“And in the end, letting go was a lot like finding love. I had to learn to say goodbye to the one who gave me the courage to say hello.” – R.M Drake
For months I’ve been wanting to write, to express how I have been feeling and I how have been trying to process what has been happening. How I am learning that each little stumble has been making me stronger. How losing a part of me somehow forced me to rebuild in a way I never thought I could. How I glued my broken pieces back together, despite having lost my glue, my guide, my ‘fix me’ person.
How secure I feel, yet sad at the same time.. and why I no longer feel guilty for that.
All of my jumbled thoughts suddenly fell into place and the fear of not posting a perfectly structured, hopefully helpful entry melted away into the title.
I feel and have learnt perfection is not what matters, it’s not even what I am working towards. Instead I am finding that comfort and acceptance again in being a work in progress.
Perhaps I hadn’t stopped to appreciate that my journals will never be a finished product, portrayal or version or me. They never have been.
I got so wrapped up in what I have been working through.. trying to regain control.. in a panic, the only control I could find or manage to work on was a panicked version of damage control.
Exhausting myself to fix everything, fast. I dismissed the possibility of how I could eventually learn to appreciate time as an ally.. the natural process of grief.
But, if I look back on the past few months, this afternoon I truly feel a sense of peace, in equal amounts of sadness and strength. Strangely I feel like they compliment, encourage and support each other.
Knowing and accepting that these emotions are within me, and learning to appreciate and sit with more then one at a time, without feeling insecure in my inability to emotionally multi task. I feel safe, I finally feel like I’m not struggling to put my state of mind into just one egg inside of an emotionally worn basket. For the longest time I’ve been trying to find me, but not wanting to allow myself the space to feel too many things. Fighting this has become my exhausting pursuit for control.. My damage control.
I have finally realised that it’s okay to feel.. many things, all at once, to sit and process, and then to acknowledge that although nothing may changed, we can begin to find a freedom in the chaos, a new starting point, to heal, accept and grow.
Ever since I can remember and especially during the last 12 years, in these moments, having my grandmother on speed dial, to be with me as I tried to processed these emotions, to have her comfort, love and unconditional patience and reassurance was not only a gift and privilege, it was my favourite ‘hard hat’ as I stumbled through my emotional construction site, protecting my thoughts but encouraging me to walk through it myself. She was my favourite escape, distraction and conversational happy place.
I miss her, I miss our conversations, I miss her reassuring encouragement in my awkward stumbles and steps forward, everyday those phone calls helped me to process my hesitations.
Losing her I can honestly say has been my greatest loss and heart ache. I have now come to realise the enormity of this loss, and the difference between what I have lost and the moments that have been painful in my past. I feel like my guilt in this grief of losing her came about because I had been wondering if I could have done more or done it all in a different way.. for me I have always found it so much easier to begin to move forward from past heartaches, if I was ready to truly accept and believe that it was something I could no longer change, or couldn’t have then. I will always find a safe place in accepting those lessons and challenges. But the loss of my grandmother.. the accident, so sudden, so in the middle of everything, we were only half way.. So unfair, so unresolved.. I lost everything in that moment, my heart, my soul.. I crumbled in the loss, spiralling into doubt, and then guilt. Why wasn’t it enough? Why? We were trying so hard. We gave each other everything, and just a few days later you were gone. I lost you. You lost me.. And as I held you in those final days, and then that day.. You stopped breathing and I lost me to..
Since her passing, I built walls around those conversations, emotions and everything that could resemble anything close to what I feel for her. I have been running, hiding, building walls.. avoiding. Trying to control and maintain a place of detachment.
I’ve been so afraid to feel.
Until this morning.. Christmas morning, opening the cupboard and finding your Christmas pudding.. I broke.
“New beginnings are often disguised as painful endings.” – Lao Tzu
Twenty-eight Christmas’s with you and today It all hit me like train, not by surprise.. But like a wave that finally pulled me under. That made it all painfully clear that these past few months I had been waiting and wandering on the tracks.. waiting for the moment where and when I would let go and truly feel it all. It suddenly felt completely and inescapably real that you were gone. My birthday and then today, Christmas.. whether it has been all the little things adding up, or the obvious empty seat at the table or your Christmas pudding waiting in the cupboard.
This morning, I finally broke. I really cried, and I felt like I shattered into a million pieces.. and even that if I put myself back together I would be missing all of the pieces, fragments and parts you helped me to build and to be proud of.
