Several weeks or months? ago I blogged about feeling “Lighter” inside. How I felt the beginning of an internal shift. Those feelings have continued to rise within me like the tides. For the first time in a very long time (since the death of my brother over 4 years ago), I feel boundless joy in life. All facets of my day. From the mundane to the exuberant. I am having fun in my life! I am positive my transformative process has been via the experience and growth from trauma and grieving (the only way through is through), the unconditional endless love and support from my crew, the internal work I have undertaken, moving through my fears and participating in creative outlets I have wanted to pursue for a very long time. Color and clarity has returned to my world. Perhaps “returned” isn’t even the correct word. For so long I have felt weighted down and veiled by grief and pain. Now, it is as if colors are sharper, brighter. The world is more vibrant to me than it has been throughout my life. Dare I say since childhood?! Childlike, is how I feel in my observations and interactions with my environment. And it feels incredibly good to be here, now. I am so grateful to have made it through to the other side.
Not to imply that I now exist solely in a state of bliss with a smile plastered to my face at all times. No, that isn’t realistic. My soul has a new shine. I feel my entire range of feelings. My core is no longer laden with sorrow. It is energized by bliss. Shifting my perspective and rippling into my interactions with everyone and everything. I feel like I can breathe again.
Yet, I am faced with a conundrum. One that had me ping ponging between emotional states and weighing my capacity for morality and empathy.
All of us are aware of all the horrible things happening in the world right now. Though these tragedies are tremendous they are distanced. I/ we can choose to educate ourselves or be ignorant. Recently, though within my own inner circles from innermost outward to friendly acquaintance there has been a pounding of devastating and life altering events. Difficult events I am not at liberty to share. Ranging in details and specifics but equally calamitous. I am stunned. I am pained deeply for these people in my life. I care for them and their families. Possibly more so because of my personal experience with heartbreak. And so I think to myself, “How dare you feel joy when your loved ones are hurting so intensely?!”. Not that I don’t feel I can be happy. Just that I feel guilty for feeling jovial.
Tricky isn’t it?
Or is it? Are these feelings of guilt coming from a place of true empathy or codependent immeshment? In my deepest darkest pit of pain I would never ever wish for anyone to sacrifice their own contentment to meet me where I was. I owned that place. In fact, it would hurt me for someone to sink so low with me. Herein lies my lesson. Fluidity in my feelings. Not taking on others’ pain so gravely. Just as I owned my eclipse so does everyone else. Allow them to own it. Hold space. Give love. Provide support. Stop trying to disarm and lighten their pain by mirroring. That is an ineffective self-harmful practice.
Back in my hospital clinic days I wore a black obsidian around my neck and had another piece in my office. Black obsidian is known for shielding negative emotions. My colleagues and I used to “grab the rock” when we felt someone was particularly needy and pessimistic. It was a kind of running joke for us. But it was easier to self-protect because while I cared for all the people who came through the clinic, they were not part of my network.
My current state is different. There is a stronger pull to help, to fix, to alleviate. These people, whom I love, are in my life because we are connected in some way. We share a bond.
Back to my original conflict. Do I allow myself to feel carefree and spirited when loved ones and friends are enduring some heavy grueling shit? I have come to the conclusion that the answer is yes. Absolutely, yes. Dutifully, I must represent the possibility of existence on the other side. Can you imagine? Me as your image of hope? That’s a scary place to be, for sure! I must share, feel, hold space and provide comfort and love while being who I am, where I am. And where I am right now is sunny and breezy and I am not looking back. I give myself permission to feel joy!
PS: Listening to Brené Brown’s “Braving the Wilderness” really confirmed my permission to feel joy. It’s a great book!