By Kenneth Stepp
Afterthoughts are always detailed and vivid. These are mine. Reflecting on a wonderful yet complex life, it helps to know what to do when pain arrives, and it always does.
In all my many years I have learned quite a bit about life. In life there are absolutes. In the singles community, there are more.
- None of us will get out of this alive
- Life will have pain, disappointment, and heartache.
- None of us are perfect.
- Mistakes happen. And they have consequences.
- You will be hurt
- You will hurt someone else.
These are just facts, no new revelations for any of us, just restating the old adages and truths we all know. Some cannot talk about them though. Internalizing them can lead to tragic endings and a life of even more pain.
Today my life is “in motion” in many ways. Not everything is really that stable in many of the areas that most people take for granted. I’m single again after 24 years with my wife. I now rent a home instead of own a home. My old friend base is almost completely gone. So you see, in motion is a good term I think.
On the surface I am all smiles, make it to a lot of events in Georgia, and smile a lot. Underneath I am in turmoil somedays. Most would never see that in me. I think most of us are like this. Afraid to seem vulnerable, or weak. Being a big alpha male, I like to always appear strong, brave, and engaged. Most days I pull that off. Some days I cannot. These are days that I process emotions. A much needed time of reflection.
I recall going to a dear friend’s viewing. The place was packed. He had many friends. His bride, kids, and family were there. He too was a big alpha male, always smiling, the life of the party. He is about seven years younger than me. I will never know why he decided to take his own life. Why at home? Why when his wife was there? But I do understand the power of pain. When asked why someone would do this, I was reminded of a quote from years ago.
“You will remain the same until the pain of remaining the same is greater than the pain of change” – Unknown
His pain was greater than the change from life to death. Many find this way of ending pain. I never judge, sadly many do. I have heard “That’s the most selfish act” more times than I care to. The truth is that it is a desperate act by a very sick, hurting person. Anything but selfish. I remember this man vividly because he lived such a vibrant life. I was never around him that I wasn’t made to feel like laughing, or at least smiling. He was in pain. He just wanted it to stop. I get that.
Processing this leads to his wife. They really were soul mates, in love, and a wonderful couple. When her children go back to their homes soon in other states, she will be alone in that home, that kitchen, den. and bed. Reality causes pain. This sad reality will cause immense pain. Closure in a case like this will be elusive for so long. I so hope she finds it, doubtful she will any time soon though. When she finds the solace to go on, it will be more enduring than enjoying. I get that too.
Moving forward is a part of life. It has always been a part of mine. Today I will put on my happy face, get my “smart speak” in order, and make something good happen. I hope everyone can smile about something today. Life is such a precious gift, to be nurtured, and honored daily. Give life a chance and it will amaze you. And amazing is just on the other side of that pain.
Just a side note for those who would judge someone who took the path my friend did. If you find yourself judging him for the way he chose to put out his pain, rethink how you feel about him. On 911, as the buildings were burning and people were trying to escape the flames hundreds of feet in the air, fire so hot their clothes were catching fire. Many jumped to a certain death from there that day. Imagine sitting in your home and being that frightened, that hysterical, and in that much pain. Sadly, my friend didn’t have to imagine that. He was in some ways, on fire. He just wanted the pain to stop.
We all live with pain. Some more than others. Maybe the answer is to simply care about one another enough to show compassion, respect, and kindness to everyone. I promise that had you met my friend, he seemed happy, he seemed great, then he was gone. Love more, judge less. Being single is hard. It is by far one of the hardest things I have ever attempted. I’ll end this the way I have ended so many in the past, with the best advice I can offer everyone… “Just be nice”.