It’s been a real year. Tons of things to be grateful for, some heavy grief and a lot of perspective. Focusing on what you're grateful for can help you when you’re sad or grieving. Sometimes it does, and others it just doesn’t. Sometimes you’re so fucking sad that all you can do is just be sad. That’s okay. It feels scary, though. Like if I allow myself this much sadness, will I just live in sad? Will my sad aunt just hang around forever? I say “sad aunt” because I think about my emotions like relatives stopping in. Who knows how long they’re going to stay, but I try to be hospitable, offer them space, a drink and a place to be cozy, felt, heard, lived and understood till they’re ready to leave.
One of the hardest parts for me about truly being with grief, myself, and emotions, is facing those parts of myself, those shadow-y bits, the parts that I struggle to love. When we are happy and regulated and in a good space it’s easier to be all that we are and not focus solely on the harder or more difficult parts of ourselves to love. I also never learned how to share my grief in community. How do I be sad and not affect others, but also still be with them? Sadness tends to make me isolate myself which then leads to depression. It can be a vicious cycle.
I found out that a friend passed away in August. She was larger than life, she truly LIVED. I found out while I was in Mexico and I danced the night away and jumped in the ocean in her honor. In the following weeks/2 months I slept, alot. I couldn’t seem to get enough rest. I slowed down on movement and activities and I cried most days. I cried for my friend's early flight from earth, for the family and friends she left behind and the unfairness of a life cut short. Her death stopped me in my tracks. I was toodling along thinking I had lots of shit together, but sometimes life checks you, right in the gut, and lets you know you have work left to do (always,right?).
During this time of sadness, I began to reevaluate what I was doing and how I wanted to live. How did I keep finding myself in positions where I was living to work, missing the moments that matter and letting myself slowly sink to last place on my list. Whether it was movement, nutrition, rest, time alone and or in nature, my work generally starts to creep into first place. I finally realized I don’t want to be “the busiest”, the martyr that misses out because I’m standing in my own way. So I made some changes, I cut out some things I was just doing to do and made space for more connection, more community, more time with the people I love.
During that time I also upped my therapy, gave myself some tasks like daily movement for 20 minutes, water, food, sun, my non negotiables to help me heal. I also began a gratitude practice after the first few weeks of deep sad began to fade. When I was walking my dogs, or driving to work or mowing my lawn I just started to list everything I was grateful for. These ruminations started to expand and I began to really think about the whys around my gratitude, with that I started to grow in my ability to express to those I love, why I love them and how much - including myself - even the shadow-y, unsavory bits.
During this season, there are lots of things to have gratitude for, but there are also reasons to grieve. Relationships that are over, loved ones that have passed, human rights that are unavailable, the list goes on. I hope you’re able to experience the duality of both, the gratitude and the grief. Love to you all.