“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.” –Seneca
Have you ever been reading a really amazing book and as you start to get close to the end, you begin to feel a sense of sadness? And then when it is actually over, like done, like “The End,” you’re not quite sure what to do with yourself? You flounder. You miss the characters who over the course of hours of reading have become like your friends or family. You want answers. What happens next? There are so many loose ends. And there is a bit of literary mourning–a brief period of time where you must let go of the story and the people and extract yourself from their world.
I’ve been thinking a lot about all these things over the last few weeks because with each passing day I was getting closer and closer to the ending of something that was once very dear to me. Today that end is finally here. And it is bittersweet. It is heartbreaking. It is liberating. And it is necessary. In trying to come up with my “make it through without a breakdown” strategy, I’ve been working on reorganizing my thoughts and perspective around endings and I think I’m onto something.
Seneca reminds us that each beginning is really just another beginning’s end. Which means that endings are transitions into the next cycle of experience. We are often told, “When God closes a door, He opens a window.” To be honest, no one wants to hear that when they’re going through something awful. But it helps me to reframe the concept–if behind that door is a tsunami of pain, disrespect, hurt, grief, or abuse, then slam the door shut as hard as you can, lock it, add a deadbolt, and use your nail gun to secure it. Then move to a new house, open all the windows, and let the sunshine, the breeze, the bird’s song, and the laughter of children into your new space and your heart. Slowly, with each passing day, those new sounds, joyful experiences, and natural wonders will take the place of the bad memories. And you will find that you have created a new life…on your own terms.
For anyone out there who is going through an ending, contemplating an ending, or still holding onto the remnants of a long-distant ending, I will tell you this. Endings suck. They are painful. They cause you to simultaneously sob and reminisce. Endings make you feel inadequate, weak, and lonely. But here’s the good news. Endings can also, mysteriously, make you feel powerful, physically strong, alive, hopeful, and excited for the future. Because it’s true that endings are really just beginnings in disguise. And the more you see it that way, the more privileged you feel to have learned the lesson you needed to from your experiences so that this beginning could take place. I certainly do. Life works in strange ways. Sometimes people show up for a brief time to teach us something incredibly important about ourselves. And if we take all the lessons learned and put them into practice, if we surrender and forgive for our own well-being, and if we make our own self care our biggest priority, then maybe it’s all worth it. I’m at an ending. And I’m also at the beginning of the rest of my life.