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Unearthing Joy

June 6, 2012

Modern times demands that we pay closer attention to the layer of insulation we may be placing around ourselves to cope with the increased levels of stress that has made its way into our way into our lives. This is particularly true for those of us who are enjoying the second half of our lives. We were raised on outdoor play, many TV-less hours reading, day dreaming, listening to music, or doing practical chores like homework, housekeeping, laundry. We had time to think our own thoughts. Even if they weren’t acceptable to those around us, our parents for instance, we were not tutored by the constant barrage of cultural messages the electronic age has ushered in. We are relatively new to this level of entrapment and the soul deadening effects that can creep in upon us, and before we know it we’re walking around in a daze finding it difficult to think a familiar thought.

The stress and pain of life’s misfortunes can create another layer over our hearts as the years mount. Disappointment, sadness, grief are emotions we all have weathered at one time or another. But have we let them go? Have we taken the lessons they taught us but not allowed them to change us? It’s not easy to come this far without scars and layers of protection. The protection we create to guard against the world also insulates us from the true pleasure of giving and receiving love.

We are complex creatures, we humans, but we were born to love. It is only through loving that we can truly live. Allowing the pain to pass through us while hanging on to our ability to experience love takes a little effort and an even bigger portion of courage. It feels safer under the layers we have created, but there is no joy there. There is no peace.

Caring for our aging parents or a spouse who is ill is a common mid to late life experience that provides the circumstances to add additional layers of insulation. We may find that we bury our grief because it seems too large to look at and still carry on. We carry a silent burden as we continue to try to cope. We may sense that we are suffering from compassion fatigue but we don’t know how to break the cycle.  The truth is that awareness is ninety percent of the battle. When we recognize that we are no longer experiencing the depth of emotion we once felt, that we no longer laugh as loud, cry as hard, or feel the calm we once were able to experience, then we can find our road to recovery. Our ability to love and be loved never goes away. It just sometimes get buried. We can decide to dig it out.

More on Getting it Together after Fifty

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. June 6, 2012 11:47 pm

    Another good post, Dorothy!

  2. De De permalink
    June 7, 2012 9:21 am

    Dorothy,
    Your posting today struck a chord with me as I have been a caregiver for many years for my parents. My father passed away Feb. 2011 and Mom is in the end stages of alzheimers. I have suppressed a lot of feelings in order to function and do what was necessary. I forced myself to push the sadness and grief way inside, and I don’t know when it will come out fully. As they say, Alzheimer’s is the long good-bye and it seems I have been grieving forever. I hope to regain most of my joy one day, not that I am not a happy person, but sadness and grieving can cover your happiness like a heavy blanket. I have never regretted my choice to be their caregiver, and am blessed to be able to spend their last years close to them. Thanks for helping me see that I have pushed back a lot of joy and need to bring it out!

    • June 7, 2012 9:42 am

      DeDe, my heart goes out to you and your Mom. You clearly have much love for her and she is fortunate indeed to have you by her side in this difficult process. You will rediscover your joy in time because you want to and you believe it is possible. Keep believing and do your best to give yourself time. Grabbing moments here and there to do something you enjoy, even if it’s as tiny a thing such as putting your favorite table cloth on the table before eating, or re-potting a plant that needs attention. Tend your own heart garden now and again and it will be there in full blossom when you are ready. In the meantime, there are many others like myself who are here for you. D

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