This article is a result of a hard month for me, and how I've been forced to shift my lifestyle in order to survive. There is a lot of heaviness in the world right now, compounded by the holidays, which for some is a merry time of family and joy, and for others is the heaviest time of the year. I have to remind myself daily that this too shall pass.
Recently, I’ve been facing debilitating anxiety, levels only exceeded in the months immediately after Karina’s death. I felt like the walls were closing in on me and I didn’t know why. Simple things were hard to do. I would spend an hour preparing for a short meeting, have a difficult conversation, or make a simple decision, something that I used to be able to do in minutes. I have been scraping by the best I can, but it has been difficult.
I tried to throw logic at it, figure it out, unwind it, but I couldn’t. Why, after all these years of spiritual practice, mountains of therapy and books and podcasts and trainings, yoga and meditation, was it so hard to let go of this anxiety?
In the first year after Karina’s death, the grief was at the surface and I moved through it each day. All of the body-scorching, mind-splitting, heart-wrenching pain. I felt it. I burned. I survived. And I carried on. The grief was palpable, present, easy to access, and I worked on it daily.
Nearly two years on now, as my life has calmed and I’ve found love again, I’ve been discovering some of the crevices of unprocessed grief. I thought I just had to grieve her death, her absence from my life, which seemed daunting enough. I'm finding that I have to grieve every little moment of trauma from her first symptom to her final breath, memories hidden in my body that were too intense to process as they occurred.
The moment we got the diagnoses, the moment I had to rush her back to the ER, the hours staring at the monitors praying for her vitals to normalize, the sleepless nights listening for any sign that she needed my help, when she cried, begging for an understanding of what was happening, the "I'm so sorry" from doctor informing me there was nothing that could be done, the moment I saw her alive for the very last time, and the moment I tried to bring her back after she had left, unwilling to start my life without her.
Each heart-wrenching moment exists within me still, and I’m starting to dig them out, one by one, and feel them all. Reliving every moment is intense, exhausting, confusing. It seems never-ending, with a stark feeling of, "Will I ever feel good again?"
This anxiety, in particular, has been intense. It felt neverending. None of my usual tools were working.
Finally, exhausted, I surrendered. My therapist helped me to see that what I am feeling is greater than just my trauma of losing my fiancee, greater than the trauma of losing my mother, it’s all of it, everything from my life and generations before me. I’ve asked for expansion, over and over, and when Spirit decided I was ready for it, when I was settled in a loving relationship with someone who understood and could hold space for me to feel this, it all came.
Has this had an impact on my work? Absolutely. My physical health? Yes. Has it strained a friendship or two? Also, yes. Has it forced me to slow down and step back from commitments? Almost all of them. I have had to slow everything way, way down. I cry every day, something I haven't done in a while now.
Ultimately, it is what needs to be done to continue expanding my heart, to make space for the new, and to deepen my capacity to love. I know that, but damn, it sucks. I’ve hurt so much these last couple of years, I’m tired.
To survive, I've had to set boundaries with those who weren’t contributing to my well-being, plug energetic leaks, and express my authentic truths as best I could. Every time I felt like I had to speed up again, I slowed down. I saw in a meditation, that I was being given these challenges now as a way to adjust my lifestyle. To be more intentional, more direct, more slow, and less willing to compromise my well-being for another.
I’ve been living the hermit life recently. I spend much of my day meditating, feeling as much as is presented to me. I lay on the floor with my dog, go on walks with my partner, and take baths regularly. I make healthy food, I bless it, and eat each bite as if it is my last. I take a walk to the beach and feel the touch of Spirit through the sun on my skin and the cool ocean water around my feet. I exercise lightly if I have the energy. I appreciate as much as I can, the many blessings in my life.
I do the right amount of work but avoid unimportant or non-urgent tasks. I avoid social media entirely, same with the news. I carefully monitor any input- TV, movies, books, podcasts, that I consume to ensure it aligns with what I want to feel. I avoid sugar and caffeine, no alcohol or drugs, and nothing that can contribute to inflammation or anxiety in my body. I’m trying anyway, I’m not perfect, but I’ve come a long way.
I’m working on the feelings of guilt, that I need to be there for more people, to be more fun for my partner, to respond to more messages, to share more content, and instead just be okay with being quiet for a little while. I'm blessed to have someone in my life who can hold space for me to feel how I feel, not take anything personally, and lovingly allow for me to find my way back to center.
So when the anxiety comes, it is more bearable to open up and feel it all. No judgments, no escapes, no resistance, no need to know why I feel what I am feeling. Just to feel. It is the bridge from despair back to contentment. So I can ride this wave, the biggest one that has come in a while.
Because, this too shall pass.
It always does, but it’s so easy to forget that. It’s so easy to think that this is how it will be forever. That the pain with never go away. That I will never feel happiness again. That I am broken beyond repair. That the suffering will never end.
Things will get better. And then things will get worse again, and better again still. That’s the journey of life, it’s why we are here, to ride the waves ever Onwards and Upwards.
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