I am beginning to offer grief and rage workshops and I want to share some of my experience with grief with you. To let you know that you are not alone. That you are not wrong for feeling deep sadness. I am right there with you.
There are so many reasons for us to grieve. Death. Of a person or of a dream. Struggle. Being stuck. A change that we didn’t ask for. A door closed. Something we want that we can’t have. The goodbye that we never had.
For most of us, we grew up being told – more by example than by words – that intense emotions were unsafe, dangerous and to be dealt with behind closed doors.
We need to change the way we move through intense emotions and the way we accept and honour our feelings. They are a strength, not a weakness.
This is what it feels like for me to be in my darkness. What does it feel like being in yours?
I know I can reach out but I still feel completely alone. Alone in my house. Alone in my thoughts. I have people around me but I am completely and utterly alone. In my confusion. In my pain. In my crying.
In this darkness, I am alone.
I have been crying on and off all day. I have gone from moments of feeling completely right to sheer panic carving out a ditch in my chest.
I am talking to my children in a calm voice while I hold my hands over my chest in case my heart decides to launch itself forward into the abyss.
They call to me. I don’t have the energy to answer back. I want to disappear into a cave and never come out but instead I have to go upstairs and put a movie in.
I am so defeated. I am so lost. I don’t know what is right, what to do, what I want. I feel utterly incapable of helping myself because I don’t feel like I have the energy to do anything at all. I am tired. So tired. The thought of planning dinner feels so exhausting that I don’t give a shit and everyone can go hungry.
The skin on my arms tingles and my chest is so tight and crying feels like too much energy yet the tears break my face every few minutes.
Is this grief? Is this defeat? Is this giving up? Is this growth?
It is painful and makes me feel helpless. I am a shattered, paper thin version of my warrior now.
I don’t want to move, I don’t want to think, I don’t want to feel, I want to have a hot bath and disappear.
My heart, even, is tired. She feels like she has dropped into a coma. My shoulders can’t lift, they can’t hold the weight of all that needs to be held.
Is this a fight? Is this my glory moment? Is this growth? Is this where I charge ahead or is this where I hide my wide open crying wound under a blanket?
How do I do this? Alone. Tired. Small. Defeated.
It is painful to move. To let this move. It feels better to freeze. It hurts.
I am a shell of myself.
I rock back and forth, I stroke my hair, I am a neurotic disturbing rhythm.
I want a mother. To hold me and tell me that it’s all okay.
I can feel my mind stopping me from falling. It is judging me. What, it wants to know, what the fuck is wrong with you?
I hold my original heart in my hand. She is so open and joyful and ready to belong. Then she has first irreparable hurt. And then, another. And she hardens as, somehow, her underside grows even more tender.
There is no running through it, moving away from it. There is only being in it.
It hurts. It is messy and painful and ugly and too much.
Every door opens closer to that most wounded wound. Being alone. Not being held. Being apart. There is no balm for this one.
And so I move. I move what I can. How I can. I keep breathing. And moving. And let it flow.
And in the movement, in the allowing, there is no fixing. No “over”. No done. There is only having been heard. Having talked without words. Having shown, having been so inside of it. There is only a feeling of having walked through the fog instead of around it. There is a release and relief in not having to carry all of it anymore. Smaller bits I carry only.
Every time I sink into my darkness, I build up my ability to be with other’s darkness. It no longer terrifies me. I also know the gifts it brings. The incredible bigness of the heart in darkness.
I am finding my power and my clarity in my sadness. This sadness is carving away at so much armour, so much of what will lead me in the wrong direction. She is also my courage because once I have gone so far down into her depths, I am unafraid.
There is a sweetness, a delicious relaxation to drop my head back into my grief and stop fighting it. It is the water after the deep thirst.
In my depth, I am absolutely fearless. Because I own my darkness, there is no threat of darkness that anyone can hold over me. I become sovereign.
It took time for me to learn how to feel. Every time I feel, fully and in my body, I learn something new and expand myself in new shapes and areas.
What I have learned is how to give myself full permission to feel what I feel, deeply and without apology. Unbridled. Primal. Embodied. I have learned how to move emotion through my body so I can write my poetry with it.
I am learning, always, how to have grief open me up instead of shut me down.
I know there is a different way to move through our stories of rage, of grief and struggle. There IS another way to do this. Yes, in darkness and also in tribe. In joy. In connection. In gorgeously alive, breathing and expanding beauty.