Grit and Grief
The bubble I live in expands and contracts with my breath. It’s a daily spiritual practice to create space for grace to enter my bubble and work in a way that is indeed miraculous. The bubble expands into comfort and ease with a deep breath, it contracts naturally when it is time to regroup, to replenish; the exhale is a natural part of this rhythm. Ideally, I hold myself tenderly, not too tight, not too loose, and here, in this breath, I find comfort and ease.
For decades I blamed myself for not being comfortable in my own skin, for being too much for other people, and for being too sensitive for this wild world we live in.
Up until now, the bubble felt cloyingly tight, pinching, gripping. I thought I was doing my level best. Trying to figure it all out, trying to hold it all together. Here, in the bubble, the pungent stench of regret wafted past as I hustled for more, for better, for the purpose of striving to be my best. All that striving created more strife. Striving to be my best gave no space to simply be.
And so I reflect on a prayer, Be still and know that I am God, that I consume in bite-sized chunks.
Be still and know that I am.
Be still and know.
All the while, heartaches and unseen losses piled up. Blocking the sunlight of the spirit from streaming in and inhibiting the windows from opening to allow a fresh breeze of delight to refresh me, the detritus of the past (both mine and others) piled up heavily. Burdened, I found the bubble gravely uncomfortable. Now I inhabit a far more expansive bubble, that I can decorate and fill with the energy of my choosing. Be still and know. Be still. Be.
Living close to the bone, I feel things deeply. I noticed this bubble stretched as the un-lived lives and unnamed dreams gnawed at my gut and vied for even more attention with stomachaches and headaches. Stomachaches, representing the complaints of my inner guidance system, used to haunt me regularly. Headaches, symbolizing the agony of trying to figure it all out still surface from time to time. When stomach and head hurt, I remember my body speaks my mind. When the day is full of new changes, new realities, my dreamscape harkens me with vivid echoes of the deeper voyage of my soul.
My bubble includes grit and grief. It’s purplish hue, the tinged reminder of a massive bruise. The yellow healing phase freshly tender and replaced with the calloused complaints of too much pressure, too firm a touch, too heavy a hand.
My old traumas are showing up in my dreams this week, this week of continued orders to shelter-n-place. I reflect, here, through the lens of grit and grief.
Three nights ago, this nightmare roused me from slumber. Suddenly, some guy named Stanley, bald head, massive gut, showed up and towered over my face, and pushed his crotch further into my bubble. My energetic exchange with him intense, even in my dreams, especially in my dreams.
I awaken cold and clammy, frozen and pissed. Warm fuzzies eluded me. It was hard to awaken to the seemingly innocent husband next to me with any urges of loving connection, much less thoughts of deep appreciation. These qualities of loving connection and deep appreciation are descriptive of the bubble in which I intend to reside.
May my bubble be as wide as the world and big enough to house my hurts, and allow space for the deep sorrow of trauma.
Trauma lives in my body like frozen energy. I thought I’d thawed. I’ve done so much work to get better, to heal, to integrate the lost parts of my soul. From shamans offering soul retrieval to becoming a relational health coach myself, I’ve asked for help, offered help, and embodied the notion, we are wounded in relationship and it is in relationship that we are healed.
Grit describes me, a committed, monogamous and caring women in an almost 18-year marriage. Grief swallows me with the ever-present loss of innocence, adoration, and courtship that my angry-adolescent-girl-inside never had.
Two nights ago, another nightmare. Suddenly, some shot-glass full of gin, a mini-martini, appeared in front of my gaze. I think my friend Andy put it there. Earlier in the day, in my waking hours, I told him I was sorry I didn’t go to his big 60th birthday party at Anna Ranch a couple months ago, pre-pandemic. Wished I hadn’t been so tired. That now, during these strange times of shelter-in-place, in fact today is day 33 of shelter-in-place, the invitation to a loud party of drunken enjoyment sounded good to me.
