I know this sounds weird, but the key to actually moving on is not to move on.
I’ve been thinking about this whole process of ‘moving on’ lately; what it means and what we should do with it. Moving on is not just about romantic relationships. It can be about any form of loss, any form of transition, any form of drastic, heart-rending change. And the journey from the sorrow of the night to the joy of the morning is not an easy one.
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What I found is this: moving on becomes hard because we are pressured to move on. We live in an ‘instant’ generation where everything is packaged and encouraged to be at the snap of our fingers or a moment’s notice. But life isn’t like that. Until now, the suddenness and the absurdity of misfortune still dogs me. To ask for an explanation for the unexpected collapse of your dreams and plans is still way out of the human mind to explain. Fate? Divine Will? Who knows. It’s like asking the absurdity of God gambling and toying with Job’s life and the life of his family with Satan.
We are pressured to move on. We are expected to transition from Point A of Pain to Point B of Joy in the shortest time possible. The problem with this almost instantaneous response is it robs us of the fullness of the lesson of pain, of life. Pain demands to be felt. Sadness demands to be expelled. Sorrow demands to be heard. Cries demand to be released, not stifled. Tears demand to flow. But the whole business of moving on robs us of the fullness of these expressions by discouraging us to fully immerse with our loss, with our pain.
Unless we own our pain, we cannot get rid of it. The experience of loss is uncomfortable, something which we pleasure-seeking creatures want to avoid. But the more we try to avoid the pain and the loss, the more we get lost in the maze of life. Why? Because we shortchanged the life lessons meant for us. There is only one way to deal with pain and that is to feel it entirely, own it, let it penetrate the core of your being. There is only one way to deal with loss and that is to acknowledge it and own it.
Pain and loss are inherent parts of human life, just like gain and joy. We cannot live life by negating it. We can only live life to the fullest through the affirmation of being all too human. The problem with our culture today is we are so disjointed with life. We want to disassociate ourselves with the sad and the bad, all we want is fun and all sun. That can’t be. All-sun makes a desert. The pain and loss, the process of transition, and the aftermath are part and parcel of life. Who we are today is made up of all the joy and sadness, success and disappointment, and everything in between.
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Don’t move on. At least not how the world outside dictates it. Move at your own pace. You’re a newbie runner in a non-competitive race. Brace yourself, no one will do it for you.
Don’t move on. Not until you’ve felt it all and owned it all. Nothing can come from bitter denials and self-righteous justifications. Give yourself no excuses. Accept it as it is. Embrace the moment as it is. Embrace whoever you have become or whatever is left of you.
Don’t move on. Don’t mind if it takes years. Don’t mind it even if you never get over it. Me? I’ve gotten over the person but not over the situation. But I don’t mind. There are no answers but I can still rebuild on the ruins. I will create my own answers on the solitude and despair that hangs heavy on me.
Don’t move on. Unless you’re doing it for yourself, don’t move on. So many of us feel ashamed when we cannot satisfy the efforts of our well-meaning friends and family. But to hell with others’ opinions. Love yourself. At the end of the day, you own the experience and no one will make the hard decisions but you alone.
Don’t move on. Unless you’ve fully embraced all that pain and loss unless you’ve come to accept the person you’ve been reduced to unless you are willing to let go and trust the whole process of remaking yourself, don’t move on.
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Be patient. Most especially be patient with yourself. Be kind to yourself. I remember how frustrating it felt, how disappointingly painful it felt when after so many tries I still can’t solve that damn quadratic equation. It’s also the same with the life lessons allotted to us. We can sometimes lead ourselves to believe that we’ve learned the lessons but when the testing comes, we fail. And more than anything, we are the harshest critic of ourselves. Practice kindness and understanding, more so with yourself. This is not an easy task. The process itself is heart-rending but trust the process. Trust that this, too, shall pass.
So don’t be pressured. Take your time. Life belongs to those who endure.
Dom writes for pay by day and writes for passion by night. He is a Japan major at the University of the Philippines. He’s fond of ramen and anime but not of nice people.