Last week while I was at yoga we did this new pose that was laying on your back with your legs and arms extended and hands and feet flexed. A little like reverse walking on your hands and feet or for me for a small moment the feeling on literally hanging from the Universe. It was a very freeing moment for me and yet a very helpless moment as the same time-the feeling of literally being held be the invisible, by being held by faith alone. How many times since John died have I walked into a day or space on faith alone that I would not get crushed under the grief as I attempted to do what must be done.
While I was hanging there, two things happened. First I noticed how old my hands looked. The fact that they look older doesn’t bother me, they look my mother’s hands and I am proud of that and that also brings me peace that this small thing, our hands, carries down from one generation to the next as I see these hands on my daughter and my sister as well. What was alarming to me was that John never saw my hands look so old. He was not here for the aging of my hands, or the graying of my hair. In looking at my hands I was greatly aware that these kinds of changes that come with age, also come with time, and that quite a long time has now passed since John died. Nearly two years. There was a time when that number was as foreign a thought to me as turning sixteen is to a ten year old. It was a lifetime away, an impossible milestone that was to be both gratifying, in that I would have made it that long and hopefully healed some, and terrifying that I would have managed for that long to put one reluctant foot in front of the other over and over each day.
The second thing that caught me was a wave of ‘done’. Done pretending to be okay for everyone, done pretending I’m not as fragile or broken as I really am, done pretending to be strong so others feel at ease in my presence, done making small talk when words are too much to bear to hear-especially my own, done putting that reluctant foot in front the other doing what society sees as what must be done as opposed to what my heart and intuition tell me should be done instead, what needs to be done for my own healing-for my own deeper good and soul survival. And of course done with the excruciating exhaustion that comes from tethering it all together each day in hopes that it holds societies’ ideal of what’s okay and proper together for just a little bit longer.
I written extensively on my own struggle with the exhaustion that comes with grief and the hardships and changes it brings. Still, in that moment a wave of energy caressed me and let me see briefly the high toll the tears and pretending has taken on my body, my soul, my being. And in viewing it, I grieved a little harder in that moment. Not for John, not for his loss, but for me, for the loss of my inner desire to overcome and for my inability to figure out and follow through with a better self-care plan that John would be proud of and that I would help me to feel less like a wrung out hand towel in a world in which I have come to see myself as a great pretender in.
It’s that endless back and forth that my monkey mind runs around and around, over and over again. How do I find the space and time I need to hear myself better in order to heal myself better? How do I exit the merry-go-round of societies’ have to’s, in order to get to the deeper need to’s? I’m encouraged knowing that in this I am not alone, that all those who grieve struggle with similar problems, similar debates and the back and forth of balancing how to hold it together while trying to honor that which we feel is our truth now-a truth and path that may be vastly different from what it was before our loved ones died. A truth and change that few on the outside of grief can begin to comprehend, let alone stand up and support as we meander this maze. But we keep trying don’t we? I know I keep trying. I keep trying one yoga class, one cup of tea, one journal entry posted into a loving and supportive forum at a time, to find healing and peace among what I have come to think of as my tribe, ‘the broken’ who understand. The surprise is, in spite of in my brokenness, in the face of what seems insurmountable we do heal-albeit ever so slowly-, we do survive, and hopefully in time with the love of those that understand us best, we might thrive as well.