Maximum Capacity Aliveness

A grieving person is sad, sometimes. However let me be blatantly honest about what the world can feel like following a trauma or loss: dull, grey-scale, lifeless, numb, scary, foreign, and lots of work. The feelings come and go at different times but leave such residue in the well that I forget how the water should taste. At some point I decided to officially make the claim that this is adulthood; that adulthood is primarily characterized by pain or “trudging”. After spending the first portion of my life determined to reach a maximum capacity of aliveness, the single most depressing thought I could ever think is: the best part is over – and I thought it.

It’s hard for me to write this because I immediately want you to understand that my days are filled with good things; one might even say that by some standards I’m living my life to the fullest. Not by my standards. I am not alive like I once was and I have felt like a stranger to myself in many ways. Though I pass the buck to adulthood, it’s not what’s to blame (sorry to ruin a good excuse for many of us). We all must move on from past versions of ourselves, but to forget ourselves is tragic.

I lost my mom during a time that I was adventuring, growing, and learning. I had experienced some highest highs – traveling India – and some lowest lows – relational confusion. With her death went my memories of what those things felt like. I could picture moments from my past but could not empathize with myself. It was a total disconnect.

This week, I unexpectedly experienced a trigger that pricked a pinhole in my mind, allowing a rush of locked-up thoughts and feelings to come back to me. It was perhaps less metaphysical than it sounds, but some group of wires in my brain was reattached. I felt my past; it was hard and confusing, and such a gift. This “awakening” of sorts reminded me that I am made up of more experiences than those surrounding and following my mom’s death. It revealed to me that I have unfinished business in my soul that needs attention, which holds the key to so many frustrating roadblocks I have faced. Needs and voids that are independent of death can be easily covered up by the grief experience, and so the quest to fill them can be futile. That’s what’s tough – defining the boundaries of grief.

Perhaps it’s not always something as dramatic as blacking out after a trauma that creates disassociation within ourselves. Maybe it too easily happens with time. Maybe we call it adulthood so that we don’t have to look back or dig within ourselves for answers. Perhaps feeling past wounds hurts so much that we have to block out the good too. It does hurt to remember it all, let me tell you, but it is nowhere near as painful as living with a stranger under my skin.

I guess my purpose here is to offer a vulnerable piece of myself in sharing this experience, since vulnerability has not been easy for me while emotionally dry. Maybe it’s also to ask some questions. Do we abandon ourselves by choice? Do we choose to forget what we looked like most alive because it hurts too much? Do we forget because it would take such painful work to carry that self into our present situation?

I must say, I’m terrified that I will again lose this feeling of connectedness; that I will forget to keep asking myself these questions. However, I have never been so grateful for the reminder that maximum capacity aliveness is worth fighting for.

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Pressing Play

Tomorrow I am pressing hard on the play button of my life – I’ve been on pause for too long. It is an exciting, terrifying thing to face a Last Day of Work, especially when it means leaving the family business and especially when it means starting your own.

I just had to reach into the blogging world tonight and gather up all of your good karma.

I feel like I am doing her proud.

Living Your Own Life After Loss

Banksy - Follow your dreamsSo it’s not just me…

As I have heard people share their stories with me I have started to see a theme. Something that, when I first experienced it, I attributed to my “helping” (okay, downright people-pleasing) personality. Though being a helper-type may intensify the experience, what I’ve heard all kinds of people say is:

“I can’t… because they.”

It is usually something along the lines of, “I can’t live my life, because they need me.”

As reasonable as it is to care for those around us in the hard times, taking care of people isn’t always synonymous with supporting people. Mostly semantics, I know. But, as I see it, “support” involves an even distribution of care between individuals, whereas “taking care of” can describe one person pouring all their fuel into other people’s tanks. When you lose somebody, you’re going to need your tank as full as possible.

When we cross the line from supporter to care-taker, we risk entering a place that can leave us living indefinitely for another person (please keep in mind I am referring to emotional care-taking here). We risk developing the inability to move away from family to follow a life-long dream; giving up other relationships to be a parent’s main companion; keeping feelings and personal struggles hidden for the sake of protecting family members… Raise your hand if you have, like me, ever experienced the belief that your pain is not as important as the pain of another. It’s not true.

My advice to self and others is not necessarily to toss our loved one a Kleenex and run for the hills, but it is to be aware of the levels of our giving and our living. To give up our life for others in the way of emotional dependency means that, in a sense, our life is over too.

Though it may not feel like your life right now, you still own it. Here’s to your very valuable journey, that deserves to be lived.

Song of the Day: Pompeii

My husband sat me down and filled our home with this today.

Beautiful.

Tears.

Well Meaning Statements That Devastate Mourners | The Grief Toolbox

Even though I’ve been through it, I still have a hard time finding words when somebody goes through a loss. I found this short and sweet advice today and I’m passing it along!

Thanks to Larry Barber for his thoughts.

Well Meaning Statements That Devastate Mourners | The Grief Toolbox.