What's Next?

by Guest Blogger Clara K. Showalter


So one day you wake up and discover that the vision you had of a perfect world is shattered. The curtain is pulled back and you discover there is no all-knowing, all-seeing wizard. There’s just a man, human, flawed, and looking for something like the rest of us.

Your wizard may be a parent, spouse, or close friend. She may be a counselor, a rabbi, or your boss. He may be the love of your life, your mentor, a teacher or a minister.

Your wizard is someone you’ve trusted implicitly, someone you’ve looked to for guidance, inspiration, and answers. For whatever reason you thought them infallible. You find out now that they are all too human. You are crushed, your sense of reality is skewed. You are angry, hurt, upset, and questioning things. You find yourself asking what next?

Congratulations. You are at a threshold. In front of you is the rest of your life. Like it or not, the world is still turning. You can’t unscramble the egg and go back to the way things were. You can only move one direction forward. Life doesn’t have a pause button.

As you look for a way forward you find yourself here. So what’s the next step? How do you make it over the threshold and start moving? What’s going through your head? Why are you so unlike yourself? What’s wrong?

There’s nothing wrong with you. What you are doing is working through a grieving process. Yes, grief. Finding out that your wizard isn’t who or what you thought he was is a loss. Like any loss, there is going to be pain and healing. The good news is, this is normal.

Stage 1 of grief is typically denial. You refuse to accept what’s happening. You will look for anything, anything at all to explain away the information you’ve been given. You may state that it’s flat out impossible. You may try to minimize the situation. You pretend that it’s really not as serious as you know deep down it is. This stage typically doesn’t last too very long which takes us to Stage 2. Anger.

Be angry. It’s okay to hurt, to feel betrayed, and to question. Sometimes it’s hard to be immediately angry at the person who actually let you down. You may be angry at the person who brought you the news. This is not an atypical response. The practice of killing the messenger goes back to ancient times. Mind you in this day and age we frown on that practice. So avoid homicide and settle for a little spleen venting.

You may wonder why I’m dwelling on the anger part of the process. Simple. Our modern love-everyone society has a skewed perspective on anger. We have a tendency to try and ignore anger or try to suppress it. It’s treated as a scary thing. We forget that anger is an emotion with a purpose. It’s an outlet. People may tell you it’s wrong to be angry. It’s not. You have a right to your anger. It’s yours. Now, unchecked anger that goes on and on with no resolution is a problem. We call that rage. That’s not what we are talking about here. This is anger about a specific situation. I don’t care how long ago the situation happened, if you’ve never been allowed to work the anger out, then go for it.

You hurt. Someone you have trusted has let you down big time. It will take you time to heal. There’s no hard and fast timeline here. So let the anger out. It’s generally better to get it out and not keep it bottled up inside.

Now a couple things to keep in mind. If you are choosing to vent your anger online, remember that words cannot be taken back from the wilds of the internet. Ideally, find a safe person to vent to. If you don’t have one, try the old trick of writing a letter. Get things out onto paper. Don’t sent it. Just get it out and see how it feels. Sometimes the act of getting it out is enough to release the pressure and allow you to move on to the next stage.

Next up is typically bargaining. At this stage, you try to make deals to get things back to where they were. Classics include things like, “If I do this, then he will come back. I can be better, then she will love me again.” You will go back and forth in this stage. You are trying to find ways to postpone the inevitable. As I mentioned earlier, time moves one direction – forward. This is where you frantically try to find the rewind button.

From bargaining, you move into depression. This isn’t just a passing case of the glums. This is depression in the classic sense. You find yourself feeling constantly sad, anxious, irritable, tired, empty, hopeless, guilty, and generally just down in the dumps. Nothing feels right. Nothing anyone suggests will make things better. Things you once enjoyed now bring you no pleasure. There is no quick way through this stage. It goes in it’s own time. Depression can range from mild to extreme. If you are experiencing major difficulties coping with the depressive stage, it’s an excellent idea to seek additional professional support. A trained professional can be of great assistance in this stage.

