I believe there are moments that shape us and mold us. Times in our lives where we are challenged by our circumstances, and the decisions we make in the aftermath of such circumstances can have lasting effects. After losing my stepmom to ovarian cancer, not long afterwards, a relationship with somebody I loved very dearly came to an end. All within only a few weeks of each other. In those first couple of months, it seemed almost impossible to see any sort of light or hope. Everything felt incredibly heavy in that dark place. Some days, I wasn’t sure I would ever get out.
“When you’re lost in those woods, it sometimes takes you a while to realize that you are lost. For the longest time, you can convince yourself that you’ve just wandered off the path, that you’ll find your way back to the trailhead any moment now. Then night falls again and again, and you still have no idea where you are, and it’s time to admit that you have bewildered yourself so far off the path that you don’t even know from which direction the sun rises anymore.” – Elizabeth Gilbert
Learning how to grieve and mourn while being overwhelmed by such sadness and loss has been a struggle for me. Perhaps it sounds crazy, but I feel it has opened up my heart even more. The coping process of grief is something we never need to think about, until we are in it. And that is what I mean when I say my heart is more open. Coping during darkness can come from a dark place within ourselves. Therefore, I feel I cannot judge how others deal with their pain during that time. (This is by no means any sort of acceptance of self-harm or inflicting pain on others, but merely an understanding of the places we can sink into. If you or somebody you know needs help, please contact the proper authorities right away.)
I have an amazing support system surrounding me, consisting of family and friends that love me, who have been by my side throughout all of this. I consider myself beyond blessed for this, because going through this alone is something I can’t even begin to imagine. It is easy to get lost in this place of darkness and uncertainty, to make yourself at home because the thought of anything else might just drive you mad. To actually deal with the feelings going on inside? No thanks sir. I’ll just take the next right at Distraction Land and stay for as long as possible. Maybe pay a visit to Repressionville while I’m at it. Because anything else is just too damn painful.
This works for a bit, distracting yourself and whatnot, until you get sick of it. You wake up one day with the realization of time lost and the nagging feeling that you aren’t the person you were before. At least, that’s how it was for me. So, I did what anybody would do in such a state. I made a pinky promise to myself (with a witness to such an event) to make changes. To find the woman that I had lost. My exact words that evening were, “I make a pinky promise to Heather Reid. To be better, feel better and heal better.” That was it. Three little phrases that summed up so much.
Be better to myself by being kind and accepting of my current emotional state, not judging feelings as they arise. Feel better by putting better things into my body, practicing more yoga and meditation. Finally, I knew that a combination of the first two would allow me to heal better. It isn’t something that will happen overnight and I wouldn’t expect it to. It will still hurt, as the pain of loss never really goes away. But, we can find ways to deal with it in a healthy way and to be accepting of our current situation. Wishing for things to go back to the way they were doesn’t do us any good. Instead, it makes it easier for us to be disconnected to the present because we are so caught up in past pain.
There is nothing wrong with being sad, upset or lost. In fact, those are the times when we discover who we truly are. The moments of discomfort or pain don’t define you, they will only allow you to grow. Breathe through it. Accept it. Embrace it. Don’t label your feelings. Lean on the people who love you and remember, it won’t last forever. You’ll know when you’re ready to move past the hurt and start working on the best version of you again. You will be so thankful for the strong and unstoppable force of nature that will come out on the other side of all this. I know I am.