Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Full of Grace - Sitting with Sadness




"Love your sadness. It gives you a chance to be still with the most tender place of your being. Love gives your sadness the energy it needs to move through you, so you can move on. By loving your sadness, you are respecting your truth. And freedom always follows truth." ~ Danielle Laporte


Last Saturday was the anniversary of the gang rape* and assault suffered by myself and my then lover, Daphne.   Over the years I have gotten through this day in various ways ranging from total and utter despair,  to triggering in a fetal position for days, to listening to Billie Holiday albums all day and feeling sorry for myself,  to finally learning where Daph was buried and being able to visit her.   


This year my secretary's daughter (42 years old with 9 children)  was at the end game of her year long battle with cancer.  (can I tell you how sick I am of cancer?) Unfortunately she has been at a hospital in Philadelphia, about 4 1/2 hours away. So this year, instead of taking the train to visit Daphne’s grave site, I first drove my secretary to Philadelphia and then I doubled back to New York City.  


It was a gorgeous day and I sat at the gravestone marking those traumatic hours with her.  Sad.  A few tears.  A little anxiety if I let my memories go too far.  Then I remembered how much anxiety and triggering I used to experience and remembered to be thankful for Lauren, my therapist who got me through this journey.  She died unexpectedly a couple of years ago, and so I added her to my sadness.  Then, because I really wanted to feel all of my sadness, I thought of my mom, and friends Toni (killed by a drunk driver) and Yodi who just died of cancer.  


I sat, for hours, reliving that day of violence and horror, thinking about the impact its had on my life, remembering sweet memories of Daphne and all the loved people in my life who have passed,  how much I miss them all, and just allowing sadness to wash over me.   


As I silently sat my secretary texted me that her daughter had finally passed and she thanked me for getting to see her daughter before she died.   And then I broke.    For all the sadness I was feeling, I just couldn't even imagine watching one of my daughters go through all that illness.   How do you watch a child die?  I have no idea.   I began to sob. For her. For me. For all our losses.


I somehow managed to drive myself back home, listening to sad songs and allowing myself to wallow in this feeling.   I am still in this place today, which is okay.  I have no other place I need to be right now.  No one I need to be strong for.  


Over these years I have come to grips with the trauma, the violence, the guilt.  But not the sadness. So I continue to sit with it now and again.  It is not depression.  I do not wish to “move on.”   I do not want to distract myself from it.  I just want to give it the attention it obviously wants and needs and let it teach me.

I also know that the depth of my sadness corresponds to the height of happiness I have experienced in my life. And with that, here is what I am immensely grateful for this week:



1.  That my children are healthy.   There is nothing that tops this.


2.  That I feel such a great loss because these people in my life were so very incredible.   I was so blessed to know them and learn from them and be loved by them.


3.  That there were no camera phones back in the day.  I know that sounds odd but I honestly can’t imagine what Daphne and I went through being recorded and put out on the internet, something so many women have to endure.  Every time I read of such an incident I am so viscerally sick.   It does not surprise me at all that so many of these women commit suicide.  


4.  That Martha allows me my sadness without question and does not try to cheer me up or talk me out if it.   But I know she’s there and she is my rock.


*5.  For those who have known me for a while or read this blog through my therapy years know what an accomplishment it is for me to even be able to say those words.   It has been long and difficult the journey for me and I am very grateful to be able to look back and say “I did not let them win.”


21 comments:

  1. You did so much more than "not let them win"

    You went on to prove that Love Wins.



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  2. Thank you for reminding me that it’s ok to give myself up to those moments & fully experience my sadness.

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    1. Just as much as it's okay to fully experience any other emotion, I think.

      Much love and hugs to you Kim.

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  3. Dearest 8,

    Although I am far away physically, please know that I am sitting with you in spirit.

    When I started reading this post, I thought - whoa, has she ever said 'gang rape' on the blog before? It's usually 'assault'. I think it is very empowering to name it truly. And, you might have written those hideous words before, but they really stood out for me this time. Another victory, my dear.

    Sitting with sadness is a healthy practice. Like you, I don't want to 'move on' from the sadness in my life. I want to acknowledge it and the reasons for it. We'll never forget the important people in our lives and the meaning they brought to us.

    This post covers the breadth of joy and sorrow. When it's time to turn your face to the joy, give Martha and the girls a strong hug full of love and appreciation.

    xoxox

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    1. I know you are with me, my faraway friend. In fact, I often think we are twins separated at birth : )

      Saying the words is very empowering. Well, writing the words. I still have trouble verbalizing it. But yes, I do see it as another major step toward wholeness.

      Anytime you want to be sad together, e, I have the tea water boiling.

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  4. I'm glad you came out of it immensely grateful and documented those thoughts to share. I have a quick question about your blog and was hoping you could email me back when you get the chance - emilywalsh688@gmail.com - Thanks!

    Emmy

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    1. Thank you for stopping by and for your kind comments. I will send you an email shortly.

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  5. Your assessment of how to handle the sadness that at times pervades and overwhelms us is right on the money. We need to feel it - to embrace it even and sometimes let it completely consume us - without judging it, making it wrong, or trying to change it. Being in sadness is not easy, ever. But having the loving patience to sit with it is a sign of great strength and wisdom. And, as usual, your gratitude and awareness that even sadness teaches a lesson is inspiring.

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    1. Thanks Sue. One can only hope that after living a life of great joys and sorrows, that we learn something from it.

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  6. I love this post. I love the honesty and the raw pain of your words. I congratulate you are on being able to say the words, scary and painful, but needed. I know the long road of therapy and hard work it took to get to this point. I think your therapist would be very proud indeed.

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    1. I think she would be proud. I only wish she were still here to see how all her work finally reached its target.

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  7. Thank you for sharing your heart. I find myself dealing with another loved one in a health crisis, in what feels like loss upon loss upon loss. Your grace, your words of honest feelings, remind me that it is ok to just sit with the sadness. Big hugs for Martha too, as she is there for you, your rock, who can just allow you to be.

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    1. Oh Cris, I am so sorry! Perhaps we can chat about it? I will be in contact later today.

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  8. I think it can sometimes feel like there's no out from being inside sad. There is, though, of course.

    I know this is a hard and special day for you and I can't tell you how much I appreciate you taking time from your own difficult to help you secretary. And everyone else, me included.

    I am glad there were no camera phones back then. So glad.

    Hugs, 8th. Just ... hugs.

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  9. This hits so deeply I almost can't breath, and there are no word, but know that you are held in love and light in my thoughts as you go through another year of dealing with this.

    The strength it took for you to write #5 and it's accompanying paragraph is amazing and I know that Lauren would have been especially proud of you.

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  10. Let me just say that to be able to take it in and let it do its thing and not to back down - that takes a lot of strength and courage. Awesome. You know it will pass.

    My heart goes out to your secretary's family. What a loss.

    Hope you have a great weekend!

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  11. You are unbreakable! You are my hero.

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  12. Wallowing is part of the human condition. For me, dealing with my trauma requires the occasional wallow. It allows me to pack up the little pieces of pain that make their way into my life randomly into a single bag and not deal with it at the moment, knowing sometime down the road, I could lay in the mud and thrash around and feel it all at once and be done with that dose. I'd get as dirty as I could with the ugliness of it all, then get up and mentally hose myself off and start again.

    This wouldn't work for everyone, but it works for me. And you know what? The mud pit is shallower every time. I have to work harder to wallow in it. I think that means I'm getting better.

    Hugs and love and strength and peaceful thoughts to you...

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