Usually in these moments I spiral, I find myself losing control. But, this morning I just cried, only because I just wanted to be with you, nothing else. And for the first time it was simple. A pure, clean, painfully real emotion. Not wrapped in my past or what I might sometimes still struggle with. And In that moment, those hours I let go, I missed you and I realised that these months of sitting on the tracks I hadn’t been addressing my pain or the cause. I wasn’t facing your loss, I sealed half of it away, leaving only the guilt.. I punished myself.
But today I saw the bigger picture, I regained my perspective, the picture was clear, and I only saw love. The how and the why of how I got to this place, and the how and the why of how i’m still here without you. My heart broke, but not in away that it felt irreparable or even lonely. Only in a way that I had been needing to, I needed to feel again so I could feel you. So I could again feel the good, enough that I could face the bad. I’ve been a robot, feeling the good but not completely. Perhaps only acknowledging that it was there, but still so afraid to get too close. Fighting and running from the pain, so far that I couldn’t truly feel anything.. crashing into a dark mood and not knowing why, not sitting there long enough to solve the problem or face why it hurt, why I shut the light out and chose or tried to feel nothing at all…
Since my last stumble, I’ve slipped so many more times, each of them loathing myself for what I was throwing away, each time ignoring why.. and what I still had to lose, each time wrapping myself in a thicker guilt, hating that I was tying this pain to you. I was so afraid to acknoledge how much I had been hurting.
Until today, I had been missing you, so much. But I had been refusing.. I was so afraid to acknowledge why.
All of a sudden, staring at your Christmas pudding, imagining you.. Patiently and lovingly preparing it, months in advance.. it suddenly all felt so real.. The fear fell away, I faced it, whether I chose to, or felt that I was ready, that comforting beautiful image broke something in me, and all of the good felt real again. The pain too. It was there, it was definitely there. But, the good was so present, so close that I felt completely sure of who I was and what I could feel and be again. I have never felt so overwhelmed yet so free. I have come to realise that the heaviness of these overwhelming emotions only feels that way when I exhaust myself trying to fight them.. Building walls.. hiding beneath and behind them.
“The darkness does not destroy the light; it defines it. It’s our fear that casts our joy into the shadows.” – Brene Brown
I sat on the floor and I sobbed.. My mum wheeled beside and my dad sat on the floor and held me, and what may seem like a heartbreaking moment, and it was, felt for me like the most all encompassing real emotion since you have past and honestly, probably ever. I let them see me break, I let them be there for me and I let them pick me up. My problem for so long has been not wanting to connect, with anyone, with those around me and those trying to.
This year I have felt so sure of my feelings, but when you passed away I stopped wanting to face them. I have felt so secure yet completely afraid at the same time. Not afraid of where or who I was with, but afraid of what I was running from.
I can’t change the words unsaid or the emotional risks I haven’t taken, or what I didn’t pursue.
I wasn’t ready. But that moment with my parents reminded me of the comfort you can feel and find in letting go. In being open, in being honest.
Maybe this time I had to truly break. Open and free.
“The wound is the place where the light enters you.” – Rumi
That emotional block has disappeared.. breaking, broken. I no longer feel scared and I truly don’t even feel the the frustratingly comfortable monotony of my all too familiar insecurities and doubts. Not just because I can feel you with me again but because I can truly feel and connect with myself again, completely. And it doesn’t hurt. I’ve learnt that these disconnected walls I have built have always and ultimately become far more painful.
The love and compassion my parents showed me, is something I know, I to have always felt for them, for those around me. But in so many ways, since your fall, I’ve been struggling to allow myself to feel and to find space in my heart for anyone but you.. I was afraid, afraid to feel too much.. Afraid that if I let those feelings in I would be letting you go.
I saw tears in their eyes, not because they were worried for me, because they were proud.. in a devastatingly, beautiful way, something that has been a long time coming. Even before you. And in that moment, so real, for the first time, I stopped doubting.. For those of you know me and my sometimes awkward over politeness, I didn’t apologise. I didn’t feel like I had to, I didn’t feel guilty or feel like I had to unconsciously over compensate for causing them to feel something for me. I only felt love. I felt grateful, I felt sure. I felt so sure of myself and what I was feeling.. So sure that they knew how grateful and relieved I was. I sobbed and I was silent. No ‘sorry’s’ or ‘thank-you’s’. No uncertainties.. I just was, and I knew that they knew. This was everything I had needed. And a part of me knew that it was what they had been needing too.
