she be placed in state care. He threatened to take legal action if they didn’t. Bravo, uncle! Between you and me, I think you dodged a bullet there.

Lesson: Make the public officials do their jobs, even when they don’t want to.

So, the unnamed one was placed in a group home in The Dalles, Oregon. Six months later, they requested a phone call. Apparently, she was “cured” (she wasn’t) and she was good to “come home” (it wasn’t a good idea).

Lesson: Even if a mental health professional tells you someone if “cured” don’t believe them. Get a second AND third opinion. Set up a meeting and see for yourself.

That may not have helped in this case, because she was acting “crazy” and acting “normal” based on her needs at the time.

The Crime

She came home to Newport and lived with us for about six months. I shiver when I think about the kind of danger we were all in.

I regularly got out of the house to practice walking or go swimming at the local pool.

On the evening of November 3rd, 2014, I went out. She said that she was fine to watch little London (she wasn’t).

I was gone for about two hours.

I noticed a bunch of emergency lights on the Newport bridge (the Yaquina Bay Bridge). I assumed there had been an auto accident. I was stuck in the slow traffic as it crawled across.

I kept my eyes forward on the slowly-moving cars ahead of me. This was for several reasons:

  • One of the reasons traffic goes so slow is because people slow down to look at an accident. I told myself I wasn’t going to be a “lookie loo” a long time ago.
  • Sometimes people get into fender-benders by looking at the accident and not at the road. I definitely don’t want to be one of “those” people.
  • I was fairly fresh to driving again after rehab. It’s like riding a bike, but it still required focus.

If I had been looking, I would have seen my wife’s car.

I got home and watched a movie with my dad. I still can’t stand the Transformers movies for that reason. That’s a whole bunny trail we won’t go in to here.

A couple hours past. It was dark. I was starting to get worried.

I called. I texted.

Nothing.

Then there was a knock at the door. It was a group of police and a chaplain. They asked to come inside. They asked me to sit. Then they told me what had happened.

She had driven London to the Newport bridge. Parked the car. Walked him out to the middle of the bridge. Picked him up. Threw him off the bridge.

When the police told me, I started to cry.

I cried non-stop for about three days. I cried so much, it felt like I broke. I have trouble crying even to this day.

When you hear something traumatic, your mind instantly goes into shock. This is not a good time to be talking to anybody.

Lesson: Do not give a statement to the police while you are still reeling from a crime. You aren’t thinking clearly. You don’t want to be “on the record.”

But that is another bunny trail.

The very next day, friends from Hood River began to arrive. This is about a three-hour drive. I was surrounded by shared grief and support. While I had been in the hospital, London had lived with many of these families. To them, it was also like losing a son.

Honestly, the first year is mostly a blur.

I think it’s a self-protection device of your brain. While the pain is fresh, the brain can’t compute. It mostly shuts down.

Witnessing all of this love, generosity, and support softened my heart. I gave my heart to God and his son, Jesus Christ. He has been putting my life back together ever since.

Some homicide victims are angry with God. If so, that’s OK. He’s a big guy, He can take it.

I never blamed God for what happened. I think He was the first one to cry.

I’m not here to convert anybody. I’m just saying that embracing faith has helped me on my journey

That began my nomad life. I began to wander aimless. Newport had too many memories. I moved up to Portland, and have been staying with one friend after another. I didn’t know where I was going.

An Exotic Beauty

A year later, I was still going through the trial. People ask if a “successful” trial brings closure. It does not. The legal process is a different kind of pain. As a society, we should be ashamed. We take a person who has been through a traumatic situation and put them through another traumatic situation (a trial). So, to answer the question, the end of a trial is just a relief — regardless of the outcome. It could be good or bad.

I just wanted it to be over.

I wanted to learn how to breathe again, instead of gasping for life.

When I needed a friend at the end of the trial, Malou reached out to me on Facebook. That’s an amusing story, but yet another bunny trail. She didn’t know anything about what I was going through. She just knew I was a Christian and she thought I was cute.

I’ll take that. I needed a friend as the pressure-cooker of a trial was underway.

She lived in Rome, Italy. She was a private chef.

We started to chat every day. In one of our chats, I mentioned the trial. I thought everybody knew because it was such a huge story. She had no idea.

The next day, she had done some research. She apologized. She had no idea.

