Author: Sairy Franks
At the beginning of January, grief came knocking on the door and when I answered, I was pummeled with more emotion and sadness than I ever would have imagined. It was quite surprising to me to have this emerge during what seemed like my most inspired experience of life up until that point. I am feeling much more settled now, but I wanted to share something I wrote in the midst of the struggle. I tend to be very positive and excited, but it’s important to me that it be known that it doesn’t come without the ebb and flow of difficulty, struggle, many deep breaths and eventual surrender to the many difficult realities of living with Lyme Disease. I have been told by many that I am strong. I agree – I believe that the human spirit in all of us is stronger than any words can describe. However, to me it is not a lack of tears or fears that represents strength, rather a willingness to both live and love into whatever is happening in each moment regardless of how vulnerable we may feel. We are strong when we are alive, and we are most alive when we are most present.
Sitting in the dark, this time it looks different. I’m not trying to comfort myself. I’m not trying to do anything. I am softening. And hardening. And softening more still. I am holding myself with gentleness as I unravel.
I have come across an experience from my past that reveals grief that was never processed. Instead, it was quickly stuffed away as fear of death and basic survival consumed my attention. Now that I am revisiting this experience without that intense fear of death, the grief is taking front and center to demand my attention. Additionally, it seems to have opened the floodgates for other unprocessed grieving – mainly for ways I have denied myself in the past and signed off my own disappointments as frivolous. When grief comes up, my first reaction is to want to run like hell, and if it was possible to run away from myself this past week, I may have opted for that. But I couldn’t and I’m grateful. Don’t we deserve this healing in the long run?
The waves of sadness have come in surges, not in the form of thought, but as an energy that was blocked in my body so many years back. Intellectually this grief was made sense of long ago, but it hid out physically and energetically. In the past week I’ve observed myself soften, then harden only to soften more still. I cried off and on for several hours today, and there was not a distraction to be found. Even the idea of grasping for a distraction would have felt like an assault to my soul. How do I make the most of this? How do I honor this? I knew the moment was ripe for healing. It occurred to me to let go of the hows and not try to control or follow a protocol. Don’t ‘make’ anything out of it. I decided to allow it to make me, to trust the flow with patience, allowance and gentleness. So I cried at the table. I cried on the couch. I cried in my bed. Then I cried at the table some more. And finally, out of nowhere came a spark in the dark. And the light poured in and out once again, finding my eyes filled with tears of gratitude rather than sadness.
The grieving of my experiences and self-denial is turning into a celebration of a soul-self that is always there, committed to being. We humans are quite amazing like that. As I have learned in the past year, no part of my true self can be left behind. Buried, yes. Denied temporarily, yes. But destroyed, no. This can feel haunting at times, but as I step back, I can see that the haunting is an immense gift of life. There will always be more waiting in the wings to emerge and grace my life in a most ungracefully seeming fashion at the time of arrival.
In the midst of all of this, I observed something else quite beautiful. I have experienced two particularly powerful instances in my life in which I strengthened my commitment to self-care and expanded my toolbox, the result of which increased my experience of love of self, and self trust. Both times have brought up incredible joy and awe for what becomes possible. Even though I didn’t know to expect that, that makes sense. What comes as more of a surprise, is that grief has also emerged during these times of heightened self-commitment. It’s hard to see through it in the moment, but now that I’ve had this happen a couple of times, I see grief itself can be both a form and a product of love.
With love and gratitude.