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"Stuck in a Jam? Take the Tunnel!"

by Ron Villano, LLC

Friday – get away day. You both hop in the car and start driving. Then comes the big choice – bridge or tunnel? Traffic reports lead you to pick the tunnel. So there you are, with just about everyone else from Long Island, inching your way through. You leave the daylight behind you as you go inside. It seems like a long, long time with very little movement. You look back and you can’t see the beginning; you look forward and you just can’t see your way out – but you know it’s going to be there. You just need to see the light at the end of the tunnel to feel like you are on your way. OK – you say; just another cliché. But in reality it is not – when we begin to make changes to our lives, our journeys often points toward a Tunnel.

Often we feel that something isn’t quite right and this feeling begins to haunt our lives and traps our thoughts to a moment of time — a past moment. It is the former moment in which we were happy for the last time. We go back to it and replay it in our mind because it allows us to feel good memories once again. These are the memories we use to provide a comparison to the things happening in our lives now. It can be any number of images or specific events. When we experience things that have a profound effect on us, they stick with us for better or worse. The question that must be asked of any moment in our lives is “Have you been able to put it in its place, learn from it, and move on”? Constantly revisiting the past means that we are not living in the moment. Looking back on our lives hoping it will bring back happiness is a sign that we may be looking to make some type of change. That type of change is what we experience in the Tunnel. Knowing and becoming aware that you may be avoiding a Tunnel is the first step in working through significant change.

Relationships often travel in and out of the Tunnel several times. Married couples, in particular, can spend years building up anger and frustration inside before something happens to make them take a real serious look at their relationship.

While in the Tunnel, couples are often faced with hard questions and uncomfortable answers. The journey often gets stopped when confronting these real issues because these are the problems that are not easily solved by creating new house rules. They fear the real change. So, they back out of the Tunnel. Many times, they believe that the work they have already done is all that they needed to do. They return to what is familiar but this is exactly the problem. Even though a new set of relationship rules and guidelines may have been thoroughly worked out, there is still a lifetime worth of old values, beliefs, and experiences still hanging around. This is the real root of most problems in relationships. Sadly, many end their journey just before it really begins.

Each time you go back into the Tunnel, you tend to go a bit deeper. As you go further, it gets darker, and more upsetting. You wind up back in the Tunnel because you see that living life in the past, in a relationship that you already know needs to change, has no future. So, you push in a little further each time. It is dark and depressing and at some point, you reach the middle. It is where all that is unknown about your life exists. It is the point at which your past has permanently changed and you cannot see into the future.

You question who you are and why you feel the way you do. You must face the answers to these questions honestly. It is from these moments of sincerity that you get a new understanding of the world and most importantly yourself. Change can only happen through facing that which makes you unhappy. And since we are talking about changing our lives, this involves confronting ourselves.

You have already gone through tremendous changes in your life if you are at the middle. You have already faced many fears, changed many values and beliefs. Why would you go back to a future which is rooted in the past? The middle to the beginning of the Tunnel is the same distance as the middle to the end. It is at this point that, perhaps for the first time in your life, you only need one belief to move forward – faith. When you get to the middle — if you’ve already gotten that far — stay the course. You are, after all, half-way home.

Now is when you begin to do the real life-changing work. That means reading, praying, and finding people to counsel and guide you. Try to understand what happened in your life and understanding why you feel the way you do. The unknown is almost always frightening. The good news is things are never what they appear to be. Once you get to the middle, know that just beyond it, a pinhole of light lingers in the distance and with it an avalanche of change. The change that you have been hoping for but this time it is right in front of you instead of being left behind.


Ron Villano, M.S., LMHC, ASAC is a psychotherapist and author of The Zing, available at www.TheZing.us, Borders Books, Amazon.com, Book Revue in Huntington, and Runaway Bay Books in Sayville. Ron has a private practice and is available to speak at your next event. Join us for our Chapter Discussion groups. Contact www.ronvillano.com or call 631.758.8290 for more event information.

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