Not that I consciously wanted to get drunk, but the angry-adolescent-Amy sure the fuck did. I didn’t like gin, found it repugnant and never recalled having a martini. Surprisingly, that’s what landed in my dreams, twenty-five years after alcohol last passed my lips.
Trauma lives in my mind like dark neighborhoods of hoodlums and howling heroines. I thought I’d gentrified and remodeled the wreckage of my past. I’ve done so much work to get sober, to stay sober, to soothe my mind without the need for numbing agents. I woke from the nightmare with a start, sweating, hot, fearful. Questions peppered the map of my mind. Did I relapse? Did I drink that gin? Hellish moments of doubt finally settled as my heart resumed a steady beat, a more peaceful pulse.
Grit describes me, a sober woman of integrity of over 25 years in recovery from addictions. Grief is in the ever-present shadows of lack energy, scarcity, want, longing. Fueling Ben -n- Jerrys binges and Bacardi rum dreams. Howling for more of what it thinks it wants. Robbing my soul of the beauty of the present moment.
Last night in my dreamscape, I faced some twisted form of financial-judgement-day. In reality, it was April 15, 2020, and I didn’t file my taxes. Even though there exists an extension until July 15th due to the novel corona virus pandemic, my guilt, nonetheless, is stoked into inflammation. Via email, for virtual connections are all the rage, my accountant had a come-to-Jesus conversation with me and told me my expenses were too high. Upon hearing this, I dove deep in the (all-too-familiar) pool of self-aggression. I did something wrong, I’m so bad. Harkening on residual notions of original sin, I felt like shit. My bubble became a jail of woe is me.
Trauma lives in my soul, neighboring compassion and grace. The deeper voyage is allowing space for everything. The rising collective consciousness invokes the shadow-dancers to the stage. As I shuffle to the stage with trepidation and awe, my courage rallies me to dive deep into the unlived lives of my ancestors. I breathe deeply, in gratitude, for my grandmother, my mom’s mom, who died of cirrhosis, and for another elder who died telling me my only responsibility in life was death and taxes.
The stage of the greater collective, which now shows up on the screen of my I-Phone, often terrifies me with incredulous horror, moments of inspiration and greater awareness, and recently it delighted me with this:
Message from the Council of 13 Indigenous Grandmothers:
“As you move through these changing times… be easy on yourself and be easy on one another. You are at the beginning of something new. You are learning a new way of being. You will find that you are working less in the yang modes that you are used to.
You will stop working so hard at getting from point A to point B the way you have in the past, but instead, will spend more time experiencing yourself in the whole, and your place in it.
Instead of traveling to a goal out there, you will voyage deeper into yourself. Your mother’s grandmother knew how to do this. Your ancestors from long ago knew how to do this. They knew the power of the feminine principle… and because you carry their DNA in your body, this wisdom and this way of being is within you.
Call on it. Call it up. Invite your ancestors in. As the yang based habits and the decaying institutions on our planet begin to crumble, look up. A breeze is stirring. Feel the sun on your wings.”
I needed to read this.
A permission slip of sorts. A call to action that guides my soul gently and tenderly to the now. My elders are dying. My ancestors, alive and dead, and tidying up their plans. Yesterday, after three nights of major dreamscape activity, we, our family, met with a death doula to discuss concerns about the dying process for my 76-year-old in-laws.
All the while, in Florida, my 83-year-old mom has a fever and possible lung cancer and cardiology appointments. The heart aches and skips a beat. The right lung lobe wheezes for a breath. On Easter we heart-stormed the unresolved religious matters. Nothing resolved, yet finally acknowledged. Again, inviting space for grace to enter. Be still and know. Be still. Be.
One step at a time, one day at a time, we face the grief, the unresolved traumas, no longer seeking resolution perhaps, rather recognition. These concerns matter.
You matter. Your relationships matter, I whisper.
Over and over again, I whisper this, to anyone who will listen.
breathe sweetly Dear One, we don’t have a problem here