“It is our shared pain and our longing for happiness that links us to other people and helps us to turn toward them with compassion.”- Sharon Salzberg
The days pass into weeks and months, but there you are still walking through the halls of something that happened forever ago. It doesn’t make sense, but leaving it behind doesn’t make any sense either. The things that happened to you have ended, so why do they still circle around you like this? Let it go. Life does not want to hurt you, and maybe we need to grieve through old lessons all the way in order to feel through the entire shift in perception. Life is meant for you. In Real Love, Sharon Salzberg says that “it’s a matter of how we relate to our unfolding experiences.”, and she encourages us to say yes to life because it opens a “gateway to unimagined adventures and possibilities.” Maybe that terrible experience you had was meant to happen. I know that if you feel it all the way through you will find that it holds a missing piece of your story : the key you did not know you needed to really believe in yourself. I know that if you feel it all the way, you will be proud of yourself for realizing how capable you are of overcoming hard things in your life today.
“Remember that you’re not the one who’s sick Jacqui.” I did not want to listen because I did not want to abandon a story I told myself. I was there through the Grand Mal seizures and getting all of the facts from his brain surgeon to just gone. I went from being right there with everyone helping, sleeping in hospital beds, giving up jobs, and administering medication to we do not want you here anymore. “Remember that you’re not the one who’s sick, Jacqui”. We took on a new and painful vocabulary every step of the way. I was so green to illness and heartache of this kind that each new word stung like a new bullet for me to hide under my shirt. How do you hide something so painful? I knew that I was not the one who was sick, so I told myself to suck it up. I learned how to integrate this new vocabulary into my life. This is the new normal where words like; anaplastic astrocytoma, malignant, and craniotomy become the new norm : the new everyday words were matched with our best hand of hope and gratitude, but this is not the story I am sharing with you today. Today is about dealing with shame, misplaced guilt, and the aftermath of PTSD. Today is about moving through the past to live in the present. I know I was not the only one who went through it all, but the exclusion made it to where I couldn’t share the pain with anyone who understood anymore. I just sat on the outside while it played on repeat, and I just kept hiding the bullets under my shirt and behind the bottle.
Supervisor is off duty. No one is coming for you, and it can be all over if you want it to be, so let it go. Believe in who you are and move through this because there is a big, big world out there. If we are all the things, how do you expect to exist in the memory of just one thing that happened long ago. Life begins the moment you move forward, so be brave and undivided between past and present. Now is now. I do not know how long it will take you to feel through the blocks in your heart, but I do know that the anticipation of pain is more painful than the tears and heartache of feeling it through all the way. Piece by piece those years and thousands of little pieces of what happened will come together for you with tears to wash you clean. Without grief, we do not accept that the past happened the way that it was supposed to happen. We continue to believe there was something that we could have done differently to change it all. Go in there all the way, so you can get all the way out and be here now. After all of this time, the pain is exactly what your heart needs to heal and to come undone. It hurts the most when we forget to feel it all the way because no one can find happiness in a constant state of fear. You are not wrong, but I will say that living in a permanent state of terror is wrong. This is unfair to you. Living in fear of something that is not only over, but was never in your control in the first place, will only keep you from growing. Forgive yourself for what you can and move forward. Recycling the same frame of time over and over again is unfair and unhealthy. This is no place for a person like you to live. Let me hold your hands and we can work through this together. I am compassion. I know love because I know pain.
Is your heart big enough to love yourself? We are built for compassion. Our brains are wired to feel pain with others, but can you settle into your own heart and extend out. Can you walk yourself out of the halls of your past without shame because you know that you deserve to let go? Cry all the way. Go ahead and accept that what happened cannot change, and know that it can fuel your ability to handle life now. You’ve got a long life ahead of you where anything can happen. The past does not define us.
Open your eyes to what is happening right now. Notice where you are right now. Be fair to yourself and give yourself this moment of freedom. Notice the room and sounds around you without fear. Maybe it’s not about standing up taller at all. Maybe it’s not about the height of your stance or the size of your pain. Those extremes are bound to break and change. This is life. The reality of your story happens in the space between. It happens in the slow coast outward with passing time where you stop struggling so much. Let it go. Release doesn’t happen in the ups and downs with dramatic shifts. Take the weight of your soul and settle into yourself. It is in the settling where we extend out naturally. This is expansion. This is extending out to others. The chord that connects you to others isn’t too tight or too loose. It is even. It is even and connected. Our minds are made for compassion, so once we feel it all the way through we can open even further.
“Letting go of the belief that we’re powerless to help relieve our own suffering not only enhances our ability to heal but also to genuinely love and receive the love of others.”- Real Love, Sharon Salzberg
Shame is one of the most powerful emotions we can experience, and I think we have all experienced enough shame in our lives pre-recovery to where we should not feel ashamed about taking time to recover. Take time to be with your feelings, but do not let it overpower you again and again. Take it easy. Recovery is not a burden or something that gets test scores. I know that some of us feel disempowered by our recoveries from addiction, eating disorders, or from PTSD because we subtly absorb all of the negative connotations that come along with the recovery process like; we are broken and not all the way human, but start thinking about recovery like you are sinking further into your life fully. Empowerment is everything to me in my recovery. Feeling empowered by my recovery gives me freedom because I finally have the sense of stepping into my life with power and love knowing that I am capable of doing this thing. I always felt pressure to be something that I could never be with the idea of returning to purity, but now, I believe we are not returning to some state of grace and innocence from before because we will never be from before. We are not things that get stretched and crunched in value from recovered to not recovered. You are an ongoing expansion of layers of what happened to you and what is happening for you now, so you can keep expanding and loving. Self love is the way into expanding out and being able to feel compassion for others. All of this healing should not have a time restraint. Give yourself time to forgive yourself and others. Give yourself time to grieve.
Recovery cannot turn into the thing that causes us trauma and shame. There is no way to “power meeting” our way to health. There is no quick cure or pill for any of this, no matter what anyone tells you. Sharon says that we need to start where we are. This should not stop you from going out there and finding out who you are and how you need to recover. Dress in all-white outfits if you like with flowers and candles, or walk along the water with your best friend, or maybe aa is your place. There are beautiful people in those rooms that I still cherish to this day. All I am saying is that there should not be any more shame in this process. This is why some of the people I admire most avoid using labels in their sobriety because we don’t want to start exhausting the tool that feeds us by adding more shame. Move through what happened so you can be here now. Feel it all the way through. ❤