It’s a great tattoo, I’ve seen a lot of people get this on their wrist as a reminder. It turns out, I like to talk about tattoos. But really – it’s a great reminder that we need to stop more, breathe more, sit more and just enjoy more. That said, for me, being still has been something that I have run from at every turn for years. I have spent years running from my grief. And grief sucks. Can we all just say that out loud? Grief SUCKS. It hurts, it’s hard and it’s long. In this age, when everything happens faster than we’d ever imagined it would, we can’t wrap our heads around that. Everything is at our fingertips right when we want it.
But no matter how fast our lives have become over the years, emotions, and the processing we do to work through them, happen at the same rate they always have. And you can’t quicken wisdom or the long road it takes to get there.
I qualify the hard things in my life as events. I’m experiential by nature – it’s just how my mind processes things. The first time I hurt through something big and hard, I decided I could fix it. I did my best to change me, my circumstances and everything except that a big part of what needed to change was someone else. I did my best to control the situation, and keeping myself busy meant I didn’t have to hurt so much, because the busier you are, the less time you have to be still and think.
The second big hard was the first baby we lost and I sat in that. I was still. I stopped working for a month, and I remember on my birthday, two and a half months later, feeling still so depressed. As if I almost couldn’t breath. I was already pregnant again, but I don’t really remember that. I just remember being dark.
And then we lost that baby too. And thank goodness, or so I thought, I was mid-way through a big work project, so even in the hospital right after we said good-bye to our sweet boy and let them take his body to the morgue, I opened my computer, put my head down, and honestly didn’t look up for a good, long couple of years.
Because the pain was too much. Because I hadn’t gotten through the last pain yet, how was I supposed to walk another? Because it’s so much easier not to grieve.
Or so you think. Each day seems easier, but your life gets harder. Each day is spent staying as busy as you can get, to the point of emotional and physical exhaustion because you are literally and figuratively running from your pain. The thing is, it will always catch up to you. And before it catches up to you, you are a fraud, pretending to be okay, pretending you can manage, pretending that it didn’t hurt as much as it did.
Last year, I got two more events, two more big hards that I’ve had to walk through, and this time, I decided to face them head on. I’m still as exhausted, but rather than be exhausted by running, I’m exhausted by healing that will land me in a better place in the end.
Healing doesn’t look pretty. It’s sometimes ugly, sometimes you feel stuck, sometimes you have to stay home and avoid people because you prefer to not explain your “tired” eyes, puffy from crying. It is work. It is fighting your own thoughts to prove to yourself you can come out the other side. It is walking barefoot in the grass just to feel a bit more grounded as you feel your pain lifting you away. But day by day, it’s the smallest bit easier. And after a while, you find that you’re walking through the grass barefoot because it feels nice on your toes, not because you need it.
Healing brings you around. Healing begins to close the circle. And while you might always hurt a little bit: the memories will always be there and the triggers are often lifelong. With healing, I believe you end up with more good days than bad. I’ve discovered that, for myself anyway, I’d rather face the bad days head on, hurting so big and so deep, so that the good days are truly good days. Not days I’ve put my smile on for others to see, and for myself to see as I pass in the mirror as I pretend I am okay. But real, true good days where I get to actually be still, and even a bit happy.
Grieving will hurt. It will sting, and it may last so much longer than you ever anticipated. But you will come around. You will close that circle, maybe not all the way, but I’ve learned it can get closer to whole than you ever imagined. Because you are so much stronger than you think. And this will make you stronger still.