Please don't be told that your Grief is not worthy of your tears.
Updated: Dec 18, 2020
So, Tuesday morning, approx 9am and I just had a little "breakdown" and burst out crying - let me tell you, tears are now so welcome in my world!
If you see crying as a sign of weakness, yeah that was me too. But then I learnt the power of vulnerability, and suddenly I saw my "breakdowns" as a super natural and healthy form of releasing nervous energy from my body. It is my body LITERALLY saying "no thanks" and shedding what she doesn't need to carry, whilst ALSO releasing hormones that relax and nurture me, so that I feel safe and protected. How did I ever dismiss something so nourishing, as wrong?! Oh yeah.. society has been telling us for decades that this behaviour is erratic, and crazy, and totally unattractive in a woman, let alone a man! THANKS but no thanks. changing that record ASAP and I hope you change your tune too, because that bullshit is NOT OKAY!
It's no surprise now when looking back, that I felt so anxious throughout my twenties. I had completely shamed myself into believing that this incredibly beautiful, sensitive and compassionate side of me was embarrassing, a burden, and not worthy of my tears.
In episode 3 of my Goddess Lives with Helen Tsim, the topic of experiencing a universal grief came up. I think I just tapped into that on a personal level, that conversation was my permission slip to feel into any sadness I was suppressing in myself right now, and I hadn't even realised I was doing it - note the common theme here.. so often we suppress our emotions, because we are too busy being distracted by other things, to sit and ask ourselves the simple question of, 'Are you okay? Is anything weighing on your heart right now?'. What's even worse is that we often LOVE these distractions, because we don't actually want to delve deeply into how we feel, or what we are carrying.
We tell ourselves we don't have the time to go into it, or the emotional capacity to handle what comes up. We are often afraid, and don't feel we have the support around us to work through those difficult emotions. They feel so much easier to suppress than express.
Oh I feel you here, it took me two years until I truly cried for my younger brothers death. Two years of what felt like holding my breath - and then came the release - and it flooded through me like warm sunshine, re-filling my body with salty teardrops of bliss, peace, hope, love, and the honest realisation that as a human I will experience pain, and that it's okay to lean into that. It took me two years to feel that I could cope with the feelings that would come out of me. Two years to trust in my own body to be able to process the thoughts and emotions I was desperately struggling with below the surface. When I finally did allow myself to come up for air, I saw clearly for the first time how I had been fighting this whole time with my own shadow. It was when I stopped fighting it, and sat in the stillness, that the chaos eventually subsided, and the grief began to shift. Like clouds dispersing in the sky, I slowly created the space I needed to think into my future, and find joy again in my present. I think I went through three key phases; first acceptance, then release, and finally forgiveness. Three powerful lessons that firmly returned me to my power. But perhaps the most powerful lesson of all, was in returning myself to a place of love. The transformation happened when I became my own best friend. Instead of punishing myself, I offered myself the gentle kindness that I needed to heal my heart.
Grief is such a huge topic, and one that in my opinion is not spoken about enough. Feeling through and releasing grief, are still far too taboo in western culture. We carry so much shame, because we often feel we don’t have the right to be sad about things, especially if there is greater sadness happening elsewhere in the world.
That denial to ourselves manifests itself within us. When we don’t allow the small things to be seen and heard, they get bottled up, and morph over time into toxic narratives and limiting beliefs instead.
By this I mean we allow our experiences to shape our truth, and begin to allow these feelings to define us. When we believe that our experiences are shameful, and not worthy of being expressed, the hurt and pain trapped there becomes the story you revert back to. Every time a similar threat appears in your life, your reaction becomes to distance yourself further, and in doing so you dive deeper into the shame you've created for yourself. When this becomes your truth you will naturally gravitate towards similar experiences that mirror this new belief system of yours. You will find ways to justify these feelings further, attracting people and things that feed into this narrative to self-sabotage and deny yourself of love and support. You will start to call these synchronicities fact. They will become ingrained in your psyche.
Know that at any moment you can STOP, and rethink what your truth really is.
Ask yourself right now, "What do you really believe you are worthy of?".
Simply by changing your mindset, you really can re-write your story. If you don't start to release some of that tension it will continue to affect the way you behave and react to other situations. Most likely it will escalate, because you're reacting from a place of fear now, rather than of love. All of this because you had an emotion you didn't allow yourself to fully feel and process. It may have seemed so silly and trivial at the time, but instead of moving through it, you shut it in a cage, and in doing so you created a little monster.
