Some things make you feel like you took one step forward and then two steps back. But other things bring your life to a full halt. They’re the four-way stop signs of life and, guess what, you don’t have the right of way.
It feels so weird, right? . It’s like no one sees you’re stopped. The other drivers pause to look both ways and then blow on by like you aren’t even there. They are still living life at full-on go, petal-to-the-metal baby!
But you can’t deny that you’re at a STOP sign. The reasons vary: loss of a job, a serious health issue or accident, an intimate betrayal, or someone close to you dies. And suddenly you are suspended in mid-air and, worse yet, there’s no net set up to catch you.
Shock is the natural reaction to a full-on stop. You’re bound to say one version or the other of “What the hell just happened?!” Your mind replays the inconvenient truth again and again – as if more thinking can make sense of the unthinkable.
When you’re stuck at a STOP sign, it feels like it’s never happened to any one before, when in reality, full STOPS are the truest of human realities. It’s just that, until the STOP sign appears, you feel invincible. It’s the American Way! You buy into the super-hero fantasy of invincibility which, it should be noted, sells lots of movie tickets, Spanxs, and spandex. But when you deny your softness and vulnerability, you deny your own humanity and cut yourself off from self-compassion.
Self-compassion is the most important part of waiting at a STOP sign. Let’s say your car was totaled in an accident. Would you leap out and yell at it? Could you bully it into action? Would screaming, “Get it together! Stop whining. Get your front end up off that pavement and just get on with it!” be helpful? Could the car get up and put itself back together because you yelled at it? It’s laughable, right? And yet…
When the inevitable happens and a STOP sign rises up in front of you, are you tempted to bully yourself into “doing something?” Do you push yourself to action when there’s probably not an “action” you can take that will change anything?
The only solution to STOP signs is kindness. The kind of loving kindness you would offer to a lost puppy or a toddler with a boo-boo happens to be good for you, too. And the irony is that when you are kind to yourself, what really does need to happen usually does.
This is going to sound crazy, but the next time you hit a STOP sign, maybe you could just stop. Maybe you could be patient and wait and be as kind to yourself as you know how. A STOP sign is a highly personal experiences that arrives unannounced and uninvited. STOP signs don’t seek your opinion. They don’t ask if you want one or if now is a good time. It just doesn’t’ work that way.
So when the STOP signs of life appear, maybe you could try something different. Maybe you could take a deep breath and say something nice to yourself like, “Oh honey, I’m so sorry.” That might really help because the only thing you can really control at a STOP sign is how you react to it.
If you are at a pivotal moment in your widowhood (you’ll know it if you are) and are ready to forward, then you are ready for the Widow’s Recovery System and the personal support and resources it offers. Your first sacred support call is free. Learn more.