This has been a week of duality, of extremely opposing examples and differences. One of my family members posted a despairing cry for help on her FaceBook page. The same day, my friend Marta had posted this wonderful quote on her own page :
“The purpose of this glorious life is not simply to endure it, but to soar, stumble and flourish as you learn to fall in love with existence. We were born to live my dear not to merely exist.” – by Becca Lee.
Life sometimes asks us to bear the unbearable. It’s the destiny of every single person to experience depression and psychological rebirth in their lifetime — in other words, to go through hell and back. We are in fact capable of guiding ourselves through the worst life has to offer, and inspiring ourselves to emerge again back into the light.
I am sure we are all continuously exposed to duality in our lives. There is no good or bad, but thinking makes it so. Just so I enjoyed my friendships with both Laure ànd Nathalie. Or likewise I went through my divorce from my ex-husband and my separation from my toxic family simultaneously. Both continue to exist merely to remind me that there is also a sting to life. Were it not for these two wonderful creatures, I would be living a life of bliss and luxury.
No matter how much darkness we face in our lives, light always manages to penetrate dark. It takes both rain and sunshine to create a rainbow. Just so, us humans can emerge again after cold, dark times of loss and despair.
It is from within the nothingness, the quiet silence which lies within that true answers can be found. It is from the feeling of complete and utter suffering that we can truly be alive. Because it hurts, yes, but it means you’re alive to feel that hurt. If you’re capable of feeling so deep on one side of the emotional spectrum, surely you can feel the other extreme too.
As a young woman, I often suffered from the feeling of being “incomplete”. What was missing, my shaman would ask me. For he knew, what I had desperately craved after for years was to have a baby. Yet a friend of mine wisely pointed out that the child would not make me feel whole. That feeling had to come from within myself. What was missing, indeed ?
Lessons of life and death
Each night we die and each morning we are born again. We are not the same being we were when we were a baby. Our bodies have changed, and so our mind has evolved too. Humans have the capacity to rise again like the phoenix. We can move through the motions of grief and loss.
Often our loss seems unending and shattering. Grief highlights feelings of betrayal and the loss of innocence. Life makes us face abandonment. The ideas we may hold of ourselves soon prove to be irrelevant. We are capable of enduring unbearable grief and facing a world that is emotionally devastating and barren.
How often have I found myself on the brink of devastation? If you have lost loved ones, ideas of self-image, a relationship, physical health, or other things too precious to live without, you know that the dark well of grief can overtake you. I found myself on the cliff hanging over the abyss numerous times : after I lost the baby, when my life without pleasure became too much of a burden, when my mother pushed me so far. There is no skipping over the experiences in our life that bring us to our knees.
Having wanted so dearly to pass over to the other side, we are never the same again, nor should we be. Once the pain has stopped being completely unbearable, we find our way back to the living again. Anti-depressants are not the answer here. They are but a mere plaster to cover up a gaping wound which refuses to heal. We go through utter transformation that strips us of naïvety, detachment, and privilege. The wound won’t heal as long as you haven’t healed yourself from within.
Initiated into the cauldron of the dark emotional abyss, we come back to the world with true empathy, compassion, and maturity. Part of the process is becoming dismembered from our previous positions of being “above” such experiences. But you can do it. You have to. Take a leap of faith. Life is in fact a wonderful place to be, a marvelous adventure to be lived.
We are not unique nor insignificant
I would tell you my story to remind you that to fully realize your true potential, you must embrace not only your losses but the heartache and misery that accompany them too. None of us can honourably grieve all by ourselves. When we descend into our emotional underworlds, we need allies and patience. It helps to recognize that there is a connective tissue to all suffering, a web that connects us all. When we weep unstoppably, when we struggle with obsessive questioning and regret, when we feel completely alone, we need to remember that our pain is not unique nor insignificant.
Some people hit with inconceivable losses avoid entering these depths. They may do so because they lack a trustworthy community of support, or because they do not recognize the value of going deep, or they fear the pain of it. There are plenty of ways to divert one’s self from the descent for weeks, months, years, or a lifetime. These diversions will rob the person of the incomparable experience of rising again. It can also make them intolerant of other people’s pain. Suffering brings up all that is unprocessed and incomplete in ourselves.
In my personal experience, I have been so totally disgusted by the people who should have been there to help me out of the darkness, and so overwhelmed with gratitude for the people who stood by me, despite the wreck I was. When I finally plunged into utter darkness some years ago following the vicious attacks from my mother, who kept pushing me beyond decency with her words, my boyfriend called my aunt in despair. My aunt is a so-called therapist; I had taken pills; my boyfriend was doing his best to save me and the situation. My aunt’s response ? Nothing. She’s my blood relative in the first place. A certified therapist supposed to be dealing with suicidal people. And a christian. As a human being, I found her whole reaction despicable. But hey, I’m still alive and just so, as long as she can live with this knowledge of herself, not helping somebody in dire need, then that is her journey, not mine.
On the Other Side
To live a full life is to experience the whole trajectory of ecstasy and grief inherent in being human. Each of us who walks through the valley of symbolic death contributes to the evolution of the compassionate human psyche. Here we are transformed through pain and suffering, and emerge more alive than before.
I assure you all, life is definitely worth living. It is a miracle, every day again. I cherish every moment given to me, with my children, to live life to its fullest. To get the max out of every moment. To admire the beauty in simplicity. If you don’t feel that, darling, reach out, I am there for you.
When we see someone who has gone through devastation and has returned to the living, they often look somehow humbled, more mature. You might see a profound knowing in their eyes. The softness that comes with surviving a ravaging descent is compelling. Young and old people alike want to be near the light of someone who has a meaningful story to tell, and who can convey the depth of feeling that comes from living the painful dimensionality of that story.
OK, I’ll be modest here, but people do tell me I glow.
Spring is not just gorgeous because life comes into bloom again. It is even more dear because this sensual bounty represents the revival of our spirit from the gloomiest of times. Every experience of being human is cyclical. As we go through this season, we can courageously examine the emotionally barren and desolate journeys of this last year, and hold them sacredly to our hearts. To have journeyed to the underworld is not actually a failure. It is an initiation into the dark, feminine mysteries of life itself.
A journey to the underworld
There is nothing sweeter than coming back from the underworld and dancing among loved ones who have also undertaken the journey at some point. Each season of our life has its breathless beauty.
— The universe (here and now)