21 Mar 2017
This past year has been tough. Amazing in a lot of ways, but also challenging.
A little over a year ago, I uprooted my life, left my beautiful and supportive community of friends and moved across the country. It was absolutely the right decision for me and much of it has been wonderful, but it’s also been hard.
It has been lonely. Exhausting. Full of grief. I have felt unsettled and ungrounded. I still feel a bit lost and uncertain about where my life is going.
I know that all of this is simply part of the process of change and creating a life in a new place. I know that as time continues and I keep showing up, I’ll create another community, make new friends, sort out my personal and professional life and things will feel better. I have no doubts that this time of feeling lost and lonely will be worth it as life continues to unfold.
But sometimes the process really sucks.
The hardest part has been being without my support system. I mean, I still have them via the phone or Skype – but it’s not quite the same as sitting down with them in person, being in their presence, and talking. Plus, I really really miss the hugs!
Some days, when things are particularly hard, I doubt my decision to move and wonder what the ever-loving hell I was thinking.
But there is one person that I have met here that helps me stay centered. She helps me ride these waves of loneliness and uncertainty and doubt until I can remember to trust the process and stay on track.
I don’t really know her all that well personally. She’s my supervisor at work.
She knows more of my story, because, well, I’m the mother of two dead children who works at a facility full of pregnant and parenting young mothers. That causes quite a bit of my personal shit to come up.
I keep trying to pinpoint exactly what it is about her or what she does that feel so supportive and helpful.
The best I can come up with is that she sits with me.
She doesn’t try to fix it. She doesn’t pretend to have magic answers. She doesn’t try to change what I’m feeling. She doesn’t really do anything in particular.
She simply listens and sits with me.
That allows me to sit with myself and whatever I happen to be feeling in that moment. It helps me to take a deep breath and remember to trust the process.
And in those moments when she sits with me, the weight of all the grief and change and uncertainty doesn’t feel quite so heavy. I don’t feel as alone or lost. I feel heard and seen and supported. She lets me be me and be wherever I am.
Sometimes, what we need isn’t a quick fix. We don’t necessarily need anything fancy or elaborate.
Sometimes we just need someone who will sit with us.
She sits with me.
It makes a world of difference.
19 Feb 2016
Last weekend I was driving down a stretch of I-81 in Virginia, it was pretty and quiet and I was several hours into a 15-hour drive.
It was a nice and quiet respite of solitude after several very social weeks. Until, suddenly, a tangle of grief and anger rose up in my gut. Tears started leaking from my eyes and a whole lotta curse words started spewing from my mouth.
My first thought was: Still?? Still this grief after 13.5 years? Jesus Effing Christ. (Apologies to those with a Christian bent. No disrespect intended to the Jesus man.).
My next thought was: Why do people leave me when I need them most?
Well, hello, little painful, unhelpful belief. Where have you been hiding?
It’s an old painful belief that has lain quietly in my brain and heart for many years now. It’s not hard to find the origin of it. The day I found out I was pregnant, my fiancé was in a car accident and taken off life support two days later. He never knew about our daughter and, obviously, he couldn’t be there with me when she also died months later.
Although rationally I know that he didn’t have much of a say in the matter, when I needed him most, he left. So did my daughter.
Emotion isn’t rational. Emotion and these kinds of sneaky hidden beliefs aren’t logical or made of common sense. They are born out of hurt and pain when, for a variety of reasons, we don’t have the skills or capacity to process that particular hurt and pain.
A similar hurt and pain had come up again recently in a situation with a friend, and unbeknownst to me at the time, so had this painful belief that people leave me when I need them most. It was a belief I’d spent the last month or so desperately avoiding with unconscious busyness, social time, and a whole lot of mental distraction.
Looking back it explains a lot. No wonder my sleep has been crap. 😉
Then came a quiet, solo, no-distractions road trip. And I couldn’t avoid it anymore. This old belief arose, triggering old and new pain, and came unavoidably spewing out my eyes and mouth.
And honestly, while it hurt, pulling that thorn of a belief out of my heart after so many years has been a relief these past few days.
Because as soon as I was aware of it, as soon as I stopped running from it, it no longer had power over me. I could see it. I could see how it poked it’s thorny head into my relationships to wreak havoc.
And, now, because I could see it, I could let it go. I could take back my power over it and prevent the damage to my relationships.
Now, I could finally also see all the times and ways I am always supported. I could see the ways that family and friends, and even strangers, have been there for me when I needed them most. Sometimes that isn’t always in the way I want or expect, but most of the time, when I need someone, someone is there.
When I let them.
When I can let them because I don’t have this painful hidden belief stirring up some rather impressive self-sabotage.
And, finally, I can be there for me when I need me most. Because that’s what I need the most – me to be on my side. Me to be there for me.
So, my question for you is this: What are you avoiding? What painful beliefs might be lurking around your brain?
And perhaps more importantly, are you fully on your own side? Are you being there for you?
Something to ponder.