A wind has blown the rain away and blown the sky away and all the leaves away, and the trees stand.-- ee cummings.
came to visit me from NY in September, we had some conversations that were hugely transformative for me. I already wrote about how incredible she is as a friend and a therapist, and how lucky I am to have her in my life, but my time with her warrants a revisiting because it turns out some of the really hard things we talked about are starting to come to fruition.
Marjorie gave me a gift of perspective while I was struggling to redefine my own happiness and make sense of all of the pain from the previous year, of going out on my own. When I wanted to just flip a switch and feel happy again, she helped me to understand the process of transforming pain and sadness into an even stronger and more clear sense of myself.
Here is an image for you, fully credited to Dr. Marjorie:
Imagine yourself as a tree. Throughout your life, you strive to reach up and out in order to feel alive, and happy, and free, and full of life and sunshine. You reach up to the light; you look for experiences that make you feel that light. But that is only half of the tree, and doesn't account for the roots.
For better or for worse, I spent the bulk of my life existing without much struggle, trying just to move from one big and happy life experience to the next. I swam happily along, so much so that pain and struggle felt foreign and disarming to me.
Marjorie pushed me to acknowledge that if I really want to find happiness, to extend into the whole space and all of the possibility that exists above and around me, then I also have to let my roots grow really far down, and to explore the dark places, to take a hard look at things that are painful, and to learn to push through them. When we experience pain, if we just cover it or ignore it, if we don't really do that work and let hard experiences and feelings play a role in our lives, then we aren't digging very deep, and as a result, we won't get to grow up and out quite as much. Living the most deliberately true life means that in order to have healthy and fully-extended experiences, we also need the ones that cause us hurt and pain and questioning so that we can dig down deeper. Don't pretend the pain is not there. Dig into it.
From the last year, I have dirt under my finger nails.
If you trust this tree metaphor, then hard times, fear, pain, and sadness, all become an opportunity to let the roots expand, to ask hard questions, come face to face with our deepest fears, disappointment, hurt, guilt, sadness, fear of letting people down. The more we confront those feelings, the more we are rooting ourselves into a stronger foundation of ourselves, and the more rooted we are, the bigger we can grow up and out. For a long time, I was willing to avoid all of that hard work, afraid to look too hard at what felt wrong. But if you don't go deep, you can't go tall. To be human is to have both the pain and the joy. You can't know and appreciate one without the other.
People who love me told me I would come out the other side of this stronger and more truly me. I honestly didn't believe it for a long time. I have been blessed with so many shining and strong people in my life who have been there for me and helped me do this.
But I am most proud that I did a lot of this work by myself. I wrote about it, ran through it, went to yoga with it, sat with it, dug in. I am now beginning to reap the rewards of a hard fight. I can feel myself standing taller already.
If anyone needs anything from me, you can have it. I owe the universe so much goodness. And I have a whole new stock pile of happy, ready to give and share.
I am back.