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Grief changed me; I am not who I once was!

Updated: Apr 11

» How Life offers us the opportunity to contract or expand «


Back in 2011 I went through, what felt like to me, a brutalising separation from my husband. Saying it like that makes it sound like I was 'wronged' and victim to my husband's actions, and while the story of what unfolded could be narrated that way, in reality, it is too simplistic, and detrimental for my growth for me to continue colluding with that story of right-doings and wrong-doings. 

Even at the time, I knew some aspects of what I had contributed that brought about our separation, but at the body-felt sense, the separation flushed up existential abandonment, betrayal, rage, jealousy, meanness and hatred. That was my collage of Grief.

Not only was the pain of the loss and separation from my marriage and husband more than I felt capable to bounce back from, I was also grieving the person I was turning into; encumbered and burdened with the meanness of my desires for retribution towards someone I had very deeply loved and been committed to.

What became very apparent to me was the personhood that I was cultivating. Who would I become as a result of this piercing heartache?

It was in this period of my life that Grace nudged me toward the more beautiful aspects of Life and my Self. I literally bumped into an exquisite Hakomi therapist at my most broken, and he stationed himself in my life as a regular touch-stone in our therapy sessions, holding the light where I could not. Even in the 'black-out' of my heart, he held me with such celebration, as a piece of art being sculpted, chipped away by life, that I could feel the impulse to see my Self that way also; to live into that more beautiful Life.

As my meanness spilled out into a space of non-judgement and unconditional regard, I felt choices pull me towards expansion and away from the meanness that wanted expression. My Self wanted to lift up and expand more than it wanted to be mean. 

I had to learn to lean in to all the uncomfortable body sensations, the 'negative' emotions, the disturbing thoughts and the distressing reality that I now found myself in - a single woman at 38 - and not knowing if I'd ever (be able to) fall in love again, start a family, feel happy, know contentment.

What is clear to me during this time, is that I had an anguish and a commitment to expand and transcend my suffering. During this time, I started deepening into yoga as Sadhana (thanks Kara Leah Grant), landed a daily Loving Kindness Meditation practice (thanks Peter Fernando), committed to twice-weekly Hakomi sessions (thanks Peter Waugh), started leading Kirtans (thanks Tyag Fenton and Adhyatma), and joined a Marimba Band (thanks Julian Raphiel); all activities and practices that offered me that more expanded state that I was longing for. 

Or to say this with more gravitas; if I didn't land my consciousness in those activities, I felt sure an essential part of me would die. Bleak ideations were not far away.

A lot changed. I found a new living situation and took on an easy-for-me-job that would support this huge shift in focus, as well as the time-commitment of my new-found devotions. I spent more than my entire earnings and all of my free time on these pursuits. This was, after all, my soul's sink or swim moment.

What I noticed was the more I deepened my attention into my practices, there was literally no room to indulge any recursive thoughts during that time; and this literally shifted my distressing emotions, up and out. 

I started to notice the contrast between what felt good and wholesome, supportive and connecting, and what felt miserable. Even though the cells in my body wanted so badly to act on impulses that would cause 'justified harm', I knew also, it would cause more suffering and misery, and ultimately strengthen aspects of my Self that I now had an opportunity to rise above. 

I was determined to rise. Dedicated. Devoted. Desperate.

Undoubtedly, there were many factors and lessons learned that heralded this as a positive growth opportunity for me in the end, but just to press the point; it was because of my desperation that I was able to throw everything I had into the ring. 

This is a unique quality of Trauma. There is no bounce-back in the moment. There is no continuing on as you were. There is no pretending you're ok. There is no choice but to be rock-bottom.

There is a saying in therapy circles, one that acknowledges the paradox of a traumatic experience. It goes; I would never wish this on anyone, but I'm so grateful that I went through it.

It is where I find my Self today. Grateful for the tragedy of my marriage. Grateful for the person I chose to become.

My Top 5 learnings that could perhaps have some universal truth are:

1. Therapy with a connected soul who can offer non-judgemental unconditional regard, even humour is a God-Send.

2. Allow your introversion to become your Medicine. Journalling, Poetry, Silence are powerful allies.

3. Allow the energy of extraversion to pull you towards connection, community and shared activities 

4. Allow your Self to be immersed completely in your creativity, present HereNow focus

5. Connect with wisdom lineage teachers such as Pema Chodron, who teach us how to pause, hold our seat, and orient towards creativity, connection and compassion.

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