It's okay to make a few "bad" choices during a transition

I wrote in my last post about the difficulty of getting through a transition and how creating a ritual can make it smoother. (My ritual is painting. Did you come up with one for yourself?)

The thing about making a transition smoother is that sometimes it’s okay for it NOT to be smooth. We’re human, and we’re not supposed to transcend feeling bad. When we’re in the storm of a transition, it’s okay to stay out in the rain. It’s okay to spend some time wallowing in the muck.

People may tell you to stop wallowing, to move on, to think positively. They may tell you “it will get easier,” that “this, too, shall pass, that “God/the Universe has a plan for you.” All that may be true. But, for now, wallow away.

After my last email, a friend got in touch to remind me to practice good self-care during this time of transition: to eat well and sleep well, to exercise, to get a massage. I am trying to do all of that. I started doing all of that as soon as my husband and I separated. I have TRIED to make the “right” decisions on this difficult journey.

But I haven’t always done so. Sometimes over the past four months I have made choices that have made this journey harder or have made me get stuck in the mud temporarily.

And you know what? That’s okay. I’m human. And I think that even the Buddha would say I’m allowed to make the occasional “harder/stuck” choice.

I’m not a smoker, but I smoked a bit for a coupled of months. I tried not to drink, but I have had the occasional drink with a friend. 

A few other “harder/stuck” choices I made have included watching shows on Netflix and HBO Now (we don’t have TV or cable). I played a video game. I tried to suppress my feelings and get numb. All of these things were distractions in an attempt to take me out of seeing or feeling what was going on in my real life.

Other “harder/stuck” choices that some people make include having sex with random people, getting into a new relationship too quickly, doing drugs, overeating, swallowing their anger, and taking their anger out on other people. 

All of these “harder/stuck” choices may help in the moment. But none of them help when we stay in them too long. 

In fact, all them, even the ones I chose, can hurt in the long run. And yet, I’m not warning you off of doing some of them. Remember, we ARE human. And beating ourselves up over being human is one of the worst things we can do.

But, here’s the thing. When we make a “harder/stuck” choice, we need be careful not to stay stuck too long in the muck. Stay out in the rain, in the mud, for a bit. Mud is nourishing, after all. 

But you’ve got to pull yourself back out of the mud.

When you make a “harder/stuck” choice, try to pick one (or a few) that won’t get you too stuck. Smoking, drinking, doing drugs, and having random sex are really risky. TV and video games are all right—as long as you don’t stay there. They’re great distractions, as long as you remember to come back out. 

Overeating is risky but can be balanced by eating healthy foods and exercising. I’m all for having that pint of ice cream, but not regularly. And chocolate really does improve mood.

Swallowing your anger and numbing your feelings is spiritually and emotionally dangerous. I’d rather you binge on Netflix or HBO than swallow your feelings. 

We’re going to inadvertently take our anger and grief out on other people. Don’t beat yourself up too much when this happens. Rein it in, apologize, and do what you need to do—with healthy choices—to prevent it from happening too much. Tell people that you’re going through a transition. Be honest and authentic. Limit your triggers. Making as many “right” choices as possible will help prevent future explosions.

One of the best ways to limit “harder/stuck” choices AND to get you out of the “harder/stuck” choices when you’re ready is to have an accountability buddy. This is why it’s so important to talk with friends, a therapist, and/or a coach. Seriously. Do not keep it all to yourself. 

I know you’re worried about being a burden to other people right now. I was, too. In spite of that worry, the very first thing I did post-separation was to reach out to friends, including friends I hadn’t been in touch with in a while. I rallied the troops, so to speak. I took a chance on being a burden. I tested the waters to see who would be there for me.

And, you know what? I got the support I needed. Not everyone I reached out to was emotionally available to me. But enough were that I’ve now got an amazing support system. This has enabled me to make fewer “harder/stuck” choices than I’d be making if I had no support system at all. 

Staying isolated is the absolute worst thing you can do. That is the hardest, most stuck choice of all. Please don’t do it.

Go ahead and make a few “harder/stuck” choices. You are human! But choose wisely, as paradoxical as that sounds. And have the support system you need to help you get out of the mud.

The one promise I can make is that you CAN get through this.

Let me know what “harder/stuck” choices you have made during a transition and what you’ve done to get out.

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