Last year life gave me an intermission. Maybe you’ve felt something similar? Life is going along all great – career, love life, family, friends…everything is running smoothly and then *applause, applause*, curtain closes, and it’s the end of the act…for that part of your life.
Either a particular event ends the act or your life is telling you it’s the end of the act. I’ve had both happen.
A few years ago divorce and challenges in my corporate career were showing me it was time for an intermission.
In 2016, it was less obvious. It was my physical energy and emotions telling me it was time for an intermission.
Sometimes intermissions happen in just one area of our life and sometimes, like for me last year, they happen in all areas at the same time.
Most often we don’t choose when these intermissions happen. They happen naturally by life telling us they NEED to.
The important thing to remember is an intermission is a BREAK, not the END.
I look at the intermission as a necessary pause in between acts in your life.
If you’re in an intermission you can be sure you are being prepared for the next act in your life which will require a different, more evolved version of you. Intermissions give us the opportunity to grow – even though most of the time, while we are in the middle of them, it doesn’t seem like much is happening besides a lot of pain. But the pain is guiding us to what needs to be healed.
In my case, last year, there was a lot of old grief coming up – specifically around anger and expression. I needed to heal a lot in terms of speaking my truth. I needed to look it square in the eye, forgive myself and others from my past, and know that I can choose a different way now.
Intermissions in life often requires us to move at a slower pace. To do a lot of inner work. To face our pains of the past and to heal them. This takes a lot of courage and emotional energy. While it may take some time to see the results of the internal work, they are happening even if you can’t ‘see’ them yet.
Here are four ways to take good care of yourself during an intermission:
Relaxing activities and creative expression were the two ways I essentially “mothered” myself during this time. When we are grieving and letting go of the old, we are essentially birthing the new. It can be an incredibly tiring time. Napping, being in nature, reading, taking a bath, whatever your favorite form of relaxation—do that, and do it often. Dancing and painting were creative activities that helped me find clarity and brought me back to the present moment. This is a time to take extra good care of yourself and not overextend. Be easy on yourself.
The thing that kept me stuck was placing judgment on what was going on within me. It wasn’t until I accepted how I was feeling that I actually found relief. Allow yourself to be exactly where you are, feeling exactly what you feel. Let it come up. Feel it. Cry through it. The feeling always passes once we express it.
Talking to someone about what you are experiencing can help you feel seen and heard. I don’t believe that we can get through this process alone—in fact I don’t think we are meant to. Talking to a trusted friend, loved one, therapist, or coach can help.
A lot of the emotion we experience comes from holding on to grievances from our past. The only way to truly let it go is to forgive. That doesn’t mean that what happened to us was okay. We are forgiving for our own sake, not theirs. Forgiveness gives the final release. Here’s one way: write a letter to the person, getting everything out that you need to say. Don’t hold back on anything. Just let yourself free write how you feel. Then burn the letter or rip it up.
The most important thing to remember during this time is there is no shame in going through an intermission – EVERYBODY does, it’s part of the human experience, but many people don’t talk about it or choose to consciously go through it.
You, my friend, are brave for looking directly at the pain, rather than running from it. When you look directly at it you have the power to heal it and show up differently for the next act.
The intermission WILL end and the next act will begin. It’s the way the universe works in helping us heal on our journey. Trust this. You are being called to be something greater in the next act -to show up in a larger capacity as the man or woman you are capable to being. In order to do that you must let go of the pain of the past.
Trust, trust, trust the process. It’s all on your side.
Photo credit: Miles Tan