Accepting the Impermanence of Life

“Nothing ever goes away until it has taught us what we need to know.” Pema Chodron

Separation challenges a systematic belief. When we walk into a marriage we tend to see ourselves growing old together. We come to believe this is how life should be. We try to do everything in our power to prove to ourselves that we made the right choice. We arrive at this foundational belief of: “till death due us part”. Therefore, even when we find ourselves unhappy for years, we still keep going. We keep working on it. We keep trying.

In my case, it was series of marriage counseling. Going on antidepressant for a few years. Losing my self-confidence. Feeling low and thinking there must be something wrong with me. I used to ask myself; how come I can’t make this work? Why do I have to be so unhappy? Of course, in my heart I knew I had a lot of reasons to be unhappy. But I carried a guilt feeling since I also had a lot of things to be grateful for. After all, I was blessed with two amazing kids. I blamed myself for being unhappy. I blamed myself for not being able to work things out. We tried a couple of different marriage counseling, the last one was on and off for over ten years. I used to put things on the scale and then convince myself to stay. I was not planning to give up. I thought there must be a way.

But the unhappiness and the fights didn’t stop. I remember one night I woke up in the middle of the night and I went through so many things in my head. Thinking about all of the problems. There was this feeling of a heavy, sad heart. Then suddenly a question went through my head. I asked myself, “What if this was your daughter years from today. And she had come to you for advice. What if she was the one sharing her anguish and misery! What would you tell her?” The minute I asked myself that question, my answer was; “get out”.

I realized when I looked at myself with love and compassion, I didn’t want to allow myself to suffer in order to keep things in the order I thought they should be. This was the first time that I really acknowledged my true pain and suffering with a kind and loving heart. That moment was the turning point. I finally allowed myself to let go and accept that I cannot hold on to this any longer. That was the end of the marriage, the family unit, as I knew it.

Fear of uncertainty for an unknown future keeps us from letting go. We avoid change. We try to keep things as they are. We forget that nothing is permanent. It is all moment-to-moment. We are scared to let go, not knowing what may come next. We end up going through so much ache and sorrow by holding on to things. The idea of that systematic belief. When we allow ourselves to accept the ever changing moment to moment of life, a sense of freedom arises. The present moment becomes less painful and even if it is uncomfortable we have the promise of change and impermanence. Even when we feel joy, we learn not to hold on to it so tight. Allowing ourselves to appreciate the now, we become more content with whatever that arises.

Accepting the impermanence of life brings a sense of appreciation for the moments, for our surroundings, for the people in our life, for the smile we receive, and for the air we breathe. Gratitude of what we are given now. This present moment brings a sense of joy and freedom. We feel less stuck in life, as we know this will pass. We allow ourselves to breathe through it. Accepting what comes our way.

In the book of “Turning The Mind Into An Ally”, Sakyong Mipham says: “Understanding the meaning of impermanence make us less desperate people. It gives us dignity. We no longer grasp at pleasure, trying to squeeze out every last drop. We no longer consider pain something we should fear, deny, or avoid. We know that it will change.”

My marriage didn’t last. I knew it wouldn’t for a very long time. But had a hard time letting it go. Then the pain of separation and the troubles with it came. For many months I could hardly fall sleep. And even when I did, I used to wake up in the middle of the night, feeling worried and scared. Not knowing what may come next. Looking at my life today, observing everything that went on in the past few years, all the changes that I had experienced, I can see how the fear of unknown had dissipated little by little. I learned to trust my life journey and everything that was placed on my path. They all were there for a reason. So much needed to be learned. The wisdom of knowing that nothing stays still, not even a moment. So why not be grateful for all of it, for the learning, for this breath, for this opportunity to be alive.





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