Last week I shared about how ruminating on the same problems in my life kept me stuck for much longer than needed.
And in the comment section Jacqueline asked exactly what I had done to stop making the problems bother me.
Though I responded with a few things that helped me, I didn’t share the biggest one.
I had a closing ceremony.
If my memory serves me, I think got the idea to hold a closing ceremony from Eat, Pray, Love. From my foggy recollection of the book, I believe Elizabeth Gilbert at one point in India held a closing ritual for her newly ended marriage.
Her premise was that we celebrate so many beginnings in our lives, but endings of sad events beyond funerals aren’t often given much thought. We are expected to grieve and move on.
At the time when I was in college, I was going through counseling and really struggling to let go of a lot of fear, anger, and hurt. Over time those feelings regarding something private in my life became part of my identity and I couldn’t let them go. They just stuck around on my shoulders haunting me, keeping me “stuck.”
So one night years later I finally realized I didn’t want to be sitting with that same problem for the rest of my life. And in order to signify the healing that I had gone through by a lot of prayer, writing, and reflection, I held a closing ceremony.
One one side of a lined piece of paper I wrote down the story of the pain, feelings, and events that happened. I poured all the negative events and associations that I had with this aspect of my life.
And on the other side of the paper I wrote down one good thing that came out of the bad situation on each line of the paper. So by the end, there were about 40 good things written on the backside of the negative story.
Then, I cut the paper line by line, until I had the 40 things that were good on 40 thin strips of paper.
After that I read aloud each good thing that happened, keeping the pain from the negative story still in mind, and burned the paper strips in a candle. By reading the 40 things aloud and then burning them one by one I allowed myself to feel the pain of the situation but also remember the good things that came out of it as well. Though I’m not happy for the situation, I became stronger, more compassionate, more aware.
I found my purpose.
Though the situation was not good, many good things did come about. And by the end of my ceremony I knew that whenever my ego wanted to have a pity party about that part of my life again, I could stop myself from going around that mountain and remind myself that no matter what, 40 good things came out of that situation.
For that, I was thankful.
And so I encourage anyone struggling to lay down a skeleton, when they are ready, to hold a closing ceremony of their own.