I’m navigating my way through a tricky ethical dilemma, one of the toughest I’ve ever had to wrestle. And I’m realizing that getting through it is a bit like managing through the stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Because when you’re disappointed, when something and someone turns out to be different than you imagined them to be, you do experience a kind of death, a death of your own point-of-view. To get to a healthy mind shift, you grieve. I’m sharing where I am with my dilemma after some good conversations yesterday with people I trust, and whom I’m lucky and grateful to have in my life because I hope sharing my story will help you, too.
Honestly, when I was first faced with this situation, I was flat-out confused. I couldn’t figure out for the life of me what the hell was going on. It all seemed so mind-boggling that I was sure I was misunderstanding something. What I was seeing, hearing, and experiencing couldn’t possibly be happening. Surely, perceptive, planning expert me would have seen this coming. (Turns out, no I didn’t see it coming AT ALL.)
This is a tough one for me because I can be very quick to anger (I’m Sicilian so the boiling of blood comes rather easily to me), and I also have a very difficult time expressing anger because I feel a tremendous amount of guilt when I do. Meg Ryan’s character in You’ve Got Mail makes me feel seen! But once I realized that I couldn’t deny the situation I’m in, ooof, the anger came pouring out of my mind (though thankfully not out of my mouth!) And of course anger is always laced with fear, disappointment, and embarrassment. How could I have gotten myself into this situation AGAIN? I have read this book before, and I know how it ends, and I vowed the last time I read this book that I wouldn’t get myself in a situation like this again. I would do everything I could to avoid it. I would ask the right questions. Do my research. Listen to my gut. And despite all my best efforts, here I am, again, with my grief, and really pissed about it.
This is where I am right now at this moment. What can I live with? It’s not really as bad as I thought it was, right? I can do this and still sleep with a clear conscience at night while maintaining my integrity and authenticity. Shoot, maybe not. Hmmm. How can I forgive myself and others? Oh god, you know what? I’m the problem! And on and on it goes… These are my scrambled thoughts right now, morning, noon, and night.
Here’s all I really know—the depression stage is on the way. I don’t know when it will arrive, but I can see it there, off in the distance, fuzzy now, and becoming clearer every minute. I can also feel it slowing advancing, kind of like you feel a headache coming on but it’s not quite in full effect yet. Oddly, depression is an old friend I know well. Luckily, I have other great friends whose very presence in my life pulls me out of my funk, and my writing always helps. Always. Once I can write something down, I know how to manage it. I literally exercise it out of me through my words on screen / paper.
And here’s something else I know—as a writer, this is all material. I talk about the hero’s journey a lot with my friends, teachers, and mentors, John Bucher, Brian McCormack, and Ed Freeman. There is no such thing as an easy road for the person who always wants to be their best self and live a well-examined life. Transformation is difficult and painful. And if we keep at it, bit by bit, we do get better. We get stronger. We grow more compassion and hope. We become kinder, more curious, and ultimately, lighter. And that helps us to fly high above the obstacles and on to the next adventure. I know this to be true because I’ve been here before. That is the great promise of the hero’s journeys—they lead us to higher ground, to our truest selves.
Thanks for listening.