A few short weeks ago, a relationship that had been very important to me ended. It had to end, and with full knowledge that it had to end, I took a deep breath when it came time for me to disconnect parts of my heart.
I was not prepared for the extremely drastic switch that got flipped on the other side.
For the other person, it was important that we go instantly from being best friends of several years to business associates who barely tolerate one another.
I was jolted, and for a while, I lost my ground.
Sleep eluded me, my mind became foggy, and food became an inconvenience.
I reached for my tools.
I meditated, I moved my body, I talked, I got quiet. I wrote. I created daily mantras - and these seem to help a lot, like aloe vera on a sunburn.
Of course, I grabbed my magic wand: GRATITUDE.
As I went about my day, I made sure to remember to feel the Gratitude for what had been. As my mentor, Alice Herz-Sommer suggests, "I looked where it's good." After all, it is the obvious right thing to do, isn't it?
Except that it did not work.
Whereas everything else seemed to nudge me (albeit not always directly) in the direction of healing, I could tell that my gratitude practice was wreaking havoc on me.
How could that be? I KNOW that Gratitude is the way, and even as it "was not working," I so strongly trust in its power that I knew it had to be something else.
Operator error. Yes, it had to be operator error.
The second I opened up to where or how I might be using the healing power of Gratitude in a wonky way - the second I asked - the answer came:
Connect with your Gratitude for where you are now.
In other words: What are the Gifts of having been brave enough to walk away?
Whew. Game changer.
Within seconds, I was able to allow myself to feel the Gratitude for this new chapter. In precise, small, and possibly petty details. I let the words flood my sore heart and mind like a warm wave of all that's good.
It worked. It worked so well.
Every night, or even in the middle of the night, when I still wake up with a raw heart and a bit of panic, I pick up my slightly altered Gratitude wand, and I gently shake it around. I do if first thing in the morning, too. Occasionally in the daytime, when I hit a little sharp edge.
What are the Gifts of the choice I made? Independently of how the other person needs to live this, what are the Gifts?
Little by little, I am getting there. And I know that eventually, when Life and Time have done their sacred work, I will be able to pull out the other list. The one that tells me of all the good things, the things that no amount of instant switch flipping can erase. That time will come.
In the process, I have learned that while I still believe that Gratitude will always lead us to our highest, most beautiful place, the area where we orient its wand is crucial to its power. Like most everything in being a human, this is a co-creation process. Life says: "Here, take this. It works so very well. And YOU get to decide how to use it."
Today, I invite you to look at the precious helpers of your life, the tools you have amassed, the things you know "work." And I invite you to use your beautiful goodwill in deciding how and where you want to use them. I invite you to look past "the obvious right thing to do," and tweak things as needed, often just a little notch.
And I also invite us, in times of painful transitions, to stay close to us, to our own language. To the place where things feel right in our gut, even if our ego has a little tantrum.
I wish you lots and lots of Gratitude in just the right places.
I wanted to share this article with you as it resonates so clearly with me.
It asks for so much of us (inwardly) to be truly generous and not focus on ourselves - our needs, our opinions, our own experiences - when something big happens to someone we love. To let ourselves fade away in true love-service and simply support and witness.
I have needed an extra amount of this the past few weeks, and have seen how powerful simple presence, calm “pulling questions” and light touches are. I think this is a mastery level of being human and being in relationships. For some of us, it comes eerily naturally, and for some of us, we have to work at it.
It’s the beautiful dance of being humans around humans.
I hope you enjoy it.
When life hurts, go there. FEEL it.
Write about it. Sing about it. Scream about it.
CRY about it. For sure, if you can, cry about it.
Isolate for as long as you need, if you need - then consider seeking an ear or two.
Maybe a shoulder. Not for advice, mostly for sacredness.
For the sacredness that takes place when you can (as my daughter calls it) undress your own heart in front of someone who can take it, who can create that Container.
Trust in the process.
Put to bed for a little nap the voice that says: "this may kill me." It most likely won't.
Then go back.
Then take breaks.
The more we allow, the more we go there, the sooner we may feel it:
The Opening that comes, maybe, with understanding.
Maybe with compassion.
Maybe with gratitude.
Maybe with fury.
Definitely with a delicious renewed intimacy with ourselves.
When that Opening comes - and it will - feel that, too.
Watch it do its thing, its spiritual, emotional spring cleaning.
Look at the dust bunnies and love them.
Look at you and love you.
Don't make any big statement - to yourself or to others - that it's over.
That the thunder has passed for good. We all know how sneaky grief is.
But celebrate. Celebrate the clouds opening up. For Now.
You are so beautiful, doing your difficult work, daring to love and daring to feel.
You are so very perfect.