Have you been in an excruciating situation where you almost couldn’t breathe because of the terrible pain? When something like that happens, I call it “The Terrible Awful.” It can be so hard that you blank out all memory of it, but in the end it can be exhilarating, depending on what The Terrible Awful is for you.

A friend of mine had one of the worst Terrible Awfuls–her husband cheated on her and moved in with the other woman. Sure, she was paralyzed for a while, but she shared with me the turning point of her growth. Standing in the grocery store, she realized she didn’t have to text her controlling husband to find out which brand of peas would be acceptable to him. She was free to choose her own peas. It was a huge moment because she realized she was on her own and responsible for her own life. That was many years ago, but she has never forgotten the significance of the peas.

How can you climb out of the dark hole and find your own “peas” moment? I know it’s possible, because I did it and so did my friend and so many others. You may never completely be okay with what happened, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get stronger, healthier, and much happier.

Here are some tips to move you toward healthy closure:

  • Give yourself time to grieve and adjust.
  • Write in a journal (write through your feelings).
  • Take responsibility for your part.
  • Decide to have a good attitude when possible.
  • Ask for help.
  • Find a good counselor that fits you.
  • Make a plan and stick to it (what to do next).
  • Take it one day at a time (sometimes one minute at a time).
  • Learn from your failures and keep going.
  • Listen to advice, but remember it is your life.
  • Spend time with friends laughing.
  • Start each morning with prayer.
  • Make a conscious effort not to take your pain out on anyone else.
  • Focus on one thing a week to improve yourself.
  • Speak kindly to yourself.
  • Live your life on purpose instead of floating through your days.

Don’t let The Terrible Awful win. You have control over your response and your healing, own it and work at it for as long as it takes.