We became closer and closer. At this point, I still didn’t know what she looked like. Her Facebook profile picture had photos of her children (adorable). Turns out she was a widow. She was working overseas to support her kids back home (in The Philippines). As I got to know her, she was a beautiful person. I admired her level of self-sacrifice for her kids. We started to talk about the possibility of getting married.

It was a lame proposal, but she agreed.

Maria Luisa Vispo Dela Cruz

It wasn’t until after the proposal that she sent me a photo of herself. I almost dropped the phone. She was gorgeous!

A year after that, I went to meet her for the first time in Rome, Italy. When I met her, she was surprised. She had seen my photos online of me at rehab in a wheelchair. She didn’t expect me to be walking. At that time I was walking with a cane. Now I walk without that.

Family, Wedding, and VISA

The whole Philippines family

I travelled once to The Philippines to meet the family and kids. She has SIX kids and one grandkid! We saved up for another year and then travelled again to The Philippines to get married.

More bunny trails there.

Now we are working on the VISA application. Holy Cow! Talk about pulling your fingernails out! My 1st application is about 80 pages long. Notice that I said “1st application.” There will be many, many more hoops to go through.

Six Years Later…

It has been six years since the murder. I am now a totally different person than I was. I am remarried. I am writing again.

If I had any advice for somebody going through traumatic grief, it would be this:

Do what you have to do. There are no rules. Stay busy and try new things.

Peace and may God bless you❤

Matt McCabe
January, 2020

A Parent’s Pain: Finding Hope After the Murder of a Child

It is the worst nightmare of a parent. It is the death of a beloved child. Murder makes it that much worse.

Once a child is born, a parent would do anything to protect them. A parent would even sacrifice their own life so that his or her own child would live.

The tragic death is the worst pain imaginable, and it comes with months and years of anguish. I hope that none of you experience this pain, but if you do, here’s some things that helped me. You aren’t alone.

When Does the Pain Stop?

When I first started attending support groups,
this was my first question:

When does the pain stop?

I really wish the answer were different, but the
answer is ‘never.’ When someone is fresh to their grief,
this can be a punch in the gut, so it’s important to quickly get to the next point. Over time, the pain will get softer and possible to bear.

In the first year, the pain is quite severe. This pain is not endless. You will eventually find a new normal.

Your old life is dead. Many parents live their lives for their children (me included). When the life of a child ends, the life of the parent ends. Not literally, but all hope and joy can drain away. It is important for the parent to begin to live a new life. They need to come to terms with a new normal life. This is the new normal.

You never intended this, but you are now on a mission for your own self-preservation.

It’s Not Your Fault

This was not your fault.
You could not have prevented it.
You are worthy of life.

These are very important statements. For those of you that have not experienced traumatic loss, you would be well served to memorize the above. The parent in pain needs these three important points. At first the parent won’t believe it. He or she is in shock. You must repeat it until he or she believes it.

  1. This is not your fault. A parent feels responsible for the health and welfare of their child. They couldn’t stop the murder of the child. They feel guilt. They need to be released from that guilt.
  2. This could not have been prevented. The tragic events are playing over and over in the head of the bereaved. He or she is wondering if they had done this or that. Would their child still be alive?This endless loop will try to drive a person insane. Put a line in the sand early. Any of us could play, “What If?” games. What If is no longer allowed.
  3. You are worthy of life. It is very unlikely that this statement will be agreed upon. The surviving victim will be very hard on themselves. Even if he or she does not yet agree, they must accept the fact. Other ways to prove his or her self-worth is to have a close friend talk about the impact the survivor has made in his or her life. Affirmation of this point might be a full-time job while the tragedy is fresh.

‘You are worthy of life.’

Survival Steps

Here is a list of things that helped me. I have been on a quest for recovery. I found out that this is a life-long quest. The only other alternative is to give up. I refuse to give up.

1. Talk About Your Pain

I recommend finding and joining a support group. A great organization is the Parents of Murdered Children (POMC). There are many chapters across the United States. Talk to your victim’s advocate about the nearest chapter. These people have been through similar circumstances, and will let you talk. They know how important it is to talk.

The story of your tragedy is unbelievable. Your brain cannot process it. Talking about it makes it real in your head. Only then can you begin the process of rebuilding your life.

Your pain is a sharp bundle of razor-blades inside you. If you bury it, the pain will make you sick. Many victims of homicide develop horrible diseases. Grief and stress, if not treated, can do a lot of damage.

