When feeling is the only answer

I am slowly learning to be present to the uncomfortable emotions that are a very hard (and very necessary and very normal) part of life’s journey. I don’t have to like it, though.

Several months ago, I had a falling out with one of my dearest friends. The experience sent me into a tailspin. I spent months talking to other friends, my husband, family. I’d recount the situation again and again, looking at it from various perspectives. I tried to make sense of the friendship loss through the lens of all the changing relationships from my past. I tried to situate the loss in the grand scheme of all losses that have ever occurred in my life. I tried various assignments of fault (mine, hers, ours). I tried to take blame and place blame and understand all the causes. I tried to figure out what could have gone differently. I tried to find a thesis, a theme, a clear point. I tried to sum it up logically, analyze it until the truth arose to the surface, pack it away neatly in my brain.

In short, I drove everyone around me a little crazy. A lot crazy.

Until finally, a very good and wise soul listened to me discuss the situation (again) and said, simply, “It sounds like you’re experiencing deep grief.”

Oh. Right.

This looks like how I’m feeling.

Here’s how my brain works: when something goes awry, I try to find the logical thread. I want to understand why things happen, and in my desire for clarity, for cause-and-effect, I try to fit a grid of order on to anything that feels like chaos. This logical approach has its value: I am able to help others work through situations that challenge them. I am a sense-maker, often taking senselessness and ordering it in a way that feels fulfilling, that helps me understand the waves of the world. But this ability to be so logical is often a safety device: my ability to detach and start calculating in the face of pain and vulnerability have kept me very safe. I can hide from suffering under the guise of problem-solving.

This looks like how I want to feel.

That is, until all my words and sense-making and analytical constructing (and deconstructing) add up to naught. Because sometimes, oftentimes, there is no sense to be made out of the chaos of life. Painful, awful things happen for no reason, with no reason, with no sense.

In those times, when there is hurt, suffering, loss, grief, I am learning slowly, slowly, slowly to feel what I am feeling, rather than think away what I am feeling. I am learning to be present to the uncomfortable emotions that are a very hard (and very necessary and very normal) part of life’s journey.

So. I am very sad. I feel deep loss and grief that has lasted months and has peaks and valleys where the suffering wanes and then rises to squeeze my heart again.

And while I would like to reason my way out of this, there is no reasoning, only feeling. Only breathing, and being present to this pain, and remembering that the beauty of suffering is that it does relent. It does pass. Even if the shadow of loss sticks around (forever, it seems), we can eventually move on to joy.

Several months ago, I lost a friend. And I am grieving that loss. And there is not much sense to be made of it. And one day it will hurt a little less.


Author: Alexandra

Yoga teacher. Mom. Aging athlete. Writing & lit instructor. Wife. Happy. www.alexandradesiato.com

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