I have thought a lot lately about grief, sadness, loss. These are emotions that are so terrifying to most of us that we do anything and everything in our power to avoid them. We are very good at throwing up emotional blockers to try to side step and navigate around them. I am the master of that. I had no idea that this was even occurring until recently I was in a situation that really at the heart of it was, and is: grief, sadness, loss. There I found myself in that space- and no matter how hard I tried to dodge and weave- grief, sadness and loss were sitting squarely on and waiting patiently for me on my door step.
I tried all the normal things I had always tried to get them to leave- denial: “Really IM FINE.” (that by the way is one of my all time favorites), drama:”I cant believe this is happening!” externalizing: “You are really sad about this, I can tell, don’t worry, I can help keep you safe- because (remember?) I’m FINE.” Implosion and trust issues : “I can handle all of this on my own, I’m FINE (see? told you it was a favorite), I don’t need you OR anyone, because let’s be real here at the end of the day, you really can’t count on anyone, so I’ll just act like im ok and deal quietly on my own.” The thing was this time there was no budging – no over intellectualizing – no denying- no externalizing that made these feelings retreat, morph into something that was less scary, more recognizable and more in line with “MY STORY OF MYSELF” (if you haven’t figured it out, in times of crisis, I go straight into denial, implosion, trust issue mode- yeah shocker, I know). At the end of the day there they were: grief, sadness, loss, sitting squarely on and waiting patiently for me on my doorstep.
So i decided to do something I had never done before, I decided to let these feelings in…. actually not let them in- invite them in. Oh and they came in and set up camp. They were there when I woke up in the morning and there when I went to sleep at night. They came with me to work and sat with me when I was with my friends and family. I noticed however, that it wasn’t so awful. Since I didn’t fight these feelings and I acknowledged them as part of myself and honored them, they honored me. They didnt bully me and beat me up the way I feared. Instead, they became an organic part of my day…washing over me like waves. When I needed to feel sad and grieve, I did. Soon enough the feelings would pass, and without fear I moved forward knowing that perhaps another wave would wash over me, but trusting that it would be a moment (or several moments) and then it would roll away. I started to look at these feelings in the way I looked at joy, excitement, contentment accepting and in many ways not dreading their arrival and releasing them when they needed to leave. With every wave I tried to stay present and not white knuckle the experience and to not tell myself- “just get through it- it will be over soon and then you will be fine.” I realized that though the grief and loss I was feeling from the experience that created the feelings would not live with me every moment of every day, the feelings would always be a part of me….and I honor that. It is now part of me- part of the story of me.
Of course, old habits die-hard and I still have many moments when I throw up blockers because fear sets in. It is hard to change the story of how I deal with the scary bits of life, as I up to then had dealt with them in a different way. I try to remain present and aware and make the choice to change my process, every time my process presents itself. I try to remember that pain, grief and loss are far less difficult to navigate than fear, denial and anger. Our hearts naturally want to hold us with love, keep us safe- it will make sure that it is only takes in what it can handle. Making the choice to ride the waves of these emotions in many ways brought me great comfort, for I realized that as I have gotten older It feels much easier and natural to surrender. Surrender brings a softness and a resilience that has allowed me to have faith in myself. This hard-earned faith has made me realize that the storms of life, no matter how violent they may seem, will pass. Pain will diminish, scars are not really scars (more like rings on a tree, marking the passing of time of a life lived), loss will stop seeming like a darkness and will take on a more sunbleached hue and sadness will still wash over me, but in time will lift me up again. A life lived is a series of moments- if we only spend time being present in the ones that feel easy – and fighting off, fighting through, ignoring,white knuckling the ones that are hard, we are missing a life well lived. We are denying who we are. We are saying no to what we create. I am making the choice to stop saying no to myself, to have faith in my deep strength and the process of all things- and to wake up every day knowing that I am present in a life well lived.