As I write this, I notice there is residue of energy around my heart that is delicate. There are parts of me that keep knocking on the door of my heart, because there is deep grief wanting to continue to be felt. Grief of how life used to be...like having somewhere to go or something to do, buying a new outfit, wanting to plan a trip, see my nephews, schedule a in-person coffee date, go to a concert, and HUG everyone!
Last night, the grief knocked extra hard on my heart door as someone on TV was sitting in a restaurant connecting with friends- being close to one another and free. You know, like the old way of feeling free...without masks and worry. I just started bawling. I curled up in ball and cried the hard cry… you know the “it’s not fair!” loud type of cry. It isn’t fair. That is the truth. And it does make me angry, frustrated, sad, and want to cry out to the universe for a change. As I listened to different parts of me move through the process, I knew these parts, these emotions, just need to be heard and felt. I heard the part that said, "People have it so much worse than you, so be thankful." And the part that said, "You are being too sensitive". I also sensed my body and the realness of the pain. I can not compare my pain. My feelings are honest. My body tells the truth. All of our inner-truths can look very different, because we are all unique to our own struggles. BUT, we dismiss our pain when we compare it. I also heard my loving, wise part and her soothing voice say, "There, there love. This is hard. This is real for you. Be gentle with the sadness."
I teach this to people all the time…breath into that emotion, give it some space. Listen to what it has to say. And I too, am a normal human, having the same emotional body as everyone else. And this grief is no joke. It is like a strong ocean wave that can knock you over and you might have to be rolling around in the sand for a while before you can sit or stand back up. It is something we don’t give enough time and space for.
One afternoon a few years ago, I was sitting across from one of my teachers holding my heart, with tears running down my face. (You know when someone is sitting across from you staring into your soul…there was no hiding. I was visually bursting at the seams!) I asked her through large, heavy eyes...“What am I feeling?” She said, “Cassie, dear you are in the middle of a divorce and moving through deep sadness, which can sometimes be grief”. She said all of the grief’s that were not given enough space, all throughout your life go into a bucket, until we get to a place in our lives where we can start to move through and feel them. I just sat there and held my heart and went through my life movie…the thought of my parents divorce, loosing my grandma Julia and my dog, moving away from my community when I was 14, being bullied, abused...all of the hurts frozen in the time capsules of my inner-tapestry. This movie had so many hurts, for the child parts and past versions of myself that no one even knew they were inside me. I had not told anyone or shared the pain. I had kept most of it locked up inside. So, my caldron of grief was FULL...so full that at times, I didn’t think I could even touch the lid. She also reminded me that we grieve because we love… that they are the same coin, just different sides. And that, we are wired to love, so we must also be wired to grieve and feel all of whom we are…The beautiful spectrum of all of the feelings. I thought I had met ALL of the feelings, until I met grief. She is different. She is unpredictable and demands attention.
“We cannot heal what has not been processed, and it takes time to move through the pain of loss and grief. We don’t do ourselves any favors when we rush or simply try to skip over the process of grieving. Even when it is scary, we must follow our hearts and honor our grief. Allow our hearts to heal the way they truly want to. Grief teaches us the power of our love, and our resilience. When we practice courage we lean into showing the world our whole self, wounds and all.” – Brené Brown
I spent a lot of time that year on the floor of my house in mental, physical, and emotional pain. I rocked myself a LOT. I wanted to make this heaviness lighter and I wanted to do it without numbing or dissociating. So, I sought out more support. I found someone to help me stay in my body and energetically ground myself. I went back to therapy. I went to community acupuncture. I was also in an internship with a group of amazing souls that would catch me when I was falling. I learned to ask for help and I learned to receive. SO MANY TEACHINGS!
I remembered I had the book Tear Soup by Pat Schwiebert from play therapy school. It is a children’s book about healing after loss by making tear soup. It stresses giving the pain time and nurturing, something I had not witnessed. It is such a beautiful story. I also remember listening to Brené Brown’s book, Rising Strong, as I was pulling into my hometown. She said something to the effect of it wasn’t her parent’s divorce that was the most painful experience; the pain was in all the things that she would NOT get to experience. I am not quoting her, but regurgitating what hit my grief bucket so hard. I held my breath as I felt the fullness in my chest. That was exactly it. I wanted to experience life how I had dreamt it up to be. I had envisioned my life differently. I already had most of it scripted out. It does not include loosing anything. No divorces, no pain and no death. Never had I thought about what life would be like without someone or something.
And as I move back to present time, it does not include this pandemic, or quarantine, or disconnection. I don’t know about you, but I did not have 2020 scheduled in my script of possibilities. My vision board has people standing together in a circle, hand in hand, and it says, “Everyone is illuminated” above it. None of us have prepared for this grief. We had the normal script running… the plans, the holidays, the gatherings, and the connection. We create this script mostly for safety and control, because we want this inner world and outer world to match up. It is fascinating really. This year obviously completely shifted that. It is much harder not to hear your grief. It has more space to be heard. In the book, Letting go of the Person You Used To Be, Lama Surya Das talks about how we are always changing, always birthing and always letting things go.
“With every breath, the old moment is lost; a new moment arrives. We exhale and we let go of the old moment. It is lost to us. In doing so, we let go of the person we used to be. We inhale and breathe in the moment that is becoming. In doing so, we welcome the person we are becoming. We repeat the process. This is meditation. This is renewal. This is life.”
― Lama Surya Das, Letting Go Of The Person You Used To Be
Now to balance the dark with the light, we have to have them both. We cannot just stay in the dark forever. We need balance…the Yin to the Yang. There have also been gifts of 2020. The big gifts like reconnecting with nature, talking to the trees, watching more sunrises and sunsets, and more space for stretching and moving. More time to help our bodies rewire new patterns, like shifting from busyness to more stillness.
I decided to make a 2020 mantra and it is "I choose to SAVOR the moments. I have a 16- year old Chihuahua, who I know is only here for moments, not years. And she is my touch stone. When I look at her I remind myself of the moment I am living in. This is it. This sunrise, we will never experience again on this day in our history. I also have been taking photos everyday of moments that my heart connects to. I have been cooking more and I want to savor the food by giving it lots of flavor. I say good morning to the earth when I let my dogs out in the morning and I say goodnight before bed. It keeps me centered, present, and really is a beautiful mix of gratitude and ease to remember we are so much bigger than this moment. Each moment bringing me home inside my heart and reminding me that I am one with the all… I am connected to the earth, the trees, my animals, my home, and my community. Remembering that I am but a drop in the ocean of this ball of earth floating around in space… Zooming out of my story into something much bigger. Gratitude is sacred and expansive. Notice your heart the next time you feel it.
This new way of life has taken readjustments, sometimes moment to moment. And there are beautiful gifts and there is a lot of heart-break/ ache/ loss…
Be gentle with yourself and others.
We are all grieving.
We are all writing a new story.
With so much love,
Psychotherapist, Mentor, & Soul Midwife
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