The final stage in the classic model of grief is acceptance. You’ve moved to a point where you understand that these events have happened. You can’t go backwards. The only way to move is forward.

You are here because you are somewhere between denial and acceptance. Our goal is to help folks at any stage. If you are mad, you can be mad. If you are depressed, you can do that. If you are through to the other side, you can reach out and help those who still need to find their way.

Your story means something. You may not realize that your words have the power to touch and inspire someone. Well, I’ve got news for you, they do. So if you have a story to share, contact Michelle@BeYourOwnOz.com and see if your words can reach out to someone.

We all have a story to share.

It’s time for you to share yours.

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14 Responses to What's Next?

  1. Traci says:

    Amazing. Thank you so much. I think for some, it feels “silly” to grieve the loss of an online community or of a sort of leader on that site (or two!) but it’s such an accurate depiction. Truly. Thank you for sharing. I am inspired to consider a blog myself! 🙂


  2. Paul McMahon says:

    “You hurt. Someone you have trusted has let you down big time. It will take you time to heal… So let the anger out. It’s generally better to get it out and not keep it bottled up inside”

    By all means, acknowledge that anger … but ensure you realise WHY you are angry and WHO you are angry with – it’s usually because WE have let ourselves down; whether it was by giving our personal power away to a boss … or elevating a parent (or someone else) to God-like status … or “playing small” so as not to rock the boat in a relationship …
    It’s often easier to project our disappointments, perceived failings and faults onto others than it is to accept the mistake was in fact ours … therein lies the lesson for us all

    • Clara says:

      Realizing why you are angry is important. I caution against quickly flipping it back to something being wrong or off base with you.

      If I’m a product of an abusive childhood and finally expressing anger at my parent, was that a situation where I was giving away my personal power? Probably not. Parents need to have that god like status when we are children.

      If my boss promises me a pay raise if I accomplish a specific task, then he does not deliver on that promise I’d be angry. I trusted him to honor his word. As part of building a positive work environment, I need to give that trust to my employer. So should I be angry with myself when he doesn’t respect and honor that trust? Do I go through life believing it’s a mistake to trust people?

      I’m not sure that’s a healthy way to approach things.

  3. Paul McMahon says:

    It’s not a question of something being wrong or off-base with US – it’s our perceptions, beliefs and expectations that are mistaken.

    Actually, I DID have an abusive childhood and I can share first-hand; anger does not heal the hurts.
    I came to realise that those involved were doing the best they could given their level of understanding and maturity in the time, place and circumstances given their own backgrounds.

    If, AS AN ADULT, we expect others to make us feel complete or fulfilled by doing something for us (i.e. our happiness is dependent on someone else’s actions or words), then we are giving away our personal power and placing the responsibility for our own happiness in someone else’s lap. We are behaving as an immature child would – that time passed for most of us when we reached our teens and could start making decisions for ourselves.

    It’s all well and good to say that people SHOULD behave a certain way and that we have A RIGHT to expect them to do so … but the reality of life is that it’s not all sunshine and roses, people don’t always do what they say they will do (even with the best of intentions), we have all told a lie, all failed to do something that we said we would do, all fallen short of the mark … why then should we expect others not to get it wrong sometimes too?

    We’re ALL human and none of us can control another – if we are to trust one another, let us trust that none of us will always get it right – no-one is a God among us … it’s only us that portray them as such and place them on some impossible pedestal.

    If we are to love one another, we must do so even when others don’t get it right … if we only loved our children when they did things right, that wouldn’t be love – that would be a system of punishment and reward; of control – not love.
    Forgiveness is a huge part of growing into maturity.

    We can fight reality … and we will lose – but only 100% of the time!

    The quote “Peace will never be brought about by angry men” is as true today as when it was first spoken.

