I went on a journey tonight. Lots of reflection, flooding music and memories, mirrors of intense struggles and hard-won victories.
Other women have sung to me over the years, pushing through sorrow to strength and sharing their wisdom, as if just for me.
Songs of resolve (no more drama!), anger (sorry doesn’t cut it!), forgiveness (let’s shake free this gravity of resentment), songs offering freedom on the other side of grief (when one door is closed, don’t you know another is open?). Celebrating independence (the woman I’ve become) and a hoping-against-hope future (love will come to you).
I sealed these soul-salves in my mind and spirit during critical days and weeks, holding onto them as I moved through exhausting routines. As my desperate prayers, I leaned on the lyrics and melodies and took solace in the fact that others had been through dark times and survived.
I also drew from such writers as Maya Angelou and Iyanla Vanzant ~ powerful, soulful women who have weathered personal traumas more sizable than my own. I set my chin, grieved the loss of innocence and the dream I wanted for my daughters, grappled with life and gave myself no option but to survive.
The resolve to take whatever life was going to toss at me kept me in an ever-ready state, adrenaline pumping. I felt strong, capable, proud. The anger was a necessary gift, and easier to face than dangerous, potentially debilitating grief.
In some ways worse than the sometimes overwhelming sadness, anger, and exhausting readiness were the periods of… numbness. Empty. Flat. No end in sight. How long could I keep it up? I had only the slightest image of being happy and settled with my successful teenage children, years into the future from that point, but had no idea how to get there.
I just realized: right now is what I was seeing, craving, and stumbling toward.
You’re rebuilding yourself ground-up, Sister. You’re all about integrity; you’re in the process of growing benefits that you and those whose lives you touch will reap. In the meantime, you can enjoy unsurpassed exhilaration as hard work and diligence bring small and large successes. The tastes of joy and hope will propel you forward.
It took years for me to get to a gentler place and I’ve by no means arrived, but over time it became safer. I feel cushioned by love all around me. My precious girls are just fine, and I’ve helped make that happen.
None of us can make it all alone (why would we want to?), and different people and messages resonate at various junctures. Let them.
The important things: it’s all incremental growth. It’s all choosing, making the most with the energy each day brings, and being gentle with yourself through temporary setbacks. Savor the joys (I know, you already do. They’re life itself!), allow yourself space *not* to handle everything perfectly, learn and laugh as much as possible, reach out before it gets desperate, and give whenever you have abundance.
You’ve got this. And you’re in good company.