Richard Carlson wrote Don't sweat the small stuff in 1997 and it was one of the books that I read to help me through the dark days that have now passed. Richard passed away in December 1997 but the lessons from his books will continue to point the way for those of us who need some guidance.
As with many self help books it is worth re-visiting from time to time so that you can remind yourself of some of the lessons and I thought that I'd pick out a few and talk about the lessons I've learnt in applying them to my journey.
"Learn to Live in the present moment."
I spent a lot of time pondering the past and worrying about what the future held. The problem with that was that time passed without anything meaningful happening for me. More than a year went by in my separation without any decisions being made - should I go back, should I move on - I carried a lot of guilt and spent a lot of time wondering what if. Will I find forgiveness, how will any of us survive financally, is that a reason to go back? Why did these things happen to me? Will my relationships with my kids improve?
I was unable to find joy in the every day - if I saw my kids I walked on egg shells, I put on a front of false bravado, I avoided friends, which wasn't hard because they avoided me too. But it made withdrawal easy. I was never depressed, but looking back I don't think I was functioning as a fully emotional human being. Maybe I never had been one because I'd spent a lot of my life hiding emotion and running from confrontation.
As each and every question was asked over and over again, the fear built and I withdrew more and more from making any decisions that would allow me to move forward. And in that unknown selfishness also made it difficult for other people to move forward to.
Carlson says that if we learn to live for the moment the fear goes away. But often that can only be done after the situation is analysed and pondered, at least that was the case for me. When I finally felt I had come to know myself better than I ever had before, I was able to let the worry go and just start to exist again. In that chapter Carlson quotes Mark Twain - "I have been through some terrible things in my life, some of which actually happened."