    • Janelle says:

      Paul, I really miss reading your posts. I have done a ton of reflecting in the past week and I have come to my own peace, and for me (not saying it will be this way for all), it really did come to my actions and no one else’s. However, I had to blow up, I had to get mad, I had to go through the ugly stuff to ultimately land here – empowered and peaceful, excited for my own life. The trick is to find that “safe place” it’s allowed to be real – in any kind of a “community” it won’t be safe because there is always going to be “unwritten rules” everyone follows. But, I do agree with you, Paul, 100%. For some reason, though, for me, (for ME), being part of a community gets too messy. I get lost too easily. Not everyone is on the same page and sometimes it’s easy to lose our way. I found my True Self again and I am going to stay there! 🙂

      I appreciate what everyone is trying to do, but if I can speak my own truth, too – I do not think it is healthy to ban together against others or project all our hurts on one or two people or a group.

      I just want everyone to be healthy and happy.

      Releasing feelings, though… totally the best we can do.

  4. Paul McMahon says:

    Thanks for sharing Janelle … you’re right, there are times when getting angry is the thing that get’s us moving toward change – in my case, with regard to making a decision to change my physique in 2000/2001, I got angry at myself for how I had let myself go – in 2005 I made a similar decision (though much more wide-ranging) when I got angry at the suicide bomber for blowing me up in Iraq weeks previously … anger got me to move – but it shouldn’t be the thing that we feed on or rely upon daily to fuel our journey (this is the “rage” that Clara mentions above)… where it leads is NOT a place of peace, love, joy or compassion. It can also be like a loaded gun – take care where you point it!

    Anger, like hate, is a poison for the mind, body and soul … some people can become addicted to it in the same way that others become addicted to sugar or alcohol or illicit drugs – repeated use becomes abuse which, in turn, leads us down a very deep and dark rabbit hole which can destroy relationships and lives.

    The stages of grief highlighted by Clara are well documented – the original model of 5 stages is often referred to as “the Kübler-Ross model” (also commonly known as the five stages of grief) and it was first introduced by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross in her 1969 book; “On Death and Dying”.
    As Clara has explained, it describes the stages of a process by which people deal with grief and tragedy, especially when diagnosed with a terminal illness or catastrophic/traumatic loss (this was later broadened to include things such as the end of a relationship, redundancy, and other deeply-felt losses).

    Having been through this process myself more than once, and having done some work for “Cruse”; a bereavement support charity here in the UK, there are a couple of things I would like to add.
    One; not everyone experiences all of the stages
    and Two; sometimes the stages people do experience aren’t necessarily in the order laid out by Kübler-Ross (and, in actual fact, some schools of thought suggest there are 7 stages – not 5)so if you’re going through this process but experiencing a disjointed transition, don’t worry … you’re not alone!


    • Clara says:

      Totally agree Paul. Not everyone goes through all the KR stages, and the transition can be disjointed.

      Anger and the nature of anger have been debated since humans learned how to debate. Religious background, life experiences, and personal choices all impact how we deal with anger. There’s not one universal right or wrong way to deal with the emotion. From my personal experience, I will say there’s a couple things to watch out for. First up, there is a fine line between working through anger and accepting your part in creating the situation and taking that anger and redirecting it at yourself.

      If you have lived in a situation where getting angry was not allowed or encouraged, I strongly suggest you look at getting some additional assistance to learn how to safely work through anger. It’s quite possible that you are regularly directing anger back in at yourself and it will manifest in a variety of non healthy behaviors.

      Second, if you are constantly in a state of arousal from feelings of anger, there may be a more serious issue. Again, seek additional professional support and counseling.

      The goal here is get it out, take a breath, and start moving forward. 🙂 Janelle, glad that you are finding your way toward doing just that! 🙂

  5. Paul McMahon says:

    Great answer and advice Clara! :0)

    • Linda Ann Smith says:

      I short, we have all been lied to, belittled and addressed as if we were not important or good enough, this Hurts!
      I realize I have played a small part of creating this situation by caring and trusting, not by putting anyone in a GOD like status. I don’t feel it matters if we did put ourselves in the situation, when you care and offer all you have to support someone or something you deserve to be treated fairly and be able to trust that the person you were dealing with was just as trustworthy as you are.
      In the case of all these stories the people we trusted were not worthy of our support, therefore we hurt and wonder WHY? We are all freeing ourselves of the grief yet it takes time, it’s not as easy as some say to just forgive, forget and let go and move on. Our hearts need to process the why? before we can even grieve. This situation is like after being friends since kindergarden you learn that that friend has been talking behind your back all those years. Regardless of who was at fault, It hurts! We have all been hurt, felt angry, feel better and now trying to get the word out so others don’t fall into this nasty trap.