I feel like I’m me again, and I don’t want to fight it. I feel secure, those walls I had been building and hiding behind, and afraid to challenge.. that If tried to pass them I can honestly say, 9 times out of 10 bumping into them I would apologise. Doubting myself, my direction, my purpose and what I have been trying to make room for. They fell away.
I know it’s not over, I’m sure I will cry again, but I only feel hopeful because I’ll keep breaking and I’ll keep growing and I’m ready for it all because all I want and have ever wanted is to truly feel. To me that is the most secure thing in the world.
It’s not over, but it has changed, I have grown because I’ve stopped fighting,
In my previous entries, I’ve always said how I excited and inspired I have felt to feel, after feeling for years that my feelings were not entirely my own. But I can see now, how this time, in these months I fell backwards when things felt too real, to raw, to overwhelming. I found myself feeling afraid again, I doubted myself, small challenges and decisions became mountains. I’ve always felt sure of myself but not always completely sure of how to feel it. Getting from my emotional point A to B was where I got lost, In emotional limbo, I kept finding myself back in robot mode.Without you, my limbo roadmap.
There are moments in that limbo, of fighting and running from every emotion that I do regret.. not in a way that I feel anger, not even frustration. I simply feel regret because I know in those moments of unsaid words, I was struggling. I was trying to make space, I was fighting that wall.. Still afraid that I might stumble, but so motivated to still try and break down those walls, but still, a part of me felt I wasn’t ready, I was afraid to feel, too much or anything at all.. especially the good. What if I felt happy? Would that be too soon? What if I still had further to fall? What if I spiralled and pulled those close to me down with me? When faced with these questions I always found myself withdrawing, running, again hiding behind those walls. Detached. And then I read this quote,
“We can’t selectively numb emotion. Numb the dark and you numb the light.” – Brene Brown
I stopped doubting the possibility of whether I was able or if I was ready.
I was ready. Darkness, light.. all of it. I couldn’t keep fighting the pain so hard that I would always be too exhausted or frightened to feel what could be so good, what I could find if I just let go.
This morning I cried.. and I was still crying, because I have finally come realise that those phone calls were and had always been you.. Nana; my roadmap, hard hat and limbo guide.. quietly, patiently listening, and teaching me to hear my own voice and to accept that I will always be learning. That my stumbles, sidesteps and falls, are my journey. That I can find that peace and security on my own. The conversation will not end.. those calls to me were a ‘forever lesson’.. encouraging me to self talk, to self love and accept that I am and always will be working on myself. This does not mean that I am broken, in or still my past.. and most importantly, I am not broken in a way that’s irreparable. I am healing as I learn, a little or a lot.. mistakes, lessons, heartbreak . I no longer feel alone. You taught me that we are all healing because that Is how we grow.
Under construction; It is a sign that we all post, and a sign that is nothing to be ashamed of, it is a symbol of compassion for ourselves and each other.
I don’t view it as a label, I like to see it as an umbrella of forgiveness, a shelter or our emotional hard hat. Protecting our journey, allowing us the space and time to grow.
It’s kind of like an emotional insurance policy, it’s my safety net and for now having that within me erases my doubt.
Grief is something we all feel. We grieve our mistakes, stumbles, loses and our greatest heartaches.
Allowing for this pain to be a process.. supports and nurtures our journey as we heal.. this is a gift to ourselves and the most compassionate step we can take forward. It’s accepting and forgiving.. it is love and it is our journey.
He said, “Love is a like a precious plant. You can’t just accept it and leave it in the cupboard or think its going to get by itself. You’ve got to keep on watering it. You’ve got to really look after it and nurture it.” – John Lennon
Catherine, I want to thank you for sharing this beautiful piece of writing. It’s so heartfelt, insightful and honest. I don’t know why you are so hard on yourself and want to beat yourself up and have so much guilt??? Do you think you want to please everyone all the time? All any of us wants is to be loved and excepted. You are very lucky because you are so loved by your family and have much respect and exceptance and the love of friends. If you feel that people don’t except you, you don’t need those people in your life. Your life is too precious to have negative, judgemental, nasty people I around you. Surround yourself with lovely, happy people who don’t take themselves too seriously and can have a laugh at themselves.
I’m so sorry for your great loss, I know your Nana meant the world to you. I could feel your pain in your writing. I had tears rolling down my cheeks. Keep writing, keep feeling and just be you, no apologies needed gorgeous girl, you are a strong courageous young woman.
Sending you lots of love. I wish you all the very best for a fabulous 2015.😘❌⭕️