Sometimes, when I am hurting or scared, I am like a wounded elephant. I want to go off by myself to die. And yet.
And yet I yearn for connection. I want others to care but I am afraid my grief or pain is too much.
There are times I cried for days, weeks, months even, sitting in my pain with a friend who listens. Not tears leaking down my cheeks but full on sobbing with snot and hiccoughs and incoherent babbling. It is then I am at my most vulnerable. I fear rejection. I’m afraid my feelings will alienate the ones reaching out to me. And the sad thing is that my feelings have alienated people. I have hurt so bad at times that the animal instinct to protect myself morphed my pain into rage. Anger at the unfairness of it all. Anger at my hopelessness. Anger at my powerlessness. Anger that there was no comfort, however lovingly offered.
It was, finally, the power of those who persevered that created the space for me to heal. It was those who maintained connection when I withdrew. And those who did not, would not, take my pain and anger personally who helped me retrieve myself. Otherwise, I think one of a few things could have happened:
– I could have isolated, withdrawn from life, and lived on half alive.
– I could have returned to the larger world, isolated from myself and others by living inauthenticity.
– I could have become hateful, distrusting, and hopeless, diminishing my ability to be more fully human.
But I didn’t. And I’m telling this story as a cautionary tale. So many of us are in pain, grieving, hopeless, angry… with our neighbors, fellow citizens, politicians, – even friends. The political landscape can seem hopeless. The fast-moving train of racism, sexism, homophobia, poverty, and climate change denial barrels toward our uncertain future. I don’t think I’m alone in mourning the loss of the progress we were making or being enraged at the our seeming powerlessness to protect people of color or a woman’s right to choose or our planet’s health.
I’m not referring to fleeting feelings but the ones that, when reading the news, sends electrical shocks through your chest. Or the times before drifting off to sleep a sadness settles over you like a blanket of hopelessness. Or when rage rises up and you fight off secret desires for another to die.
And you wonder, is there any way to get to the other side.
Here is my tentative and small suggestion. Let us sit with one another. Stay connected. Keep reaching out. When one is weak another can be strong. When one is hopeless, another may be able to see a path more clearly. When one rages, the other can make space for that truth. When you have the strength to reach out, do it. If you should be tempted to withdraw from life, allow the touch of others. My experience tell me that we can only make our way together. Together we help one another remain authentic. We can refuse to disavow what we value deeply. We may not see the path out of our current failure/challenge/disaster… but together let us make a way out of what seems like no way.