We can never accurately estimate what grief will do to us.
In my own experience, this chapter comes after trauma, which comes after abuse. It feels like a new space but one filled with much decay.
I haven’t been writing much because the inconsistency of emotions didn’t allow me to distill my thoughts until now—now that there is at last some clarity.
I’m a firm believer of there being an order to things—chain reactions, chaos theory, cause and effect, cycles of energy. There is a map, even of our messiest times, if only we take the time to confront and feel our own cartography. I’ve always been obsessed with tracing how things happen.
I’ve lived much of my life as an unrealized empath until only five years ago. The awareness came to me like an epiphany—it reset the landscape of my life in such liberating ways, as I started to see power dynamics through a completely different lens. I no longer felt obliged to respond in ways I was programmed to, namely to act in ways to minimize the pain of others and then voluntarily carrying the burden upon myself.
I started to recognize abuse I’d accepted as “normal” or “angry” behavior. Then I considered myself fortunate to have been able to work through much of the darkness offline, in a remote Mayan village during the pandemic years, while I had a forced break from a relatively public career.
For someone who has never had privacy, I was given the gift of not being watched. I was able to wear my feelings on my face, let them move through my body, and carry them on my sleeves, in my steps. I let it curl me up, make me smaller, and I forced expansion to feel the difference.
I didn’t have to meet any expectations, and I didn’t have to put on any other face aside what was real. I didn’t wear makeup, and I generally stayed in oversized clothes. I finally learned how to swim, in a lake no less, because death didn’t scare me. I committed to regular therapy, various kinds, and I tried energy work across the board. Trauma moved through me in cycles, and my relationship with it has become less hostile now. While the wellness market is booming these days, there are no quick-fixes. You can’t buy your moods. The work and the time can’t be replaced.
Reentering into society has been a culture shock in ways. Particularly now that most places are crowding up again, what happens to the space where we could hold our emotions when we were distanced? Do we find loud emotions more jarring once we’ve gotten used to the muted minimalism? Where do we find our anchor now?
As a beginner to the idea of building a home within ourselves, laying out inventory has been a necessary but daunting process. What to keep, what to let go, and where to store the not-so-nice things? The anger, the grief, the lessons—they don’t happen automatically. How much do we alchemize? How much do we surrender? What, if anything, can we shatter?
Some people will comfort us with words they think are helpful, some people will gaslight us, but no one will tell us that when we start to recognize grief, trauma, and abuse, we start to feel foreign in our own bodies. One step forward, two steps back. Where is home, then?
I came across this poem, read by the poet David Whyte himself, over a podcast I was listening to. I paused the podcast to write these lines down because they offer so much—they anchored me during such a time of placelessness and being invisible:
“May you see what is hidden in you
as a place of hospitality and shadowed shelter,
may that hidden darkness be your gift to give,“
I reread and marvel at how beautiful light and darkness are crafted together. The alchemy laced between each word is like a demonstration of the most empowering possibilities of what we could do with the darkness, the hidden, and the shadow. The idea that we can find shelter here; that from this place of ruin, we can unearth our treasures; that what is hidden within us is the place of hospitality we yearn for from everywhere and everyone else; that this is powerful beyond light.
Then, for those of us who, for whatever reason, retreated from places, people, and things, this part about disappearances will reach us where we most need to be held:
“may you join all of your previous disappearances
with this new appearance, this new morning,
this being seen again, new and newly alive.“
The beauty of the line, “may you join all of your previous disappearances” lies in the union of us and our previous selves. It makes us whole from our own fragments, which is perhaps, the most healing togetherness of all.
To rise again, is the bravest thing we could do. If you are looking for new beginnings, every choice is one. But more specifically, here are 111 moments to start fresh, every year.
As Easter is approaching, I wanted to share this gift with you, as the poem was originally written on Easter morning and presented as an Easter blessing. If you are brave enough to start again, to start anew, it is a rebirth worth celebrating. May this poem find you, and rise you to the light.
Read the full poem “EASTER BLESSING” by David Whyte here.
We can never accurately estimate what grief will do to us, but the next choice we make, can change our lives.