“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.” – Ernest Hemingway
If you have ever been in the car with a group of young kids, this is a question that you would hear quite often while on a road trip. Whether the question stems from being impatient or from a general excitement about the destination, the anticipation about arriving at a fun place can make a kid literally lose their mind. There is something about “getting there” that can make kids and even adults giddy, apprehensive or anxiously restless about taking a trip. For many of us, this concept also holds true while embarking on a new experience, facing a tough circumstance, starting a new relationship or working through one with problems. We simply want to be done, or tell someone to wake us up when it’s over so we don’t have to deal with the hard stuff.
Like most, I would rather have some magical moment take me away from the circumstances that causes the situation to fade to black, dissolve or simply go away. However that magical moment rarely happens and honestly if it did I would not necessarily be better for it, although I must admit it would certainly cause me to feel better, at least in that moment. So it is true that most people would rather not face conflict. Quite honestly it scares most humans at their core. It’s just easier to avoid, deny and pretend that the situations don’t exist. And although this may create a seemingly peaceful environment, it really is only an illusion of peace because it is based on repression not truth, and as those feelings and thoughts are suppressed they build tension, anxiety, anger, guilt, bitterness and a host of other negative feelings that act as ingredients to a time bomb waiting for the trigger to cause an explosion.
Even as we come to understand this, it usually still does not provide the impetus required for us to act. We have adapted our lifestyles to accommodate the monkey on our backs and the elephants that comfortably live in our rooms, like they belong there. Not rocking the boat has become a way of life, therefore we live in perpetual turmoil surrounded by fear, doubt and anxiety. We will question ourselves, but rarely think to question another or a situation, because we learned to accept the circumstance as, “this is just what it is and always will be”. My question is even if that were true, should that mean you have to accept it as your truth and way of life? Do you feel as if you have a say in how the circumstance impacts your life or the one that you love? Whether we are one of those individuals that avoids conflict at all cost due to fear, family influences or denial, we are actually perpetuating the pain to continue by avoiding the possible pain required to finally be done with it. It is true that facing conflict is not a guarantee that things will always work out for the best initially, but they will work out for your good over a course of time. This may only initially manifest in our hearts and minds as peace, rest and hope, but as those feelings take root in us, they will indeed assist with making better decisions that encourage, build up and encourage us to face the hard things head on.
Being a victim of molestation, I have lived this life of denial and avoidance. Since I felt it was my fault, I never said a thing and once I did finally have the courage (twenty years later) to face the situation as well as my perpetrator, it definitely did not go as I had visioned it in my mind. Like most perpetrators, she lied and said it never happened and some of the people I loved and confided in also agreed with her. It was a total slap in the face, but finally facing it was also the beginning of my recovery. I learned that figuratively closing my eyes and humming, was not going to make it ever go away, dull the pain or change the fact that it happened and continued to impact my life in very tragic ways. Like being on that road trip, I wished I could have simply closed my eyes and said, “Are we there yet ?”, but that was never going to occur. I had to finally address my elephant in the room, because no one else was, nor should they have.
During the course of my recovery and healing, I realized the mindset or condition of my perpetrator was irrelevant. She was no longer in the driver seat of my life. I had control and freedom to feel as I needed to feel while going through the process of becoming whole. Some days were harder than others, but because I had become committed to the process and committed to my own personal growth, I no longer feared what I never wanted to face in the past. I was no longer seeking the easy fix or remedy, because I learned there was none. My journey was going to be hard, involving rejection, embarrassment, deceit, manipulation and the stealing of my innocence. What person wants to face these types of feelings, emotions or actions? For a season or maybe for some even a lifetime, it seems easier to avoid and deny them, but is it really?
What do we gain by avoiding or denying painful events that occurred in our lives? I would say for the most part, the same exact things we gain by facing them, except it’s no longer an illusion of these truths but a reality. Doing the hard work is what separates the two, and doing the work is the journey to the ultimate destination we want. We must face the journey with courage, persistence and with longevity in mind. It is certainly not for faint of heart, nor for the one that wants to arrive quickly wondering why its taking so long, like the child in the back seat aloof to how many miles are still yet to go.
I am the first one to become empathetic to someone facing a hardship and I realize that life can be hard as we mature, understand more and learn what really matters. But hopefully it is also during this season of our lives that we desire more for ourselves and our relationships, which will hopefully compel us to expect more and demand better, no matter how difficult the situation is.
Life is certainly a journey, and for many of us that journey has been difficult and painful while creating stressful fatigue, but how we choose to face these difficulties will prove to be the turning point for us. We can live with our head in the sand imagining that it will all magically go away somehow, someway, someday, but when we’re honest with ourselves we come to understand that is wishful thinking. We will never just get there. It requires something from us that comes with a price. A price that may bring discomfort and temporary hardship, but in the long run, each step will prove to be worth it, because of the choices you began to make for yourself versus allowing others to dictate your happiness and peace of mind as you sat in the backseat of your life always asking the question, “Are we there yet?”
Remember, the journey is equally important as the destination, if not more. So enjoy every moment that you have getting there, because the destination becomes that much sweeter when you take in all that the journey has to offer.