Why is this relevant right now? Because we are all feeling some form of a loss, and it's more than likely that you are not allowing yourself to GRIEVE for this.
Perhaps you think ‘not being able to brunch with my friends’ is not a worthy enough reason to be sad, when a family member has lost their entire business overnight, or you know someone who is sick, or a friend of yours is working hard in the NHS. My belief is that all these things are completely relevant and purposeful for the individuals in each situation, and we all share a collective empathy and love for everyone we come into contact with, but not one of these things take away from YOU and what YOU are experiencing, RIGHT NOW.
A problem we face with the extension of social media platforms, is that we are constantly absorbing SO much information about everyone else’s life, that we often forget how to live and express ours. Often even when we do, it’s in a way that is trying to be accepted and validated by the ways in which other people are behaving, so theres still a disconnect there with your Self. The only way you can tap into your own feelings is by taking a step back from what everyone else is doing, and really honour how you feel in this moment, and what is coming up for you.
So here’s a story of the grief I felt this morning;
My bestie Jen posted a video to her IG stories of her strolling through Battersea Park and I burst out crying, I looked out my window to the sunshine and for the first time in lockdown I felt genuinely gutted that I wasn’t there with her, eating banana bread in the sunshine, deeply engrossed in chats after a butt-busting PT session. It got my head spinning thinking about the freedoms that seemingly disappeared overnight, the luxuries I had, to be able to message my friends and spontaneously meet up with Libby for a coffee or Emily for a dog walk. I miss the casual loll of summer days when I’d jump on the train to Camden armed with a picnic blanket and ice-cold Prosecco, texting a bunch of friends en route “Primrose Hill? Bring the strawberries!”. I'd rock up unannounced at Zac's flat and leave him a VN “Yo buddy you home? Or have you disappeared back to Ubud again?”.. if he was home it meant an afternoon sinking beers on his balcony, overlooking the canal, and talking about the Universe. I started reminiscing back to Summer 2018 when Alex and I spent a scorching hot day out on the Serpentine in Hyde Park, I’m pretty sure I did 90% of the pedalling whilst he did 90% drinking rosé and playing DJ through a mini bluetooth speaker he'd brought along, the finishing touch to his 'pedalo of dreams' experience. I thought back to Summers stretched out on Clapham Common with Gabrielle and Selina, laughing together about my most recent Tinder escapades, there were honestly so many, I regret not writing a book. I just want to give Nadia a big hug, one of my oldest friends turned best landlord ever, and walk through Greenwich Park together to the market on a Sunday, mainly to eat churros but we would pretend it was to ‘get our steps in’.
For a moment I just let myself feel sad, really sad, as this summer feels like it is escaping us, missed memories perhaps, missed friendships definitely. And my heart really hurt as I accepted this time apart was outside of my control. Then I caught myself in a space of feeling deep gratitude, wow, what a beautiful life I have. I wanted to say thank you for being reminded of how precious each one of those moments is to me. How special each one of these friends are to me. And that no amount of time apart changes that.
A fear of the unknown is always going to cause uncertainty, we all feel up-rooted right now, un-grounded, pushed out of our comfort zone, disconnected, trapped, for a lot of people isolated. This moment will pass, these feelings of unease will pass. Let the beautiful things in your life shine through and remind you of what you already have, the things and people who are constants, who aren’t going anywhere. At the same time if there is something you miss, something you have lost, something you need to grieve, allow it. Allow it all. Nobody can tell you what is right or wrong to feel at this time, this is your experience. I say feel it all, but do it with love, compassion and with a gentleness towards yourself that you truly deserve. Don't stop to compare your truth with anyone else's. Empathy for others comes second, first you need to check in on yourself.
If you are feeling particularly lost right now, and need someone to talk to, please reach out to me. I have been busy creating Join The Goddess Squad to create a heartfelt community, and my main intention behind it is to remind anyone who feels they are alone, that they are part of something bigger, and that we are here to support you and create lasting connections. For those who feel called to delving deeper, I offer 1:1 coaching and would love to hear how I could help you. I have also created a sister share circle on Sunday's, for women who need a safe-space to connect, speak and listen to one another's stories. You can find this Group on Facebook - search for "Join the Goddess Circle" or message me for more information.
Share your stories of summers with friends in the comments, I'd love to hear your favourite memories, and help you to relive some of the laughter. Grief and Joy are allowed to go hand in hand, from my experience they are best-friends and both want to be nurtured, appreciated and expressed in their entirety, not shelved, shamed and told they don’t have a place right now.