Friends will often reach a point where they no longer want to talk about the tragedy. In some cases, they might even ask you to move on. They do not understand that there is no ‘moving on’ for you. This is another reason to find a support group. They will never tell you to move on. You can tell them the same story as much as you need to.

Your story may have tears. It may be angry. Any and all emotions you feel are all right. Give yourself permission to feel what you feel.

2. Stay Busy

It’s time to break out the to-do list.

When you dive into a project head-first, you can lose yourself and forget about the pain. Don’t worry about forgetting the pain – you will never forget the pain. This is just taking a temporary pain-reliever.

This is also a good time to start a new hobby: Art, crafts, writing… you name it. You never know what you will like until you try it. Grab a catalog from the local community college and sign up for a class or two (or three!). Not only is this a distraction, this will help you in creating that new normal we talked about before. You may discover a hidden talent that can help form your new identity.

 

3. Help Others

One of the best ways to lessen our pain is to help others. Volunteer for organizations. Be on the look-out for way to help your fellow man (or woman). Reach out to others that are really hurting. You can help others. In so doing, you will help yourself.

This can be combined with Step #2. You can volunteer to help with the manual labor tasks of others. Digging a ditch or cleaning a house will keep your mind busy AND help someone else.

 

4. Find Someone (or Something)
to Love

You still have the capacity to love, perhaps even more now than before. You have a deeper sense of empathy for others.

If you are single, the exhilaration of a new relationship can lift your spirits. Just be cautious of falling for a person that is less-than-perfect.
Use your friends to vet your choice, if you need to.

If you are already in a relationship, work on strengthening that bond. Do things for your beloved. He or she is your lifeline, now more than ever.
Spend close time with that person.

Consider getting a new pet. An eager puppy nuzzling your face can make you smile. You need to smile and laugh right now. Deep sobs or deep laughter can move the rock that is sitting on your chest.

You could show love to a dear, close friend. This could be a time to create strong family relationships. You have love building up in the dam of your heart. You need to find a release for it just as much as you need to find a release for your pain.

5. Enjoy Life

You have just received a very bitter reminder
that life is short.

  • Pamper yourself. Take yourself shopping. Eat out at good restaurants. Eat dessert before your main dish.
  • Be silly. Where purposely mismatched clothing. Wear your pajamas and go to the mall. Learn and tell some lousy jokes. Talk to strangers. Take yourself a little less seriously!
  • Enjoy peaceful things. Look hard at the sunsets. Breathe the fresh air. Pick a flower or two. Visit a garden or a forest. Go to the zoo.

 

6. Avoid Harmful Habits

You may be tempted to crawl into a bottle (pills or alcohol). You may want to eat ten gallons of Rocky Road ice cream (a pint is ok). We might want to sit on the couch and power-stream everything on TV.

We know what is harmful to us. We could make a list.
You may be tempted by all kinds of things that promise release.
The sad truth is, no physical pleasure will help your pain. It will make matters worse because you will feel bad about yourself after you have indulged.

Let’s flip those urges on their head. Make a list of things that are good for you and do those things. Go for a run. Check. Write a long letter by hand to a friend. Check. Make a very healthy meal from scratch. Check.

You may not feel like doing any of those things (and believe me, we’ve all been there). Do them anyway. You will feel better about yourself afterwards. Plus, the act of doing something with meaning is healing for the soul. Try something with your hands, or something that uses your muscles—it is cathartic.

P.S. Go out of your way to eat dessert, just limit yourself.

 

7. Find Religion

I’m not going to preach to you here. There is a reason every 12-Step program wants you to find your higher power. It gives you perspective, and it helps. Do it. Stick with it. Practice it. Take it deep in yourself. Let it heal what hurts.

 

8. Improve Yourself

Go on a massive quest for self-improvement. Lose weight.
Start going to the gym. Take some classes. Learn public speaking. Learn a new skill.
At the very least,
you will be distracting yourself and keeping yourself busy. At the most,
you’ll be a healthy, well-adjusted human being.

Reward for Reading

Thanks for taking a few moments out of your life to read my article. As a reward, here’s a cute
kitten.

 

Image Credits:
Divider Image
Google Images

Avatar Image
Flickr user Arielle Fragassi

Gravestones
Flickr user m shaff

Cute Kitten
Flickr user Juco