“A writer – and, I believe, all persons – must think that whatever happens to him or her is a resource. All things have been given to us for a purpose, and an artist must feel this more intensely. All that happens to us, including our misfortunes, all is given to us as raw material, as clay, so that we may shape our art.” ~Jorge Luis Borges
I was young and I was a new single mom and I was late on my rent every single month.
First apartment. First real responsibilities. Living with a roommate. Trying to figure out this grownup life. In my mind, failing terribly.
Every month we waited for the eviction notice. Both of us working, but somehow unable to manage our money and pay our bills on time. Every month we paid the rent by the skin of our teeth at the very last minute.
One time, we pushed it to the morning that the sheriff was due to come put us out. I remember sitting there in the living room looking around and imagining all of our things sitting out on the curb. The crib. The baby swing. The picture frames. Everything. I was panicked, but strangely calm. I knew there was nothing I could do at that point. So I made up my mind to take a step back from it all and surrender to what was happening. All I could do was breathe and sit with all my emotions swirling around.
My roommate showed up with the money before the sheriff came and we were not evicted that day.
This was just one of many storms going on in my life at the time. Every day I was being faced with the consequences of my bad decisions and self-destructive behavior. But I wasn’t ready to get to the root of it and I didn’t until much later in life. I kept judging and condemning myself, repeating the same patterns, struggling for years.
It’s in these darker moments, when we feel overwhelmed and ashamed, that we judge ourselves most harshly.
We look around at our circumstances and the most negative beliefs we have about ourselves seem to be proven true.
This is when we most need our own compassion and we need to believe that everything we go through is survivable by choosing moment to moment to moment to keep breathing and keep going. We can’t go around it, we have to go through it.
Feelings demand to be felt. Explore them and find the words to describe them. At first for yourself, and then for others. There is purpose in making art with your troubles and sharing the wisdom you gain.
Always stay true to loving yourself and being brave with your story no matter what is going on.
Remember that problems are not problems, they are experiences. By facing our uncomfortable moments mindfully and not acting out or pointing fingers or beating ourselves down, we can stop old cycles and start making use of everything that happens.