For today’s Tuesday Tip we have with us Mary Patrick Kavanaugh, rejected writer turned self-published author (Family Plots: Love, Death and Tax Evasion) who is an expert at loss. Below Mary offers five simple steps to overcome dead dreams, dashed hopes and disappointments. For more information about how Mary transformed rejection into rejoicing, visit her website at www.MyDreamIsDeadButImNot.com.
Pretend it never happened. You did not get the diagnosis. She did not break up with you. The sheriff isn’t going to escort you from your foreclosed home. If you read enough self-help, you learn that it’s not what is happening in your life that matters; it is what you believe about what is happening that makes it true. Simply choose to believe that, no matter what it looks like, all is well. This approach is not for the weak of mind or spirit. And it may lead to incarceration, institutionalization, and in extreme cases, premature death. But in the end, what difference does it make? It’s not like anyone gets out of this gig alive anyway, and your unwavering denial will spare you a whole lot of cumbersome worry and stress.
Grieve with gusto.
Publically and passionately revel in your pain. Stop trying to act normal, mature, or reasonable when, YOUR DREAM IS DEAD! YOUR HOPES ARE DASHED! Embrace the horror of your loss. Sob openly and uncontrollably whenever any song, billboard, or scent triggers a memory that leaves a nasty sting in your heart. Drive along dark, deserted highways and scream endlessly until your throat is as raw as hamburger. Whine to friends, complain to coworkers, and when the hostess at the restaurant asks, “How are you?” TELL HER THE TRUTH. Make sure everyone knows how devastated you are. Your obsessive love affair with your own despair will alienate you from anyone and everyone you come into contact with, including yourself. Like all of those whom you have repelled with your self-pity, you will grow so bored with it, you’ll decide to simply turn your attention elsewhere.
There is an alarming new trend that requires that we take responsibility for what we have made of our lives, when it is so clear that the true culprits of our failures often range from the toxic influences of large corporate, government and religious institutions, to the ineptitude of the insensitive, incompetent, and/or controlling individuals who prevent us from getting what we want and need. There is always time to take stock of how you might have participated in the demise of your cherished goal—but for now, make a list of all the people, places and circumstances that have undermined your success. Do not forget to include the impact of any negative astrological influences during the period of your profound disappointment. When the list is complete, make a promise to yourself that you will have NOTHING to do with any of the institutions, people, places, or planetary alignments that sabotaged your success EVER again—even if it means you have to live alone in a cave in Afganistan. Or. You can declare a new dream—one that will require that you work tirelessly to change the circumstances that led to your current demise. Which come to think of it, dammit, requires taking responsibility.
Years ago, I had the pleasure of entertaining the young sons of a visiting friend of mine. Boys love snakes, rodents, and bugs, so I took them to the East Bay Vivarium, a place that sells such creatures. Set among the vast display of terrifying creepy-crawlers, there was an aquarium full of scorpions. I asked the pierced, tattooed, spiky-haired sales clerk if the staff ever worried that someone might purchase these poisonous pets to let loose in the house of a foe. Without missing a beat, she said, “Oh, there are much better ways to seek revenge.” She then suggested that I purchase their inventory of pregnant Madagascar hissing cockroaches and slip them through the mail slot of this person I wanted to torment, advising me that once the eggs were dropped, my unsuspecting rival would be forever deluged with both the bugs and their terrorizing hisses. Before I had a chance to explain that I had no victim in mind, she suggested I might also purchase a bag of frozen mice and shove them deep in the crevices of this person’s car windshield. “They’ll thaw and rot and put off stench that they’ll never get rid of,” she snickered. Later, when the boys and I met up with their mom, in a whisper, the little one asked her why I was such a mean person. Alas, why to I tell you this long story? (1) It contains some clever revenge suggestions that aren’t widely known, and (2) It’s an opportunity to WARN YOU to give serious consideration before launching any vicious attack campaign. Revenge may be sweet, but evil tactics such as those noted above may invoke this thing called “KARMA,” that could set something in motion that may come hissing its way back to you in some scary, smelly way.
We’ve all heard of Elizabeth Kubler Ross and her famous stages of grief, right? (If not, check Wikipedia or just trust that key aspects of these stages are mixed into this handy list.) The point being, when you have to get over something, you spend an exhaustive amount of time running on the hamster wheel of pain, repeating thoughts, ideas, complaints, and arguments against what already happened- WHAT ALREADY IS. That’s just nuts, right? At some point you must come to terms with the fact that this circular path gets you nowhere. Your only hope for escape is to leap off—take an entirely new direction. And this great leap is what will lead you to the easy-breezy tropical Island of Acceptance. We know it is nice there. It’s the place where we can shrug our shoulders, say the magic mantra (“Oh Well”) and be free. So why, oh why, do we keep crawling back onto the hamster wheel? If you do find yourself struggling to let go of dead dreams, dashed hopes, failed relationships, pain, or obsessive thoughts of the past, may I suggest a powerful ritual that will allow you to move on. Gather your friends for a formal funeral party to put it to rest. In fact, you are invited to attend one this New Year’s Eve. For more details, visit me at www.crapintocompost.com.