Saturday, March 10, 2012

When you're watching yourself drown.

Snippets from an advice column: what to do when you're struggling:

Dear Carolyn,

I feel like I’m watching myself drown and I can’t do anything.


The drowning feeling is normal, and passes. When people suffer a shocking loss, the emotions come rushing in, as if they’re water and we’ve run out of places to hold them. During this time, it’s okay to set no other goal for yourself than to get through each day as well as you can.

As long as these feelings are overwhelming you, you won’t be able to think straight — yet, you’ll also have points of such stunning clarity that you won’t believe you didn’t see these things before. It’s as if someone took your world and shook it, hard. Your wife is in roughly that same condition.

I suspect there’s also an element of mortification here that this mess is playing out for all to see. If that’s the case, then please don’t give it any more thought. You can’t change what people think, and it’s not as if anyone is new to the idea of marital turmoil. Concentrate on getting yourself well; your inner-circle advisers are right on that one.

Your emotions set their own pace, so work on physical wellness, which you can control. Eat well, try to sleep well, exercise, go places and do things you find pleasing, anything that restores you.

As for still having hope, the best thing, I think, would be to proceed very slowly. Get used to living apart for a while. Get your feelings in order. Get your words in order; you’d be surprised at the distance between what people want to say and what they say, especially when in distress. Get used to where you are before you try to go anywhere else.

And, most important, don’t try to go back. What you had before is not only gone, it’s what got you here. Even if your goal is to save your marriage, think of it not as restoring the old but instead as creating something new.

-- Carolyn Hax

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