  6. Cathy Sykora says:

    This popped up on my facebook thread…and I feel exhausted reading it. I can’t even imagine how you all feel. I can’t help but think that blame is being misplaced and the message is garbled. No person is perfect. If you make someone a mentor…it would be your responsibility to look at him/her realistically. We love our family members in spite of their flaws. No person, regardless of the good things they offer to us, is perfect. It is unreasonable to expect that. I had a happy childhood with wonderful parents, so I can not say that I relate to all of that. I thought that my parents were perfect and when I found out (yep…I was an adult before I knew) that they had flaws…I was disappointed…but I still love them. I can say that this man has offered tools to many people to improve their lives and many people have chosen to use them and others have not. It seems to me that the problem is getting attached to the person instead of the message and then attaching your importance to his acknowledgment of you. It is sad to see the opportunities to help others with your great stories being missed. I hope everyone reading all this finds their peace. Life is a beautiful place to be and it is hard to see that through anger.

    • Clara says:

      Good points. I’ve got a question though. Doesn’t the mentor also have a responsibility in the situation?

      • Cathy says:

        You are right, the mentor has the responsibility to provide you with good and accurate information to the best of their ability. What the student does with the information would be their responsibility. Of course, a parent would have different responsibilities than a mentor. I think what is being talked about here are unrealistic expectations of a mentor. Setting them up to be omnipotent, and that just isn’t realistic. That would not be something that the mentor could correct. The mentor is a teacher, it seems like what we are talking about here is making the mentor into the person for whom we are learning. We should be learning for ourselves not the mentor. It seems to me that what was taught was learned in this case and the problem arises when the student wants the mentor to be more to or for her than what he is.

  7. Clara says:

    Hmm maybe. I know as a mentor one of my responsibilities is setting reasonable expectations. Part of that is coaching around that type of attachment.

    Two things to consider. First, if you haven’t I suggest you check out the very first blog here. That would be Michelle T.’s “Why I Left” post.

    My part in this journey started three Septembers ago with a phone call from Michelle at 3:30 am. She was ricocheting off the walls. Why? Because the Head Coach of T.com, Stoney Grimes had reached out to her that night and offered her a job. A job working with Bill Phillips to make the world a better place. That’s where this all starts.

    There was no assigning some magical, mystical status to Bill. There was an offer to have a chance at a dream job. What followed was months of confusion, poor communication, and finally passing of the buck. Representatives of Bill stated that Bill would be contacting Michelle to “make things right” two years ago. She’s still waiting for Bill’s call. I think some pain and confusion is to be expected.

    Second thing to consider. You mentioned that this popped up in your FB feed. Consider asking your friend why they posted it.Gotta be a reason.

    Last, I’m stoked that you sound like you are doing well. 🙂 I love seeing people work through successful transformations. The method doesn’t matter to me. I just like seeing people succeed. Every one of us deserves to reach for the remarkable person we are supposed to be. Don’t ever stop reaching for that.

  8. Troy says:

    Cathy, you mention that the mentor has the responsibility of providing others with good and accurate information to the best of their ability, and I agree, except when you have personal knowledge that this mentor is taking people’s success stories and rewriting them and changing them up so that the mentor looks like the real hero in these stories. Another one of the success stories had actually done all the work on their own and now this same mentor is taking credit for her own personal story. Regarding the second person, she was initially online looking to apply for a show for help in ridding herself of the excess skin from her successful weight loss. She gives credit where credit was due, but somehow later down the road, this mentor is taking credit for her success? It would be one thing if you could at least question or ask this mentor what’s up with that, but dare question him and you are booted off the site or, at minimum, censored.

    I had no expectations going into this. I thought I could be a part of something truthful and helpful, not something that is mostly only set up for someone’s financial gain.

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