Welcoming Loss Into Your Life

 

I’m currently going through a separation from someone I love. Unlike every other experience I’ve had when a relationship has ended, this one didn’t end poorly. No fights with rage, or hate, or extremity. No blame, or reactivity, or proving. Just two people who care for each other wanting different things. Two people with big hearts, but with paths being pulled in separate directions. Two people with the awareness that we are not meeting each other where we need to be met, no matter how much either of us wants to. For a long time we’ve danced a dance of trying to seek harmony—of being friends, then nothing, then something more, then friends again, then something more again—but on Saturday night we decided it’s best that we stop trying. I do not have any anger to fall back on. No reason to be upset with him. All I have is truth: I can’t be with someone I love. I have to try to move on. I am sad. I am confused. I feel like where-do-I-go-from-here? I feel afraid. But most of all, I feel a tremendous feeling of loss.

 

As a person pretty much addicted to self-help I’ve naturally been listening to a lot of podcasts about what to do when a relationship ends.

 

The advice that kept coming up yesterday was focus your attention elsewhere. Focus on the other things that make you feel good. Marinate in activities and actions that make you feel joyous and fulfilled and connected. Put the relationship aside for a while and deal with something else.

 

This made sense to me. The law of Attraction. Feel the feelings you want to feel and your reality will match up.

 

But how could I do this when I felt like I wanted to puke and cry simultaneously? Joining a new book club, or writing down everything that I was grateful for, were probably the last two things I felt capable of doing.

 

There was a necessary step before I could focus on feeling better. I had to feel how bad I actually felt first.

 

In the spiritual community we are often taught that we chose the way we feel. That the light and divine and feeling good is the ultimate truth. We are told we are not our pain, or our suffering, or our despair, but we are only our light. And we choose whether or not we experience it that way.

 

This is true. We are divine. And at the end of the day we are only immense light. But we are also that light having a human experience. A divine expression in human form. A small part of a larger whole. One is not more holy than the other. One is a whole. One is a part. Both are of the same. Both are true and spectacular.  And as humans we feel pain. Our pain is an expression of our divinity. Our pain—just like every other feeling we experience—is who we are. If we ignore it, we are ignoring a part of our selves. If we ignore our pain, we are ignoring a part of our divinity. 

 

This morning I woke up with a pit in my stomach. Loss. Grief. Sadness. Over and over. I felt heavy. If I hadn’t already slept ten hours, I would have preferred to make myself go back to sleep. But I was awake. The first thing I thought, “Ok. Quick. Think of all the things you're grateful for. Write those down. Or else you’re going to feel this way all day.” But I couldn’t. Positive focus wasn’t cutting it. My feelings were too intense. I had to feel every negative feeling whether I liked it or not. So I grabbed my journal: 

 

Why do I feel so sad about this? Because this is what loss feels like. Don’t try to escape it. Don’t try to make it better. All you can do is feel it and eventually the feeling will be replaced with a feeling of gain.

 

 

 

I don’t have to convince you of how unpleasant the feeling of loss is. It paralyzes you, fills you up with apathy, pain, and confusion. You think, How could this happen? How did I get here? How is there a world where this type of experience exists?  Loss pushes you back in your bed and says, “Who do you think you are, you’re not getting up for weeks.” It’s a feeling that consumes. It makes everything else in your life seem insignificant. It’s no wonder we desire to focus our attention on positivity than on experiencing the feeling of loss to its greatest extent.

 

 

As we feel separate from another it illuminates how separate we feel from ourselves, separate from the Universe. There is nothing more painful. But loss is the exact type of emotion that needs to be felt. Because it will not go away until you do.

 

If you avoid any feelings of separation you will continue to live a life in which you feel separate. 

 

And so many do. 

 

So many seek relief in the next relationship, or big business venture, or shots of tequila, or lines of cocaine, or pints of Cherry Garcia.

 

Some may also seek relief by putting all of their effort into positive thinking. Into a spirituality only focused on light. 

 

All to avoid the grief of losing a loved one. All to avoid the feeling of separation. 

 

When we avoid, exactly what we are avoiding shows up in our reality everywhere. I’m not huge on big spiritual truths, but I can say this for sure: when you avoid your pain, it will never leave you alone.

 

Straight up, it will follow you everywhere. 

 

I know that up until the last couple years I didn’t want to accept this. I wanted to feel happy and joyous all the time. Pain. Psh. Didn’t have time for that. My entire life was subconsciously built around avoiding my grief—my pain. Stuffing and stuffing and stuffing down my sadness. Looking for anything and everything for relief:

 

 A new country to travel to. A fancy degree that would make me feel significant. Nights out, drinking and making out with guys who I had as much in common with as I would now with an NFL football player. A big fat business that would bring me a bunch of money. Thoughts that only felt good to think. A spirituality that helped me feel only good feelings.

 

But none of this ever worked. In fact, it just made me feel more and more separate from myself. 

 

Because my loss, my pain, my sadness, that was who I really was. 

 

Just like my joy, my triumphs, and my excitement, my loss, my pain, my sadness: It is who I am.

 

I didn’t know it at the time, but I had left a part of myself on the curb a long time ago. 

 

And after I hung up the phone on Saturday night, I knew it was time to go pick her up and take her home.

 

 If loss was making me feel this alone, this sad, this overwhelmed, it needed my full attention.

 

This is what I’ve found in the process:

 

True relief only comes when we have felt an emotion to its breaking point. When we make room for it. Welcome it. Say, “Ok. Get comfortable. We’re in a for a wild ride together.”  When we have cried and squirmed and slept and yelled and dropped to our knees begging for an answer. When we say, “Ok, Universe. I’m here. I’m listening. I surrender.” Relief comes when the Universe responds with, “Keeping feeling,” and when we do just that. Relief only comes when we see an emotion through to the other side. Loss only relieves itself when we fully integrate it into our being.

 

 

When we become so accepting, so okay with our loss, that all of our resistance to it is dropped and we begin to see our pain as divine, that is when the magic begins to happen.  

 

When we embrace loss, day in and day out, letting it become a part of us, over time it starts to become less painful, less noticeable, and more bearable. It starts to become our most valued teacher. When we surrender to loss, when we allow it to make a home in our being, we’re telling the Universe we can handle more. We’re saying, “You know, I can handle this loss shit. I’ve got it. We’re close friends at this point. I’m actually kind of bored by how much I’ve accepted loss. Give me something different.” The Universe will respond to that.

 

When you release all resistance to your loss—when you have truly felt—the Universe will give you something to gain. But only when you’re ready. You have to make room. You have to dissolve the feeling of separation your loss is bringing forth by allowing loss to become your closest friend. We need to feel, to welcome, to heal, and to break through. 

 

Loss is not easy. It’s complicated and twisted, and believe me, it will make your stomach hurt. But feeling your loss will result in a new found strength that will set you up to receive. Feeling your loss will set you up to gain.

 

I promise.

 

So when you write this in your journal: 

 

Why do I feel so sad about this? Because this is what loss feels like. Don’t try to escape it. Don’t try to make it better. All you can do is feel it and eventually the feeling will be replaced with a feeling of gain.

 

Listen. Because that’s some real stuff right there. 

 

Close your eyes, put your hand on your heart, and say, “I’m here for you. I feel your pain. And I will feel it with you for as long as it takes. It fucking sucks to lose someone you love. Take your time. Feel it all. I’m not going anywhere.”

 

 

I’m going to go hide under my covers, cry and watch The Notebook now. 

 

 

Love,

 

Ana 

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