The last couple of weeks have been such an emotional rollercoaster, reminding me time and again, that in life, there is a place for the entire gamut of emotions. That even the pursuit of happiness brings with it a range of events that spark a range of emotions. And within them, a range of lessons waiting to be unwrapped.
The only way to get in on those hidden lessons it seems, is to allow myself to feel everything as fully as I possibly can. And for some reason, every single day in the last two weeks has given me at least one event that drove this point home. It started with my course, where every single day reinforced an aspect of life seen through the lens of accepting, facing and owning it’s consequences and embracing the lessons within. From acceptance, to boundaries, to the twisted unpleasant nature our lives sometimes take, to fear, to guilt, denial and giving an receiving love and support. There is no turning away from some truths when they arrive, knocking at my doorstep, in all their glory.
Then there were three days of endless free-wheeling conversations with K and D that further bubbled up so many of the feelings triggered over the three days in class.
Then there was a week of watching Niyu as she fell ill, dipped to a scary low, got taken to hospital and then nursed back. Even as she convalesces at home right now, I find myself thinking back to how family rallies together, how these situations bring us together and how much joy and togetherness there is to be found even in difficulty.
I’ve got the message. Loud and clear. This — the process of self discovery, mindfulness, living in the preset moment, call it what you will — isn’t about uniform happiness, or seeking joy alone. The joy is in the process, perhaps. But the process itself is punctuated with all kinds of loss. In these last few weeks alone I have been forced to face some of these losses — the loss of familiarity, of security in well-worn habits, of friendship as I once knew it. But perhaps, for the first time in forever, I found myself not phased or rattled when that realisation hit. Instead, I’ve found a new and comforting understanding that I’m still fumbling my way around, feeling in the dark and trying to make sense of.
Sometimes there is loss of the intangible kind — loss of a sense of self, of confidence in a strong aspect of my identity, of comfort in holding some things true only to have them turned around, or of control when change comes in big gusts and storms. Sometimes, though, when it feels like I’ve hit an insurmountable loss, I wait it out and realise that it is actually just a minor iteration — an opportunity to move one level up, rework the old and find a new normal.
I’m getting comfortable in that space in between the old and the new.
Loss is a crucial, and essential, part of making that journey and travelling that space in between. Riding close on the heels of loss, is fear. Fear of uncertainty, of the new, of the unfamiliar, of losing control, of breaking new ground. And of actually being better.
My coping mechanism when dealing with fear has always been to try and control it, in an attempt to bring some order to the chaos that change brings. It’s my way of regaining certainty. But, ever since I’ve tasted the sweet joy of approaching the chaos by allowing myself to be surprised, loosening my grip and fully feeling the fear, the disappointment and sadness (or whatever else that may ensue) that surfaces, I find myself staring at what lies beyond.
The good news, I’m happy to share is that the fear abates. Almost immediately. The fear that something’s changed, that I’ll have to inevitably face loss, that I will have to start over, that I am somehow smaller/lesser than the person I was before — it all just fades away when I commit myself to feeling through it rather than building a wall around myself to protect myself from it. Fear is reduces to a mere list of outcomes.
The even better news is that this has been the key to turning the corner — the inflection point — of fear. Of crossing over from just pure, crippling emotion to the lesson that lies in the light, just beyond.
I’ve said this before, the process of letting of of that which no longer serves me is essential to the process of rediscovery. Loss is important. But I realise now that so is fear, disappointment, rage, grief, and sadness and everything else that rides on that loss. Because if recent experience is anything to go by, when I make the effort to stay with those uncomfortable feelings, it invariably affects me in deep sort of way. That is when I know that the loss means something, and I have always come out a better person for it.
The best news of all has been learning that loss is not just crucial, it is inevitable once you commit yourself to turning inwards. Yes, it is scary. Yes it gets messy as fuck, sometimes. But it’s the only way that I have been able to get closer to a desired level of vulnerability, empathy and acceptance. It’s the only way to trust that my emotions will show me the way.