Today’s post starts with a hard truth I’ve realized.
I’ve been a hypocrite.
In my work I teach whole self reclamation, and the journey typically starts by feeling all that you feel – in particular heavier emotions – instead of shying away. I even wrote a book about it.
But there’s one heavy emotion I find myself avoiding almost every single time. Grief.
The first person I remember passing was a great aunt. I was only 5, had never met her, but I slipped into a 3 month cloud of sadness. Not just grieving the loss of her life but everything she wouldn’t get to do, and that we’d never meet.
Some people feel things more intensely than others.
I’ve always been a big feeler.
I used to hold a lot of shame around that. Most of my family isn’t, so I always felt like the odd one out. It really contributed to my story of being a too girl – too much, too sensitive, too bossy, too dramatic. I spent years abandoning parts of myself trying to fit into someone else’s definition of what was acceptable to feel and express and the last 15 years has been the work or reclaiming them and repairing the relationship with myself.
But I digress – today we’re talking about grief. (Told you I avoid it.)
For someone my age, I have lost a lot of friends. Probably a byproduct of where and how I grew up to some degree, surrounded by violence, crime and addiction. I lost my first friend to CF at 15 and I was devastated. My mom wasn’t sympathetic – because Lydia wasn’t my best friend, my mom thought my tears were theatrics and wouldn’t let me miss school to go to her funeral.
This may have contributed to my inability to lean into grief.
I’ve lost teachers, mentors, and uncle, grandparents, my step-dad. I’m the one making calls, passing around baby gerkins or tissue. But even though I’ve been confronted with death so many times, I refuse to lean in.
You can choose to do things differently.
Recently my cousin passed away. He was much younger than me, a sensitive soul, and someone I didn’t talk to a lot but loved deeply. I’m across the country from my family and I felt helpless… all I could do was make a couple of calls and support from afar.
But I also have other gifts.
That evening I took to my altar, and prayed for him and for the rest of the family. I was guided to a goddess named Coatlicue who supports people in grief and together we drummed and rattled my own pain, and that of his immediate family. And I cried. A lot. Still am. But also continuing to lean in.
The grieving isn’t just the crying. It’s permission to let you feel everything that comes up without judgment. It’s witnessing your pain, riding the emotional roller coaster through every stage (and back again a few times). It’s letting your thoughts get angry and ugly and then comforting yourself when it passes. It’s knowing that your feelings are valid and you don’t have to earn your pain… it is real, no matter why it has come up.
I let myself love him and miss him instead of closing myself off. And in this I realized how much I’ve missed out on not doing this for the other people I’ve loved and lost before.
Permission to #feelitall
All of this to say – I understand why you avoid the hard stuff. Especially if you’re also working against stories of being too sensitive, too dramatic, too MUCH, and it wasn’t safe for you to feel it all.
The beautiful thing about bringing consciousness to your pain is this: you get to be the person you didn’t have when you learned how to shut things down and bury them deep. You can show up for yourself now in the ways you weren’t taught to. You can help those feelings and the unexpressed ones beneath them be witnessed, experienced, processed… you can liberate yourself from the hurt that is no longer yours to carry.
Keep showing up, for yourself and your heart. You are both worth it, I promise.