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2021 arrived with an unknowing of what was to come being a year into the pandemic.
Isolation and loneliness were the leading drivers. What seemed escapable became glaringly evident that my inner peacekeeper, pretending that everything was okay, was melting down with toxic dysfunction.
I was suffocating in silence as my central nervous system’s internal alarm said, “You are unsafe. Everything and everyone is dangerous. Shut off your intuition. You know too much. You’re too much. Let it go. Push it down. Suffocate.”
Within a shallow breath, I felt the new year pummelled me into a series of hard lessons that came at a cost. I couldn’t shove anything down any longer. And once I opened the floodgates, the flood runneth wild. I found myself weeping two days before my 43rd birthday in January. Whether I got on my yoga mat or was out with my dog for a walk, the tears kept flowing. I had become a grief monster—a cute one at that, but one who questioned her place and her value.
Being in lockdown, my unresolved acceptance and acknowledgment of trauma presented itself. It felt like someone was staring at me, and it was me. It was my gorgeous grief monster pleading, begging not to ignore her any longer.
That all of the fear I had around her being scary was in my head. It was the narrative that I had created about her, yet not the truth of her. The anger, the hurt, the feeling of being unseen, unheard, the fight—the need to scream “I belong here” was a much younger self who was hurting filled with sorrow. I had a dream one night where I awoke to find a seven-year-old me in her pyjamas sitting against the wall, looking at the present version. I asked her what she was doing, and all she said was, “Tell my story.”
Years ago, I came up with a name for myself: Serious Mysterious—not your average child. You see, Serious Mysterious thought she was mysterious, but she was pretty delirious. I was bullied from grades three to six. In grade four, I developed facial ticks that lasted for the better part of a year and mysteriously, not so mysteriously, they disappeared. Just like I stopped picking my nose at night and putting it on my wall to feed the monsters so that they wouldn’t eat me. So you see, the grief monster, she is me, and she was always there.
I read an article written about someone’s experience of being bullied in school. The writer spoke about his rage; he wanted this person to be held accountable, so he had looked his bully up. He discovered that this person had spent his life in and out of prison and had committed suicide. The epiphany was that his bully (and my bullies) were a product of their environment as was I, as was he, as are you. The realization that we never know someone’s story, and if we do, that is a privilege.
“Grief is the conflicting feelings caused by the end of or change in a familiar pattern of behaviour.” ~ The Grief Recovery Handbook
Those feelings of suffocating that I was experiencing, isolated in my pain at the beginning of this year, were the conflicting feelings of change in my familiar patterns. And to propel growth and change, we need to look back to go forward. A friend told me about “The Grief Recovery Method.” I wasn’t aware that there was a way to grieve, let alone unhook ourselves. My grief was raw, but I was ready for a change, so I signed up for the course.
“Unresolved grief is always about undelivered emotional communications that accrue within a relationship over time.” ~ The Grief Recovery Handbook
The truth blatantly here in these pages, the recurring themes and patterns that I allowed to lead in my life up to this point, sent off a brain explosion paired with another level of grief. Life experiences exist in the deep layers of our fascia, and although they are a part of our story, this is not the story that has to be at the forefront of our lives.
So how do we honour a specific piece of our history and the grief surrounding that trauma? Reminded of Caroline Myss and a particular phrase: “The soul always knows what to do to heal itself, and the challenge is to silence the mind.”
The Grief Recovery Method felt like coming home to me. I realized that my grief monster is my soul who has been waiting for me to see and hear her. The innate human need is to be seen and heard, and if I can’t—we can’t—look at our history, be accountable, and hear our pain, then where do we have left to go but inward?
“We need to be selective about the feedback we let into our lives. For me, if you’re not in the arena also getting your ass kicked, I’m not interested in your feedback.” ~ Brené Brown
I dove in and braved the wilderness of myself; I got in the arena.
In the end, for the first time in a long time, I felt lighter; I felt free. My grief monster gave me the gift of perseverance, rejuvenation, and awakening.
She gave me back to me.